bill bodkin reviews the new album from the classic ’80s metal band …
Comparisons between Anthrax’s Worship Music and their Big 4 brother Metallica’s 2008 album Death Magnetic are quite easy to make. Both are long-awaited records from ferocious touring bands who have made their indelible mark on the music industry. Both deftly and nearly perfectly combine the bands’ two distinctly different styles of music they employed in the ’80s and ’90s. Both are absolutely, without a shadow of the doubt, masterfully created albums that rank among some of the best albums in both bands’ catalogs — and if I can make a bold statement, the last 25 years of heavy metal music.
Yet, with all these similarities there’s something distinctly different between the two records. Death Magnetic was the record that distinctly sounded like a 1980s Metallica record if it had been produced in the modern era. However, Worship Music, while it does combine classic ’80s Anthrax thrash with the muscular brutality of the 90s, is something that is beyond. It’s not an updated production of a classic sound, it’s a new, fresh sound. It’s a sonic boom that’s punctuated with harmonious melodies, double-kick bass drums, blistering guitar work and the grooviest of bass lines.
The production value of Worship Music is an example of musical craftsmanship, a blueprint aspiring musical producers should be listening to. It’s almost hard to wrap your mind around the fact that every instrument is at the forefront of every song. Sometimes on records, the bass lines will get drowned out by the drums, or the rhythm guitar is practically non-existent. On Worship Music, the instruments are all brilliant engineered and sound crisp and tight as ever. Now, let’s not give all the credit to the production — Scott Ian, Rob Caggiano, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante are some of the best musicians in heavy metal, bar none. They know how to perform to the highest degree.
However, the instrument that shines brighter than any other on this record is the vocal chords of Joey Belladonna. Personally, I’ve always thought John Bush was the best singer Anthrax ever had. That was until this record. Belladonna, known for his screaming banshee ’80s vocals, really pushes the limits of his vocal range. On each track, you’re given a new vocal style — brutal hard-edged growls, singed soul sounds that smack of late-’90s hard rock and alternative and of course that classic Belladonna wail.
Metal fans, Worship Music is the album you’ve been waiting nearly a decade for. Anthrax has delivered one of the most beautifully constructed, highly re-listenable and memorable albums that you’ve heard in ages. And that’s not a load of hyperbole it’s absolutely one of the best records this band has ever created. Put this up against any classic ‘Thrax record and they wouldn’t stand a chance. Put it up against some of the classics from their brethren in The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth), and Worship Music will stand up against the best these three have got. In short, this is an absolute must own.