The East Coast thrash legend’s eleventh album hits the streets and sees the debut of new guitarist Jonathan Donais, formerly of Shadows Fall.
One of the “Big 4” (with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer), thrash legends Anthrax have now been going for 35 years.
Formed by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Liker in New York and after some line-up changes were joined by drummer Charlie Benante. After two albums and a change of personnel, the line-up for the classic 1987 LP Among The Living featured guitarist Dan Spitz, bassist Frank Bello and vocalist Joey Belladonna alongside Ian and Benante. Since then Anthrax have had hits with a cover of Joe Jackson’s Got Time, Only and Bring The Noise, the latter featuring Public Enemy.
After a number of lineups, including singer John Bush (twice) and a returning Belladonna, the current lineup sees guitarist Donais join the otherwise classic line-up.
The 13 track set opens with the instrumental intro Impaled, hints of orchestra and marching band rhythm, it builds solidly. This leads into the 6 minute You Gotta Believe which, during it’s smoother parts is a hard aggressive and solid riff, classic Anthrax. The bursts of riffs and drum rolls break up the rhythm and are ever so slightly disjointed, a nod to the 90s. That said, it’s a great sonic assault that opens the album well. The bass / guitar break mid-song add an atmospheric progressive touch.
Monster At The End is an intelligent song with more shred than riff.
The title track sees Belladonna’s vocals as strong as ever, quite intricate in places too.
Breathing Lightning mixes classic Anthrax with a more modern sound. The more Alt breaks don’t work so well, but there are some great melodies here. Likewise Breathing Out, great melodies aside, I feel tries to be too mature and isn’t so catchy in typical Anthrax ways.
Evil Twin is fast and furious; while the vocals are a far cry from the 80s, the phrasing, like the melody, make for great listening.
The furious riffing and shredding continues throughout, both guitars supported by some solid bass work.
It took me 2 or 3 listens to really appreciate this album, and the current Anthrax, for what they are now. I admit I went into this expecting an updated Among The Living and anyone sticking to that may feel a little let down. The songwriting has matured and the structure more incorporated and intricate; the reliance on 80s riffs may not be there, and the vocals don’t stand separate so much, they are much more part of the songs here. There are some throwbacks, including Zero Tolerance, but it’s a good blend throughout. 8/10