Anthrax – Anthems

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Review by Lucy Gliddon

Nuclear Blast

Often regarded as the “lowest” of thrash metal’s ‘Big Four’, Anthrax’s latest effort Anthems – a collection of rock covers topped off with a remix of their own track ‘Crawl’ – proves not only that they are the most wrongly underrated of the group, but also the most versatile.

Opening up with Rush’s ‘Anthem’, drummer  Charlie Benante and bassist Frank Bello’s musicianship is showcased as they competently tackle Neil Peart and Geddy Lee’s complicated grooves. The track sounds fantastic and gets the release off to a promising start. It’s immediately clear that vocalist Joey Belladonna is the star of the EP, delivering stunning vocal performances across the entire release.

Next up is the band’s take on AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T’, a cover which stays true to the original, but has been given a heavier sound due to down-tuning. The track sounds good both musically and vocally, but the lack of grit in Belladonna’s tone gives the song a different feel, which could leave it down to preference. Regardless, the track is simple and effective and leads the listener to a cover of Boston’s ‘Smokin’. Right from the opening note, it’s clear that the track is a definite album highlight. It’s a lot heavier than the original, and the aid of modern production gives the song a much fuller sound. The keyboard solo is played by guest Fred Mandel (who has played with Alice Cooper, Queen and Pink Floyd amongst others), and it’s accompanied by a guitar solo, which makes for a nice alteration from the Boston version. Joey nails the vocals perfectly, matching Brad Delp’s impressive performance.

‘Smokin’’ is followed by another EP highlight, in Journey’s ‘Keep on Runnin’’. Much like the previous song, it’s a heavier take on the track, which is matched by a greater deal of vocal power. The addition of double bass drumming on the cover adds a little of Anthrax’s own thrash style to a classic rock song. The EP is weakened slightly by Cheap Trick’s ‘Big Eyes’, but this could be down to personal preference regarding the song choice. The modern production seems to hinder the sound rather than add to it, which is a shame as it dampens an otherwise storming set of covers. The final cover track is Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’, which much like ‘T.N.T’ sticks closely to the original, other than an added guitar solo. The chameleon-like vocals of Joey Belladonna once again take the starring role, as he attempts his best Phil Lynott impression- and it pays off. ‘Jailbreak’ wraps up Anthems, and the EP closes with the Anthrax track ‘Crawl’ which featured on 2011’s Worship Music, and a special remix of the same track. The remix sounds very much like a Faith No More’s material, with added piano and strings, creating a much more atmospheric experience.

Anthems is a solid release, filled with covers that don’t do much to reinvent the authentic versions, but rather pays homage to the bands Anthrax loves, and proves that the New York thrashers aren’t just one-trick ponies.

Anthrax - Anthems8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Anthem (Rush)
  2. TNT (AC/DC)
  3. Smokin’ (Boston)
  4. Keep On Runnin’ (Journey)
  5. Big Eyes (Cheap Trick)
  6. Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy)
  7. Crawl (album version)
  8. Crawl (special remix)