Seven years after re-assuming the vocalist role after the departure of Dave PaddenANNIHILATOR mainman Jeff Waters will return to focusing on his original position as the band’s lead guitarist. Current INTO ETERNITY and former ICED EARTH vocalist Stu Block will take over vocals for at least some of the future live performances. Block can also be heard on «Metal II», the re-worked version of the band’s 2007 «Metal» studio album. «Metal II» also features former SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo.

In a new interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NETWaters was asked whether his recent bout with COVID-19 affected his vocals. «It might make them better,» he said. «The way I sing, it might make them better. Finally, I can do a raspy voice without having to try. No, actually, what I’ve done, again, with this big sort of life-changing thing in my little world, when I talked to Stu Block and Dave Lombardo about doing this — it’s not a new record [‘Metal II’], but I consider it ‘re-envisioning.’ It’s not meant to be some competitive thing. The drummer on the original, Mike Mangini, is probably one of the best drummers in the world. Dave Padden, our singer and guitar player, was great. It wasn’t about that. It was ‘Let’s release a second version.’ Not stomp on the past. It was something fun to do to create attention for the label that they are releasing the catalog. It’s working so far. People are like, ‘Wow! A new album.’ I’m like, ‘Well, sort of.’ So I decided I’m not singing anymore. I’m a guitar player. I took over singing on my fourth record, ‘King Of The Kill’

When asked whether his abdication of vocal duties meant increased involvement for Block in ANNIHILATORWaters said, «Bingo. I asked him if he would do the reunion thing — because it’s been 31 or 32 years or something for our first three Roadrunner albums. To North America, those are the only ones anyone has ever heard, especially the first two. We actually have another 14 albums.»

Waters alluded to a possible North American reunion tour featuring past ANNIHILATOR members who played on the band’s early, seminal Roadrunner Records albums, particularly 1989’s «Alice In Hell» and 1990’s «Never, Neverland»«Alice In Hell» vocalist Randy Rampage passed away in 2018, leaving «Never, Neverland» vocalist Coburn Pharr and «Set The World On Fire» vocalist Aaron Randall as possible guests on the proposed tour.

«If Coburn is healthy enough, he’s into it,» said Waters. «I told Stu I don’t want to sing anymore. It’s too taxing. It takes too much of a toll. I’m not a great singer. It’s really tough to play and sing. I don’t have that natural, awesome singing voice. Like, for example: [METALLICA‘s JamesHetfield and [MEGADETH‘s DaveMustaine are amazing. Hetfield for his tones, but Mustaine, as I found out singing — I’ve done about seven records with my band as a singer, so probably about 20 tours, including festivals — Hetfield was my guy, but Mustaine also became my guy, so to speak, he can write these rhythm guitar riffs and what James does is he’ll do a simple riff and sing on it. When he’s done singing, here’s the real, killer James Hetfield, then he goes back to singing. That came out of JUDAS PRIEST. That’s probably where he got it. [GlennTipton was a genius. If you listen to [RobHalford on any of those classic PRIEST songs, they’re playing one note on the guitar. When Halford stops, here’s the riff. That’s HetfieldDave Mustaine threw out all that garbage. He’s playing all this crazy-timed stuff and able to sing over it. It’s incredible.

«I’m not in that league,» he continued. «I think I’m a good guitar and bass player — I do all the bass on the albums. I think I’m pretty good at guitar and bass and some other things, but guys like that are just the top. Fans know it because of the songs, but I think musicians who take this seriously for a career look at these guys and go, ‘They’re so much bigger and better than what you see on the news sites posting and showing people making a mistake on YouTube.’ They’re beyond genius. I was like, ‘Let me stay on guitar like I used to do. Do you want to come and sing with us anytime we do shows, like the anniversary tours?’ [Stu] said, ‘Absolutely for the anniversary tour. It would be a blast.’ Plus, he’s a good backup if one or the other singers wasn’t feeling well or can’t make it.»

earMusic recently announced a reissue series of (almost) the entire ANNIHILATOR catalog. In total, 18 records are going to be released over the next few years, including the original 2007 version of the «Metal» album.

Other guests on «Metal II» are Willie Adler (LAMB OF GOD), Alexi Laiho (CHILDREN OF BODOM), Steve «Lips» Kudlow (ANVIL), Dan Beehler (EXCITER), Jesper Strömblad (IN FLAMES), Angela Gossow (ARCH ENEMY), Jeff Loomis (ARCH ENEMY, NEVERMORE), Anders Björler (THE HAUNTED, AT THE GATES) and Corey Beaulieu (TRIVIUM).