12 September 2011
by Amit Sharma
It’s been a long time coming, but after an eight-year wait, and two years of frontman-deliberation, Anthrax are finally back with their tenth studio album, Worship Music. Originally intended to be their first album with their eighth and short-lived vocalist, Dan Nelson, and then for some time following his dismissal seeming like John Bush would be back in the picture, it finally fell to the now re-instated frontman, Joey Belladonna, to eventually provide the album’s vocals. After all this drama, will Worship Music actually be worth the wait?
Surprisingly, this record carries some of the best music Anthrax have ever written, supercharged with meaty riffs and massive choruses. After the obligatory instrumental intro, ‘Earth On Hell’ opens the album with a frenzy of almost Dillinger-esque proportions before the speed metal kicks in. The band sound tighter, more focused and less dated than ever before: moving away from some expected thrash clichés and into more melodic territory. Joey Belladonna quashes any doubts straight off the bat, delivering more controlled and punchier lines than on previous efforts. There’s a new found sense of restraint in his vocal approach that almost echoes that of John Bush in phrasing and melody.
The warmer production treatment from Rob Caggiano and Jay Ruston gives songs like ‘The Devil You Know’ and ‘In The End’ the flair of a hard rock anthem that could belong to a band like Alter Bridge. That’s not to say this album is any less heavy – it’s just Anthrax sounding bigger and ultimately more accessible than usual. Which is healthy for a band that have been touring the world as one of the Big Four of thrash metal and proves exactly why they were on that bill.
‘Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t’ is a modern day thrasher that wouldn’t look too out of place on Metallica’s last effort. whilst ‘I’m Alive’ explores Anthrax’s grungier side. One thing that really stands out on these tracks is Rob Caggiano’s guitar work, with leads that subtly compliment Scott Ian’s riffing and solos that move Anthrax into Megadeth territory. Whilst his work on We’ve Come For You All was by no means bad, Worship Music showcases Caggiano at his very best – sounding somewhere in between Marty Friedman and a young Zakk Wylde.
Watch Anthrax perform ‘Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t’ live in Gothenburg:
Whilst Anthrax have always been the most punk of the Big Four, the skater moments seem to have been toned down in favour of a more serious and powerful line of attack. This is probably the closest Anthrax have come to sounding like the other Big Four bands, and something which very much works to their advantage. To put things into perspective, this record is miles better than Death Magnetic and World Painted Blood – and on par with Endgame. It’s that good. With upcoming releases due from Megadeth and Loutallica, it will be interesting to see how Worship Music compares at the end of the year. At least against the Megadeth record anyway.
Sounds like: Anthrax on top of their game with Joey Belladonna doing impressions of John Bush
Top tracks: Earth On Hell, I’m Alive, In The End, Crawl
Guitar Solo Rating: Caggiano on fire –
Anthrax – Worship Music tracklisting:
Earth on Hell
The Devil You Know
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
In the End