Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Initial Impressions: Anthrax: Worship Music

I can't believe I am saying this, but what a shocking and pleasant surprise we have here. The trials and tribulations of Anthrax recording this album had taken on an almost Chinese Democracy scale. The revolving door behind the mic was a soap opera in itself with both of the band's major former singers coming and going a number of times each and the band seemingly settling in with unknown Dan Nelson for a time until the stress became too much for him and he left. That was quite a run-on sentence but it pretty adequately depicts the weirdness of the whole situation. Of course Joey Belladonna came back once more and took over for good.

But enough of all that. When it came down to it, Anthrax has returned with their best album since probably Sound of White Noise. I liked John Bush as a singer, but he never really seemed to fit into what Anthrax was all about and was a much better fit for his other band Armored Saint. That said, the first album with Bush was pretty good and it was not until later that the band had a precipitous fall from grace.

As for the music itself, Anthrax's trademarked crunch is back in full force. The songs for the most part are fairly melodic, but Scott Ian and Frank Bello complement the melody nicely with some heavy rhythmic riff work. While this is not as heavy of a thrash metal album as the band's early material, it still fits in nicely as a melodic thrash metal album in the vein of Testament's work.

Joey Belladonna actually seems to sound better with age. I have not been a big fan of his style, but his work on this album is smoother and not nearly as shrill. He does some fantastic work on these songs.

There are a few missteps along the way. The track "Judas Priest", despite a decent riff ultimately comes off clumsy and the album does drag a little at times. But overall, this is an extremely impressive return by one of the Big Four. It is the band's best material in a long, long time.

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