Anthrax_For All KingsGrowing up in the original thrash era, I loved the big stars of the Bay Area thrash explosion dearly, but as a native New Yorker, I always had a special soft spot for Brooklyn/Queens born Anthrax. Not as evil as Slayer, way less poser killing than Exodus and far less technical than Metallica, Anthrax was the good times thrash band with the New York attitude. I loved them through their different eras and was even willing to defend their much reviled Stomp 442 album in these very webpages. All that fanboyism didn’t mean I expected much from their long-delayed, drama-filled comeback album, Worship Music. With all the acrimony surrounding that release, how could it be good? But it was very good and got the band back on track in a major way, yet I worried they wouldn’t be able to keep that momentum going with an equally solid follow up. Well, the boys came through again with For All Kings, surpassing Worship Music and dropping one of the best albums in their long discography. Anthrax and Megadeth both dropping killer albums in the same year? Has the very fabric of time and space been torn? Have I journeyed back to the glory days of metal? More importantly, should I be shopping for a tux for my goddamn prom?

After a dramatic intro befitting a Manowar opus, the mosh party gets started with the vintage Thrax thrash of “You Gotta Believe” and it’s as if you’re magically transported back to the band’s heyday1. The classic bouncing crunch of the riffs, Joey Belladonna’s trademark sing-along vocals and that ever important manic energy; it’s all there. The song is long by Anthrax standards at seven and a half minutes but it avoids feeling that way by mixing in slow, tense segments and emotive solo breaks. “Monster at the End” is an instant classic with fat riffs, a hook-tastic chorus and some great lyrics. It’s the “The Devil You know” of this album and I’ve been spinning it nonstop.

The title track begins with an epic vocal piece where Joey channels Eric Adams before becoming a traditional cruncher with a winning mix of fury and frenetic energy. Lead single “Breathing Lightning” slows things down and features an exceptionally catchy chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on an alternative/indie rock album (think Alter Bridge) but it works very well. “Suzerain” and “Evil Twin” sound like hits from Among the Living that fell through the cracks of time only reappearing now, and both are absolute killers with huge hooks at chorus time. The surprise is “Blood Eagle Wings” – a nearly eight minute dose of experimental emo metal with a very dark tone. Somehow it works and the chorus is a moody wonder you just can’t forget.

Anthrax_2016

The remainder of For All Kings is strong and cuts like “All of Them Thieves” and “This Battle Chose Us” are born to play live. However, the best cuts all come on the album’s first two-thirds and the Filler Bug makes an appearance on less essential tracks like “Defend Avenge” and “Zero Tolerance.” Neither is bad at all, but on an album of monster tunes, they’re underwhelming in comparison. Running an hour in length, For All Kings is pretty long-winded and I wonder why they wouldn’t just eject the lesser cuts and go for a much more consistently ass kicking platter. Drop the “filler” and this is an easy 4.5. Another minor issue is the band’s increasing refusal to edit themselves. Several songs hit close to eight minutes and could use some trimming2.

Performance-wise everyone sounds superb. Joey’s voice has held up remarkably well over the decades and he sounds more confident and comfortable on this material. A big part of that may be due to these songs having been written for him specifically, which was not the case with Worship Music. Scott Ian and new axe Jonathan Donais (Shadows Fall) riff up a hellstorm of hellish proportions across the album and damn if they don’t sound like there’s a bonfire under their asses. Many of the riffs are simply awesome and greatly exceed expectations. Add in another rock solid turn behind the kit by metal’s most under-appreciated drummer, Charlie Benante and season with Frank Bello’s rowdy bass-work and you have a truly impressive slab of classic thrash.

As Metallica tries to tamp down expectations for their “long awaited” follow up to Death Magnetic, Anthrax drops an album good enough to follow Among the Living or State of Euphoria. Let that sink in for a moment. Late in their career and after more upheaval than any 10 bands ever experience, Anthrax found the fountain of youth and they’re chugging from it like thirsty frat dudes at an unguarded Sam Adams wholesaler. Definite Album o’ the Year material and another big NOTch in their belts. Get down with the Anthrax sickness.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Megaforce Records
Websites: anthrax.comfacebook.com/anthrax
Releases Worldwide: February 26th, 2016

 

 

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I won’t go into the oddity of a band full of Yankees fans using the Mets’ rally cry for a song title, but I’m officially against it.
  2. The band need only look to the recent career of Metallica to see a talented act brought low by a complete inability to self-edit or restrain themselves in the studio.

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  • Lasse Momme

    FUCKING A, RIGHT!!!!

    YES! I can’t remember the last time an old school thrash band actually fucking delivered on an album, and this actually sounds really promising! The riffs are actually kinda interesting while still maintaining a distinct “base sound” integral to the band and the musicians generally don’t sound like they should be napping instead of playing.

    god dammit, this was so fucking refreshing to read and listen to, thank you so much for writing this review Druhm, you have no idea how much I needed it.

    • My pleasure!

    • I agree this sounds great, but to respond to your comment of when the last time an old school thrash band delivered on an album, I’d argue that Anthrax, Megadeth, and Testament’s last albums were all quite good. Even the most recent Slayer album was “not bad”. Frankly, the ONLY original thrash band that couldn’t release quality metal if their life depended on it is the very band with “metal” in their name.

      • I reviewed the recent Megadeth and found it quite solid. Testament almost never falters and the recent Exodus was respectable. I haven’t liked a Slayer album in a decade though and I think this is the best album any “first generation” thrash band has released in a long long time.

      • Lasse Momme

        Yeah, I can’t agree with that at all sadly. I found Dark Roots Of Earth to be uninspiring and it wasn’t even close to as enjoyable as Formation Of Damnation which, now that I think of it, is probably the last time I was truly knocked on my ass by thrash record from a 1st gen band.

        Slayer I thought sounded completely defeated and tired on their last record In a way that I never thought I would experience. It’s an immensely depressing record to me for that reason, like it actually fucking hurts me to listen to Tom Araya voice and it just feels so flat and lifeless to me in a way I never have heard before. that record fucking bums me out, man.

        the only good thing I can say about Dystopia is that it at least makes me want to listen to old megadeth, which I suppose is something. there is nothing on that record that stands out to me in any way. yeah, the riffs are fine, but nothing else. the drumming seems surprisingly uninspiring to me, considering how much I’ve enjoyed Chris’ other work, and that was a huge let down for me, personally. The lead work from Dave is pretty good, but other than that I don’t think any of the solos come close to what has been on pretty much any megadeth record in the last 10 years or so. what really bummed me out about Dystopia however was Daves vocal performance. like Tom he just seems to have lost a ton of juice in his voice although granted not even close to the same extent, and the lyrics are beyond cringeworthy. Don’t get me wrong, Megadeth in the 21st century lyrics have been a pretty ramshacle and mixed bag at the best of times but he’s just soooo hamfisted on Dystopia that it honestly ruins the experience for me for the first time.

        I realize that I may sound like a bitter cynical jerkface with this post but most of really stems from the fact that I love thrash SO. FUCKING. MUCH. It’s such a wonderful genre and I’ve spent so much time listening to it and worshipping so many of these bands that it fucking breaks my heart when I hear them put out something that isn’t up to snuff and would’ve been better left unreleased. like, for real, what if anything did Dystopia do to add to the legacy of megadeth? how did Dark Roots propel Testament forward? In what world was it a good idea for Slayer to release a record after the death of their rhythm guitarist, departure of their drummer and the fact that Tom Araya openly stated that his heart really wasn’t in it anymore? It doesn’t benefit the genre and it doesn’t benefit the bands and that’s why I get so fucking depressed listening to these records.

        On the other hand it also makes the emergance of an actually good record that much more delightful! Sodom’s In War And Pieces from 2010 was a really good record and Onslaughts The Sound Of Violence is akin to a god damn modern classic. These are records I cherrish deeply, because they bring a sense of hope with them, A sense of optimism, that maybe, just maybe, the next veteran thrash record might actually meet my expectations.

        more often than not I’m left disappointed and hurt, but the one time that motherfucker hits bullseye is fucking magic, dude.

        • My guess is you haven’t liked a Megadeth record since Youth or even Countdown.

          If you want pure, unadulterated old school thrash, then you really do have to deal with the retro-thrash bands like Warbringer and Havok to really get your fix on. Their forefathers have moved on for various reasons – marketing, vocal issues, death, etc.

          I’m not nearly as much of an Anthrax fan as Steel is, but the embedded track is pretty tight no doubt about it.

          • Poser!

          • Look Steel, I don’t come off as The Enemy here. But it sounds like you are still trapped in the Madhouse? I mean I know you are all Gung-Ho for this record, but still, I think it’s just the Aftershock of listening to Dystopia. You need some A.I.R. fanboy!

          • N.F.L.!

          • Lasse Momme

            Au contraire actually, I found both The System Has Failed and UA to be decent records and UA in particular is probably ahead of Youthanasia when it comes to my favorite megadeth records ;)

            I never really got into the thrash revival movement mainly because outside of a select few acts it just came as cross either parody, cheap knockoff or simply misguided and, well, bad. there are exceptions of course, like Vektor and Skeletonwitch who both tried to poke and prod at the known formula and both yielded interesting results in my opinion. Power Trip and Foreseen have both released authentic sounding imitation of the Old School and have had the writing chops to back it up and Noisem, well Noisem is manifestation of all the aggression of the 80’s underground scene brought forth to the 21st century, only to be equipped with chainsaw rollerskates and an electric cricket-bat.

            There are still actually good thrash bands out there but I just think it has gotten so god damn saturated formularized that all the bite and snarl that set it apart to begin with has all but disappeared.

          • I like System, the first half of it anyway as it is very front loaded. UA is just god awful on so many levels! (there are plenty of awesome riffs on it but as full songs they suck minus maybe Burnt Ice). I am actually surprised you don’t like Dystopia at all. There is plenty of thrash about on tracks like “Conqueror or Die”, “Lying State”, or even “Fatal Illusion” or … I’ll stop now.

            I also can’t imagine you not liking Havok’s “Time Is Up” or yes, all the Vektor stuff (but that is more in the vein of Voivod than pure Bay Area thrash).

            I offer you a peace offering, Reign of Fury’s latest:

            https://reignoffury.bandcamp.com/releases

            Good stuff.

          • Lasse Momme

            Hahaha! UA is a fucking Jewel, I can’t get enough of it! I really do think that it has far and away the best melodies and solos of any 21st century ‘Deth record. Glenn Drovers lead style really hits something with me because it’s so uncharacteristic and unique compared to a guy like Broderick. I also disagree that there aren’t any good songs on there. Sure, it has some filler in A Tout Le Monde and Gears Of War but come on man, Washington Is Next, You’re Dead, UA and Sleepwalker are all SO FUCKING COOL! that record has such a fucking distinct sound and style, it’s colorful and diverse, it’s fucking fun! Endgame was such a drab slab of dirt with a bunch of mindless chugga chugga with no variety compared to it… Okay I know I’m generally kinda alone in my love of UA, so I’ll stop here, but I will say that just like with Endgame I just found Dystopia to be so flat and lifeless, I just didn’t have fun listening to it.

            Reign Of Fury is cool, I agree but their record was just too long for me. I generally have a problem with long records especially when it comes to aggressive and fast genres like thrash because I think it doesn’t take advantage of the very economic nature of the style. If you are going to kick me in the nuts, don’t spend 20 fucking minutes meassuring the wind distance and your run-up. just get in, get it done, and leave the room middle fingers flying. the rest just seems a bit unnecessary to me.

          • Blueberry Balls

            Megadeth hasn’t put out a good album since Countdown – their “black” album. The new turd they dropped is a pale mess of what used to be in the revolving door that is Mustaines ego.

          • I just saw this. Yeah, no.

        • Scourge

          I’m sorry but Overkill’s last two albums were great as was Kreator’s last album. Hell, I think even Onslaught have put out really good albums in the past few years… Maybe I just have bad taste or maybe these aren’t the thrash you’re looking for. Edit: Or maybe I can’t read and totally missed your Onslaught love!?

    • Blueberry Balls

      Everyone slags Scotty Ian but his riffs CRUSH BALLS.

  • Philip Pledger

    The embedded track was great, but my jaw fell through the freaking floor when I heard Breathing Lightning. I was cautiously optimistic about this record. It seems my caution was unwarranted. It’s going to be a long ten days before this drops…

    • [not a Dr]

      Time and life, life and time…

  • KingKuranes

    Oh man am I ever excited about this now… Of the Big 4, this was “my” band too.

  • [not a Dr]

    My Omni’s light stopped flashing red!

  • mtlman1990

    Seen them live about a month ago. These guys play hard as fuck!

  • Worldeater

    I must admit, even as a great fan of Among The Living, Worship Music left me wanting. The embedded track sounds good and shows promise for the rest of the upcoming album. Had a blast reading your review, bring it on!

  • Really enjoyed their last album, and judging by this review, I will enjoy this one even more. Good ol’ thrash never dies

  • Rating: “Turn it up! Bring the NOIZE!”

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      No!!!

      • Yes!!!!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Stop it!!!!!

          • New Official Rating Just for the Doc: “Bass, how low can you go? Death Row, what a brother know. Once again back is the incredible, the rhyme animal. The young cannibal.”

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I’m physically and emotionally unable to handle this.

          • I understand. I really do:

            “Insomnia, my swollen bloodshot eyes. Insomnia, awake till morning light. Insomnia, stirring deep inside. Insomnia, somebody turn out the lights I can’t sleep – insomnia.”

  • Vice-President of Hell

    \Anthrax and Megadeth both dropping killer albums in the same year?\
    just wait for the new Testament album, the sky will fall

    • Oh, yes. Their latest album is the best one IMO, Chuck’s vocals have never been better, and now they have fockin’ DiGiorgio. Metallica surely will not compete in 2016:D

      My first impression about Evil Twin was ‘meh’, but that groove in second part of the song made broad smile of satisfaction on my face.

  • The Stormin Mormon

    Belladonna’s voice sounds great here! Of the Big Four, Anthrax is the only one that never really interested, but this sounds awesome. Thank you Mr. Druhm!

  • Craig Erickson

    I feel completely opposite. It’s been a long wait to get worship music part 2. Way too much over the top vocal melody. Too much of a tease. It has “thrashy” moments but can’t sustain it . The record is not bad. It will do well. But for my personal taste it’s a swing and a miss.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Thats it I’m growing my mullet back!
    Excellent and very entertaining review Druhm!
    I totally missed (read skipped) Worship Music, not this time.
    Really pleased to hear these guys have turned back the clock, they were unstoppable in their heyday … That is until Stomp 442 stomped them in their tracks, I’m still not convinced that you weren’t secretly trolling.

    • I’d never troll you guys!

      • Stomp 442 is a great album. Volume 8 however, not so much.

    • Come on. Stomp 442 is a great album. Volume 8 on the other hand….

  • Here’s Johnny

    Ah Steel Druhm i knew i loved you for some reason, well that and your huge man bosoms to cuddle into at night. I don’t wanna download it though, will wait and purchase on 26th.

  • Blueberry Balls

    Score is too low!

    Im a NY hometown man myself, enjoyed Coney Island High, Candiria, even the ever so affectionate DMS crew. Cut my teeth on Sick Of It All, Earth Crisis, One King Down and the like…and Anthrax! Joey is from my stomping ground and I have to say this CD fucking slays. I was worried about the lineup impact with Caggiano hitting the pavement and Springfield man Donais filling in. But hes done damn fine! I think this could be top 10 material.

    Give this a 4.5!!! Hails!

    • The “extra tunes” aren’t the same quality as the rest of the album so bring down the score. It’s not exactly a difficult line of reasoning to follow.

      • Blueberry Balls

        Nope, sorry. Doesn’t work that way. Good try though!

        By your logic this cd would be 4.5, but because the band threw us extra bones, its worth less a 4.0.

        Your logic is f**ked dude.

  • Blueberry Balls

    Down and under where the damned are riding!
    Down and under where you pay!!!
    Your golden halo is burned and melted!
    Crown the monster at the end!!

  • RilesBell

    Great album! Nice to see them put out two solid releases in a row. Although five years is a little long to wait, it was worth it. Bringing in Jon Donais was a great decision by the band.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Great review. I can’t get enough of this fucking album. I’m totally hooked. Where are my Reebok pumps??

    • Innit Bartender

      Oh God. The very thought of Reeboks is opening a wormhole right in front of me… I am being pulled through… HHHAAAAAALLLPPP!!!!!

      • Jeremy Freeman

        With velcro and pegged jeans!!! ahahahahaa!!!

    • madhare

      Ah the good old days! You could be a respectable metal head with blue jeans and white sneakers. Rather far from this black on black on even deeper black fashion that we’ve been seeing for the past decade or so. :D

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        I still wear blue jeans everyday. But my boots are black…

        • Col_Dax

          Yep. Blue jeans and black boots (Docs until their asia turn, now Solovairs) ever fitted, ever will fit.
          But my metal shirts are (usually) white or beige…

      • [not a Dr]

        Anthrax were respectable metalheads with floral-pattern bermudas and oversized white wifebeaters.

  • Innit Bartender

    Happy Steel Druhm is scary….

  • Siege Bantayan

    Goddamn so stoked that these guys still have it in them.

  • William Hebblewhite

    I’m so glad this album got a good review. Can’t wait to listen to it. Love Anthrax.

  • eloli

    As an original thrasher, I’m getting pretty resentful towards this site ridiculous anti retro thrash slant. To add insult to injury, the writers here seem to have a severe case of fanboy fever with Anthrax and Megadeth. :D
    Look, Dystopia’s not a great Megadeth record, it’s merely a good record that doesn’t sound like a complete embarrasment because the band couldn’t go any lower. Consequently, For All Kings’s neither a great Anthrax record, it’s merely a competent followup to a competent album with even more annoying alterna rock elements this time.
    Thrash’s going through a second golden age for the last 10,15 years IMO. Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Evile, Warbringer, Gama Bomb and Havok have racked up a pretty strong catalogue. Destruction, Sodom and Kreator have been consistently putting out good albums for half a decade now, some of them would even qualify as the best in their careers. Overkill’s the ever reliable workhorse, and Ironbound is easily among the band’s best work. Exodus’ latest two Souza albums are great. Testament’s last three albums, I actually like them more than their classics.
    Actually, if I have a complaint against contemporary thrash, it’s simply that the big 4 haven’t put a decent album in almost two and a half decades. :D

    • Jeremy Freeman

      Yeah I don’t think this guy knows what REAL Thrash is, good old Kreator, Testament, Overkill, and some of the new bands you mentioned. And old. especially Sodom (hope they release the next one soon) are still at the top of their game. This reviewer is definitely a Big 4 arse kisser. I hated Dystopia, 3 good songs don’t make a complete album. Same with this, most are listenable, but the melodic tunes are actually better then when they imitate what they use to be. Nothing fast here at ALL. So I’d just call it Metal…even Alternative metal actually. Good call.

      • Wildly inaccurate, man. I grew up in the original thrash wave and I worshiped Kreator, Sodom and Destruction as much as Slayer and Anthrax. I also loved the obscure stuff like Exumer, Cyclone and Darkness. I never limited my listening to the “Big Four” and that wasn’t even a term until way into the thrash movement. I just happen to think this is a really good return to form for Anthrax. If you don’t, bully for you.

        • eloli

          My favorite semi obscure band from the old days was, and will always be Sacred Reich. My favorite obscure band from that era is Minotaur, the german thrashers, not the canadian retro thrashers with the same name.
          Really, this album, to my ears is either a solid 2.5 or a weak 3.0… IMO, this site really trashed Repentless and gave both Dystopia and For All Kings too much love, when the three are basically the same thing: uninspired yet convincing faccimiles of each band’s classic eras with some good (not great) songs and way too much studio tinkering.

          • herrschobel

            aaaaaaand that is why you are NOT a music critic .. :-)

          • eloli

            Yup, and I never intendeded to be one.
            I’ve always thought music is something that has to be enjoyed, not over analized. As a kid, I got into metal because high school was pretty boring and metal was so much fun.
            And that’s

          • ROTFL: “…when the three are basically the same thing: uninspired yet
            convincing facsimiles of each band’s classic eras with some good (not
            great) songs and way too much studio tinkering.”

            You just described every retro-thrash band you seem to worship so much.

          • eloli

            Actually, these retro bands write great songs. :D
            Also, Evile and Gama Bomb kind of redeemed the UK, a country that produced mostly mediocre thrash back in the day.

          • I think it’s just cool to pick on the Big 4 because they are easy targets.

            Dystopia as well as Kings have plenty of killer tracks on them. Obviously, you disagree and that’s fine.

            But calling me or Steel out as folks who don’t like “original” thrash is bad form on your part.

          • eloli

            I never wrote that. I think you’re picking on the wrong guy here. ;)
            My main beef with this site

          • AndySynn

            Oh god, no… no they didn’t. Neither is a bad band at all, but both are EXACTLY the sort of mediocre genero-thrash that a certain sector of the UK scene seems to LOVE… for a couple of years, before they switch their affections onto a newer band who sound exactly the same.

          • eloli

            They’re both much better than Onslaught or Xentrix. :D
            Sabbat doesn’t count, they’re great because they eventually gave the foundation for Skyclad. :D

      • Col_Dax

        Modern Kreator – especially Hordes of Chaos and, to an lesser extent, Phantom Antichrist as well – are great too.
        But Sodom? Tom Angelripper completely lost focus with covering german schlager music and surfing the Onkelz wave for a living. Nah. Don’t expect much from a new Sodom release…

        • Krzystov

          Even when Kreator slowed down they still made consistent good metal. Can’t say that about the “Big 4.”

          The “Big 4″…what a joke. Slayer is the only band of those 4 that could be labelled consistently fast/thrashy.

        • eloli

          Dunno, I think that both In War and Epitome were pretty solid releases in my book. Saw Kreator and Destruction live multiple times in the last half decade, and they still sound awesome, and even Tankard, a band I was never partial to (I’m not that enthusiastic about beer he he) still rip it up on small, sweaty clubs. When it comes to thrash, the old krauts are keeping their end of the bargain much better than their ‘murican counterparts. :D

  • lennymccall

    I liked Worship Music a lot, spun it quite a bit when it came out. But what I’ve heard so far off this fell flat for me. I’ll keep an open mind until I can hear the whole thing.

    • Piston Rod

      I’m in the same boat. I’m sure I’ll love it, but it’s taking a while to grab me.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Hell this leaked out back in January, some how. It’s not bad, just slightly above Worship Music. Joey’s voice sounds better, I actually like the melodic chorus type songs, as opposed to when they try and “Thrash Out”. Which isn’t often at all. I’d say a 3.0 (Good) on this scale. It’s definitely no Persistance, Euphoria, or Among The Living. Not even close. Sorry.

  • Dethjesta

    I also like Stomp 442 – there really are some excellent riffs on the record.

    So glad to hear that Anthrax still got it – will definitely be adding this to my collection (albeit i would have done so if you’d have give it a 0.5 – can’t have gaps in the Anthrax collection).

  • beurbs

    Best one since Sound of White Noise

  • I would have thought that Benante wrote all the music, since he wrote all of Stomp 442 and Volume 8, but Wikipedia tells me that the entire band shared writing credits for We’ve Come For You All and Worship Music (plus Dan Nelson for the latter) so perhaps everyone is contributing again.

    So far, so good though (up to “Breathing Lightning”).

  • Rakoon Berry

    Great album

  • vlzvl

    ‘You Gotta Believe’ sounds like it came from ‘Persistence of Time’ :) which is great

  • 517H

    I’m late to the party but damn this album is awesome. I think it’s better than the new Megadeth. Stopped spinning that one after 4 or 5 listens. This one just keeps delivering

  • Piston Rod

    For some reason this album is taking a while to sink in. I’ve been listening, but it hasn’t grabbed me yet. I’ll keep listening, as I love Anthrax and so many people love the album. Not sure where the block is.

  • kgubbas

    good album but not as good as their best albums. people are a bit too over exaggerated over this album, but when the hype will go away we will remember this album as an highly average Anthrax disc.

  • Keikax1

    Thought-provoking piece ! I am thankful for the points , Does someone know if I would be able to get a template PA PUB 12 copy to fill in ?