Anthrax
Among the Living


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
September 3rd, 2009 | 49 replies | 5,526 views


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I'm the walkin' dude! I can see aaaaallll the world!

Part IV of IV: Among the Living, by Anthrax

Prologue

Anthrax formed in mid-’81, set up by rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Danny Lilker. Eventually, their initial line-up was completed by vocalist Neil Turbin, lead guitarists Dan Spitz and drummer Charlie Benante. Debut Fistful of Metal earned the boys some success, but Lilker was soon afterwards kicked out due to unprofessional behaviour, and replaced by Frank Bello. In ’84, Turbin got kicked out next, and was after some time replaced by Joey Belladonna. The new formation would eventually be regarded as the classic Anthrax line-up, and lasted 7 years.

The band were quite different from most other metal bands playing at the time, having a less serious, even often humorous approach to music and image. Follow-up Spreading the Disease saw the new band earning some more experience together, and it was then, in 1986, that Anthrax would continue to record their contribution to the Big Four Albums: Among the Living. This would only be released in 1987, but is accounted to the Four famous 1986 works nonetheless, and many agree Anthrax have never come close to equalling it.

Among the Living

Among the Living’s Anthrax was:

- Joseph Bellardini ~ Vocals
- Dan Spitz ~ Lead Guitar
- Scott Ian Rosenfeld ~ Rhythm Guitar
- Frank Bello ~ Bass Guitar
- Charlie Benante ~ Drums

Dedicated to the memory of Clifford Lee Burton.

Artwork by Don Brautigam.

With tributes to Stephen King novels (Among the Living, Skeleton in the Closet) and comic book characters (I Am the Law), Anthrax indeed doesn’t seem to take the thrash approach at all in manner of subject. That doesn’t mean Among the Living is entirely without serious thematics. Both Indians and One World both touch the political subject matter, and Efilnikufesin deals with the life and death of John Belushi, and most importantly his drug abuse (it says Nise Fukin Life spelled backwards). But even on the more serious of songs, Anthrax’s tone remains light-hearted, and though they’ve always been the smallest brother of the Four, this plays of their greatest strengths and establishes necessary uniqueness.

The boys behind the record form a musical powerhouse. Especially impressive are Ian’s rhythmic work and Bello’s very strong, clear, and instantly recognizable bass lines (especially very present on the first half of the album). Benante shows a wide variety of drum patterns and fills, and manages to play varied in both fast and slow tempos. While Spitz takes on lead guitar however, his work, and especially solos are not very impressive, and perhaps a bit of a letdown, though it works well for the interplay of the band.

The real odd man out, although in the positive way, is Belladonna, who is surprisingly talented for a thrash vocalist. Just listen to Hetfield, Araya and Mustaine. None of them can really sing, but Belladonna here is quite the exception. He has the expression of a power metal vocalist, almost, reminding of the greats such as Halford and Dickinson, but his range falls in the lower register, making for a very interesting combination of features. He shows his versatility in some powerful shouts more reminiscent of his thrash contemporaries, while his high screams are quite the force to be reckoned with (I Am the Law, anyone?). While he tends to get annoying after listening to him for too long, he is also an unique player is old school thrash.

What these musiscians produced together is an aggressive, fast and very consistent record that contains much of Anthrax’ very best material. It combines the constant riffing of Metallica with the ongoing ferociousness of Slayer, while adding some unique standout features in incredibly enjoyable bass lines and a somewhat different vocalist. Although it gets a tad repetitive towards the end, Among the Living will pound your ears for a whole 50 minutes, and you’ll be sure to like it. Certainly one of the more unique of the Four.

Essential listening:

Among the Living
Caught in a Mosh
I Am the Law
Indians

Epilogue

After the classic line-up fell apart after 7 years, the band parting ways with Belladonna, Anthrax’ success was still moderate with John Bush but unsurprisingly never equalled or surpassed that of the good old days. The classic line-up reunited in 2005, only to fall apart again in 2007, not actually having recorded anything. The band had a brief stint with newcomer Dan Nelson, but as of now, he left, and Anthrax remains with the half-finished Worship Music and need of a new vocalist.

…And so it was that thrash metal reached a great peak. 1986 was the year, and its releases were great. Shaped out of traditions found in early British heavy metal, the genre chose its roots well. Rebellious, ranting, straightforward and anti-commercial were just a few of its key features, and the Four established a whole new look upon the musical world. It was long that thrash lasted, and it still lives on today, in the hearts of young and old. For those willing to delve deeper than the surface, they will find beauty and joy in the genre that is perhaps not to everyone’s full endeavour.

THE END



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user ratings (1274)
Chart.
4.3
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
September 3rd 2009


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That wraps things up, though I have a sort of bonus review coming tomorrow.

Mordecai.
September 3rd 2009


8278 Comments


oooooooooo i love surprises. Not really into American thrash though. I like the whole review theme thing, i hope it catches on.

Mordecai.
September 3rd 2009


8278 Comments


wait i think i know the surprise. Your gonna do the Teutonic thrash metal bands. Sodom ftw!

Ulsufyring
September 3rd 2009


1724 Comments


stop reviewing everything that was ever thrash

shindip
September 3rd 2009


3536 Comments


another of the big 4 albums that i havent heard

illmitch
September 3rd 2009


5429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

another one of the big 4 albums not worth hearing

fromtheinside
September 3rd 2009


18203 Comments


aw sad, i've enjoyed this journey yoda thank you.

Digging: Tragedy - Vengeance

KILL
September 3rd 2009


71743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review once again, this is the only anthrax album i really love

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2009


17212 Comments


one of anthrax's better works not that it means much

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

Roach
September 3rd 2009


2148 Comments


this is pretty much the only Anthrax album I enjoy.

ReturnToRock
September 3rd 2009


3448 Comments


Great album, but Spreading the Disease is even better in my opinion. Lone Justice is the best Anthrax song I've heard to date, rivalled only by Indians, off this album. It's sad to see Bush butcher them both on the re-recording album.

And yeah, I agree, Belladonna can sing. I get irked whenever I see people condescend to him, saying he can't sing. IMO he has a really personal voice.

Willie
Moderator
September 3rd 2009


15966 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not a bad review, at all. I like Anthrax but I've never really understood the draw to this particular album.

Digging: Necropoli - I

Greggers
September 3rd 2009


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review to round out the series, this is the only Anthrax album I have but it's good.

FadeToBlack
September 3rd 2009


10926 Comments


this didn't deserve a neg at all

can't wait to see what your suprise is

lostforwords
September 3rd 2009


445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think it's safe to say that tommorow Nagrarok will review Testament

FadeToBlack
September 3rd 2009


10926 Comments


I reckon it'll be another thrash album(s) from 1986... probably Pleasure To Kill or Darkness Descends; that would complete the unholy trinity

edit: although a review of The Legacy would be good also :P

Greggers
September 3rd 2009


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm guessing Testament also, the band that could've made the Big Four the Big Five instead.

Douchebag
September 3rd 2009


3624 Comments


I've only heard madhouse, but damn that's a good song. does this album have the same vocalist? because i've heard they have been through a few.

Willie
Moderator
September 3rd 2009


15966 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Every album through Persistence of Time has the same vocalist. After that one they change to John Bush.

Edit: Actually, after Attack of the Killer B's they switch to John Bush, and their debut might have had a different vocalist too... but that's it.

Nagrarok
September 3rd 2009


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the comments guys. I'm not letting you know whether you made the right guesses or not yet.



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