Thursday, September 6, 2012

Differing Opinions #1 Anthrax Worship Music

Anthrax Worship Music
Dear reader and loyal vinyl addicts, welcome to side 2, the differing opinion and possibly either your voice of reason or an aggravation to no end, but hey, that’s the beauty of musical discussion.
Late last year Anthrax, fresh off of the Sonisphere festival with fellow Big 4 Titans Slayer, Megadeth an the almighty Metallica, released their first studio effort since the John Bush helmed ‘We’ve Come For You All’.  Gone were the gruff vocals of Armored Saint’s John Bush and what was that we heard?  A far more high pitched and more familiar voice belting out the opening lines of ‘Earth On Hell’ “The Kids have gone wild in the streets!” a line harkening back to the 80’s and the metal genre that Anthrax once championed.  Yes loyal readers, Joey Belladonna had returned to the fold to bring classic Anthrax the sound and the fury they had been waiting for.  John is no slouch in his own right, but there is only one voice that belongs at the forefront of tracks like ‘Indians’, ‘Be All End All’, ‘Anti-Social’ and the immortal classic ‘I am the Law’.  This is a return to the band that took the torch from the creators of thrash, Metallica, and injected skateboarding and comic references into the music. 
The album is amazing.  It never lets up from beginning to end and contains what are going to be Anthrax classics such as ‘The Devil You Know’ and ‘Fight Em’ Til You Can’t’.  There is complete agreement between this sites reviewers that this is indeed a stellar album and is not only one of the best of the year 2011, it is also arguably one of the best of Anthrax’s career. 
To me, the John Bush years, were simply a different band.  Charlie Benate, Frankie Bello and Dan Spitz, though Dan would eventually be replaced by Rob Cagiano, who, in my opinion, began to help Anthrax feel their roots solidly in the 80’s with his bigger than life riffing and his ability to completely follow the insane energy of Scott Ian on rhythm Guitar.  Albums like Stomp 442 and Sound of White Noise are great records, but were formed during a shift in the trend of metal sound and it feels as though they went for the ride but didn’t quite fit in.  Sort of like the older brother too hip to hang with the younger kids though trying hard to do so.  Coincidently, Stomp 442 was the last Anthrax album I purchased prior to the release of Worship Music. 
With Joey back in the lineup and finally sharing the stage with all of the other members of the Big 4, Anthrax have returned and delivered the album they were destined to make.  Gone are the days where they try to fit the trends and sometimes hitting it and sometimes failing.  Anthrax are best when they are innovating (I’m the Man anyone?  How about Bring the Noise?) Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica are the old gods.  They are to be worshipped and emulated by the young bands trying to get a toe hold instead of the other way around.  This is evidenced by all 4 of the Big 4 bands releasing career defining albums in the past 4 years (Death Magnetic, Th1rte3n, World Painted Blood and now Worship Music). 
This is a record that could not have been made with John Bush.  The  material is too cohesive around a central theme as opposed to an album that pulls from every direction.  The central theme of Worship Music is arguably about consumption.  From the literal sense captured in ‘Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t’ chronicling the beginning of a zombie apocalypse to tracks such as ‘In the end’ with themes of darkness consuming light and death consuming life. This is Joey’s deepest lyrics since Spreading the Disease and possibly more though provoking than the Among the Living.  In contrast to my friend and collegue, I am happy that the John Bush years are behind Anthrax.  John is  a great performer and a fantastic vocalist, but to many a hardcore Anthrax fan myself included, it was wrong.  It was like taking your buddy’s wife on a date, it was just unthinkable.  To me, I look at the John Bush era as a different band, though this is hypocritical in many ways , since many different bands change personnel, Megadeth being one of the biggest offenders of this, but the voice…THE VOICE, the voice cannot and should not change.  Joey is Anthrax.  Scott, Frankie, Charlie and Dan are Anthrax.  Rob is Anthrax…why can’t I see John as Anthrax?  He is the voice…He is Armored Saint and to me always be.