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Anthrax - 2016 For All Kings



ARTIST: Anthrax
ALBUM: For All Kings
LABEL: Megaforce, Nuclear Blast
SERIAL: No Catalog for Megaforce, NB 3567-2
YEAR: 2016

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Joey Belladonna - lead vocals * Scott Ian - rhythm guitar, backing vocals * Charlie Benante - drums * Frank Bello - bass, backing vocals * Jon Donais - lead guitar

TRACK LISTING: 01 You Gotta Believe * 02 Monster At The End * 03 For All Kings * 04 breathing Lightning * 05 Suzerain * 06 Evil Twin * 07 Blood Eagle Wings * 08 Defend Avenge * 09 All Of Them Thieves * 10 This Battle Chose Us * 11 Zero Tolerance

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.anthrax.com

Background
2011's acclaimed 'Worship Music' was Anthrax's first studio album since 2003 and their first with returning (again) vocalist Joey Belladonna following a failed stint with Dan Nelson. To my ears it was fairly uninspiring, lacking the urgency and melody of the bands better efforts, especially 1993's 'Sound of White Noise' with John Bush. If anything it exemplified how much Bush was missed and still is, his vocals seemingly suiting Anthrax's style more than Belladonna's, but without the commercial success. But a mere five years later 'For All Kings' is upon us, with Belladonna still at the helm, along with John Donais, making his studio debut after replacing Rob Caggiano. Given this is only the bands third album this century, it's hard to get excited about a band who wasted their potential decades ago. The time spent meddling with vocalist changes, mediocre live and cover albums and resting on their 80's laurels didn't exactly compel this album to me.


The Songs
In many ways this album recalls 1990's regimented and dull 'Persistence Of Time' with a heavy, often thrash oriented direction, which feels stunted melodically. 'You Gotta Believe' opens with the band delivering some aggressive thrash, but with numerous mellower sections it dilutes the effectiveness and is perhaps three minutes too long. 'Monster At The End' moves too slowly to really capture the imagination, plodding along poorly, unlike the title track which adds some speed metal elements and 80's styled riffs from Scott Ian. Belladonna still sounds in fine voice for someone getting up there in age. Sounding far more modern is 'Breathing Lightning' which at six minutes is again a stretch and hard to remain invested in due to the tempo. 'Suzerain' offers more aggression in the riff section and the thrash of 'Evil Twin' shows the band playing faster more consistently than they have in years. 'Blood Eagle Wings' runs at nearly 8 minutes and is a mission to endure, while the drawn out intro of 'Defend Avenge' almost made me skip the song entirely, another mid-paced track with leaves me motionless. The rest of the album takes the same direction until 'Zero Tolerance' closes the album on a thrash note, the closest they get to the 80's, showing they can still pull it out of the hat when they choose.


In Summary
A jumbled album which is an improvement on 'Worship Music' but doesn't offer anything new, which as you'd expect is hard to do after 35 years. I can't help but feel Anthrax spent too many valuable years offering next to nothing in the way of new music, which has tarnished their overall legacy. They'll always be mainstays of the old guard, but as stated earlier 'Sound Of White Noise' was their defining masterpiece and it's been a steady freefall ever since. It was unfortunate it came after the success of the 80's with Belladonna, but 'For All Kings' sounds remarkably backwards compared to an album 23 years ago. Maybe there was nowhere to go after that and they knew it. This is as good as Anthrax are capable of at this stage and it certainly doesn't do anything to weaken or boost their career in any way. [word count 532]


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