Holy Metal

The thrash metal vanguards make a return to form

Raghav Mehta

 

Conventional rock âÄònâÄô roll wisdom tells us thereâÄôs no plausible reason Anthrax could still be a band. The street punk thrashers have endured enough lineup changes and personal tumult to send even the most hardened musicians into early retirement.

Coming off the heels of the âÄúBig 4 TourâÄù âÄî which featured a reunion with vocalist Joey Belladonna and saw them on the same bill as fellow heavy-metal vanguards Megadeath, Metallica and Slayer âÄî AnthraxâÄôs new album, âÄúWorship Music,âÄù is a nostalgic throwback to the bandâÄôs head-banger heyday. And like most of their best work, itâÄôs so uncompromising, so engrossing that it sounds as if theyâÄôre just picking up right where they left off.

However, according to Belladonna, pressure wasnâÄôt exactly an issue. Anthrax isnâÄôt out to prove anything to anyone anymore. This time theyâÄôre just making music for themselves.

âÄúThereâÄôs no pressure to be better, we want to be good obviously, but weâÄôre not trying to out-do anyone,âÄù Belladonna said.

âÄúWorship Music,âÄù which is the groupâÄôs first studio collaboration with Belladonna since 1990âÄôs âÄúPersistence of Time,âÄù has all the necessary nuts and bolts that goes into a worthy Anthrax release, but falls just short of being called a âÄúcomeback.âÄù However, thatâÄôs not to say thereâÄôs not plenty for diehards to latch onto here.

From the supercharged whiplash of âÄúThe GiantâÄù to the double kick drum assault of âÄúJudas Priest,âÄù the group certainly hasnâÄôt gone soft over the years.

 âÄúWe have our own little identity [compared to the other Big 4] and how the writing is and how my vocals sit on top of the music. Musician-wise weâÄôve gotten better and more methodical about whatâÄôs going on a song,âÄù Belladonna said. âÄúEverybody is progressing and are more comfortable with what we think works.âÄù

And the transition wasnâÄôt too difficult either. Belladonna, who has kept busy over the last decade with a slew of solo projects, just needed to find the time. But it was an offer he couldnâÄôt turn down.

âÄúI had 14 days between [to record] and we didnâÄôt even know if IâÄôd have time,âÄù Belladonna said. âÄúBut there were no problems with any of the songs. This one is very versatile. The tempo is very different. There are slower songs, different keys, less words in some spots âĦ I love building a song and making it peak in its own way.âÄù