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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Anthrax

Worship Music

Review by Mike Korn

After a decade of disaster, this was pretty much the album Anthrax had to make in order to rescue their career. I was skeptical that the New York moshers had it in them to avoid jumping the shark, but Worship Music proves me wrong and winds up being the best Anthrax since The Sound of White Noise.

The return of Joey Belladonna to the fold after a comical series of missteps is key to the album's success. Belladonna hasn't missed a beat in all his time off and his uniquely melodic style is a huge part of what makes Anthrax work. Here, he unleashes some cool and catchy vocals lines even during some of the most thrashy and aggressive material. And much of the album is indeed thrashy and aggressive...another necessity in keeping Anthrax rolling.

The album also boasts distinct songs that are easy to tell apart. Heck, you can just about roll the clock back to 1988 when listening to Worship Music...it's that solid. Whether this restores Anthrax to its full stature, I don't know, but nobody can say they didn't give it their best shot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Worship

A soothing ambient intro for the album, this has a peaceful sound combined with numerous samples. Don't get used to it, because the mayhem starts right away with the next number.

Earth On Hell
This slams into existence with the impact of a head on collision, full of trademark choppy Anthrax riffing and great catchy vocals from Joey Belladonna, who proves his worth right away. The great production brings everything to the front, including a fat bass from Frank Bello and solid drumming from the very underrated Charlie Benante.
The Devil You Know
Another steady chugger, this is a little less frantic, featuring a real big shouted gang chorus. Returning guitarist Rob Caggiano cuts loose with a real tasty solo. Dan Spitz is not missed on this record at all.
Fight 'Em Till You Can't
More flesh-eating zombies are on the loose in this track, which recalls the best of the Among The Living album.  It's got that choppy, nervous feeling to it and plenty more of those shouted gang vocals. It's a catchy, moshable cut sure to please the faithful.
I'm Alive
The album becomes more introspective and moody with this track, which features a really basic but strong galloping pace and some cool riffing that's a little different than the usual Anthrax chop-and-chug. Belladonna's vocals are at their best here - dark and emotional, easy on the ears despite the heavy nature of the music. This is a nice break from the first three proper songs, which were pretty similar sonically.
In The End
The surprising mournful tones of a cello introduce this song. This moody mid-paced epic picks up where "I'm Alive" left off and manages to be even more massive and gloomy sounding. This tune is really well arranged with clever riff changes and makes terrific use of tubular bells throughout. There's an almost hymn-like feeling to this one and it adds some welcome variety to the record.
The Giant
This is a pure pedal to the metal headbanger that will get your blood racing. There are a lot of quick paced vocal trade-offs and a powerful chorus that sticks in your head. There’s nothing fancy about this one. It's a straightforward metal song and there's nothing wrong with that.
Judas Priest
The guys in Anthrax love Priest so much that they named a song after them. Terrific solo drumming by Benante leads into some majestic, very heavy riffing. As befits the title, this is song is pure molten steel, with Belladonna adopting a kind of robotic, nasal tone and then cutting loose on a really twisting, huge chorus. This song is the highlight of the album and as good as anything Anthrax has ever done, even on the legendary Among The Living album.
Crawl
This starts off in a relaxed, laidback fashion that, to the surprise of no one, gives way to heavier fare. There's a lighter, upbeat touch to this song and it contrasts well with the preceding skullcrusher. This cut reminds me of something than John Bush could have sung.
The Constant
This track never clicks with me. It's hard to put a finger on, because it's heavy enough, but the arrangement and riffing just don’t stand out. The vocal hooks seem too convoluted. Given the length of this album, I would have probably left this one out.
Revolution Screams
Things recover nicely with this brutal, ill-tempered thrasher. The guitars even sound meaner here than elsewhere. It's a nice simple tune, nothing too complicated, and focused on wrecking necks. Stay tuned, though, because there's a hidden track.
New Noise
You have to wait a while for this to start, but at least it's not a "joke" cut. Anthrax used to be notorious as the first band to bring rap into heavy metal and this song is a tip of the hat to the song "Bring Tha Noise.” It's really heavy and bruising in parts, but features straight rapped vocals in addition to Belladonna's usual singing. I've never been a fan of rap in any fashion and could have done without it here, but the song is not crippled too badly by its addition here.
 
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