There was a time in high school, sophomore year maybe, where ANTHRAX was the biggest band in my world. I had a 'Spreading the Disease' backpatch and a handful of t-shirts to honor the NY moshers. 'Spreading the Disease' was my introduction to them and was my favorite thrash album. I was so stoked when 'Among the Living' came out. It was the most popular album in my circle of friends and was constantly being played. Granted, it was a little more slick than 'Spreading', the production was top-notch, it missed a little of rawness that 'Spreading' owned. Never the less, the song writing was top notch, the songs were fuckin' A strong and the gang choruses kept a little of the hardcore punk spirit from 'Spreading' alive.
I am from New York, moved to Colorado when I was a kid, but we'd go back to visit a lot. This gave me an opportunity to hit some killer record stores and pick up some awesome metal LPs that weren't readily available in my neck of the woods. I would come back with titles from OVERKILL, NUCLEAR ASSAULT and the comic book loving thrashers ANTHRAX. I always felt like I was the one that discovered ANTHRAX for my peer group. At one point I used the NY angle and a picture of Scott Ian , cut out of some Heavy Metal publication, to claim half jokingly that he was my cousin. This is when the dude still had long hair and shaved 'not' into his chest hair.
My love affair with ANTHRAX faded with the weak 'State of Euphoria' and the fact that around that time I was really into crossover and hardcore punk. The MTV ready 'State' album seemed so weak in comparison to the first three LPs and 'Armed and Dangerous' EP; I didn't even buy it at the time.
I saw them on the 'Clash of the Titans' tour and they kicked ass. They played a medley of songs to cover more of their catalog in the 45 minute set they were given. 'Persistence of Time' was their latest effort, given that it was a bit heavier than 'State' they had slightly regained the interest of my friends and I.
Remember that this was pre-internet. We didn't know that Belladonna was no longer with the band. When my friend Joe bought 'The Sound of White Noise' we were ready to party! But lo and behold there was no Belladonna and their sound had taken a drastic turn. Joe ripped the tape out of the player and threw it across the room, it went behind some shelves and stayed there for the next several years!
One day I got to meet them. Dan Spitz wasn't with them and neither was Joey, they were doing a record signing at Wax Trax in Denver and I went down there. Who knows what lame album it was in support of, that didn't matter to me. Being that I was an old fan I was still excited to meet a few of the guys and have them sign my 'Spreading' and 'Among' LPs, I left 'Fistful of Metal' and 'Armed and Dangerous' at home, apparently I thought two albums was enough to have them scribble their illegible autographs across. Good call. So anyway...John Bush tried to sign my records and I had to pull them away and remind the dude that he wasn't on those records! After posing for a picture with me Scott asked if I was going to the show and I sharply replied "no".
Over the next decade I caught ANTHRAX live a couple of times, never on purpose, they just happened to be on shows I wanted to see. They really kicked ass at Thrash of the Titans in San Francisco and hearing Bush cover the old Joey era stuff was pretty cool. They were starting to win me back.
When 'We've Come for You All' came out I actually bought it. It was good, not great, had a few memorable songs on it, but I can't remember what they were...I do recall my friend Nick saying it was their best album; he must have been really high.
When Joey and Dan signed on to do the reunion tour I was fucking stoked! I had tickets and was ready to get caught in a mosh! Apparently Charlie's wife decided to have her baby they day of the show and they had to cancel. Fuck! What nerve! And then it took about 5 years for them to make up the show, but even then they forgot to bring Dan.
Well that show was last winter and it kicked ass! They were on fire and with Joey back on vocals hearing the songs the way they were supposed to be heard was so bad ass! With that I have remained in a high state of anticipation for this new release since that magical night.
Well here we are...I've listened to it about 8 times. The length is perfect, reminiscent of the days when bands knew how to balance an album, but I'll be honest with you, I am not moshing around my living room...
This is one helluva Heavy Metal album. Some (Eddy Trunk) say it's the Heavy Metal album of the year. And it might be. But...Let's not fool anyone...If you are expecting a fucking thrash-for-all in the vein of the mid 80's classics you will be sorry. This is NOT! a Thrash Metal album. The thrash parts are few and far between. The opening track 'Worship' is one of the only songs where you might say "dude...this thrashes". Really most of the album is quite melodic and reminds me of modern MEGADETH. You know what I mean, the Thrash is there...sometimes, but it is almost hidden and is certainly not the highlight of the album. You could say that it is Thrash inspired or maybe refer to 'Worship Music' as a post-thrash effort.
Some say that Scott Ian has forgotten how to write thrash riffs. I question if he ever knew how. The early ANTHRAX releases credit 'ANTHRAX' as the song writers. If you want to look at SOD I would argue that Lilker wrote the riffs. And I say this because there is hardly a thrash riff to be found on this record and Ian hasn't really spit one out in almost two decades! There are no crunchy mosh inspiring riffs, none. Hell, there is really only one memorable moshy part on the album and that is near the end of the last song 'Revolution Screams', and there are no gang choruses. None...
Now that we have established that this is not a Thrash album we can focus on it's strengths and what it is and as I said earlier it is a damn good Heavy Metal album. The musicianship is great and the songs are strong and catchy, there are some good hooks on this album. Belladonna sounds killer, his voice is strong and flexes with demands of each song. He is a pro and should be herald as one of the great metal vocalists.
'Fight Em Til You Cant' is a stand out track as it is another that reaches out to pull a little thrash into the mix and even brings in some strong back-up vocals. They kill me though with sharp leads that sound like DRAGONFORCE or something! This song also highlights some of Benante's patented double kick drum.
It feels like there is some sense of tribute on this album with some of the lyrical content. When I read the lyrics to 'In the End' it really felt like it might be a tip of the hat to Dimebag or Dio or even both. 'Judas Priest' seems to be about a priest gone bad while paying homage to the metal giants of the same of name.
I got the LP and the packaging is pretty cool. Other than the stupid pentagram (why do they use a pentagram? They never really embraced the faux Satanism that some of the peers did and just don't see like a pentagram band) the album cover is pretty badass with a bunch of ghouls or zombies clutching at that stupid Anthraxagram.
It is a gatefold an opens up to display the lyrics on the left side and some live photos with cool effects on them on the right side. There is also a cool picture of ANTHRAX fighting zombies of themselves that is pretty fookin' cool. The vinyl itself is nice and thick, not 180 gram, but maybe 120 and is colored too. Gotta' love colored vinyl. And...it's on Megaforce records which is very badass!
All in this is a good album and is growing on me but is not the thrashterpiece I wanted it to be. Most of the album is radio ready, like I said it's melodic and catchy. I WANT MY THRASH!!!!!