Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dying Wind Through Shredded Sails

Anthrax – For All Kings

Megaforce – 2016

Muthas, hot on the heels of Megadeth’s new album Dystopia, we have gotten another Big Four™ album and this time it's from New York’s Anthrax.  Oddly enough, just like Megadeth, they have added a new member from a metalcore band -Shadowfall’s Jonathan Donais – and he’s an improvement over the person he's replacingthe - Rob Caggiano.  Also like Megadeth, the artwork on For All Kings is excellent – the band have once again used the always awesome Alex Ross.  Unlike Megadeth, this album is not a triumph at all, and in fact it pales in comparison to their excellent 2011 album Worship Music.

This may be one of the most frustrating albums I have ever listened to.  There are all sorts of great ideas on the album, including many cool solos and riffs, but the majority of the songs never seem to gel and most contain odd departures.  The album is littered with many strangely melodic pre-choruses/choruses that simply do not fit with the rest of the song they’re tacked on to.  I have no idea what Anthrax was trying to achieve with this tactic.  Did they think cramming Modern RAWK choruses into their songs was a great idea? What you get here is neither fish nor fowl - it's part thrash and part modern, melodic hard rock - all in the same song usually!

To further compound things Joey’s vocals sound odd and most of the songs seem like they weren’t written with him in mind. Don’t expect “Medusa Part 2” because you sure as hell aren’t getting it here. This is even stranger when you consider that Worship Music wasn’t written for Joey at all and he sounds great on it! He’s an excellent vocalist and this album does nothing to showcase his considerable talents.  

Another issue I have with For All Kings is the terrible sequencing.  Why in the world did they choose to kick things off with a symphonic instrumental and then a six minute long song with a huge slowdown at the midpoint?  Hey dummies, put this song at track four or five after you’ve served up some speedier fare.  Is sequencing really that hard to understand?  It’s not a terrible song at all, and does slip into that patented Anthrax DUN DUN DUN riff by the end, but it shouldn’t be the lead off cut.

The tile track is somehow lifeless with (of course) a god awful chorus. This pattern repeats itself over and over again on the album. What’s the deal with the weird modern RAWK chorus in “Breathing Lightning?”  I simply don’t understand why this choice was made continually on the album.

So is there anything good here?  Thankfully there is, but inexplicably most of the good tunes are at the end of the album.  “Defend/Avenge” is nicely aggressive with a good chorus, even if the riff sounds like a ripoff of Marilyn Manson’s cover of “Beautiful People.” I also like "All Of Them Thieves" with its memorable stop/start chorus, and tasty, speedy solo.  I wish more of the album was like this.  

Album closer "Zero Tolerance” is thrashy Anthrax of yore and is one of the better tracks here, and it would be a good track to add to their live set.  I also like the single “Evil Twin” which is sounds more like you would imagine a classic ‘Thrax song sounds like.  Check it out here:


The Bottom Line:  I am hugely disappointed in this album.  I am a big Anthrax fan but I am nonplussed when I listen to For All Kings. You may want to give it a shot if you are a fan of the band, but just be aware you might not like what you hear.  


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