Anthrax - 'For All Kings' Album Review


Tracklist:

1. You Gotta Believe

2. Monster At The End

3. For All Kings

4. Breathing Lightning

5. Breathing Out

6. Suzerain

7. Evil Twin

8. Blood Eagle Wings

9. Defend/Avenge

10. All Of Them Thieves

11. This Battle Chose Us!

12. Zero Tolerance

Digital Bonus Tracks / Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc

1. Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't (Live)

2. A.I.R. (Live)

3. Caught In A Mosh (Live)

4. Madhouse (Live)

Japanese Bonus Track

13. Vice Of The People

I'll admit, I thought Anthrax were cool back in the eighties. When John Bush joined he really helped up their game. They sounded huge but grunge helped smother the fire in the metal community and they seemed to get lost in the shuffle a bit. Joey Belladonna rejoined and quicker than you could say "Cry for the Indians!" they seemed to fall into nostalgia circuit. Doing the Big Four thrash shows started that feeling for me and that was truely capped off when Charlie kept having to miss tours. Bit of a shame I thought and they slipped from my radar.

"Check out the new Anthrax album" my Metal loving friends said. "There's a new one?" I thought. Must admit the thought didn't particularly excite me too much so I ordered the Japanese version of Sound Of White Noise instead. Now that's an Anthrax album.....

Then the 3S&O guys asked me to give it a listen to see what I thought. Okay, I'll give it a go. So on went my trusted Sony headphones and I dialed it up.

How does it start? Subtly. After a snare roll, strings swoop in giving the introduction a regal feel for just over a minute before they start properly.

There's something unmistakable about the sound of Anthrax, the signature crunch of Scott Ian's guitars married up with Charlie Benante's drums have been the primary driving force behind their music for years now. Musically, there's always been subtle shifts and changes. Where Metallica will happily leap from sound to sound upon a whim, Anthrax have always stayed true their roots whilst still evolving.

"You Gotta Believe" is the prefect choice of album opener. The crunch of the guitars chugging along with the drums just highlight how good Anthrax are. Joey's vocals kick in and......I don't hate it. I was expecting some kind of rehash of past glories, but no. This is a rejuvenated Metal machine. New 'thrax guy Jon Donais (of Shadows Fall) shows his worth with a killer solo.

"Monster At The End" kicks things along before title track "For All Kings" drops in like the equivalent of musical napalm. It features a cool stop-start riff. It highlights one of Anthrax's secret weapons: how they effectively use space within their songs. They're careful to leave small gaps in their music to give you chance to recover a split second before starting again.

"I'd do anything to save you" sings Joey at the end of the song before heading into the similar feel of "Breathing Lightning", single in the making. The chorus of "We always have the choice to do the right thing before the right thing comes undone" sounds anthemic and shows how much Belladonna's voice and phrasing owe to the likes of Ronnie James Dio.

"Suzerain" (literally a sovereign ruler) is a snakey, fast paced riff that harkens back to their 'State Of Euphoria' days whilst still nodding to the idea of kingship and ruling that thematically runs through the album. "Evil Twin" is another musical smack to the face."Blood Eagle Wings" drops the pace a little with some guitar tones that Metallica would happily kill for, the verse's stuttering riff helps keep the groove going along with Frankie Bello's bass and you start wondering why these guys never had their Black album moment that launched them into the mainstream.

You get teased into the start of "Defend Avenge" which takes a good minute before the band kick into the song proper. "All Of Them Thieves" has you imagining circle pits and makes me think of a beefed up Iron Maiden with an off-kilter chorus that really grows on you. "The Battle Chose Us" is driven by Bello's bass, cutting through the guitars, which is no mean feat and shows how good the production on the album by Jay Ruston. The album closes with "Zero Tolerance", propelled by a scratchy, staccato riff and angry vocals that are happy to point fingers with what's wrong with the world today.

It's a long album, often relentless but with enough light and shade to let you catch you breath every now and again. If you want more though, you can grab an extended version featuring 5 demos and bonus song "Vice Of The People".

Is it gong to replace The Sound Of White Noise as my favourite Anthrax album? Probably not, but the more times I listen to this the more times it gets it's hooks in me. This a solid, addition to their legacy that sees them happily discard their nostalgia tag.

Check out their video for 'Monster At The End'

Website - http://anthrax.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/anthrax/

Review - Scott Hamilton

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