This year ANTHRAX celebrate 30 years as a band with the release of their anxiously-awaited reunion album with Joey Belladonna. It's been well documented on these pages the long and winding path the New York thrash legends have taken to reach this point in their career, studio album number ten to be exact. But to begin, the current music industry climate combined with the fact they couldn't secure somebody behind the mic added to the last eight years of dry spell. But those problems seem to be well behind them, and of course the recent Big 4 accolades is just icing. But where do they stand musically, when so many bands are abandoning the concept of the album or focusing more on the road than the studio. With a seemingly old school philosophy, guitarist Scott Ian and Charlie Benante stuck to their guns and for the past four years shaped a new beast. With all the blood, sweat and tears that went into Worship Music, fans old and new will walk way from this listening experience with a newfound appreciation for the band.
“We worked on this record differently than any other time in the past," Scott Ian told BraveWords.com recently. "We approached it differently this time, which was basically giving Joey the freedom to go into the studio and do his thing. Obviously he had templates; songs were done and lyrics were finished. He was going in and singing the songs, but it was just him and Jay Ruston (who produced the vocals and also mixed the record). We just kind of left it to the two of them to figure it out. We wanted to give Joey that kind of freedom, which was different than it was in the past with Anthrax. Back on all those Joey Belladonna records from the ‘80s up to Persistence Of Time, it was very much a case of a lot of dictation, and we didn’t want to be that way this time. We wanted Joey to be able to go in and make his own choices. If he had ideas that were different than the ideas we were giving him, we wanted to hear those ideas. We wanted this to be an open door policy for him, and have our singer contribute to this record. There are a lot of choices he makes vocally and phrasing wise, even notes, where he would take a line that was sung a certain way, and he would make different note choices. These are ideas that I certainly didn’t have in my head, and they made the songs better. It was really refreshing to be able to do that and give Joey that opportunity.”
BraveWords.com continues to spotlight key metal releases with a review of Worship Music below. "Metal" Tim Henderson rates the album 9/10 on the BW&BK scale.
ANTHRAX - Worship Music (Megaforce)
Armageddon must be near … the minute I press "play" an earthquake strikes the Eastern US/Canada sea-board. Better get my seat-belt buckled, protective head-gear attached, and if I'm gonna die, I better put my boots on! Let's get moshing. To begin, a bizarre, twisted space-age symphony about to catch fire, almost Floyd-esque in nature. Welcome to 'Worship' (the intro) which crashes head-on to 'Earth On Hell', a punchy introduction to ANTHRAX in 2011, Charlie Benante blast-beats and all. Yes, the beloved New York thrash legends have finally got their proverbial shit together. And when you hear the clock tick on 'Earth On Hell' it takes you back to the hands of time when Joey Belladonna last fronted the band on 1990's Persistence Of Time … geez, was it that long ago? 'The Devil You Know' points at yet another big chorus sing-along, Scott Ian's fingertips bleeding from the intense riffing. 'Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't' has been stirring fans in the pit for a few months now, a track that could easily fit on latter-era 'thrax, fun zombie-tale and all. 'I'm Alive' sees an acoustic intro until the marching backbeat of Benante and bassist Frank Bello is greeted with a near MAIDEN/TWISTED SISTER-esque sing-along. Catchy as hell with the Ian/Rob Caggiano team melding without mercy, the band maybe rethinking all the time they pissed away with Dan Nelson at the mic. For whom the bell tolls brings forth 'In The End' - a tribute to "Dime and Ronnie" - menacing, pristine production, chugging pace, Belladonna's lungs working full-force. The man is in top-notch form as the track moves from a towering METALLICA-influenced near seven-minute epic, to outright liftoff towards New Wave Of British Heavy Metal territory. I need to pick myself off the floor. 'The Giant' is yet another inventive two-fisted hit to the noggin' until the chorus kicks in and the lads unite in the ultimate team chant, a forum the band have always excelled in. Of course 'Judas Priest' was written shortly after the metal gods announced their Epitaph, so you know we'll see Painkiller-era dual axes and screaming for vengeance vocals, Bello leading the Anthrax charge in ultimate praise to the metal gods. With the pace slowed down just a bit, 'Crawl' brings to mind Chris Cornell, Belladonna's voice well-rounded with a keen subtle snarl. Another example of song-writing prowess unheard of in the past, Anthrax maturing gracefully with unhindered vision that will easily silence the naysayers. Man, is it me, or has Anthrax just found the sweet-spot 30-years into their career? 'The Constant' is typical, speedy fare and closer 'Revolution Screams' ebbs and flows from pugilistic juggernaut to an all-out jam as you try desperately to catch your breath from the intense work-out. And Charlie has revenge with a four-limbed assault on the skins as Worship Music fades into the sunset as a rolling ball of fury. In all, a varied yet highly entertaining affair that refuses to bow to a simple speed metal formula and solidifies Anthrax' place as part of the Big 4. Worship Music? Worship Worship Music.
Worship Music is released on September 13th in North America via Megaforce Records, the 14th in Europe via Nuclear Blast Records and the 14th via Victor Records in Japan with the remix of the new song 'Crawl' added as a bonus track. An Amazon pre-order is available below.