Review Summary: After two decades in the abyss, Anthrax makes a fine return to form. No classic, just a decent comeback by one of metal's eminences.An Anthrax Story
Episode X: Worship Music
One of the hottest issues today is in regards to band comebacks. Several bands that had a major following in the 80's and 90's have persisted in making music. At times, they have failed utterly. And yet, at times there has been success. However, it is important to underscore that, even when a comeback album does succeed, it is almost a universal truth that such comebacks never can compare to the original classics recorded ten, fifteen or twenty years ago.
Which brings us to Anthrax, and their latest album Worship Music
. As we explained throughout this long journey, the band's albums summed up as: a rather botched first, four classics (which impacted many later metal bands in general), and four less-than-glorious ones. Whatever the listener's stance on the Turbin/Belladonna/Bush debate, it is undeniable that the band went through a major creative process (be it for better or worse), and experienced important stylistic changes. They had dabbled on everything from punk to hard rock to heavy metal to alternative rock to hip-hop (not necessarily in that order).
The band developed a certain maturity in these years, having experienced both the frustration of recording as an underground thrash act with independent support, and the frustration of being abandoned by most fans due to their rather monotone commercial output. It could be said, thus, that Anthrax's members had suffered all the hells that come with being in a rock band, not least of which included a rift with vocalist Belladonna. After that rift, it seemed this howling banshee would never return to the band's fold. But alack and alas, here he is again, on this newest offering.
The Anthrax lineup for this last record is:
Scott Ian: Rhythm Guitars
Rob Caggiano: Lead Guitars
Frank Bello: Bass
Charlie Benante: Drums
Joey Belladonna: Vocals
While it is pleasing to hear Belladonna's voice once again, Rob Caggiano remains on lead guitar duties (he has served on the role since We've Come for You All). This seriously limits the album, as Caggiano does not compare with Dan Spitz (the earlier lead guitarist for the band). He plays acceptably well, but lacks Spitz's cleanliness and has a rather dirty tone at times. This is possibly the album's major limitation.
Nevertheless, Belladonna's return has proved once more how important his presence is for the band's chemistry. Ian's riffs have the same chugging power they once had on Among the Living; Benante's drums are pleasantly hard again; and Bello's bass is quite pleasing as well. True, they do not sound exactly
as good as they sounded back in the 80's, but they get the job done.
Some examples that can be drawn out include the song Fight Em' Till You Can't
, which opens with a nice riff (Ian is finally back, to kick ass), and Belladonna comes in nicely. Some of the guitar parts in the song are rather cheesy, but overall it's a good song. Crawl
is pleasing as well, if only memorable for Belladona's singing of the chorus. Yet another fine song here is The Devil You Know
, which again features a nice vocal execution.
Again, in general this is a pleasing comeback record, but it must be taken for what it is. Musicianship is decent for the most part, but it is far from perfect. Basically, the album is mostly memorable for Ian's riffs and Belladonna's vocals, whilst the performance from the other musicians is definitely a good-yet-not-great one. And one shouldn't be expecting this. After all, Anthrax, by the time of this album's release, had been recording for no less than 27 years. It's nice, then to see these experienced pros still being able to show the up and coming rookies how it's done. Thus we reach the end of our journey, not knowing whether or not these guys will be recording again. We'll just have to wait, and see if the disease can still be spread once more...
-Fight Em' Till You Can't
-The Devil You Know