I get room spins when I hear that one of the bands that I grew up with is releasing a new album but there’s no concern in this case as its a ball tearer. This album has been talked about since 2012 but like all of the bands that built the metal foundations they have been through a few dramas, changes and identity crises that normally mean that any output is either cancelled or a complete waste of time. Somehow the boys of Anthrax have pulled this all together. When the Anthems EP came out I thought that was the end but that was just a taster.
Belladona is still there and thats a good thing as certainly has the pipes to meet the needs of Anthrax, never should have left, but thats another story, for another time. Jonathan Donais joining from Shadows Fall is a touch of genius, from fan to shredder in one easy move. So after all the ins and outs we have this, For All Kings, the eleventh studio release, and lets not waste any more time as this album deserves our attention.
I’m going to pick out a few tracks for your attention because I know that you guys save your pennies and cents to buy metal have been burned before, hearing that some Goliath has produced the comeback monster that turns out to be a dud. Well lets start with, ‘You Gotta Believe’, and I can tell you as someone who was there in in 85/86 , when rage was the fashion, that the boys are back. Back to the good old days of plain old thrash, intense drumming and punched out riffs with the vocal rising above. This all goes into a lull about a third of the way in and its a reflective moment before all hell unleashes. ‘Caught in a Mosh’, anyone? Great track and we are only two tracks in.
‘Breathing Lightning’ starts off all sensitive but that can only last so long. Great riff and we swerve into the song. The vocal chases the riff, something that Belladona just has a knack of doing. About four minutes in there is a solo that’ll strip paint of your walls. Its the right solo, in the right spot. This album sounds as natural as I’ve heard this band. Maybe more reserved and more considered in the playing with everything measured. Don’t take that as meaning they have gone soft, far from it, it just means that the band has taken a step back and thought about this instead of whacking everything in the blender and hoping it works.
‘Evil Twin’, is a nasty little song and probably sums up everything that thrash is. The message, the riff, the power beat and the solo. Its just an immense song with the lyrics about the human psyche, one side peace and the other violence. The lyrics are prompted by the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, so the band continue their social commentary while bashing out riffs that drive the message home. Nearer the end of the album we have, ‘Blood Eagle Wings’, with a euro-metal opening for the first three of the eight minutes that this song goes for. Then its on, buts again its a much more measured, mature Anthrax. Great song. Belladona is in great touch and new boy Donais is the signing of the season. There is a freshness about his playing that really lifts this album.
So my last pick on this album is, ‘Zero Tolerance’, which is the final track and a straight forward thrash-fest. For a band that has swerved all across the music landscape on their thirty-five year journey we are back to straight thrash. I’m catapulted back to the mosh where you could travel fifty metres without your Adidas Kicks touching the dirt. This is the real Anthrax. What a way to end the album. We bark out the lyrics, ‘Zero Tolerance for Politicians (left or right), Zero tolerance for killing children (what would your gods say to that MOTHERFUCKERS?)’. Yep they are back.
I’m not going to recommend this, you choose. Just go to the digital thing of your choice. Look up the songs above and make a decision. I’ve made mine, this album is already in my collection.
Reviewer: Craig Grant