Album Releases Album Reviews

Anthrax – For All Kings Review

Released by: Megaforce , Nuclear Blast

Release date: 26 February 2016

Genre: Metal

Links: anthrax.com , Facebook

 

Lineup:

Joey Belladonna – Lead Vocals

Scott Ian – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals

Charlie Benante – Drums

Frank Bello – Bass Guitar , Backing Vocals

Jon Donais – Lead Guitar

 

Track Listing:

01. You Gotta Believe

02. Monster At The End

03. For All Kings

04. Breathing Lightning

05. Suzerian

06. Evil Twin

07 Blood Eagle Wings

08. Defend Avenge

09. All Of Them Thieves

10. This Battle Chose Us

11. Zero Tolerance

 

When Joey Belladonna returned to the folds of Anthrax in 2010 to do some shows and record a new album I, along with many other diehard fans, were elated. Once Worship Music was unleashed upon us, the world shouted loudly, “Anthrax are back!” I make no bones about my disdain of John Bush era Anthrax. I love the guys voice and am a huge Armored Saint fan, but his vocals and the songs that were written during this time fundamentally changed the sound and dynamic of this thrash titan. With the true voice of the band back and an album that ranks as one of their best to date, the band were tapping into their vintage trash style, yet dipping their feet into a more traditonal metal style as well, best noted on the stellar track “In the End.” It seems that this track and the reaction to it was a tremendous inspiration to them as their new offering, For All Kings, basically feels like a continuation.

I would imagine many people will be shocked to hear the full album after the release of the first single “Evil Twin” which bears a striking resemblance to that great thrash sound the band is known for. To my ears at least For All Kings is the band getting in touch with the classic 70’s hard rock they all grew up loving and has been evidenced by the fantastic covers of bands like KISS, Thin Lizzy, and Joe Jackson as well as their love of traditional NWOBHM metal. Those looking for a straight forward thrash juggernaut should be forewarned: with the exception of “Evil Twin,” “Monsters At the End,” “All of Them Thieves,” and “Zero Tolerance,” the album consists more of great experimentation with stuff Anthrax haven’t typically done. Experimentation can be a tricky thing for a band; look at Metallica. Their drastic sound change has been one of the biggest splittings of a fanbase ever- going from one of the preeminent thrash bands of the 80’s to one of the most alternative bands of the 90’s. I will wager Anthrax will get a bit of backlash for the new one, but undeservingly. For All Kings may not be as good an album as Worship Music (much like State of Euphoria had a helluva time topping Among the Living back in the day as far as quality,) but I found it to be an excellent album. The band are still quite heavy, as is to be expected when you have a drummer that beats the hell out of the skins like Charlie Benante and riffmaster Scott Ian still doing what they do best. They never fully go straight retro as much as they adapt their heaviness to that genre. Songs like “For All Kings,” “Suzerain,” and “Breathing Lightning” foster the direction they went with “In the End” and make it work for them. I did feel that there were moments that it felt like they weren’t totally confident with what they were doing with their sound, but somehow they managed to make it sound authentic. My only major complaint with the album is sometimes the songs fritter along too long, as there were moments I got kind of bored, but there is enough meat and potatoes here to satisfy me.

I don’t love this album as much as I did Worship Music. There was a fire on that album like they truly had something to prove. With the experimentation in style and now showing some signs of comfort with the line-up, that fire seems to be tempered, in that they no longer have anything to prove and are just now making great music. Having said that, For All Kings is an excellent album that I will return to frequently to soak up the nuances I may have missed with the first few listens. Perhaps in time my opinion of it will change (good or bad,) but right now I really like the album a lot. Does it stand up to their classic back catalog? Not really, but I think it’s much better than what they did when Belldonna was out.

Written by: Chris Martin

 

Ratings: Chris 8/10

 

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