There were very few people who were disappointed when John Bush left Anthrax allowing Joey Belladonna to return. Despite some fine - and under-appreciated - work done in the intervening years, for the hardcore fan Belladonna is the one true voice of Anthrax. For the band too his comeback has given them a fresh impetus and raised their game a notch or three.
Expertly straddling the twin paths of nostalgia and fresh new music, Anthrax are giving the fans exactly what they want and a career that appeared to be fizzling out is now riding high again. And this live album recorded in Scotland and also filmed for DVD release just goes to prove the point.
The first half of the album blends a selection of their classic songs from their back catalogue with songs from their more recent albums. Stand out tracks include the evergreen ‘Be All, End All’, ‘Madhouse’ and ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t’ which stands out more here than it did on 2011’s ‘Worship Music’. There is a slight feeling that perhaps the band could have thrown in a curveball or two, but you can’t deny this is a strong, crowd-pleasing set that doesn’t rely solely on the oldies to generate good vibes. The energy from the crowd as the set builds is almost tangible, the band feeding from it and delivering a strong, tight and powerful performance. The production too is good, no instruments are lost in the mix and overdubs are either non-existent or unobtrusive, you get the odd bum note and false start so it feels like you’re getting the show, the whole show and nothing but the show.
And that’s just the first half...
The latter part of the album is Anthrax’s classic ‘Among The Living’ record played in its entirety. It’s a great thing to hear and must have been joyous for the Scottish crowd but in truth, aside from a couple of interesting introductions from Joey Belladonna - who knew ‘Skeletons In The Closet’ was his favourite song from the album? - these new versions add little to the originals and when they do, such as the war dance section of ‘Indians’ it probably works much better on the DVD than on CD where it just interrupts the flow. That said, it is a reminder of just how good ‘Among The Living’ really is, each song is a stone cold classic and quite frankly if you can’t enjoy ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘I Am The Law’, and ‘Efilnikufesin (N.F.L)’ then you might possibly be dead inside, and you should probably get that checked out.
As a whole the album is a blast, Anthrax have been doing this too long and have too many excellent songs for it not to be, but it doesn’t quite make it as an essential purchase. Your money might be wiser spent on the DVD version to get the full experience, or better still buy a ticket to one of their gigs, because on this evidence Anthrax can clearly still deliver the goods.
Blood Eagle Wings
Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't
Be All, End All
Among The Living
Caught In A Mosh
I Am The Law
A Skeleton In The Closet
A. D.I. Horror Of It All
Imitation Of Life
Joey Belladonna – Vocals
Scott Ian – Guitar
Frank Bello – Bass
Charlie Benante – Drums
Jonathan Donais – Guitar
Buy the album here: https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2018/Anthrax/kings-among-scotland.html