by Ryan Meehan
Tuesday brought the release of Anthrax’s new album “Worship Music” to iTunes and record stores. They chose to go forward with former vocalist Joey Belladonna, whose voice is less raspy than that of John Bush and possesses the classic style metal sound that popularized the new wave of British heavy metal. So as you would assume a lot of this record sounds like a newer take on a lot of the old Iron Maiden and Judas Priest that guitarist Scott Ian and drummer Charlie Benante grew up listening to.
Personally I wasn’t a big fan of either “Stomp 442” or “Volume 8”, and I was pretty impartial to “We’ve come for You All” because my college roomate lived off of “State of Euphoria” and “Peristence of Time”. So comparatively speaking, I wasn’t a huge fan of a lot of what Anthrax did between “Sound of White Noise” and about a week ago. Nonetheless, metal bands always get fucked when they release any new material after the first ten years of their career because a lot of douchebag critics tend to think 1) that the band has either slowed down or lost their edge, or 2) that they have “sold out” just because they are still being paid by a major label. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of cases where this is true, but Anthrax is one of the original first four American thrash metal bands and “getting old and selling out” doesn’t just happen overnight.
So let’s take a look at a few tracks from “Worship Music”:
This is pretty much your standard metal album intro. Very similar in style to the introduction to “Sound of White Noise”. Never understood why these intros have to be their own separate track.
“Earth on Hell” 7.5/10.0
First real song on the record. Kind of disturbing at first because it just begins with a blastbeat and a very dischordant guitar line. It actually frightened me a bit because for a split second I thought “Holy Shit…Anthrax made a crust record…NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” But when everything fell back into place I realized it was going to be just fine. And the drum intro to this song is amazing, but for some reason the guitar chord just had that nauseating crust sound to it that drives me absolutely up the fucking wall. The title is a great play on words as a lot of times I believe that if there is a hell, we’re living in it as we speak. (see “This is Hell we’re in” by Deicide)
“The Devil You Know” 9.5/10
One of the first songs off of this album to leak on to the internet, and it’s awesome. Has a very smooth shape to the main riff even though it’s quite simple. It has everything that you would want in a great Anthrax track: Excellent stop and go dynamics, a great breakdown in the bridge, and just an overall killer feel. My buddy Jared seems to think that this track was written for Bush. I can kinda see how the palm muted guitar is more of Bush’s style to sing against, but I think Belladonna sings it well. The only thing I would have done different on this track is I wouldn’t have ended the song the way it starts, I would have just have built it up to an epic explosion and then stopped it on a dime.
“Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t” 9.5/10.0
Starts of with a sample that says: “Several authorities from your area have reported the bodies of the dead are rising up and attacking the living.” So there’s your zombie parade anthem right there. The same friend of mine I mentioned in the last paragraph swears that this song was written for Belladona, and that would be hard to argue with. Stutter thrash intro, evil Slayer like chorus. Fucking love it. This one actually sounds like Stormtroopers of Death in some of the faster parts.
“I’m Alive” 6.3/10.0
Starts off very slower but still pretty evil. They give up the hook right off the bat at the end of the intro. If you aren’t a big fan of any of the early hair stuff like WASP you probably would skip over this track when it came on. I like the line “Hell lives in everyone” but for the most part there are a few lyrics I could do without on this one. The hook is one hell of a vocal line, but it can’t save the whole track. Solo pretty standard when you look at the entire body of work. It may grow on me but right now the future ain’t so bright.
“The Giant” 7.1/10.0
Stereo vocals during the verses, then it breaks into this chorus that’s sort of cool but becomes slightly irritating after hearing it a couple of times. The solo rips though when the rhythym switches over to half-time. They could have ended this song after the solo but they went back into that chorus again.
“In The End” 8.2/10.0
For some reason I really like the main riff in this one as I’m a sucker for a lot of the tapping stuff lately. When I pull out this disc in five or six years after I put it away for a bit, this will be one of the first songs I’ll listen to.
“Judas Priest” 9.3/10
Killer lead guitar line especially for a band that’s always prided themselves on their rhytyhm guitar chops. Excellent tribute to a band that they’ve toured with many times and grew up idolizing. I’m sure Rob Halford loves the vocals on this song.
The beginning of this one sounds like “Black” by Pearl Jam, not really sure what that’s about. This is definitely my least favorite song on the album. Not a lot to say here, it’s pretty stock.
“The Constant” 8.3/10.0
Old school groove metal – I hear a lot of Pantera in this track. The chorus is really tight and Frankie sounds a much clearer on this song. Great bridge as well. Representative of any track on an album like this where it’s getting close to being over.
“Revolution Screams” 7.2/10.0
Still good but by this point it’s a bit predictable. The thrash breakdown halfway through saves the song from total oblivion. Then, there’s about five minutes of silence until…
“New Noise” (Bonus Track) 6.9/10.0
I am a huge fan of The Refused I just thought this was an odd song to cover. Personally, I would have gone “Liberation Frequency” before anything else on “Shape of Punk to Come”, as I think “we want the airwaves back” has to be one of the greatest lines in alternative music history. Although it was a good tribute, it does seem out of place on this album…a bit unnecessary if you will. And it’s a totally different song if you don’t scream it, which is the way it was written.
Anthrax and the Album As a Whole:
After “Sound of White Noise” came out, I couldn’t listen to metal for a while. I knew that aside from the few random bursts of hype…(Insatanity and particularly those two Deicide records) I would have to accept everything that came out and expect to not get my money back. (this was before the internet allowed everyone to download everything for free) With “Worship Music”, Anthrax has put together a really good collection of tracks that make for a great metal album. The record does have a slope to it, as most of the best songs are at the beginning, so it’s definitely not a concept record by any means. There’s a couple tracks I can do without that I didn’t review because I felt as if I was repeating myself. Any die hard fan of heavy music is not going to feel guilty about spending money on this CD.
Meehan’s Scoring System:
Maybe I should explain this a little bit since I don’t do record reviews a lot. My scale is probably a little bit more lenient than other because as a former musician, I know how much of a bitch it can be to put a record together. Some examples of a 10/10 record would be: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits, “We Sold Our Souls For Rock N’ Roll” by Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin IV. An example of a 1/10 would be anything Jefferson Starship ever shit out of their mouths. Between 9 and 10 is where it gets hairy for me, as there are hundreds of rock records that are nines in my book that could never be tens. I’m a tad harsher on the other end of the spectrum just because there’s so much shitty music out now. Now, when you average out all of the scores I gave each track, you’ll find that it averages out to about a 7.58 which is lower than the overall scoring range I gave the whole record. This is of course because some songs are much better than others, and with a lot of bands they are more than the sum of their parts. I have found the same to be true about albums as a whole as well.
Overall Score: 7.9 to 8.3/10.0
Since this does have leave such a classical metallic taste in your mouth, I’m giving it a 7.9 to 8.3. The lower end is for those who think any melodic vocals in modern metal is going to bring us all back to the days of Kix and Enuff Z Enuff. The higher end is for those true metal fans who do understand that although this record is not perfect, Anthrax hasn’t fallen off of the map at all.
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