Sunday, October 9, 2011


After years of figuring out who their next singer would be, Anthrax is back with Joey Belladonna on the mic. A couple of years ago, after they fired singer Dan Nelson (who they found on MySpace, they toured with him, supposedly recorded with him, but then fired him before releasing anything), they did a few gigs with Belladonna's replacement John Bush. At that time, I wrote a post saying that I was hoping John would rejoin the band permanently. That post has gotten a lot of traffic in recent months, so I guess other people were hoping the same. But anyway, against all odds, Joey Belladonna is back.  I've got to say, I wasn't sure how their new album together, Worship Music, would be.  It's actually really great. (Full disclosure: I got a complimentary copy of this album.)

Joey Belladonna sounds better than ever.  One of my problems with him has always been that he sounds like he should be singing for another band.  I felt that way even in high school, when they were one of my favorite bands.  Then, I read in an interview in (I think) East Coast Rocker, Joey said he prefers bands like Journey and Kansas to thrash metal.  Then it all made sense to me, and I was pissed that he was in a band that deserved a singer who was more committed to the music the band actually played. I was fine with it when Anthrax canned him (right after signing a million dollar deal with Elektra Records).  But Joey sounds cooler on this album.

The music sounds contemporary, but not in a way that is alienating to long time fans and it doesn't seem like they are pandering at all.  Which is why I think they're likely to get more young fans to pay attention. They're being themselves, and they come off like cool metal dudes with nothing to prove.

One of my favorite songs is "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" which offsets Joey's vocals with Scott Ian's.  I'm not saying that this album is better than the early Anthrax albums, but I wish they did more of that back in the day.  Another great song is "Judas Priest."  If any metal band deserves a tribute, it's Judas Priest (although I'd say Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Motorhead are deserving candidates as well), and it's nice that comes during Priest's farewell tour.

I remember reading that Anthrax approached Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour to join the band.  I thought that would have been a weird choice, as he's already in two other bands (although I'd heard he tried out for Velvet Revolver).  I thought a better choice would have been Phil Anselmo (from Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual and some other bands). I really thought they should have brought John Bush back.  But I have to admit, there's a lot of nostalgic value around Joey, who sang during the band's glory days; their best albums featured Joey on the mic.  And, I have to admit, he sounds pretty great on Worship Music.

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