This Anthrax article was written by Daniel Luscombe, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.
Of all the Big 4 of Thrash Metal (the others being Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer), Anthrax were probably the ones who took themselves seriously the least. From collaborations with Public Enemy to songs about Judge Dredd, Anthrax have always had that laid back fun side and ‘For All Kings’ retains that.
After a mid 90’s slump, the 21st Century has been a lot kinder to the New York five piece. Lead singer Joey Belladonna, vocalist on their classic 80’s material, is now fully settled in the second album of his second stint with the band. This renewed chemistry has enabled Anthrax to veer into slightly different territories on ‘For All Kings.’
Guitarist Scott Ian said that the making of this album was “a really cool, busy and creative time” and it shows. It stays firmly in the heavy metal camp but isn’t afraid of dabbling in melodic choruses or slower tempos, and each new idea is executed with precision. For example, the title track features a hint of vulnerability with lyrics “I’ll do anything to save you” and tuneful singing from Belladonna who, at 55, still manages to make his voice soar over the music.
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What’s surprising and satisfying about this album is how focused and tight it remains. For all the different ideas Anthrax are trying out on ‘For All Kings,’ absolutely nothing is wasted; there are no holes or spillage anywhere and the band work as a real unit. In opener ‘You Gotta Believe,’ an introduction of horns is followed by a crispy thrash riff. ‘Blood Eagle Wings,’ the albums near eight minute epic never drags, and showcases an Anthrax that is fine tuned, focused and having fun.
You still get the fan favourite, balls out, heavy moments such as ‘Evil Twin,’ and no thrash metal album is complete without the final track being a full on thrashathon with ‘Zero Tolerance’ being that release of energy with the snarling lyric “What would your God say to that, motherfuckers?”.
Fans are going to be pleased regardless but Anthrax have always had this underdog spirit about them and it feels good to see them take the game to the other members of the Big 4. Over to you, Metallica.
‘For All Kings’ is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.