I’m a man of tradition. I enjoy nothing better than when a classic band reunites with their original members or “classic lineup” and comes back to show the kiddos how it’s done. I’m also a proponent of the old dogs that show us that they have a few new tricks up their sleeve. And that’s exactly what we have with the new Anthrax album, a shining star in their discography.
Theirs is a fairytale. A rare story of a group that has held its own since forming in 1981, weathering various storms and tides of indifference. They’ve gone through lineup changes, but somehow managed to persevere. Anthrax is a band that has always been easy to ignore or forget…sadly. And shame on us for letting that happen. After all, they were in the Big Four and, truth be told, probably the liveliest of that grouping. They’ve sold over 10 million records and were hailed as America’s answer to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Still, until fairly recently, their place in thrash was noted, but never really heralded. But it’s been their determination that has kept the band focused and forward facing.
Then, the Big Four got back together in 2009, and people took note. The band did as well. According to the band members, seeing their names in lights next to Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica had a catalyzing effect on Anthrax. For bassist Frank Bello it was a milestone for how far they’ve come. “When the Big Four got back together, it kinda reminded us that we belonged, that we really were part of that group of bands. We didn’t forget it, but maybe people did—it suddenly made sense.”
And those shows proved to be the catalyst for 2011’s ‘Worship Music,’ an amazing album that proved thrash is very much alive and classic albums can still be made.
And now, with ‘For All Kings,’ the band has made quite possibly the most relevant album of their long and storied career. Once again they’ve partnered with producer Jay Ruston and have new blood in the ranks. In 2013, Rob Caggiano, longtime lead player, stepped down to concentrate on producing. He introduced the band to Shadows Fall’s Jon Donais, whose approach and style brings a fresh complement to the tried and tested chemistry of the band.
This is a ferocious album. Fast. Relentless. Accessible. Enjoyable. Consistent. It flows quickly over about an hour and begs for a repeat. The first single, “Breathing Lightning,” is a juggernaut of an anthem and quite possibly the most mainstream thing the band has ever produced. It’s the kind of track that will help define their legacy. However, this is not a one trick pony of a record. There are stellar cuts throughout, one more enjoyable than the next.