Nine years is a long old time between albums. The constant evolution of music, be it mediums or genres, make it difficult gathering momentum nevermind maintaining it such is the volume of fads that pass through. So the constant delays to Anthrax’s follow up to “We Have Come For You All“, make for a bit of an event. Expectations become artificially high. Perhaps.
Then if you throw in the revolving door of vocalists (John Bush, Dan Nelson take a bow for your troubles) and the triumphant nostalgia of The Big 4 campaign and you’ve got yourself a soap opera.
So what’s the score where it really counts…the music?
Hmm…you’ll want to say it’s bitching, a frenetic thrash gem and whilst there are moments of what you want a Big 4 member to rip your head off with, you wouldn’t say “Persistence of Time” or “Among the Living” are in danger of being forgotten. This is a good album. If a band debuted with it we’d be talking about comparisons with sliced bread. It’s just that after five plays there isn’t a “Caught in a Mosh” or “Indians“.
“Earth on Hell” tempts you into thinking you’re in for a level of titanic intensity that’ll turn you into Michael Douglas on the rampage in “Falling Down”. It’s a killer opening track and “Fight Em Til You Can’t” ticks the gang against the world schtick that Anthrax serve up so well. This’ll be a brute in the pit no questions.
But then the intensity swaps for a thick groove and Pantera they are not. Which is a shame because the muscianship potential here is high. Rob Caggiano deals in the type of wah drenched shred we wish Kirk Hammett could remember. And Charlie Benante probably lives too far in the shadow of Dave Lombardo in thrash drumming folklore which is criminal given his versatility and contribution to the genre. (Blast beats – the staple of death, black and metalcore can be pinned on old Uncle Charlie.) Even Joey Belladonna who’s in his 50′s now reigns in the vibrato and delivers an accomplished performance, climbing the crescendos and keeping his foot firmly on the adrenal gland.
“The Devil You Know“, “I’m Alive” and “The Giant” are good songs. Big on groove, well produced and layered with hooks to balance the heaviness. But unlikely to feature on a set list in 5 years time. “Revolution Screams” though is an epic that ends affairs on a high.
Whack it on the ipod and mosh like its 1986.
Big G says…
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