If you would have asked me 30 years ago when I bought my first Anthrax cassette, Spreading the Disease, if I would be reviewing their new album in 2016, I would have said something along the lines of, “You are not right in the head.” Yet here I am listening to their newest release, For All Kings, for this review.
Anthrax have gone through their share of turmoil and change over the years, and the loss of lead axe man Rob Caggiano after 2011’s Worship Music seemed like it would be a major setback. However, former Shadows Fall guitarist Jon Donais joined up, and the band is hitting all on all cylinders on For All Kings. Joey Belladonna is in top form and his vocals are impeccable on these 13 songs. Scott Ian proves he hasn’t lost the ability to deliver monster, thrashy rhythms, and last but not least, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante are at the top of their game. Their unwavering ability to hold everything together is only amplified on For All Kings.
After the classically inspired intro, Anthrax launch into an all out thrash fest on “You Gotta Believe.” It sounds like more of a throwback to Persistence of Time than anything on Worship Music, and crunchy riffs, staccato bass, and gang-style vocals bring back fond memories of a bygone era to set the tone for the rest of the album. The break in this song has a very cool, trippy, melodic guitar solo. Donais flexes his muscles well! “Monster At The End” slows things down a bit and features a bit more melody. Belladonna’s vocals are the forefront of this song without question, and the chorus is infectious. “Zero Tolerance” is an angry scorcher that captures the shitty current events around the world and gives them a big middle finger. “Breathing Lightning” is a moody, slower song, and it is one of my favorites. It’s powerful and catchy, and it maintains a sharp riff throughout. Belladonna’s vocal harmonies are, once again, at the forefront, as they should be. “Blood Eagle Wings” follows a similar formula, but it is even a bit more melodic. It has anthem written all over it, and it is both brooding and catchy. “All Of Them Thieves” is more thrashy and traditional sounding, and Benante’s drum fills throughout the verses are absolutely crushing! The bridge and chorus form a solid, fucking heavy riff that pummels you.
The title track has a State of Euphoria feel, fast and heavy, and “Suzerain” recalls John Bush-era Anthrax. Once again, Benante’s drumming is spectacular. “The Battle Chose Us” is heavy with a Worship Music aura to it, and the guitar solo is crazy, adding a mosh-inducing section to the song. “Voice Of The People” begins the trio of my favorite songs on For All Kings, and it is foot-stomping and heavy as fuck. “Defend Avenge” begins with an almost AC/DC sounding riff, then builds into a pummeling, fire-breathing demon of a head-banger! It’s not only heavy, it’s crushing. “Evil Twin” continues this pummeling, and it’s another song that would fit easily on State of Euphoria or Persistence of Time.
I enjoyed Worship Music, although I did find some songs to be more filler than substance. For All Kings is, hands down, light years beyond its predecessor. It recalls a day when thrash dominated the underground metal scene, and the bands didn’t give a fuck about record labels or “the man.” It’s that good!
For All Kings is out February 26 on Megaforce Records. Pre-order it here!
SkullsNBones Rating (Out Of 5):