Anthrax: State of Euphoria
Anthrax's fourth album is interesting, to say the least. First of all , there's that album cover... egh. But you can't necessarily judge a book- or in this case, a CD- by it's cover, so let's take a listen, shall we?
Upon listening to the first couple tracks, it becomes evident that the album art isn't the only thing weird about this album. With Among the Living, Anthrax established itself as a thrash metal band and a pretty good one at that, according to the general metal listening community of the day. But State of Euphoria is not a thrash record through and through. Instead, the band fuses the thrash sound with more of a punk or hard rock vibe. This is more evident on tracks like "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", "Now It's Dark", "Misery Loves Company", and "Antisocial". (The latter of which is a cover of a song by French band Trust.) There are also not as much shouting backing vocals from the band, which used to be ever-present on past releases. One track, the opener "Be All, End All" even adds a cello and violins into the beginning and has an interesting structure to the opening: first, you hear the cellist doing the main riff, then the guitars make a barging entrance, then the drums, bass, and finally, vocals. A very explosive entrance song, but do the others stand up to it?
Some yes, some no. The album isn't exactly inconsistent, but more of the opposite. Many of the songs are bland and have a similar structure. This does make the stand-outs stand out more, but this obviously also works the other way: the few standouts make the listener ever more aware of the far too many bland moments of the disc. Also, many of the songs depend too much on the vocalist to carry most of the weight, which he does well, but that of course isn't enough to save a bland song.
Like I said before, though, when the songs stand out, they usually do so well. For example, "Make Me Laugh" is particularly vicious and vocalist Joey Belladonna sounds more hostile and angry than ever before, making this and many other songs even more fierce when needed. But the aforementioned track plus most on this album are even farther pulled down by their lyrics. I'll be blunt: they're bad. Some even flinch worthy. An example? Ok. Here's a quickie: "Stupid dumb idiot MORON!" Seriously, couldn't the band come up with an insult that didn't sound like it came from some fifth grader?
To close and sum up this review, State of Euphoria was a very confused sounding album that had some very good moments, but for every good moment there was an equally bad one.
-Vocals are better than on past releases and sound absolutely scathing, which adds to the album greatly.
-Like usual, great percussion and bass, even if the bass is a little further down into the mix than usual.
-The songs that in my opinion are standouts: "Be All, End All", "Antisocial", "Make Me Laugh", "Now It's Dark", and "Schism", stand out very well.
-For the most part, very similar song structure and melodic approach. TOO similar at times.
-For every standout there is a track that drags it down.
-Some songs have the potential to be great, but are either too draggy or have some parts that are too awkward. Here I am talking about "Who Cares Wins" and "Misery Loves Company".
-Lyrics definitely could use improvement. This is another factor that lessens the impact of the could-be-great songs, like "Out of Sight, Out of Mind".