Anthrax

MrKnickerbocker

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Someone ready the banhammer, cause it's...

Among The Living (1987)
I don't know what happened, and I don't know why I am about to be controversial, but...this album is ludicrously flawed. Sure, there's 2-3 absolute classics, but the rest, YEEEEEESH the rest is just not very good. The title track, Caught in a Mosh, and Indians are fantastic. Everything else could easily be dumped. Props go to Benante and Bello for performing the shit out of every song, and even Dan Spitz for throw some catchy leads in there.

1. The vocal melodies are fucking terrible. Scott Ian's lyrics are unsingable, have virtually no melodic hooks (beyond the three aforementioned tunes...and even those have terrible issues in the verses), and...
2. Joey Belladonna sounds like absolute shit. He is not believable singing for this band, his melodic choices are questionable at best, and (again) Ian's lyrics are fucking unsingable over the music. You can even tell that the band knew this, since the gang vocals LITERALLY NEVER STOP. Scott Ian and Frankie Bello probably sing as much on this record as Joey does. It's incredibly annoying. It's also very obvious that Joey double/triple-tracked all of his leads as there is constant phasing issues in the mix.
3. Most of the riffs are stock as shit. It's just crunching and thrashing. 70% of this album is unmemorable at best, or memorable-for-the-worst-reasons.

I know it's heralded as a "classic of the genre", but no, this is a step back from where the band was headed on Spreading the Disease. They want to be as fast and brutal as Slayer, but with a singer who'd rather sing Journey covers and lyrics about comic books. It's just...a misfire. I know. Ban me now.

This article does a great job of summing up many of my points: https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2011/07/20/disposable-heroes-anthrax-s-among-the-living/

Among the Living - 10/10
Caught in a Mosh - 10/10
I Am the Law - 7/10
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) - 5/10
A Skeleton in the Closet - 6/10
Indians - 10/10
One World - 4/10
A.D.I./Horror Of It All - 5/10
Imitation of Life - 2/10

Album Rating - 6.5/10

*John Bush sounds 100% better singing all of these songs*
 

MrKnickerbocker

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State of Euphoria (1988)
The thing I like about this record is that the music has gotten better. The riffs are more memorable, they're more varied, and the songwriting is more complex. It's not just crunchy thrash song after crunchy thrash song. Unfortunately, it's not a good album. Apparently the band was rushed through the writing and recording process and you can certainly hear it. A lot of the tunes feel unfinished, especially (once again) in the vocal and lyric department. It's a shame, because with proper melodies and singing, the songs here could have been really great (and definitely better than ATL), but they just never get there.

Be All, End All and Antisocial are classics, just stellar tunes (yes, I know the latter is a cover). Out of Sight, Out of Mind is solid, if a little sing-songy. Finale is decent, but suffers from the same flaws as the rest of the album: boneheaded lyrical writing and poor vocal performance. The melodies in songs like Make Me Laugh, Now It's Dark, and Misery Loves Company are atonal (or just performed off-key by Belladonna) and actually make my skin crawl. I would normally fault Joey for all of this, but it's definitely the fault of the composition (i.e. Scott Ian's writing).

Be All, End All - 10/10
Out of Sight, Out of Mind - 7/10
Make Me Laugh - 2/10
Antisocial - 10/10
Who Cares Wins - 5/10
Now It's Dark - 1/10
Schism - 6/10
Misery Loves Company - 4/10
13/Finale - 7/10

Album Rating - 5.7/10
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Someone ready the banhammer, cause it's...

Among The Living (1987)
I don't know what happened, and I don't know why I am about to be controversial, but...this album is ludicrously flawed. Sure, there's 2-3 absolute classics, but the rest, YEEEEEESH the rest is just not very good. The title track, Caught in a Mosh, and Indians are fantastic. Everything else could easily be dumped. Props go to Benante and Bello for performing the shit out of every song, and even Dan Spitz for throw some catchy leads in there.

1. The vocal melodies are fucking terrible. Scott Ian's lyrics are unsingable, have virtually no melodic hooks (beyond the three aforementioned tunes...and even those have terrible issues in the verses), and...
2. Joey Belladonna sounds like absolute shit. He is not believable singing for this band, his melodic choices are questionable at best, and (again) Ian's lyrics are fucking unsingable over the music. You can even tell that the band knew this, since the gang vocals LITERALLY NEVER STOP. Scott Ian and Frankie Bello probably sing as much on this record as Joey does. It's incredibly annoying. It's also very obvious that Joey double/triple-tracked all of his leads as there is constant phasing issues in the mix.
3. Most of the riffs are stock as shit. It's just crunching and thrashing. 70% of this album is unmemorable at best, or memorable-for-the-worst-reasons.

I know it's heralded as a "classic of the genre", but no, this is a step back from where the band was headed on Spreading the Disease. They want to be as fast and brutal as Slayer, but with a singer who'd rather sing Journey covers and lyrics about comic books. It's just...a misfire. I know. Ban me now.

This article does a great job of summing up many of my points: https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2011/07/20/disposable-heroes-anthrax-s-among-the-living/

Among the Living - 10/10
Caught in a Mosh - 10/10
I Am the Law - 7/10
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) - 5/10
A Skeleton in the Closet - 6/10
Indians - 10/10
One World - 4/10
A.D.I./Horror Of It All - 5/10
Imitation of Life - 2/10

Album Rating - 6.5/10

*John Bush sounds 100% better singing all of these songs*
Yeah... it’s a pretty disappointing album. I actually think the songs are pretty strong but as a whole album? God, it never ends.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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Persistence of Time (1990)
After an incredibly lackluster album in SOE, the boys from NYC regrouped, went darker, and came out far stronger for it. This record is easily the best with Belladonna. The songs continue to be heavy and full of trash riffing, but there's also a much groovier introduction here. The best songs on the record (Keep It In The Family, In My World, Belly of the Beast) blend classic thrash tropes with heavy grooves and, FINALLY, great vocal melodies!

I will never love Belladonna's performances, but this is about the best he can do with the material (and certainly the best consistent writing we've heard since Spreading the Disease). Time is a cool opener, Blood is a great song that hints at the more alt-metal and rap tinges they'll continue to play with, and Got The Time is fun as hell. I don't love every song and the final three definitely dip in quality, but it's clear that this is the best Anthrax record yet. At the same time, you can hear how Scott's lyrics and melodies have become too dark (and too low pitch) to continue with Joey...

Time - 8/10
Blood - 9/10
Keep It In The Family - 10/10
In My World - 10/10
Gridlock - 7/10
Intro to Reality/Belly of the Beast - 10/10
Got the Time - 10/10
H8 Red - 6/10
One Man Stands - 7/10
Discharge - 8/10

Album Rating - 8.5/10
 

MrKnickerbocker

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Sound of White Noise (1992)
From the first minute of Potter's Field, it is evident that this is a completely different band. I understand why Belladonna fans are so hardlined about John Bush, and most of it, I think, has nothing to do with John Bush. This is different music. The thrash is gone. Granted, every band kind of did this in the 90s, but only Anthrax succeeded at it, i.e. literally changing styles while still remaining a purely metal band.

Anyway, this album fucking slays. Bush is at the absolute top of his game and the band has finally gelled into something greater than the individual members. Dan Spitz has never sounded more at home and his solos are absolutely his best work here (shame that he would leave right after this album). The songs are darker, heavier, groovier, richer, and also more melodic than most of the Joey era (save for STD). It's just a purely crushing, twisted album from start to finish. Not every song is great, but the overall tone is so consistent and well-produced that the package is just outstanding. I far prefer this Anthrax.

Fun fact: Dave Jerden produced this record and Armored Saint's Symbol of Salvation, arguably the two best John Bush records ever.

Potter's Field - 10/10
Only - 10/10
Room For One More - 10/10
Packaged Rebellion - 9/10
Hy Pro Glo - 10/10
Invisible - 9/10
1000 Points of Hate - 8/10
Black Lodge - 9/10
C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na - 8/10
Burst - 7/10
This Is Not An Exit - 9/10

Album Rating - 9/10
 

MrKnickerbocker

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Stomp 442 (1995)
And now we enter the true low point of Anthrax's career. Now, granted, I'm gonna take a controversial stance here and still end up rating this album higher than most Anthrax "classics" (BLAH BLAH Bush bias BLAH BLAH), but I understand that the late 90s were not great for the band. Stomp 442 is definitely a hodge podge of ideas and trend chasing, but it's not without a ton of merit: mostly in the form of Benante and Bush. The slower tempos and groovier rhythms really allow Benante's drums to take the forefront, even dwarfing Scott Ian's guitar (which is honestly pretty bland and boring during this era).

Bush sounds great on the good songs, literally like a fucking golden vocal god, but there's a couple songs that I would put up there as his worst recordings ever. The fault is the compositions themselves. Riding Shotgun and Perpetual Motion are some of the worst, most atonal songs I've ever heard. The vocal melodies are absolute trash and the songs have virtually zero redeeming qualities. King Size is only good because of the chorus. There's nü-metal, rap-rock, and 90's alternative scattered throughout the tunes and some of it works, but most sounds kinda lame. The first two tracks are great, especially the driving Fueled, and the latter half is chock full of great songs (American Pompeii, Tester, In A Zone are awesome, Nothing and Bare are also really cool). Stomp is incredibly uneven and lacks distinction, but still has a ton of power and good songs.

Random Acts of Senseless Violence - 9/10
Fueled - 10/10
King Size - 5/10
Riding Shotgun - 2/10
Perpetual Motion - 1/10
In A Zone - 9/10
Nothing - 9/10
American Pompeii - 10/10
Drop the Ball - 7/10
Tester - 9/10
Bare - 8/10

Album Rating - 7.2/10
 

MrKnickerbocker

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That's where I lost them.
Didn't mind the entirely different direction they took with Sound, quite liked John Bush's vocals, but this was like, :facepalm:
Which I do understand. Benante taking over more and more of the reins musically really made them sound drastically different (not to mention the trend chasing). The songs that are bad here are the absolute worst they’ve done yet, but I’m a sucker for a good John Bush vocal and this album has those in spades :D
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too
Interesting. King Size is one of my favorite Anthrax songs, other than that I don't really care about this album. Perhaps it's time to spin it again.
 

terrell39

Ancient Mariner
Saw the Stomp tour at a club and they played 3 of the best songs (Random Acts, Fueled, & In a Zone).
Sound quality wise Stomp was a much louder cd than their previous releases at the time.
Got to hang with Frank & Scott afterwards.
That's how I learned A.I.R. stands for Adolescence In (Rebellion Frank told me but everywhere on the web it says the R stands for Red) & A.D.I. stands for Acoustic Dan Intro.
I ast Frank why they don't play old deep cuts like Lone Justice and he said Scott didn't like playing old tracks.
Lead guitarist Paul Crook was cool; not surprised he later started producing as we were discussing Rick Rubin's production of Slayer.

 

MrKnickerbocker

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Saw the Stomp tour at a club and they played 3 of the best songs (Random Acts, Fueled, & In a Zone).
Sound quality wise Stomp was a much louder cd than their previous releases at the time.
Got to hang with Frank & Scott afterwards.
That's how I learned A.I.R. stands for Adolescence In (Rebellion Frank told me but everywhere on the web it says the R stands for Red) & A.D.I. stands for Acoustic Dan Intro.
I ast Frank why they don't play old deep cuts like Lone Justice and he said Scott didn't like playing old tracks.
Lead guitarist Paul Crook was cool; not surprised he later started producing as we were discussing Rick Rubin's production of Slayer.

That’s an absolutely amazing setlist…and an atrocious encore. What a show!

I saw them many times during the post Vol 8 through the final Bush days and they fucking killed every time. Bush was a mad man.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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Volume 8: The Threat Is Real (1998)
This album starts incredibly strong with three killer, heavy, dark songs in a row: Crush, Catharsis, and Inside Out. I love all these tunes and hold them up there as some of my favorite in the discography. After that, however, Charlie and Scott's misguided inspiration continues to spiral further and further down the drain. This feels like a compilation album, like the absolutely terrible Attack of the Killer B's, like a bunch of b-sides, in-jokes, and skits. The entire middle portion of this record is mediocre at best, atonal in the middle, and fucking stupid (604, Cupajoe) at worst. There's a couple songs that are, I guess, alright (P & V, Harms Way, Big Fat, Alpha Male), but they're not memorable or catchy. Stealing From A Thief is solid.

Bush elevates material that doesn't deserve it throughout this record, but also uses his voice in some pretty unpleasant, nu-metal-style shrieks. Anthrax, like most classic metal bands, really misfired in the 90s and this was the worst of it. Volume 8 has no musical identity. It's groove metal, alt-rock, punk, SOD-worship, country-rock, there's even a secret track ballad sung by a thankfully-usually-a-backup-singer Frank Bello. Simply not a good listening experience.

Crush - 10/10
Catharsis - 10/10
Inside Out - 10/10
P & V - 6/10
604 - 1/10
Toast to the Extras - 5/10
Born Again Idiot - 5/10
Killing Box - 5/10
Harms Way - 6/10
Hog Tied - 5/10
Big Fat - 6/10
Cupajoe - 1/10
Alpha Male - 6/10
Stealing From a Thief - 8/10
Pieces - 3/10

Album Rating - 5.8/10
 

terrell39

Ancient Mariner
Saw them live in 2000 & 2003 and only song I saw them play live from Vol 8 was Inside Out in 2003 (when they opened for Judas Priest on Demolition tour).
I was front row center stage screaming the lyrics while John sang them. At end of set while walking back stage John looked at me and either gave me a nod or a thumb up (can't remember which). My buddy saw and said "You got kudos from John Bush!"

 

MrKnickerbocker

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We've Come For You All (2003)
This is my Anthrax record. This was the record that came out after I got into the band. All 4 Anthrax shows I've seen (2002-2003 only) were based around this record - the last of which was the Chicago show at The Metro filmed for the Music of Mass Destruction live album. Needless to say, I fucking love this record. Is it perfect? No. But it is absolutely the single most consistent, catchy, well-produced and well-performed record in their entire catalog. Fight me. You can't.

There are no Anthrax songs heavier than What Doesn't Die, Black Dahlia, or Nobody Knows Anything. There are no Anthrax songs catchier and more melodic than Safe Home, Refuse to Be Denied, or Superhero. This album simply rocks from front to back. The entire band is on fire and represented in the compositions and the mix. John Bush sounds like an absolute champion, Charlie Benante's drums have never sounded better or more intricate, Scott Ian is at home with his thrash chords while dropping catchy riffs left and right, Bello's bass clangs and bangs along as solidly as ever, and new guitarist (and producer) Rob Caggiano breathes new life into the lead guitar role. Any Place But Here, Cadillac Rock Box, Think About an End (that fucking turnaround half-way through that sounds kinda like Belly of the Beast and kinda like Maiden is godly) and Taking The Music Back are all stellar and push the band into new sonic territories without sounding like they're making a joke. I don't particularly like Strap It On or Black Dahlia, but they're still serviceable (with the latter at least being the pinnacle of heaviness for the band). The self-titled closer is also a bit of step down from the rest, but still good.

This is my favorite Anthrax album and I firmly believe it is their best. The fact that they parted ways with Bush shortly after this career high, multiple times, is an atrocity. The fact that they don't play these songs live anymore is asinine and disgraceful.

Contact/What Doesn't Die - 10/10
Supero - 10/10
Refuse to Be Denied - 10/10
Safe Home - 10/10
Any Place But Here - 10/10
Nobody Knows Anything - 10/10
Strap It On - 6/10
Black Dahlia - 7/10
Cadillac Rock Box - 10/10
Taking the Music Back - 9/10
Crash/Think About An End - 10/10
W.C.F.Y.A. - 8/10

Album Rating - 9.1/10
 
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