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Articles Home » 1985 Articles » Anthrax - 1985 Spreading The Disease
 
Anthrax - 1985 Spreading The Disease



ARTIST: Anthrax
ALBUM: Spreading The Disease
LABEL: Island (USA), Music For Nations (UK)
SERIAL: 7 90480-2, MFN 62
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1995, Island, IMCD 136 / 826 668-2

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Joey Belladonna - vocals * Scott Ian - guitar * Dan Spitz - guitar * Frank Bello - bass * Charlie Benante - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 A.I.R * 02 Lone Justice * 03 Madhouse * 04 S.S.C/Stand Or Fall * 05 The Enemey * 06 Aftershock * 07 Arned And Dangerous * 08 Medusa * 09 Gungo-Ho

WEBLINKS: www.anthrax.com


Background
With so many up and coming U.S. metal bands in the mid 80's it was just a matter of time before the cream of the crop separated itself from the refuse. It was obvious from the start the likes of Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer, Exodus etc were on a different level than most of their peers, but Anthrax especially seemed to be a step ahead of everyone. Their 1983 debut was perfunctory enough, but the removal of vocalist Neil Turbin and bassist Dan Lilker was the real stepping stone to their future. Joey Belladonna's vocal range was easily superior to other similar acts and Frank Bello being the nephew of drummer Benante had one foot in the band based on that alone. In 1984 the band released the 'Armed and Dangerous' E.P., which showed the leaps they had taken from the debut. Far more polished and melodic than their debut, this was miles ahead of Slayer at the time production wise, but definitely not in thrash terms. Visually they appeared more like traditional metal exponents than a thrash band, but their sound hinted at a clever mixture of both. The album itself was produced by The Rods drummer Carl Canedy, who certainly got around back then.


The Songs
There's an element of Anthrax fans who still claim this is the bands best album and that's a thought I've shared myself from time to time. It's not as thrash oriented as their next three albums, with an eye for highly melodic metal. 'A.I.R'. is indeed dominating thrash, with a level of sophistication that still evaded Slayer and easily ranks with Metallica. The Europeans could never compete with the Americans when it came to quality thrash and this is such an improvement over the debut it's easy to wonder if it's the same band. The bass rumble that opens 'Lone Justice' leads into a true classic, not thrash just basic heavy metal with impressive melody for a bunch of youngsters. You can hear the energy racing through every note. There's a reason Anthrax were one of the 'Big Four' and this is it. 'Madhouse' gained some notoriety for its video portraying a bunch of lunatics in a hospital and the riffs catapult it into the legendary stakes, but again it isn't all out thrash, proving a band could still be heavy even without the speed. Spitz's acoustic intro leads into the crushing 'S.S.C./Stand Or Fall' which conjures up images of denim clad youths headbanging, such is the 1985 aura surrounding it. Few bands can compete with this, then and now and that includes Anthrax too. There's a hint of Iron Maiden and even Van Halen to 'The Enemy' which veers off into almost AOR type melody, with the guitars layered to impossible levels of heaviness. It's easy to forget how good this song is, remarkably advanced. 'Aftershock' is all out thrash, total annihilation in the guitar and speed departments, showing how poor Europeans like Bathory and Kreator were in 1985. The AOR intro of 'Armed And Dangerous' has more in common with Y&T than Megadeth, another huge accomplishment in blending melody with Ian's spitfire riffs. This was a product of the original lineup from 1983, but sounded eminently better with this version, another major league classic. 'Medusa' is the only track worth skipping, perhaps due to it being written by manager Jon Zazula, not maintaining the power and falling flat at the chorus. Making up for this is the warp speed metal of 'Gung Ho', written by Lilker, Turbin and Ian. When it comes to thrash this is the bottom line for 1985, the riffing state of the art and making a bunch of dudes like Manowar and Twisted Sister look second division when it comes to muscular musical affronts.


In Summary
Time has told the tale of how important this album was in forming the thrash movement of the mid 80's, with its place in history guaranteed. It is more than a thrash album however and I think people tend to forget that. 1987's 'Among The Living' was their first foray into total thrash, with no pretensions to anything else and in its way remains the bands most famous album. 'Spreading The Disease' is the album that propelled Anthrax into metals upper hierarchy and somehow they've managed to stay there, despite their chequered history ever since John Bush took over from Belladonna back in 1992. It must have been encouraging being a fan in the 80's and seeing a band like Anthrax securing metal's future. What happened? The days of albums this important and ground breaking are indeed history.


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Comments
#1 | rkbluez on April 07 2013 18:04:32
One of my favorite Anthrax albums...taste differ I guess 'Medusa' is one of my favorite tunes...love the riff in that tune and that it isn't at 100 mph...also love Madhouse...classic Anthrax.
 
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