April , 2013
Review by Vinny Cecolini
Anthrax is in a state of flux.
Their 2011 masterpiece, Worship Music, is the band's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful recordings in the group's history. Guitarist Rob Caggiano retired from Anthrax ostensibly to produce records. He did just that with Volbeat only a funny thing happened in the recording studio. Caggiano enjoyed working and co-writing music with singer Michael Pouson so much, he said yes to the offer to join the band. And then there was the personal issues that drummer Charlie Benante and guitarist Scott Ian were forced to deal with.
But this Anthrax - the reenergized New York thrash pioneers' who found a new lease on life when original singer Joey Belladonna returned to the fold. One question, however, does remain. How does Anthrax, now entering their fourth decade, maintain their momentum while readying their next album? By returning to their roots, of course!
Anthrax, Metallica and their '80s peers often recorded cover versions for vinyl B-sides (remember those?) and extended singles. On '87's I'm the Man and '91's Attack of the Killer B's," Anthrax even lengthened their extended singles into odds and sods EPs. Now, more than 20 years later, they're up to their old tricks with Anthems. Essentially an augmented single, the EP features both the album version and a remix of Worship Music's amazing "Crawl," and six "influential" covers.
Don't confuse Anthems with the glut of uninspired covers albums released by artists experiencing creative lulls or hoping to score hits with songs unfamiliar to their demographic. According to the disc's line notes, each song holds a special place in the band's collective heart.
On paper, covers of classic rock staples AC/DC's "T.N.T," Rush's "Anthem" and Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" may not seem out of Anthrax's character; covers of Journey's "Keep on Runnin'," Cheap Trick's "Big Eyes" and Boston's "Smokin'," (featuring veteran keyboardist Fred Mendel), certainly seem like odd choices. Listen to the EP in its entirety and you'll understand. Although each cover is treated with reverent respect, there is no mistaking that Anthrax is performing the classics. Still, Anthem's MVP is Joey Belladonna, who proves he has not lost any vocal prowess by adapting his voice to match singers as varied as Geddy Lee, Brad Delp and Phil Lynott.
Raucous fun, each of Anthem's six covers fit nicely within any playlist of band classics (including "Crawl"), and are the ideal way to satiate fans patiently waiting for Worship Music's follow-up.