FOR ALL KINGS NEW YORK BRUISERS RETURN WITH 11TH STUDIO ALBUM
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.