Sunday, January 31, 2016

Caught In A Mosh With Anthrax Part 2

State Of Euphoria (1988)
Persistence Of Time (1990)

Anthrax career as thrash metal pioneers peaked with “Among The Living” and the success was a fact. The album sold really well and they did high profile tours as support to Metallica. In 1988 Anthrax was a big name in the genre. It was time for the follow up. What could possibly go wrong?

Well pretty much everything actually.

Recorded in the spring of 1988 and released in September the album that was produced by Mark Dodson failed to surpass the expectations that “Among The Living” had generated. The album starts with the looming cello in the intro to “Be All End All” which has a crushingly heavy opening riff. The song is actually one of my favorite Anthrax tracks ever. Then “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind” and “Make Me Laugh” follow and here is where at least I began to think that something was missing on “State Of Euphoria” even though I had a hard time pinpointing exactly what it was back then.

Then the cover of French metal pioneer Trust's song “Antisocial”. Well it’s both a blessing and a curse. It was the song that got the most attention on the album and is still included in their live set as it gets any crowd into a frenzy. The problem is that no one remembers anything else from the album. The rest of the album feels tired and formless after that and that is a shame because there are some great songs on there like “Now It’s Dark”. The sound of the album is another problem for me. The crispy sound of the previous album is now replaced with a thicker sound that does not work fully for the riffing of Scott Ian. I turn up the volume but the guitars just don’t crack the speakers as one would expect and Joey Belladonna's vocals are buried way down in the mix.

“State Of Euphoria” might have some great tracks on it but as a whole it just doesn’t work. And maybe they were thinking too much when they wrote and recorded it. It doesn’t sound as if they had any fun. The darker sound that they were attempting just sounded dull and the humor that they laced their songs with earlier was gone.

Two years later. The world of metal was changing. Grunge was still an unknown beast but the winds were a-changing none the less. Gone was the glam and hairspray. The Berlin Wall was gone. Nations disappeared and new countries were born. The threat of nuclear apocalypse seemed gone.

I think that “Persistence Of Time” has been sadly underestimated as an album.  Anthrax realized that what had been done in the past was history and that something new had to happen. It wasn’t until 1993 that they would take the final step out of the 80’s but they celebrated the new decade with an album far more mature and well crafted than the previous one. “Persistence Of Time” was recorded in the fall of 1989 again with Dodson behind the mixer and the recording session was tormented by a fire where all equipment in the studio was destroyed. But when the album saw the light of day in august 1990 it revealed a band that had progressed in big way musically. The thrash element was still there but the album is by far the heaviest and most diverse in the discography so far. The speed was reduced and the songs are better compositions all together compared to “State Of Euphoria”. And the darker sound that partly was introduced on that album suits this one way better.
Considering that this was to be Joey Belladonna's last album with Anthrax for almost 20 years it’s kind of ironic that he has some of his absolute best moments as singer on this one. Gone is the over the top banshee screams. Instead he has found a very nice midrange voice that fits right into the darker music. As a whole this album feels more like a unit of eleven songs that are well thought through and executed with precision. And on this one it’s the band's own songs that make the album so great and not the cover of Joe Jacksons “Got The Time”, even though it’s one hell of a party starter.

In 1992 Belladonna suddenly left Anthrax. Record label politics and Scott Ian’s quest for world domination were the main reasons for this. The music industry shifted and everything was supposed to be “alternative”. For that job Anthrax made the decision to let Belladonna go and bring in John Bush whose voice has that nice cozy grunge rawness. But that is another story.

-The Void


In My World

Got The Time

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