Kerrang! (UK) - - Reviews -

BACK IN the mid-’80s, ev­ery­one was in such a rush. Back then, Bri­tain had been hastily colonised by a col­lec­tive of feral Amer­i­can acts – ‘The Big Four’ as they were yet to be called – metal bands of a heav­ier, faster, nas­tier hue who in short or­der were fill­ing large halls with mu­sic that was elec­tri­fied in its ur­gency. Me­gadeth twitched like a rat­tlesnake. Slayer barely reached the min­utemark of one song be­fore it clat­tered to a close in or­der to make way for an­other. With the song Mas­ter Of Pup­pets, even Me­tal­lica made an eight-minute track jud­der and jerk like a rusty old roller coaster in its fi­nal sea­son be­fore be­ing de­com­mis­sioned.

Al­ways the ju­nior part­ners in this ca­cophonous quar­tet, An­thrax did much the same. They may have had a more gifted singer than their three Cal­i­for­nian coun­ter­parts – with Joey Bel­ladonna do­ing a good deal more than merely yelling in key – but a song such as 1987’s I Am The Law still packed five min­utes’ worth of riffs into a three­minute frame. With this, An­thrax con­formed to the tenor of the times: ev­ery­thing sounded like some­thing was gonna blow.

In 2016, Slayer and Me­gadeth are es­sen­tially the same bands they al­ways were, and even Me­tal­lica have re­turned to the same ag­i­tated pas­tures from whence they came. But with For All Kings, An­thrax’s first al­bum for five years, and only their third re­lease this cen­tury, the New York­ers con­tinue to utilise sur­pris­ing new tricks. The al­bum’s first track proper, You Gotta Be­lieve, is a seething, but at first not sur­pris­ing, cut of mid-paced metal from men whose abil­i­ties re­main sharp. But then, at barely the half­way point, the song de­cides to duck into the kind of groove one might ex­pect from, say, Queens Of The Stone Age, or even Pearl Jam. This is a re­fresh­ing change; one of For All Kings’ most en­dur­ing qual­i­ties is its ap­par­ent lack of con­cern as to what does and what does not con­sti­tute ‘metal’.

An­thrax do not al­ways write great songs, and, in truth, this 13-track set could use two or three more truly clas­sic cuts. That said, songs such as Zero Tol­er­ance and Mon­ster At The End are as good as any to which the group have placed their name. Through­out, An­thrax have much to rec­om­mend them, not least Joey Bel­ladonna’s pli­able and pow­er­ful voice, it­self an in­stru­ment; and most of all, Scott Ian’s in­ven­tive and al­ways foren­sic rhythm gui­tar work, a thought­ful ad­di­tion to the ar­moury, and one that con­sis­tently af­fords the al­bum’s ar­range­ments an in­ven­tive and orig­i­nal edge.

Af­ter 35 years, An­thrax re­main stand­ing. What’s more, they de­serve to be. DOWN­LOAD: Mon­ster At The End, Zero Tol­er­ance, Breath­ing Light­ning. FOR FANS OF: Me­tal­lica, Me­gadeth.

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