Review Summary: This is one of Anthrax's darkest albums so far; a definite departure from the less serious sound of their past albums. Is that a bad thing? Here, no.
(Not to give an excuse, but this is my first review, so I apologize in advance if it's a bit awkward or short... alright. On to it, then!)
When listened to as a whole, this album is a beast, from Time--The unofficial title track and great overture to the album-- to Discharge. (Which isn't the best if you only listen to that track alone, I gotta admit...) The whole thing flows excellently and nothing never really seems either out of place or too bland, save Got the Time and Discharge. (The former is out of place; the latter bland.)
To begin, Persistence of Time, Anthrax's fifth album (And fourth-plus last- with vocalist Joey Belladonna) is also a very dark one; a stark contrast to the less serious, fun side of Anthrax we saw with albums like Among the Living and to even more of an extent, State of Euphoria. Not to put another band in the mix, but this album reminded me of Metallica's "And Justice for All" in terms of the length of the songs, the tackling of serious political issues, and the use of the vocalist's lower range. (But it has way better production and doesn't have as much of a tendency to drag.) As people who are familiar with this band know, Joey Belladonna was well-known for his melodic, high-pitched voice that added a unique side to thrash metal that was either loved or loathed. But one has to admit, on tracks like "Indians", "A.I.R.", "Armed and Dangerous", and many other pre- "Persistence" numbers, his upper range was used and used very well. But on this album, his comfortable high range and previously often-used wails are literally GONE, and in it's place a lower, more aggressive, yet still melodic vocal is used.
The other band members were obviously just as good, but didn't undergo such a makeover as Belladonna. If anything, the instruments sound HEAVIER, though, especially in tracks like "Keep it in the Family" and "In My World". This obviously contributes even further towards the serious tone of this album. In particular, the drumming of Charlie Benante stood out, and Frank Bello's bass playing did so as well, or at least from a casual listener's point of view. (This band doesn't seem to be the most guitar oriented band; in my opinion the guitar playing isn't all that flashy, save the rhythm work on "Gridlock" and the solos on "Time" and "Gridlock"; the latter of which was thoroughly enjoyable and seemed very influenced by 70s hard rock/metal.)
One very interesting choice of theirs was to throw "Got the Time" into the thing. A fast, punk-rock sounding song lasting about three minutes, this is a strange contrast to the seriousness of the album and definitely got me in a bit of a "Huh?" moment, especially since the song before it (Belly of The Beast, which is a beast of a song!) was slower and fit with the tone of the album. Then suddenly, I'm pulled into this upbeat bass riff that kicks off into "Got the Time". The only thing I see about this song and it's place here is that it has "time" in it's title, thus fitting only slightly with the loose theme of the album. Right after it, though, we're pulled back into the norm, and "Got the Time" seems like a random blurb that ended as soon as it began. (I don't think it's necessarily filler, but it's still rather odd. A great song, though, if heard on it's own.)
Unfortunately, this heck of an album ends on a somewhat dismal note with Discharge. With it's boring, repetitive lyrics and music, it's not the best way to end an album. But I suppose you could just end the CD after "One Man Stands" and Poof! A really sweet album! But alas, I had to review the whole thing, so that track definitely lowered it's points...
- Great vocals, or at least, in my opinion.
- The tone of the album is set right away with the opening number and never lets up until near the end.
- The song-writing has definitely improved. Still a bit shaky in some parts, but as a whole this album has better and less awkward lyrics than past releases.
- Great instrumental performance as per usual, and very heavy. (Not incredibly technical, but I don't think technicality was the band's focus, anyway.)
- A bit random, but the album art is SWEET.
- Got the Time is VERY out of place. (It almost sounds like "HEY! Fun Anthrax isn't gone yet!! See? See?!")
- Discharge is sort of bland compared to the rest of the album and seems very recycled, like the band totally ran out of ideas at that point and just used other songs' structures as the staple of it.