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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Anthrax - 1988 State Of Euphoria
 
Anthrax - 1988 State Of Euphoria



ARTIST: Anthrax
ALBUM: State Of Euphoria
LABEL: Megaforce
SERIAL: 91004-2
YEAR: 1988

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

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

TRACK LISTING: 01 Be All, End All * 02 Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind * 03 Make Me Laugh * 04 Antisocial * 05 Who Cares Wins * 06 Now It's Dark * 07 Schism * 08 Misery Loves Company * 09 13 * 10 Finale

WEBLINKS: www.anthrax.com


Background
In 1988 it seemed the only place for Anthrax was up. Their two previous albums 'Spreading The Disease' and 'Among The Living' were two of the most acclaimed thrash albums of the decade up to that point and they clearly were at the forefront of the 'Big Four' with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. Unlike the others, Anthrax had developed a penchant for somewhat cartoonish exploits, with their 'colourful' skater appearance and songs based on subjects ranging from Judge Dredd, Stephen King books to John Belushi. This knowledge is old news to fans of the band and genre, but it did really start to impede the band around 1988 and the overall failure that would become 'State Of Euphoria' indicated a change was needed to their increasingly stale approach to thrash. The production values that were present previously went missing, resulting in a thin sound that had little to no impact at all, a stunning reversal of form from the previous year. Was it a case of being hurried? This is something Frank Bello seemed to confirm years back when I interviewed him, but whatever the issues that plagues this album, it almost derailed Anthrax for a brief period.


The Songs
One of the biggest slights I can level at the album is that its best known track is the Trust cover 'Antisocial'. While handled admirably it's never seemed that special to me and it's offensive that Anthrax have left it in their setlists for decades following. Even with the weakness of the material I'd rather hear something non-descript like 'Finale' for a laugh instead. Most of the songs have been forgotten and ignored over time by the band and realistically there's a reason for it, with bland arrangements and a stunning lack of heaviness. There's the odd moment of inspiration, 'Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind' easily able to stand alongside anything from 'Among The Living' in terms of hard-hitting thrash. It's the only convincing example of their style, but even then I wouldn't put it in the same league as an 'Imitation Of Life'. As far as openers go 'Be All, End All' is a poor introduction to the album, with a less than decisive level of thrash, almost second division style in the leagues of Forbidden and Flotsam And Jetsam. Like every other thrash band of the era Anthrax tackled corrupt TV evangelists on the horrific 'Make Me Laugh' where the production again fails to capture what Anthrax were capable of. 'Who Cares Wins' is seven minutes of laborious thrash that is supposed to be this albums version of 'Indians' only this time directed at the homeless and without any of the scathing bite of their 1987 classic. 'Now It's Dark' isn't thrash based at all, instead basic heavy metal and totally devoid of memorable melody, a case of trying too hard and lacking solid ideas. On almost every Anthrax album the word 'schism' is used and here it's used as a title, but that doesn't save it from being another misstep, with only some Scott Ian riffs saving it from being a miserable flop. The bands Stephen King fetish is continued on 'Misery Loves Company' which is one of the worst tracks of their career in my opinion. The sickening melody lines sink it and once again where's the heaviness? There's no urgency to speak of and again it seems the band hadn't formulated any worthy ideas for the album. '13' is a brief and pointless instrumental, highlighting the joke side of the band. This is disgusting, even at 50 seconds. 'Finale' is better than much of which preceded but it's far from classic and I'd venture to say it could be their most obscure album track of the Belladonna years.


In Summary
In retrospect, 1988 was a year where all the 'Big Four' experienced setbacks, not just Anthrax themselves. Metallica's '..And Justice For All' was miles better, but also hindered by poor production and the addition of a new bassist. Megadeth's 'So Far, So Good, So What' was ineptitude on a scale almost worse than Anthrax, while Slayer's 'South Of Heaven' was the opposite of 1986's 'Reign In Blood' as the band attempted to show they weren't one dimensional thrashers. It was a stark contrast to 1986/87 when all four released classics, proving the need to keep evolving. Arguably Anthrax did the least evolving in 1988 and the result was a dismal response to the album and rightfully so. I didn't hear it for the first time until 1995 and even then I disliked it and after playing it for this review it hasn't improved. Scanning videos and photos of the band in 1988 it's almost incomprehensible how stupid they looked with the surfer shorts, bushy hair and less than threatening smiles. Seeing the need to change, Anthrax toughened up their image and sound for 1990's 'Persistence Of Time' but that's always been somewhat of a bore also from my point of view. This is why they ended up with John Bush, but as discussed in other reviews the move came too late. Perhaps Anthrax's steady decline can be traced back to 'State Of Euphoria' itself, an album where they needed to capitalize on earlier work but found the task too difficult.


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