Monday, February 29, 2016

Anthrax - For All Kings (2016)

I have always seen Anthrax like the ugly duckling of the thrash metal family. While they have created some great tunes and some amazing albums, like "Among The Living" and "Spreading The Disease", during their 30+ years, they still struggle to create some credibility to their work, especially since two of their most famous songs, and most played on stage, are covers ("Antisocial" and "Got The Time"). So when they returned in 2011 with "Worship Music", I was more or less shell shocked. It was not an amazing album, but it was way better than I could have ever expected it to be, containing a great pack of cool songs like "Fight 'em 'til You Can't", "Devil You Know" and "Revolution Screams".

The newest addition to the band is the guitarist Jonathan Donais, whom is most known for his work in Shadows Fall, and replaces Rob Caggiano (whom later joined Volbeat (!?)). Jonathan does not really bring too much new to the band, maybe some more modern thrash riffs, but that is pretty much it. Still, he does a great job together with Scott Ian, and he seems like a good fit for the future.

As for the rest of the band, they seem to enjoy themselves in this record. Joey Belladonna delivers some great vocals, Frank Bello drops some good bass lines and the drumming of Benante is pounding on like it should. The band has certainly found a chemistry that brings harmony to each other, which ultimately leads to some great music.

And yes, the music on "For All Kings" is great... most of it. I am really unsure if I should consider this to be a pure thrash record or not, because while it does have a foundation of thrash riffs and beats, the band tends to float away to more strange territories, and the bottom of this barrel is further down than it should be (blame "Defend Avenge" and "Blood Eagle Wings"). While "Worship Music" had around the same overall feeling, it did compensate it with great song writing. "For All Kings" is surely a little more inconsistent effort, but fortunately, the tops here are higher.

The first single "Evil Twin" is definitely one of those tops, a fast, frantic thrasher that embodies everything that Anthrax is known and loved for. The title track also shines with its dominant lyrics, and a solo that simply kicks ass. Then we have the opener "You Gotta Believe", that sets the bar high with a strong attitude. Also wanna give a shout out to two other songs, "Breathing Lightning" for being innovative and interesting (although I think it will be a song fans either love or hate), and "Zero Tolerance" that ends the album on a really high note.

It is crazy when you think about it, but out of all the Big 4 of Thrash, Anthrax is the most consistent one. Slayer suffers from the death of Hanneman, Megadeth is inconsistency personified, and Metallica keeps procrastinating, but Anthrax is delivering some solid thrash. This is a album that will probably divide most of the fans, but if you enjoyed "Worship Music", this should be right up your alley. For me, this is a good album that will not make me worship Anthrax as kings, but I will still salute them for a job well done, and showing that they are not done yet with their reign.

Songs worthy of recognition: Evil Twin, For All Kings, Zero Tolerance

Rating: 7,5/10 Suzerains

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