Monday, May 30, 2016

Review of Anthrax's For All Kings

Joey Belladonna's return and the subsequent release of Worship Music in 2011 put Anthrax in a pretty good place, but it seems like they didn't keep a high momentum going for long. Releasing the Anthems cover EP and switching lead guitarists may have spiced things up but they didn't exactly strike while the iron was hot. Fortunately For All Kings comes through as a solid addition to the band's discography, even if it took its sweet time getting here.

In the grand tradition of The Last In Line and Defenders Of The Faith, For All Kings feels like an extension of Worship Music and features many of the same elements. The style still compromises the melodic thrash of the classic era with the grunge metal outlook of the band's stint with John Bush. The production also leans in favor of the rather chunky guitar tone but it is Belladonna's persisting vocal talents that continue to lead the charge. They even kept a couple orchestral interludes around though they may actually be more properly composed this time.

Speaking of which, the vocal hooks in particular keep this album from feeling like a tired retread. While songs like "The Devil You Know" and "The Giant" had plenty of infectious choruses, there seems to be an even greater emphasis on catchiness here. Despite seeming like an odd single choice before the album's release, "Breathing Lightning" is a strong example of this as the catchy as hell vocal line works well with the more rock approach. In addition, songs like "Monster At The End" and "Defend/Avenge" are guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days while the vocal layering on "Blood Eagle Wings" makes the near eight minute long track even more inspiring.

It also helps that the styles are a little more jumbled here. In comparison to the fast to slow song progression on Worship Music, For All Kings is rather unpredictable and seems to jump styles between songs. While "You Gotta Believe" starts the album off on an upbeat note similar to "Earth On Hell," the following tracks opt for a mid-tempo approach and songs like "Zero Tolerance" bring some speed toward the album's end.

Overall, For All Kings is a good addition to Anthrax's discography, even if it does often feel like more of the same. It'd arguably leave more of an impact if it had come out a couple years ago, but it still manages to be pretty enjoyable on its own terms thanks to its earworm quality. Megadeth may be back on top as the most relevant part of the Big 4 but Anthrax shouldn't be reaching the Slayer levels of stagnancy anytime soon...

"Monster At The End"
"Breathing Lightning"
"Blood Eagle Wings"

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