Anthrax – Worship Music

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Release Date: 09/12/11

anthrax-group-photograph-2012
Photo: Music Vice, 2012

This review was initially written 10/10/11 and contains some minor edits.

I typically don’t write spur-of-the-moment, emotionally charged reviews anymore, but I’m feeling quite passionate about the quality of, well, everything on this album right now.

This must be the catchiest heavy metal album of the past 20 years. Every song has gotten stuck in my head over the past few days. If not for the politics of radio, “The Devil You Know”, “Fight ‘Em ’til You Can’t”, “I’m Alive”, and “In The End”, could all be successful singles… but of course, you must be forced to listen to bad catchy songs and get them stuck in your head instead of these melodic gems. It took me eight listens to realize that this is, to me, a masterpiece. It has now made the question of my favorite Anthrax album irrelevant (choosing between Spreading the Disease and Among the Living has always caused me great difficulty), because this is number one now [2018 edit: I no longer would go this far… Among the Living is numero uno]. I have to wait and see if this has serious staying power, but as of right now… man. Everything just works perfectly. Joey Belladonna fits almost unbelievably well with the sound they’ve developed without him and I’d never guess he was 50 years old; also, I freakin’ love his vocal harmonies!

On Worship Music, Anthrax reminds us that when it comes to “the Big Four,” they’re still with us; the other three came out with great, I want to say “comeback,” albums in the past few years (Slayer’s Christ Illusion, Megadeth’s Endgame, and Metallica’s Death Magnetic), but this one’s king [2018 edit: there are now several other veteran metal bands who have put out excellent “comeback” records since 2011: Carcass, Gorguts, Judas Priest, Kreator, Napalm Death, to name but a few. Only in metal do legacy acts perform such late-in-life miracles].

Oh, and kudos to them for covering “New Noise” by Refused, who are one of my favorite bands. It was odd hearing it sung by Joey at first, but the clean vocal melodies that replace the screaming are nearly as memorable as the rest of the album’s melodies. The guitar effects and nearly disorienting stereo panning that replace’s the synth parts are neat too. This album is, in a word, excellent.

Highlights: “The Devil You Know”, “Fight ‘Em ’til You Can’t”, “I’m Alive”, “In The End”
Rating: 4/5
Purchase: Amazon
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