Release Date: Feb 26, 2016
Record label: Megaforce
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Anyone who caught Anthrax during their recent UK tour with Slayer will know that the New York thrash veterans are on superb form. Following up 2011’s career-saving Worship Music was never going to be straightforward, not least because the band have a tendency to do things the hard way, but For All Kings, their 11th studio album, is full of the anthemic choruses and hulking riffs that have always driven their sound, and it’s hard to imagine diehard fans being anything but satisfied. In some ways a more focused effort than its predecessor, it does make occasional detours away from flat-out aggression and into radio-friendly hard rock, most notably on Breathing Lightning’s melodic peaks.
Review Summary: Riffs for days, Joey for Life.I don’t think John Bush is a bad vocalist, but he just wasn’t Anthrax. I wholeheartedly believe that Anthrax could have done just as well, if not better, if they had kept Joey Belladonna as their vocalist. I believe that sales of Sound of White Noise benefited more from the positive momentum of Persistence of Time than from any vocalist change.
I know the feeling of trepidation well, when I begin reading any piece of Anthrax news, never mind when I put on a new Anthrax album: Is it going to be another awkward mistake? Is it going to live up to expectations? Who the fucking hell is singing again?On For All Kings, it's Joey Belladonna, and he won't let you forget it. The man is positively on during opener "You Gotta Believe," which features the hysterical classic Anthrax song structure and is very much a cross between a State of Euphoria tune and a Persistence of Time one — not a half bad equation, though the trippy stuff in it has to go, as the band manage to kill the album's momentum halfway through the first song. Next tune "Monster at the End" is a very cool slow-burner, and though the melodies of "Breathing Lightning" are at first jarring, after a few listens they work quite nicely, and Belladonna puts on a convincing vocal performance.
Opening with a martial drum roll that segues into an opulent orchestral bit, one could be forgiven for thinking that Anthrax have drained the mead and gone full-on Viking metal. As part of the big four, alongside Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth, the band has always leaned harder on the sociopolitical side of the thrash spectrum, and For All Kings, despite its Lord of the Rings-worthy opening salvo, is no exception. The group's 11th studio long-player, and the first outing for new guitarist Jon Donais, who replaces outgoing shredder Rob Caggiano, For All Kings does nothing to tarnish the band's legacy.
Vocalist Joey Belladonna replaced Anthrax’s original vocalist Neil Turbin after the band’s first album and helped make the band one of the Big Four Thrash Metal bands of the 1980s (a list that also includes Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer) with his distinctive voice and dynamic range. Anthrax were metal pioneers who managed to not sound like any other metal band out there (partially because Belladonna’s previous gig was in a Journey cover group, if you can believe that). Belladonna was controversially replaced after the band’s 1990 release Persistence of Time with another dynamic singer, John Bush of Armored Saint.
NYC’s thrash royalty keep up the good work. Since the full return of vocalist Joey Belladonna in 2010, NYC’s premier thrash icons have stopped being an endearing shambles and reconnected with their collective mojo..
New York thrashers Anthrax have been riding the tail of a long and mostly dignified career for some time now, winding up in the last decade or so with albums of acceptably powerful content, even if the glory days of the mid-80s are now but a speck in the rear-view mirror. Their last release, 2011’s Worship Music, was a reasonably tasty reminder of their best work, hence the high expectations for this one. Headbangers will be pleased to hear that Scott Ian’s crunchy riffs and Joey Belladonna’s banshee wails are at front and centre, athough – continuing a theme that has endured since the mid-90s – truly warp-speed thrash beats are, disappointingly, largely absent here.
Thrash metal’s “Big Four” are still trudging on in 2016. Metallica should’ve played the Super Bowl and have a new album in the works. Slayer released Repentless last year and are content to keep going without Jeff Hanneman. Megadeth just dropped Dystopia. Completing the cycle is Anthrax ….