Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spotlight: Anthrax

Ahhh Anthrax. The ugly step-child of the early thrash movement. They were recognized, but maybe not enough. They didn't have any groups bashing them for being satan worshipers (Slayer), not drug problems (Megadeth), or alcohol issues (Metallica). They jsut went about their way making solid thrash metal. They weren't taken too serious becuase of it too. They had their classic Among the Living. But for me, Anthrax lost the party/good/fun metal with Persistence of Time.

Longer songs, darker lyrics, and more technical music made this an instant classic with all thrash fans. Alot of people still think of Among the Living as their best...I would disagree.

I am a huge fan of the John Bush era of Anthrax. See after Persistence of Time, Joey Belladonna left the band, was fired...whatever the reason, and John Bush of Armored Saint joined. He brought in more of a guys metal. Factoid: John Bush was asked to join Metallica as their singer early on in Metallica's history. His first album, Sound of White Noise, really brought Anthrax to the public. Songs like Only, Potter's Field, and Black Lodge are all metal classics.

Their follow up Stomp 442 was just as good...if not better. But unfortunately, their record label didn't push it as much because grunge was the "in metal" so they felt it wouldn't sell. Stomp 442 was an interesting record because Scott Ian was the only guitarist on the album. Dimebag Darrell did some solos, but it was mainly Scott. To make for the loss of a guitarist their drummer, Charlie Benante, really stepped it up. The drumming on the next few albums were fill of drum fills and some insane beats. Another factoid: Charlie actually writes most of the riffs for the songs. Just listen to a song like Riding Shotgun or Tester to see what I am talking about.

If Stomp 442 got no love, then Volume 8 was abandoned. They were dropped after Stomp 442 and signed with a small label. Well a few months after Volume 8 came out *bam* the record company folds. Volume 8...gone. Out of print for years, it was recently released. Volume 8 is more of the same style, but was missing something for me. I will say this though Crush and Inside Out are classic metal songs. They are so brutal and good.

Next album...We've Come for You All. This is probably my favorite Bush era album. It takes all the strengths from their last 3 albums and they bring it together for this one. Insane drumming - listen to Nobody Knows Anything, killer riffs - What Doesn't Die, great chorus - Any Place but Here. A little death metal drumming and guitaring comes into play with Black Dahlia as well. Not to mention the return of a lead guitarist.

After that they went ahead and re-recorded some songs from their pre-Bush catalog, voted on by the complaining there. I was pretty pumped to see some Persistence of Time songs on their (Belly of the Beast & Keep it in the Family). Listening to the re-recorded versions made me realize how much better Anthrax sounded with Bush on vocals.

Unfortunately, Anthrax got on the "reunion" band wagon. In a nutshell, a 2 year reunion tour with Joey and the other guitarist, but no new album. Bush was left on the side line. After the tour was over and no album was planned they asked Bush back, but he declined because of the way the tour went down.

So what's next? Well Anthrax just announced a new singer. Who knows how good he will sound. But I need that style that John Bush brought to the band. Hopefully the riffs and drumming will still be there.

BTW, pick up Return of the Killer A's and Greater of Two Evils for a good mix of Anthrax music.

Playlist for the week:
Monday: Riding Shotgun, Belly of the Beast from Stomp 442 & The Greater of Two Evils
Tuesday: Hy Pro Glo (remix), Potter's Field (remix), Crush from Return of the Killer A's
Wednesday: Fueled, Black Lodge, Only from Stomp 442 & Sound of White Noise
Thursday: What Doesn't Die, Nobody Knows Anything, Anyplace But Here from We've Come for You All.

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