SONIC REDUCER To get the grimy lowdown on East Bay hard rock combo Annihilation Time, you don't have to look very far: try the party-starting band's Oakland townhouse.
"Yeah, it's barely standing," says guitarist Graham Clise with a chortle. Apparently the best party had to be New Year's Eve two years ago, he recalls from San Diego, where the group is taking a break at the beach while on tour with its new third album, Tales of the Ancient Age (Tee Pee). "I wake up in the morning, and the entire place is smashed like all the drawers are smashed out. I look out the window, and in the backyard the couch is on fire.
"It's still like that, unfortunately."
How much more rawk fun can you have? Hailing from a speedier, hellbent-for-lather breed of '70s-era metal à la Priest mixed with the set-to-pulverize tendencies of SoCal hardcore, Tales of the Ancient Age is all about the sloppy good times, rug burns, and all-business dual lead guitars as it stumbles through passes at skinhead chicks on public trans ("Bald Headed Woman") and bouts of lousy hygiene ("Germ Freak [I Ain't No]"). Could Annihilation Time be the seriously anti-sobriety, hard-rockin' fun-metalists we've been waiting for? Contemplate their comic-book vision of apocalyptic Oaktown rendered by former guitarist Shaun Filley on the cover of Tales, and the band seems to slip right in between the politically tinged rigor of High on Fire and the pagan brooding of Saviours, who once lived in Annihilation Time's raging HQ. Exhibit one: Annihilation Time's "Jonestown," far from a righteous wail of despair against groupthink. Instead the band embraces a punkily perverse, Ramones-ish, kicks-first perspective would Clise partake in the Kool-Aid? "That's my philosophy," he yelps. "I'd give it a try, sure."
The seven-year-old band moved to O-town from the Ventura, Oxnard, and Ojai area about two and a half years ago because "we all decided we were sick of it down there," Clise says. "It seemed like a pretty cool, happening spot. We wanted to try it out. You can get away with anything, too. That's the other cool thing. You're kind of free to do whatever you want, and nobody is going to fuck with you too much. It's kinda like one of the last free places where you can be a shithead and get away with it!"
Unfortunately a group also runs the risk of finding their music flying under the radar into obscurity: Tales comes after two other self-released albums and two 7-inches. So this time the band looked to licenser Tee Pee for help. ("We always have big plans of having our own label and getting our shit out there and working hard at it. But the reality is, it's a lot of work and we're kind of sick of having to deal with it. We just want to play music.") The next career move? Annihilation Time may just up and move their party to Pittsburgh, following their relocated vocalist Jimmy Rose. They'll obviously do anything for a ripping yarn hence the less-than-nostalgic album title. "We chose the name because it sounds all serious and epic," Clise explains. "But we also chose the name because there's a whiskey called Ancient Age really cheap, really awful stuff. But it always makes for a good night, and there's always a story afterwards." Pittsburgh should watch itself. *
Annihilation Time's Aug. 16 show at Thee Parkside has been canceled. For future dates go to ww.myspace.com/annihilationtime.
OUT OF THIS WORLD: 12 GALAXIES DEPARTS
Last week brought more than one hit of sad news, along with the sorrowful tidings of Isaac Hayes' passing. 12 Galaxies owner Robert Levy phoned to tell me that his Mission District venue is closing Aug.