If you were hoping for an Anthrax album that ranks alongside their classics from the 80s/90s, you’ll be delighted and disappointed in equal measure. All the elements that make the New Yorkers one of the most important metal bands in history are there, but when your bar is as high as theirs, it’s not surprising they fall short on occasion.
Things start brightly with the sinister introduction of ‘Impaled’, leading into the head-bludgeoning riff of ‘You Gotta Believe’. It’s an intricate slice of classic thrash that rocks back and forth until the atmospheric midsection turns a straightforward banger into something epic; throw in some super fast soloing and it’s action stations. The mid-tempo ‘Monster at The End’ then finds Anthrax at their versatile best, Joey Belladonna’s vocal giving a hard rock feel to the killer hook.
There are a number of other highlights, such as the angular ‘For All Kings’ and the superb ‘Evil Twin’; tracks like these feel at home amongst their classic material, the signature riffing and vocal melodies spot on. ‘This Battle Chose Us’ is a little more unusual with its chunky bass line and groove-filled riff but is equally likeable, especially when the speed metal shredding and scorching solo kick in.
However, weighing in at almost an hour, ‘For All Kings’ ends up overdoing it a little and the experimentation doesn’t always come off. Okay, every song has some ear-catching element, be it a rip-roaring solo (‘Breathing Lightning’), a bad ass riff (‘Suzerain’) or a rocking mid-section (‘Blood Eagle Wings’), but the sum of the parts doesn’t always kill it. The monotonous ‘All of Them Thieves’ is particularly disjointed and laboured.
Nevertheless, Anthrax easily outshine many a younger band and when they are on their game, they really nail it. The lead guitar work is spectacular throughout and it’s a fine vocal performance from fan favourite Belladonna. Therefore, this is mostly a quality outing, even if they don’t quite kill it on every track.
‘For All Kings’ by Anthrax is out released on 26th February on Nuclear Blast Records.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)