Anthrax – For All Kings

Anthrax is a band that has always been near and dear to my heart. Anthrax was my gateway band to thrash. I remember reading something about how ‘Imitation of Life’ was one of the fastest songs they had ever recorded, so I had to check it out. I wore the loud shorts and read comic books, so Anthrax was kind of my Big 4 band. Buying all their albums was easy, even if some were not the best. Like everyone else, I was skeptical when I heard Joey Belladonna had left the band and John Bush was named as his replacement. Then I heard ‘Only’ and was simultaneously blown away and surprised. I stuck with Anthrax through the Bush years, enjoying and appreciating those albums for the band that John had allowed them to evolve into. I am not going to get into the whole Bush vs. Belladonna argument, but let’s just say that a couple of the Bush albums are my all-time favorites. So when I heard Joey Belladonna was returning to the band after a turbulent turnover of vocalists, I was again skeptical. Then I heard ‘The Devil You Know,’ and all was right with Anthrax. “Worship Music” had its ticks, but was still a great return to form for the band. So, I was obviously much anticipating the follow up, to see if the roll would continue. After listening to “For All Kings,” roll on they have.

“For All Kings” was released February 26, 2016, and is Anthrax’s second album with Nuclear Blast. The album intros in with ‘Impaled,’ and is then on to opening track ‘You Gotta Believe,’ this album’s version of ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t.’ ‘Monster At The End’ also sounds a little like one of the tracks from “Worship.” I’m not saying that Anthrax is recycling riffs, it is just something about their new writing style that makes everything sound classic, yet fresh at the same time. The title track continues this trend, opening with Belladonna’s voice, which sounds much less “touched up” on this album. At this point we hit a triple threat of what are arguably the best three songs on the record: ‘Breathing Lightning,’ Suzerain,’ and ‘Evil Twin.’ These three songs really show where Anthrax is right now, and for me, really show the influence John Bush has had on their song writing. Let’s face it, up until Bush joined the band, there is now way they would have written a song like ‘Anyplace But Here’ on W.C.F.Y.A., and ‘Breathing Lightning’ is no different. This song and ‘Suzerain’ have the feeling, groove, and melody that any Anthrax album before “White Noise” was missing. ‘Evil Twin’ and the closing track ‘Zero Tolerance,’ on the other hand, is straight up vintage Anthrax. I don’t think I’ve heard them riff this hard since “Among the Living” and I know they haven’t played that fast (‘Zero Tolerance’) since the song that made me buy that record in the first place. Unfortunately, you have to wade through some so-so tracks to get to it. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Blood Eagle Wings’ is a cool song, except it is a minute and a half too long (like the unnecessary outro ‘Breathing Out’ two songs before), and is a kind of a downer after the fury that is ‘Evil Twin.’ Speaking of fury, Scott, Charlie, and Frank are tight as ever. Jon Donais is fantastic addition to this crew. I should not be surprised; the guy has been smoking it in Shadows Fall for quite some time. His leads are on point and flow very well with the songs and Ian’s rhythm. Donais is the best lead guitarist Anthrax has ever had (Dimebag does not count) and he shows it on his recorded debut.

Anthrax have an instant classic on their hands with “For All Kings.” Joey sounds back to form, Donais fits like a glove on lead, Scott, Charlie, and Frank have written some of their best songs, and are playing like it’s 1986. There are a few duds on this record, but they are still better than anything any of the other Big 4 are doing right now. All hail the mighty Anthrax! May they never relinquish their throne!

Track list:

1. “Impaled” 1:31
2. “You Gotta Believe” 6:00
3. “Monster at the End” 3:55
4. “For All Kings” 5:00
5. “Breathing Lightning” 5:37
6. “Breathing Out” 0:55
7. “Suzerain” 4:53
8. “Evil Twin” 4:40
9. “Blood Eagle Wings” 7:53
10. “Defend/Avenge” 5:13
11. “All of Them Thieves” 5:14
12. “This Battle Chose Us!” 4:53
13. “Zero Tolerance” 3:48

Playing time: 59:34

Release date: 2/26/16

Label: Nuclear Blast

Website: anthrax.com

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