|Anthrax – Worship Music Megaforce Records|
My relationship with Anthrax has been sketchy at best. I loved “Spreading The Disease” and “Among The Living”. Since then my enjoyment has been spotty, ranging from absolute worship of their cover of Joe Jackson’s “Got The Time” to tepid interest in their work with John Bush. No matter what though, I’ve always had the respect. Few bands in the world of metal have consistently put out records, held tight to their integrity and tried to grow as songwriters the way Anthrax have. They never sold out or disappeared like so many of their peers. It’s that type of intestinal fortitude that’s allowed them to create Worship Music, an album I see as one of the best of their career.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t start out in love with Worship Music because the opening song, while good, is just not a great opener. “Earth On Hell” crams a lot of different styles into one song and it’s just too disjointed to be an opener. I’m telling you though, stay with Worship Music because the next tune, “The Devil You Know” will shred your face off. So many are talking about a “thrash comeback”, but I have to point at Anthrax and remind everybody they never left. “The Devil You Know” has a classic head banging gallop thrash riff that bleeds into the arena sing along chorus. This is epic thrash metal laid down by old school masters who haven’t forgotten who they are.
While the groove of “The Devil You Know” is killer, the full-on High Rocktane power riff that is “Fight “Em ‘Till You Can’t” is incredibly catchy without being the lame radio friendly unit shifter that is most of Metallica’s post-And Justice For All work. When the solo rips in from beneath the guitar lick, and it combines with Joey Belladonna’s voice, you can’t help but thrust the horns in the air and start jumping around your room in delight.
“I’m Alive” is a marching song combined with some eerie single note work. It’s like the thrash metal answer to “Another Brick In The Wall” only allowing for full head banging and mosh destruction to ensue. It’s an obvious choice for Anthrax to call this album Worship Music because that’s what they do and this is a culmination of everything they’ve learned. Don’t get my wrong, it doesn’t stray from what makes Anthrax, Anthrax, but it does encompass all the changes and musical strength they’ve gained by always forging their own path. There’s thrash, heavy rock, a bit of prog and even some funky stuff tossed in for good measure.
As always, Scott Ian is the spine and monster of the band. His guitar work here has a thickness usually left for sludge rock but without losing that crisp chord work that he’s known for. Rob Caggiano is the perfect compliment to what Scott Ian does. The riffs double up into a sonic battering ram when suddenly it’s time for shredding guitar solos. Anthrax never use solos as guitar masturbation, it’s always just another layer in their creations. I know there was a lot of weirdness before Joey Belladonna returned to lend his golden pipes to Worship Music but I’m glad it went down this way. I’ve always felt that Belladonna’s voice works with Anthrax in a way nobody else’s can.
On a personal note, let’s talk about Charlie Benante, one of the most underappreciated drummers in metal. While those in the know understand how good Benante is, the world at large needs to take better notice. Benante can go toe to toe with any drummer out there when it comes to fills, rolls and double bass work. The difference is how tasty Benante is. The man works the whole kit and can find the groove in a Phil Rudd fashion before unloading his massive fills/rolls arsenal. Anthrax wouldn’t be half the band they are without Benante and the world needs to recognize that. Worship Music is filled to the brim with amazing drum parts from a man who seems to have no end of imagination behind the kit.
Worship Music has a few stumbling points, mainly a slow jam towards the end of the album that falls short. Outside of that the record is a statement to where Anthrax has been and a proclamation that they’re not going anywhere. Anthrax is an institution now, not just a band. They are one of those groups everybody first discovering metal must listen to and understand. Worship Music proves that they don’t rest on their laurels. Anthrax has too much love for music to do that.
CRAVEONLINE Rating – 9/10
Photo credit – Wenn.com