One of the four original thrash titans, this live album provides adequate proof that Anthrax have not lost it. They still sound fresh and vital, as sonically dense and intense as they ever did. Original singer, Joey Belladonna, may look odd as fuck these days but can still hit the heights of his vocal range across the platter of Anthrax old and new offered up here from their recent gig in Glasgow.
Scott Ian – replete with natty white beard – and Frank Bello still provide the crunch and rhythm to the all-out thrash attack on guitar and bass. Chris Benante still sounds mental as fuck on the drums and new boy Jonathan Donais can lay down the licks as required on lead guitar. This is very much a “warts and all” recording offering not perhaps the best production I’ve ever heard but it isn’t that bad and sounds live, urgent and very, very real.
Misty Water-Coloured Memories
I first saw Anthrax live at Castle Donington in 1987, before I knew of them or had heard any thrash at all. My predominant memory of that performance is of 5 very loud lunatics hurling themselves round the stage, one of whom wore full Indian head dress, with what seemed complete abandon. All these years later I can still hear that come through on this recording – those boys, now these old men, clearly still love what they do and do it well.
The first half of the concert covers a lot of ground from very, very old Anthrax (A.I.R., Medusa, Madhouse) to very, very new (Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t, Evil Twin, Breathing Lightning). There’s perhaps unsurprisingly not much from the John Bush years, particularly from Sound of White Noise and Persistence of Time – a shame as the former is a personal favourite.
[Edited to add: Joey Belladonna was the singer on Persistence of Time – thanks to Tyler for pointing this out.]
Follow Me or Die
But such thoughts are blown away as the band launch into the complete Among the Living album (albeit in a slightly different running order). For me Anthrax were always at their best when writing about aspects of popular culture and this album is the one where they did that to the greatest effect. It always has been my favourite of their albums and contains more classics than any album should. There’s literally no filler and I love every single track.
Here it sounds great and in several places the band manage to bring out new elements in the songs I’d not noticed before – even in 30 years of listening. One World is a particular example of this, never my favourite on the album it now seems to have a different structure to it which manages to unleash the song and raise it to new heights.
Classics like I am the Law, Caught in a Mosh, Efilgnikcufecin (N.F.L.) and the title track itself remind you just how fun Anthrax are. Never the most serious of the thrash bands they were happy to kick out riff after riff of delight and pure headbangability. And I don’t give a shit if Word tells me that one isn’t in the dictionary – it should be and the definition should simply read: Anthrax.
As the last strains of Imitation of Life play out there’s only one place to go. If a band have ever taken a cover and completely made it completely their own then that band is Anthrax and that song is Antisocial. A furious version of it follows and provides the perfect end to a great night. Also available on DVD (not Bluray) this is a review of the CD version as made available on Spotify.