No one has reviewed any John Bush era Anthrax yet, so I think I'll take a crack at it. This is my first review.
At the time, Anthrax was
Scott Ian: Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Charlie Benante: Drums, Guitar
Frank Bello: Bass, Backing Vocals
Dan Spitz: Lead Guitar
John Bush: Lead Vocals
This album was released in 1993 and was this first with singer John Bush and the last with lead guitarist Dan Spitz. After a string of classic thrash albums in the '80's and one in the early '90's, this album fully propelled Anthrax into the new decade. The addition of Armored Saint vocalist John Bush was the perfect addition to the band, who was looking to give a harder edge to their sound. His voice is raspier than previous singer Joey Belladonna's, and while he doesn't hit high-pitched operatic notes like his predicessor did, his tone and delivery is tasteful and flawless. Probably losing some purist fans, but gaining new ones (some of whom sadly associate high-pitched vocals with butt-rock.) Bush is a very aggressive, yet melodic vocalist. As for the guitars, as far as I know Scott Ian plays all of the rhythm tracks, and is also credited with 6-string bass on this album. He is definately legendary at being one of the most solid rhythm players in metal, and takes an occasional wang bar lead, or harmony part. Dan Spitz is a great soloist, one of the original members along with Scott and Charlie. His solos are pretty good, not quite as good as previous albums though. I heard that Dan had lost interest by this album, and that Charlie had to write most of Dan's solos. After Dan's departure, the solos took a back seat until Rob Caggiano's arrival in 2003, and Dan's subsequent return in 2005. Frank Bello is a very charismatic performer live, but on this album his basslines pretty much follow Scott's rhythm guitar. Not to flashy but very solid and heavy. Charlie Benante is one of the greatest and most aggressive drummers in heavy metal, not to mention a good guitarist and songwriter (Scott Ian has been quoted as saying that Charlie is better at guitar than him and Dan both.) Charlie writes most of Anthrax's music, and Scott writes most of the lyrics. As for great thrash metal drumming, you can't get much better than Charlie Benante. His punk meets metal, heavy, fast, straightforward style of drumming is fundamental to the band's sound. One of the best, and his longevity is unparalleled. That's the band, here's my track-by-track review.
1. Potter's Field
The album starts off with about a minute of 'white noise' before exploding into this song. Hearing the intro riffs, you can picture Scott Ian stomping around on stage. Fast, heavy, aggressive, this song seems to describe the anger an aborted infant feels toward his mother. Seems like an anti-abortion song (Potter's Field is a cemetary for infants.) Like Slayer's 'Silent Scream' it shows the ugly side of abortion. A great song.
An Anthrax classic, and staple of live shows. Starts with Charlie's drums, then the guitars come in playing octaves, then getting heavy and grooving out for the verse and the sing-a-long chorus. Another great song, momentum of album keeps going.
3. Room For One More
Instead of losing momentum by this point, the album just gets heavier, This song, especially when played live, makes you want to mosh and beat the *** out of anyone within a 10 foot radius, or maybe that's just me. Especially during the breakdown when Scott goes 'uugh.' A good and memorable solo from Dan, then a repeating chorus. A classic mosher.
4. Packaged Rebellion
This song is directed toward the kids who rebel because it's the the cool thing to do. Those who think they're rebels, when they're actually just following the latest mainstream fad. Starts out with some fade-in guitars, reminiscent of Metallica's Damage Inc. Another great song, not quite as aggressive as the previous one's, but with a stronger lyrical message.
As John Bush once said when introducing this song live, it is not about dog food. Instead it seems to be another angry song about a poseur/fake person. Great riffs, great vocals, lyrics, short but decent solo. I love the 'question' words, who? what? where? when? why? Heavy, stompin' tune.
I haven't listened to this song much until recenty, but its a good song, just doesn't stand out like the others. The album surprisingly maintains it's aggression throughout this song. Cool song, leading into...
7. 1,000 Points Of Hate
This is my favorite song from this album. The albums aggression builds to a crescendo here. Starts off with a descending, chromatic riff, heavy but has a kind of 'floating' feel to it, amidst Charlie's rediculous snare rolls. Some of the albums best lyrics, "I hate you and you hate me, I cannot look at you and breathe, So full of hate that I can't see. My funny vibe is hard to miss, your ignorance can't become bliss, I ***in' wash my hands of this." Never seen it played live, but during the breakdown part before the solo, I can picture Scott stomping all over the ***ing place. Intro riff repeats after the solo (which is melodic, not to shreddy or complex.) Overall, it's and incredible song. Builds up to a sudden stop.
8. Black Lodge
Now its time for a ballad, and after 7 tracks of unrepenting aggression, its about time. It's starts out slow but very dark, yet melodic and memorable. Full of emotion, showing that distortion and double-kick drums are not what makes a band 'heavy.' Does have some distorted guitar tones, but they aren't as prevalent as in other songs. Also the only song to feature an outside writer. Angelo Badalamenti (whoever that is) is credited for co-writing the song.
9. Sodium Pentathol
This track is listed as it would appear on the periodic table of elements, a cool idea that makes you think, 'what element is that and why is there a song about it?' Sodium Pentathol is a 'truth serum' sometimes given to people who are being interrogated, it weakens the ability to lie. The fast and heavy songs resume here.
An all-out speed-metal thrash fest. Fastest song on the album. "Judge yourself, no one else" the chorus says it all. About the differences in people's opinions. Great vocal interplay between John's melodic metal vocals and Scott's hardcore punk vocals. Fantastic song, ending with guitars dropping out and about a half second of just bass and drums.
11. This Is Not An Exit
A mid-paced album closer. Not to fast, not to slow, but full of great riffs and lyrics. At the end, Bush does a scream that sounds like his old Armored Saint work. Pretty good song, serve as a great outro to a classic album. Ends with more 'white noise.'
Overall, in my opinion, this is one of Anthrax's better album's, while not as good as Spreading The Disease or Among The Living, it is certainly better than State Of Euphoria and Fistful Of Metal, and equal to Persistance Of Time.
Most bands have one difinitive vocalist. Most Iron Maiden fans, for example, would say that Bruce Dickinson is the singer that defines that band, although some might prefer Paul Di'Anno or even Blaze Bayley. With Anthrax, like Van Halen, for instance, the definitive singer question could be more of a subject of argument. Like Van Halen, Anthrax became popular and released their classic albums, with one singer, but the next singer spent more time in the band and was more involved in songwriting. Anthrax released one album with Neil Turbin on vocals, but he was pretty much just a Halford clone. Then came four classic albums with Joey Belladonna, who sounded more Journey/Foreigner like. Then with John Bush, four more albums. Three during the '90's and one in 2003, before the classic lineup reunion in 2005. Bush was no newcomer to metal when he joined Anthrax. Having been in Armored Saint since the early '80's, he had previously been asked to join Slayer and Metallica but declined because Armored Saint was still intact. This is a great album, I would call it a classic.
I hope you enjoyed my review, please feel free to comment or make corrections.