Anthrax

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Fistful Of Metal

Anthrax - Fistful Of Metal ©1984 Megaforce/Caroline
1. Deathrider
2. Metal Thrashing Mad
3. I'm Eighteen
4. Panic
5. Subjugator
6. Soldiers Of Metal
7. Death From Above
8. Anthrax
9. Across The River
10. Howling Furies

Everyone has to start somewhere and for Anthrax, their debut certainly wasn't pretty. Featuring original lead singer Neil Turbin (whose musical career went nowhere after this album) as well as bassist Dan Lilker (whose musical career took him into a bit more extreme territory), Fistful of Metal, even given kid gloves, is a pretty bad album in all regards. Between the thin, wailing vocals and the tinny production that reduced the guitar fury to guitar nerf bats, the album did little besides establish the band as yet another player in the blossoming field of speed metal. There was potential to be found on the album but Fistful of Metal finds it as just potential and truly nothing quite realized yet. The band's songwriting skills were still quite rudimentary and spent a bit too much time forging anthems to their chosen musical style of metal. Turbin simply is unable to do more than sound like a bad imitation of classic metal singers, only with a thinner, less powerful delivery. The backing band itself shows promise of developing into something more formidable, but the production robs this particular album of that power.

Luckily, Anthrax did some housecleaning that put Turbin out in the pasture and allowed Lilker to pursue his personal ambitions. By the next album, Anthrax had kindly cleaned up the mess of their debut and proved there was a reason why they received so much attention to begin with.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2001

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Armed And Dangerous EP

Anthrax - Armed And Dangerous EP ©1985 Megaforce
1. Armed And Dangerous
2. Raise Hell
3. God Save The Queen
4. Metal Thrashing Mad (live)
5. Panic (live)
6. Soldiers Of Metal
7. Howling Furies

Designed as a quick little way to introduce fans to the new lineup, which included bassist Frank Bello taking over for Dan Lilker and new vocalist Joe Belladonna, Armed and Dangerous features a couple studio tracks meant for Spreading the Disease ("Raise Hell" didn't make the final cut for that record), a tepid cover of the Sex Pistols' "God the Save the Queen", and a couple live in the studio versions of songs from Fistful of Metal. The EP was meant mostly to let the fans know what this Belladonna cat was all about and aside from having a bit of a rushed production, is a pretty decent little EP. Compared to Neil Turbin, his predecessor, Joe Belladonna sounds extremely comfortable in his role and shows off his strong range on the five tracks. The reissued versions of this EP also feature the two tracks from their original 1983 single, "Soldiers of Metal" and "Howling Furies", which should dispell any concerns one might have over the abilities of Belladonna compared to Turbin. However, it is cool to hear where this band originated from and how much they improved from their very first single to what turned out to be one of their best albums, Spreading the Disease.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2000

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Spreading The Disease

Anthrax - Spreading The Disease ©1985 Island
1. A.I.R.
2. Lone Justice
3. Madhouse
4. S.S.C./Stand Or Fall
5. The Enemy
6. Aftershock
7. Armed And Dangerous
8. Medusa
9. Gung-ho

For all intents and purposes, this is one of the best thrash metal albums of the mid-80s. Back then Anthrax was the headliner and Metallica was still opening for them (yeah, those two and their rivalry) and were churning out some seriously good metal before their later miscues. At this point, the comic strip gimmickry and wacky shorts weren't their focus (or the focus of the rock press). This also was the first full-length album to feature new singer Joe Belladonna and his confident vocals are the high points throughout. He brought melody into a genre filled with yellers and screechers, which thus made Anthrax a bit unique. Too bad Belladonna seemingly became more insecure with his vocals in following releases.

Three of Anthrax's best songs ever are here: "A.I.R.", "Medusa", and "Lone Justice". "A.I.R." is everything necessary in a good thrash song: Charlie Benante's incredible helicopter double bass, simple yet strong riffs, great song structure, and powerful singing. "Medusa" would sound right at home in any great metal band's repetoire and "Lone Justice" is the best example of how Belladonna's vocals should have been used in the years after. The nicest thing about Spreading the Disease is that you can find it at discount prices in nearly any used CD store. So if you want to take a little history, this is one of those metal albums you shouldn't be without.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1998

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Among The Living

Anthrax - Among The Living ©1987 Megaforce/Island
1. Among The Living
2. Caught In A Mosh
3. I Am The Law
4. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
5. A Skeleton In The Closet
6. Indians
7. One World
8. A.D.I./Horror Of It All
9. Imitation Of Life

On a personal note, Anthrax's Among the Living was actually the very first thrash metal album I ever bought, way back when I was fourteen. Within the first fifty seconds of the first song, I realized I had found a sound and genre that was going to appeal to me for a long long time. Over a dozen years later, this remains the truth. While Among the Living is far from an all time favorite, it does represent Anthrax at a strong point and a solid album with few major problems. The general consensus for most fans is that this is their finest work (I suggest looking towards persistence of Time, but that's just me). Regardless of its place in 'thrax history, it does demand to be part of any casual Anthrax fan's collection.

Building upon the sound of Spreading the Disease, improving the guitar production but sacrificiing a little in melody, Among the Living is a highly aggressive and as heavy as this band would be. Joey Belladonna did sound more of out place here than on the previous album as the music was not as melodic singer oriented. But the voltage charged songs are extremely strong and the slightly misplaced vocals can be overlooked. Some of Anthrax's best songs can be found here: the title track, the comic book hero tribute of "I am the Law", a slap at John Belushi's demise in "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)", "Caught in a Mosh" and "Imitation of Life". With a great, thick sound that allowed for the bass, guitars and drums to all find prominence, Among the Living is a record that has a lot going for it. As stated above, whether you think this is Anthrax's best work or a bit less, the album still demands a spot in your record collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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I'm The Man EP

Anthrax - I'm The Man EP ©1987 Island
1. I'm The Man (Censored Radio Version)
2. I'm The Man (Def Uncensored Version)
3. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
4. I'm The Man - Live (Extremely Def Ill Uncensored Version)
5. Caught In A Mosh - Live
6. I Am The Law - Live

So in all probability Anthrax can be blamed for the rise of rap influence in heavy music in the late 90s. I'm the Man, a mere sidelight to the band's main ventures in 1987, is nothing more than a fun little EP that showed off another side to the band. Unlike the majority of their contemporaries, Anthrax proved they had a lighter side and could be goofy as well as serious with their music. "I'm the Man", featured in three different versions on the EP, is a silly romp through what now sounds like quaint rap. The two studio versions vary only in that the radio friendly version puts well timed sound effects over certain "naughty" words while the uncensored version lets your virgin ears hear those nasty words such as "suck" and whatnot. The live version of the song is totally a hoot, with a grand amount of audience interaction and naughty words abounding. (The band is from New York City, so you honestly can't expect British Masterpiece Theatre to erupt from their mouths.) The other three tracks on the EP find the band expertly covering Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and running through a couple live versions of Among the Living songs. The production on the live tracks is a bit rough and has always been a bit of a turnoff for me.

At the time, there was very little uproar over a metal band displaying an influence in rap music. I suspect that if this album had been released in the past two years, today's intolerant audience would have crucified the band for daring venture outside the carefully constructed paradigms of what metal bands are allowed to do. But since 1987 was considerably different in terms of audience prejudice, I'm the Man has turned out to be a fun and defining moment for Anthrax.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2002

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State Of Euphoria

Anthrax - State Of Euphoria ©1988 Megaforce/Island
1. Be All, End All
2. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
3. Make Me Laugh
4. Antisocial
5. Who Cares Wins
6. Now It's Dark
7. Schism
8. Misery Loves Company
9. 13
10. Finalé

Though this album comes across dated now, State of Euphoria was a huge favorite of mine upon its 1988 release, getting daily play in my little stereo. The album also was the last to feature the more cartoony, humorous side of Anthrax. For whatever reason, the band received a ton of flack for all the non-music related issues: their clothes and the cartoon Not Man. Much of that was unfounded and completely aside from the album which, overall, is a good piece of work. Tracks like "Who Cares Win" and "Schism" tackled social issues such as homelessness and growing up in a racist society. There were moments of minor levity, such as the hilarious "Finale" (which also rocks out, incidentally). So in essence much of the criticism was unfounded. While the band had let up ever so slightly on the intensity of 1987's Among the Living, the album still is a high charged thrash frenzy, perhaps a bit more melodic. Singer Joey Belladonna was still trying to find his vocal niche in the band (and as history shows, he never quite did, at least for the rest of the band's tastes) but is fairly convincing throughout. State of Euphoria certainly is a credible and enjoyable Anthrax fest that did not deserve the critical backlash of the time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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Penikufesin EP

Anthrax - Penikufesin EP ©1989 Island
1. Now It's Dark
2. Antisocial (French Version)
3. Friggin' In The Riggin'
4. Parasite
5. Sects
6. Pipeline

This famous Japanese-only EP was released right before Anthrax began to lose their sense of humor as a band. With "Now It's Dark" as the one album track from State of Euphoria, this six song EP features five unreleased tracks (although three of them would resurface on Attack of the Killer B's in 1991) that showed off the band's ability to have a little fun in a genre that has often sorely lacked the ability to lighten up and have a good time. "Friggin' in the Riggin'" is an semi-Irish drinking song set to metal while the band covers goodtime songs such as KISS's "Parasite" and the Ventures' "Pipeline". This EP also features the French language version of "Antisocial" that I don't believe has appeared anywhere else. For all I know, singer Joey Belladonna mangles the language, but it definitely has a slightly different vibe than the version on State of Euphoria.

All in all, Penikufesin is a good collector's item for the more ardent fans of Anthrax. The non-album tracks are aplenty and even though half of them appear elsewhere, having the actual copy of this EP is worth the effort.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2002

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Persistence Of Time

Anthrax - Persistence Of Time ©1990 Megaforce/Island
1. Time
2. Blood
3. Keep It In The Family
4. In My World
5. Gridlock
6. Intro To Reality
7. Belly Of The Beast
8. Got The Time
9. H8 Red
10. One Man Stands
11. Discharge

There is no doubt in my mind that this is Anthrax's finest hour as a band. Fueled by a renewed sense of seething anger at the state of the world, the quartet shed much of their cartoonish imagery to instead focus on social ills, among other things. Gone were the odes to Stephen King novels and some of their moments of levity. Instead, the band chose to lyrically lash out at racism, teenage angst and rebellion towards monolithic authority figures. Set to amped and charged music, persistence of Time is easily one of the best albums of 1990, if not in all of metal.

From the rampaging outset of "Time", this album rages the entire length of the disc with very few moments of breathing time in between. Whereas many thrash records of the era were a dead sprint, persistence of Time is a marathon, showing remarkable endurance, especially over the course of time. Most notable of all are Joey Belladonna's vocals, which arguably were his best with the band. Confident and interpreting the lyrical anger with both class and aggression, Belladonna simply tore things up here. Why he was unceremoniously booted a couple years later still mystifies me. Meanwhile, the band did nothing but attack their instruments with a sense of urgency, powered by the disgust at the world. Highlights are plenty here: "Time", "Blood", the phenomenal instrumental "Intro to Reality" (seguing nicely into "Belly of the Beast"), "In my World", the cover of Joe Jackson's "Got the Time" (quite appropriate, given the theme of the album) and "One Man Stands", which I believe is one of Belladonna's most convincing vocal performances ever. Had Anthrax demonstrated they were this serious a couple years earlier, it is entirely possible the backlash towards the "fun" image of State of Euphoria might have been avoided. And sadly, persistence of Time has been somewhat forgotten over the past decade as an example of a band completely shedding themselves of a skin and finding the raw layer underneath to be a better and more fleshed out entity. Lifelong Anthrax fans should already be aware of how amazing and solid this record is. Those who have avoided the band due to their "cartoon" image or only know of the John Bush era are hereby required to give persistence of Time your ear and attention.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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Attack Of The Killer B's

Anthrax - Attack Of The Killer B's ©1991 Megaforce/Island
1. Milk (ode To Billy)
2. Bring The Noise
3. Keep In The Family (live)
4. Startin' Up A Posse
5. Protest And Survive
6. Chromatic Death
7. I'm The Man '91
8. Parasite
9. Pipeline
10. Sects
11. Belly Of The Beast (live)
12. N.F.B. (dallabnikufesin)

Attack of the Killer B's seemed at the time of its release to be a stopgap bonus collection for the fans. However, it turned out to be the end of an era considering vocalist Joey Belladonna was booted from the band not long afterwards. Regardless of the fact that the long "EP" featured covers, live tracks and other assorted leftovers, Attack happens to be one of the best things the band ever released. Anthrax had built a reputation for having a sense of humor in the 80s in a genre infamous for taking itself far too seriously. And unfortunately this was the last release for the band that showed their humor. "Startin' Up a Posse" is an example of their biting satire, where Scott Ian takes the vocal lead to push seven naughty words in the face of would-be censors. (This resulted in a tame, Wal-Mart friendly version without this song.) "N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin)" is a take-off of the power ballads of the 80s, complete with pseudo-heartwrenching vocals and acoustic guitars. Needless to say, this song is a riot. Of the covers, their take on Discharge's "Protest and Survive", Kiss's "Parasite", the Venture's "Pipeline" are all dead on. Also included on the CD are their crossover rap-metal tracks "Bring the Noise" (with help from Pubic Enemy) and a remake of "I'm the Man" that lacks a lot of the original silliness and character. The two live tracks are nothing overly special. Of all the great songs on Persistence of Time, Anthrax could have chosen something besides "Keep It In the Family", but that's just my personal opinion. Attack of the Killer B's shouldn't be taken all too seriously but it did show the band had the ability to step outside of conventional metal terms and just simply have some fun. It's too bad more bands couldn't take the cue from Anthrax.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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Sound Of White Noise

Anthrax - Sound Of White Noise ©1993 Elektra
1. Potter's Field
2. Only
3. Room For One More
4. Packaged Rebellion
5. Hy Pro Glo
6. Invisible
7. 1000 Points Of Hate
8. Black Lodge
9. C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na
10. Burst
11. This Is Not An Exit

After the unceremonius ousting of Joey Belladonna as the Anthrax singer, Anthrax recruited - surprisingly to me - John Bush from Armored Saint to take over the frontman position. But their first collaboration together, Sound of White Noise, has turned out to be the red-headed stepchild in the band's long discography for a variety of reasons. First, I was very upset to find out Bush was leaving one of my favorite bands, especially after their excellent 1991 release Symbol of Salvation. Second, the remaining members of Anthrax had a lot to live up to after their previous incredible studio album, persistence of Time. Third, considering Belladonna had really done a fine job on the last album and his voice was an identifying factor for Anthrax, it was hard to get used to the idea of John Bush's also identifying voice being on an Anthrax record. So in essence, Sound of White Noise came across as a mismatched letdown for the band and something I just never really could sit through very often. Granted, the production here is phenomenal, giving the guitars their first real breathing room on nearly any Anthrax album, but the songs themselves seemed unsure and hesitant. It was as if the band said, "Okay, we got this singer now. He doesn't possess the same range as Mr. B. What do we do with him now?" Unfortunately, that lack of initial chemistry hurts this album like no one's business. No one sounded particularly convincing in their respective roles. The album sounds more like session musicians recorded it rather than the angered and driven men that released persistence of Time. "Only" and the very moody "Black Lodge" are the two songs that I've actually enjoyed playing by choice. The rest of the album just exists in limbo.

Considering the huge contract the band signed with Elektra to become the next Metallica, it's really too bad this hardworking group of people didn't quite gel on this record. I rather imagine that had Anthrax stuck it out with Belladonna for another record, their story in the 90s would be somewhat different. Anthrax traded in a lot of identity with their vocalist change and it was something that would take at least two more albums to overcome to a large degree.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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Black Lodge (single)

Anthrax - Black Lodge (single) ©1993 Elektra
1. Black Lodge (black Strings Mix)
2. Black Lodge (Tremelo Mix)
3. Black Lodge (Mellow To Mad Mix)
4. Love Her All I Can
5. Cowboy Song

The digipack single release of one of the better Sound of White Noise tracks contains not just one, but three versions of the song. Naturally one would argue that this is possibly two versions too many as the varying mixes don't really add a heck of a lot to the song. "Black Lodge" tends to stand on its own as a good Anthrax milemarker, proving they could write something besides hard, fast songs. But if one must choose a favorite mix, the "Mellow to Mad Mix" probably suits the song the best. "Love Her All I Can", a non-album track, features harmony help from some no-name guys from KISS and "Cowboy Song" is a tepid cover of Thin Lizzy. All in all, a good single that at least knows the secret to success in singles is including non-album covers like the ones here. Otherwise, there is no point in hearing album tracks in slightly different form.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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Live: The Island Years

Anthrax - Live: The Island Years ©1994 Island
1. (Efilnikufesin) N.F.L.
2. A.I.R.
3. Parasite
4. Keep It In The Family
5. Caught In A Mosh
6. Indians
7. Antisocial
8. Bring The Noise (with Public Enemy)
9. I Am The Law
10. Metal Thrashing Mad
11. In My World
12. Now It's Dark

What a travesty. For a live band that ranks as one of the best over the years, this concert recording is about as exciting as watching that man paint "happy trees" on PBS. Considering the title refers to the band's former record label, one can easily assume that Island Records was still owed one more release on their contract with Anthrax and the result is this belated live package. Live: The Island Years was released three years after its actual recording in 1994 and was quite the anachronism since singer Joe Belladonna was long out the door and Anthrax had already released new material with their current singer, John Bush. Worse yet, the sound quality comes across as though the individuals responsible for the recording cared for the product nearly as much as the band...which translates to not at all. Nursing homes have more energy than this muddy, tired recording. The guitars have as much bite as a pitbull with dentures and the sound is nullified into a dull mush. The sad thing is that I'm sure those in attendance that night probably were treated to one heck of a show, but the translation to actual recording missed all that. The final three tracks were recorded at a radio show in early 1992 and only contain a slight bit more energy. With the impression this live show was nothing more than the final legal responsibility of the band towards Island Records, you can quickly surmise the precise necessity this album has towards yourself. Chances are filling out your Right Said Fred collection may be more important.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2000

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Stomp 442

Anthrax - Stomp 442 ©1995 Elektra
1. Random Acts Of Senseless Violence
2. Fueled
3. King Size
4. Riding Shotgun
5. Perpetual Motion
6. In A Zone
7. Nothing
8. American Pompeii
9. Drop The Ball
10. Tester
11. Bare

After the relatively disappointing Sound of White Noise, Anthrax slowly started to regain their bearings on their second release with singer John Bush, who finally started to gel with the rest of the band. However, long time lead guitarist Dan Spitz bailed out on the band before this album, forcing the band to use outside guitarists and drummer Charlie Benante to lay down leads. Overall, Stomp 442 is an improvement from their last record, but upon multiple listens, a lot of the songs come across as thin. The album does kick off with two aggro-intense tracks in "Random Acts of Senseless Violence" and "Fueled", but the following tracks are just not quite there in terms of lasting strength. It just doesn't do these days to write loud, heavy songs with a lot of stomp appeal. "King Size", "Riding Shotgun" and "Perpetual Motion" do little to separate themselves as individual tracks and unfortunately that causes a bit of stagnation mid-album. Bush's melodies on these songs just lack the strength to kick the songs into gear. But on "Nothing", the band remembers a bit of their persistence of Time skills and come up with a highly addictive song with superb melody while carefully dwelling in their newer sound. Unfortunately, that is the last excellent song until the suprising album closer, "Bare". For a band that went out of its way to avoid "the power ballad" in the 80s, Anthrax has shown that with Bush, they are able to convey a whole lot of emotion when they break out the acoustic guitars and quiet songs. "Bare" comes to a thundering climax at the end, with heavy guitars working in spine-shivering conjuction with the acoustic guitar. Anthrax probably should have written a few more of these from time to time as they have a knack for writing a moodier song without reverting to cheesy cliche elements. Stomp 442 is unfortunately a fairly lackluster record but it is a stepping stone and improvement for the 90s version of the band. Proceed directly to their latest studio album, Volume 8: The Threat is Real.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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Volume 8: The Threat Is Real

Anthrax - Volume 8: The Threat Is Real ©1998 Ignition Records
1. Crush
2. Catharsis
3. Inside Out
4. Piss N Vinegar
5. 604
6. Toast To The Extras
7. Born Again Idiot
8. Killing Box
9. Harms Way
10. Hog Tied
11. Big Fat
12. Cupajoe
13. Alpha Male
14. Stealing From A Thief
15. Pieces--(unlisted Track)

It's about time one of those "classic" 80's thrash metal bands came back with a vengeance. While others in their circle have either gone on to super-mega-stardom, gotten watered down or simply vanished, Anthrax has resurfaced in 1998 to reclaim at least a small portion of the musical domain. As you might have noticed from prior reviews, I haven't been the biggest fan of the band since John Bush took over vocals (I still have to get past the instant Armored Saint connotations when I hear Bush's voice). Sound of White Noise languished away in my CD racks and Stomp 442, while being a step in the right direction, didn't really stand the test of time. So naturally I was a bit leery of any new Anthrax product.

Volume 8, I am proud to report, is precisely the album Anthrax needed to reclaim respectability. I would say the past couple years were well spent in songwriting school, as a handful of these songs are as good as anything in the band's extensive catalogue. "Catharsis" is easily the top of the heap here, with the chorus being something that gives me chills. Bush is definitely finding a niche here. "Toast to the Extras" actually adds a harmonica and Lousiana swamp style guitars, making it a cool little stylistic detour. Other highlights are the rhythmic crusher "Crush" (hence the name), "Big Fat's" interesting subtle effects and catchy vibe, the snappy melody of "Stealing a Thief", and the untitled acoustic track at the end of the disc which shows the band is totally capable of playing a moody track without giving into those power ballad accusations that used to fly a decade ago. For those who are concerned these aging rockers are getting mellow, "Piss n Vinegar" and Killing Box" are quite thumping.

It's certainly relieving to see your heroes from way back can still rock with the best of them. For anyone who wrote off Anthrax after 1990, it's time to re-investigate. They are for real.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1998

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We've Come For You All

Anthrax - We've Come For You All ©2003 Sanctuary
1. Contact
2. What Doesn't Die
3. Superhero
4. Refuse to Be Denied
5. Safe Home
6. Any Place But Here
7. Nobody Knows Anything
8. Strap It On
9. Black Dahlia
10. Cadillac Rock Box
11. Taking the Music Back
12. Crash
13. Think About an End
14. W.C.F.Y.A.

In the five years since Anthrax released Volume 8: The Threat is Real, the band suffered through a series of problems and indignities that would derail lesser humans. Volume 8's record label promptly went defunct, forcing the album out of print in rather short order. Then, during the strange case of domestic terrorism following 9/11, Anthrax found themselves in the spotlight due to the anthrax-by-mail attacks that cowed an already meek media. Perhaps if Senator Daschle and various members of the media had received copies of Among the Living, the FBI wouldn't have been so keen to investigate. Nevertheless, the members of Anthrax had to deal with questions whether they should change their name. Eventually, Anthrax put it behind them (as well as the FBI, as the case never got solved, which is suspicious in and of itself) and finally put together a new studio album called We've Come For You All.

The album featured new lead guitarist Rob Caggiano along with mainstays Scott Ian, John Bush, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante. In theory, after years of lacking a lead guitarist following the 1995 departure of Dan Spitz, this stable lineup should have resulted in a solid album. Unfortunately, We've Come For You All suffers from mediocrity from start to finish. Whereas Volume 8 was essentially a good album from start to finish (with perhaps a couple bum songs), We've Come For You All is a quite disappointing CD that flounders throughout. Granted, a couple of the songs are top notch ("Safe Home" is probably the best of the bunch), but overall this is the weakest release since their lousy 1993 release, Sound of White Noise. Considering singer John Bush's first foray with Anthrax was that release and We've Come For You All has proven to be his last effort with the band, the Bush era of Anthrax has some mediocre bookends.

When this album came out in 2003, I never did feel motivated to listen to it very often and it certainly hasn't aged well since 2003. Since the band spent the years between 2003 and 2008 going through an identity crisis, one can assume the band was running on fumes at the time of this album's recording. The attempt to reunite the Among the Living lineup worked for a bit of touring, but fell apart before they could get into the studio. John Bush has understandably put Anthrax into his past, rather than being a second rate stooge trotted out when Joey Belladonna isn't available. Rob Caggiano rejoined the current incarnation of Anthrax, but was forced to step aside for Dan Spitz during the unification attempt. With all the turmoil and the fact the band has gone a decade since their last record, it does make me wonder why these guys insist upon remaining together.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2008

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The Greater Of Two Evils

Anthrax - The Greater Of Two Evils ©2004 Sanctuary
1. Deathrider
2. Metal Thrashing Mad
3. Caught In A Mosh
4. A.I.R.
5. Among The Living
6. Keep It In The Family
7. Indians
8. Madhouse
9. Panic
10. I Am The Law
11. Belly Of The Beast
12. N.F.L.
13. Be All End All
14. Gung-Ho

Despite a bevy of setbacks, Anthrax has sure stuck around like a piece of old gum over the past few years. Granted, their career apogee was long ago, but you have to give them credit for continuing on. However, the last few years have been a bit disconcerting. First off, there was that incident with the mysterious anthrax letters after 9/11, made even more mysterious when the media and government suddenly stopped mentioning it, despite never arresting anyone. Then there was the soap opera of lineup changes, near reunions and how Scott Ian's chin hair single handedly thwarted a terrorist plot to carve Osama bin Laden's initials on the moon. In the meantime, there have been a slew of compiliations all claiming to be "greatest hits", a live DVD and CD, and oh, a studio album. I listened to that album once. We've Come For You All forgot to grab me. In fact, perhaps it should have been titled We've Come for a Few of You...You Know, the Diehards Who Keep Buying Our CDs. So naturally, when you hear that Anthrax has re-recorded a bunch of the classic Joey Belladonna songs, you have to be suspicious. Is this the band finally acknowledging that nearly every classic Anthrax song featured Joey Belladonna? Or is this just helping pay for a set of rare comic books for Scott Ian?

Regardless of misgivings, there's one thing that needs to be noted about this effort: it's a hell of a lot of fun. John Bush has been in the band for a longer period of time than Joey and it's not like he's a vocal slouch. It just so happens that Anthrax's music in the 80s and early 90s was their creative peak. Throughout this entire CD, I've found myself rocking out like I was sixteen again. The band sounds like they're having a blast making this record, even though it could just as easily been a live record featuring these tunes as the setlist. Oh wait...they just released a live album. Anthrax apparently decided to show off John Bush's ability to deliver the older songs as well as feature the latest lead guitarist to play alongside Scott Ian. The songs are all presented with gusto and energy. The band doesn't stray outside the original arrangements very much, so essentially you have 2004's Anthrax covering 80s Anthrax.

Strangely, after putting together this album, the "classic" lineup of Anthrax (Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna and Dan Spitz) abruptly decided they could all tour together again. After going through so much trouble to show how well John Bush and guitarist Rob Caggiano could handle the older material, you have to wonder why they were cast aside. Oh yeah. I'm sure concert guarantees are much higher with the old lineup.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2005

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Worship Music

Anthrax - Worship Music ©2011 Megaforce
1. Worship (Intro)
2. Earth On Hell
3. The Devil You Know
4. Fight 'Em Til You Can't
5. I'm Alive
6. Hymn 1
7. In the End
8. The Giant
9. Hymn 2
10. Judas Priest
11. Crawl
12. The Constant
13. Revolution Screams

Anthrax, Testament and Slayer are bands I always felt were less interesting than Metallica and Megadeth: the riffs, lyrics, melodies, lead guitar and singing always struck me as mediocre at best. Anthrax in particular was self-consciously genre-bound--a metal band first and foremost, whose music was metal before it was music. Metallica broke out of that pigeonhole immediately after their first album, and Megadeth had superb lead guitar to make up for Dave Mustaine's whining. The rest of the world seemed to agree with that assessment to some extent, leaving Anthrax, Testament and even Slayer behind as harder metal music became more popular and even mainstream, with bands like Korn, System of a Down and even Cradle of Filth selling large numbers of records and getting radio airplay.

After a good ten years of often groundbreaking evolution and increasing success, the old guard of thrash suffered from a collective lack of creativity and success from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, except maybe for Slayer. Then, miraculously, something happened, and both Megadeth and Metallica released kick-ass records that were nearly on par with their early output. Perhaps spurred by the prospect of riding their cohort's coattails, or shamed into doing something that didn't suck for a change, Anthrax did something even more impressive: they released an album that's actually better than all their old stuff combined.

Worship Music has a complicated history: it was recorded with an interim singer, who then left the band, prompting Anthrax to get their old singer Joey Belladonna back into the fold and re-do the vocal tracks on the record. The whole adventure delayed the album's release by a few years, but it was certainly worth the wait. The songs on Worship Music are consistently strong, melodic and catchy, with Anthrax's signature propulsive riffing and rhythms, and falsetto-free singing from a rejuvenated Belladonna. Lead guitarist Rob Caggiano plays ripping, memorable and shreddy solos that evoke the best of Dimebag Darrell. Some of the songs recall Anthrax's early NWOBHM influences (in a similar way to Queensryche old records, sans makeup or histrionics), from the harmony riffage to the Frank Bello's rumbling bass guitar, while bringing in other influences as in "Crawl", a grungy Alice in Chains/STP/Beatles-esque song that slowly builds up to a catchy metal anthem. They flirt with power metal in a couple of instances ("Fight 'em 'Til You Can't", "Judas Priest") but several songs are as good as, nay, better than, anything they've ever done before ("I'm Alive", "In the End", "The Giant", "The Constant").

I wonder if old-school fans will scream bloody murder and accuse Anthrax of selling out. Maybe they did--this is the first Anthrax record I'll actually buy. Highly recommended.

Review by Rog "The Frog" Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 09/2011

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