September 7, 2011

Music Review: Anthrax - Worship Music

Worship MusicWow, what a long strange trip it has been. The band seemed to have been in a constant state of flux for the past decade. There was the parting of ways with longtime frontman John Bush, who joined the band in 1992. There was the reunion of the classic lineup and their tour with Judas Priest (what a great show that was). Then we had the recruitment of vocalist Dan Nelson and the recording of an entire album that was scrapped (would love to hear some of that stuff). Finally the core band reunited with classic-era vocalist Joey Belladonna, the Big Four tour, and now the release of a much overdue album. Phew. Well, let me tell you that the wait has been well worth it. While Worship Music is not one to break down barriers, it is one that brings Anthrax back to the discussion and is really a solid slab of metal.

My introduction to Anthrax came during the classic era, must have been around the release of Among the Living. What a great album that is, heavy riffs, great vocals, plus songs based on Judge Dredd and a Stephen King story! How can you go wrong with that? Well, it seems like so long ago. Don't get me wrong, the John Bush era turned out some great stuff, particularly that first album, The Sound of White Noise. However, no matter how you cut it, when I think Anthrax I think of them with Joey Belladonna on the mic.

In the years between Bush joining and the reunion with Belladonna, I had the opportunity to see Anthrax a couple of times and they put on a great show. I also had the opportunity to see Joey Bellabonna perform solo shows, as well as hang out with him post shows. Those were some great times, but through it all, this is what I wanted, Joey, Scott, Charlie, Frank, together in the same band. Sorry, Rob Caggiano is good, but I grew up with Danny Spitz.

It may have taken more than twenty years for Anthrax with Joey to release some new music and eight years for Anthrax period, but I am really liking this. I must admit that some of my enjoyment may be a little due to nostalgia, there is something about his voice and the band's distinctive style that just go so well together.

On the other hand, the band sounds as tight and focused as ever. The music is refined, polished, but still has that edge that I always associated with them. They always were a metal band that sounded a bit different than the other thrash titans, what with the clean vocals and everything. Worship Music displays an Anthrax that has matured but is still in a mindset similar to their classic era. The music has a sound that combines styles pioneered in both the Belladonna and Bush eras, folded on top of each other in a reinvention of sorts.

Following a brief intro (that I could have done without), Worship Music immediately kicks into gear with some old school thrash with "Earth on Hell." Not the best song of the bunch, but one that definitely shows they still have what it takes to kick some ass. Scott Ian shows again why he was always one of my favorite riff guys, while Joey shows that while his range may not be the same as it was some 25-years ago, he still has life left in the pipes and can take that right to the line.

Now, I am not going to take you track by track through the album, but I am definitely going to point you towards some  of the highlights.

Near the top of the list has to be one of the tracks the released early, "Fight'em Til You Can't." A track that brings to mind a zombie apocalypse, likely inspired by George Romero's series of zombie films and thus showing they still have a love for genre work and freely let that come through in their creations. On top of that, the music has a definite modern sound, but there is a distinctly classic sound to the riffs, as if they were written during the State of Euphoria sessions. This is not the only film inspired track, there is also "The Devil You Know," which appears to have taken life through the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In.

Another song that just sounds amazing is "In the End." It begins with a chiming of bells before kicking into a very cool riff and paced to inspire some head nodding. There is something about Joey's vocal delivery that is just terribly effective, he brings sadness to it that is heartbreaking and empowering at the same time. It is a song that makes you want to strive to overcome.

Other solid tracks include "The Constant" with its great Southern metal groove and The cut loose power of the final track, "Revolution Screams." "Judas Priest" is another one filled with solid riffs and metal to get the blood going.

What else is left? This may be long overdue new music from Anthrax, but it was worth the wait. The band is back together and making some great music together. I do not doubt that nostalgia is playing a little with my head, but I still think when that wears off, the perceived quality of Worship Music will remain. Anthrax will always have a special place in my heart. They are thrash that can play with the big boys, but with a sound that makes them stand out from the crowd.

Worship Music is an album to play loud!

Highly Recommended.

. Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment