Review: Anthrax – Worship Music

Worship Music, Anthrax’s tenth studio album, does not just come along with over sixty minutes of music, it will always be remembered for the happenings surrounding the band between 2007 and 2010.

When Anthrax announced their new vocalist — until then, a mostly unknown Dan Nelson — in late 2007, a lot of people were skeptical. Parallels could be drawn to the initial reactions John Bush received in 1992, who was also unknown to mainstream audiences despite his critical success with Armored Saint. Even though Bushthrax split their fanbase into two camps — those who still loved the band and those who wished for a comeback of Belladonna — the band finally released a critical acclaimed album in 2004. At the time hailed as a comeback to form, We’ve Come For You All marked Bush’s last album with Anthrax.

People who were skeptical of Dan Nelson were proven right when he was fired from the band, in 2009. Even though the band had finished recording Worship Music by then, they decided not to release it with Nelson’s vocals. After a short comeback stint of John Bush, Joey Belladonna returned to Anthrax in 2010. The band returned to the studio to rewrite and rerecord the album with him.

Worship Music is not just Anthrax’s first album with Joey Belladonna since 1990’s Persistence Of Time, it’s an album that was four years in the making and saw three different singers. All of them were considered to record vocals for it and two of them actually recorded vocals for it.

Even though every Anthrax fan still has it in mind, you have to put all of it aside and listen to the album with an open mind. I tried and you can read my thoughts after the jump.

Anthrax – Worship Music

1. Worship – 1:41
2. Earth On Hell – 3:11
3. The Devil You Know – 4:46
4. Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t – 5:48
5. I’m Alive – 5:37
6. Hymn 1 – 0:38
7. In The End – 6:46
8. The Giant – 3:47
9. Hymn 2 – 0:44
10. Judas Priest – 6:24
11. Crawl – 5:29
12. The Constant – 5:01
13. Revolution Screams – 6:08
14. New Noise (Refused cover) – 4:46

First things first, the artwork for Worship Music was done by Alex Ross. To Anthrax fans, Ross is most famously known for creating the artworks for We’ve Come For You All and Music Of Mass Destruction. Even though the artwork for Worship Music is remarkably similar to the cover of We’ve Come For You All, I think that it’s very cool. While the artwork for We’ve Come… centers around the band members, the cover of Worship… centers around the Anthrax logo. To me, that means that the band is more important than its members, and after all, Anthrax’s music is the most important part of this band, right? So let’s talk about that aspect.

After an almost two minute intro the band unleashes hell with ‘Earth On Hell,’ a fast and heavy thrasher. You get immediately greeted by immense blastbeats. The first thing you will notice is that the drums and the rhythm guitars are by far the loudest in the mix. Frank Bello’s bass is way too low in the mix and so are Rob Caggiano’s solos, except for some exceptions. Joey Belladonna’s vocals are also not as loud as they were on earlier Anthrax albums. I do think that this works in his favor though. The songs overall don’t suffer from that either, but they do in the cases of Caggiano and Bello.

While some songs, like ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t, ‘The Giant,’ and ‘In The End’ are pure thrashers, some other songs, most notably ‘Revolution Screams,’ bare a Groove Metalish feel. ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘Crawl’ on the hand almost sound like they could have been written during the rockish John Bush era. And while we’re on topic of ‘Crawl,’ I would like to point out Belladonna’s surprisingly flawless, deep vocals during the verses. When his vocals kicked in, they immediately reminded me of Chris Cornell. I honestly did not expect Belladonna to be able to sing this way. I’m not familiar with his solo work, but this is the first time he has sung like this on an Anthrax album. At least as far as I remember. ‘Crawl’ is also one of the above mentioned exceptions, where Franky Bello’s bass is actually the driving force of the song. A very welcomed exception.

One of the biggest questions surrounding the band within the past two years was how Joey Belladonna was fitting in with Anthrax’s more modern sound. Even though at times you can hear that the songs weren’t written with Belladonna in mind, but with Dan Nelson who has a notably edgier and deeper voice, Joey manages to fit in just smoothly. If one didn’t know that the album was written and first recorded with a different singer, you’d barely notice that there’s anything wrong. At very few points he sounds a bit off but, to me, he actually is the biggest highlight of this album. His performance alone deserves almost five stars, or in our case — five skulls.

Overall the album is as diverse as an Anthrax record gets. Especially the cover of Refused’s classic ‘New Noise’ is something you have probably never heard from this band. And it works. When I’ve first heard that ‘Thrax was going to cover this song, I did not think that the band would be able to pull it off, but they did, and again, Belladonna shines on this track.

Even though I have a couple of issues with the production of Worship Music, I would rank it as one of their better albums of their recent history, ranking just a bit lower than We’ve Come For You All but beating most of the other Bush-era albums. Anthrax has still got it, and I’m now impatiently awaiting their first album written with Belladonna. Until then I will be playing this album as loud as I can without getting into trouble with my neighbors.

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