Anthrax notably were part of the “big four” of Thrash Metal, notably somewhat like the four horsemen of the Thrash Metal apocalypse that changed music. At this point, they were making a successful music breakthrough in their own way. Their second album had introduced the new singer, Joey Belladonna, and got the band touring as the open slot for Black Sabbath on tour. This album should be an interesting listening experience for Metal and Thrash Metal out there, so let’s jump in and take a look at it.
We begin with the eerie open chords of the title track Among The Living before this whole piece kickstarts into a wonderful and powerful extended intro. This is quite amazing. It quickly goes into a super heavy piece that sounds quite a lot like Metallica, although is very original in its own way. Before long, it goes into a super fast piece that reveals the power and ability of the group. Joey Belladonna has a great singing voice here, and the whole thing is a brilliant and quite satanic Thrash Metal piece that is excellent. Some rather dark lyrics are here, and this is a marvellous listening experience. The guitar solo sounds a lot like Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, but is much faster and frenetically delivered. A wonderful and powerful piece with a sense of musical accomplishment. Terrific job. The chanting towards the end is cool, too.
Next is Caught In A Mosh which begins with some heavily distorted open chords that are very Metal. Before long, a Dead Kennedys sounding bass guitar part kicks off a superb tune. The piece kicks in after a great drum intro, and this is really amazing. Sounding a bit like Black Flag as well, this is an excellent tune that is more about rhythm and timing than necessarily melody and harmony, it does do very well all the same. The midsection has some interesting changes in it, slowing down briefly before singing resumes, before introducing a manic guitar solo. It is an awesome listen, and some of the harmonics in the guitar playing are sweet. Catchy, memorable and interesting, if you like fast and full on, this is your song. An excellent and brilliant tune, this is for fans of the band and Thrash Metal in particular. Great tune.
I Am The Law comes next with some brilliant palm muted chords in the intro, before going into a marvellous and powerfully moving piece. The sounds here for this kind of music are very near perfect, and goes straight into a slower, yet forceful piece of music. It is an anti-authoritarian song that is a call-to-arms to those who rebel against institutions that do not serve a purpose except themselves. Very catchy and somewhat singalong, this is an excellent tune. The musicianship and singing here are really insane. In the second half, the Thrash side of things goes well underway and the whole band do a brilliant job. The guitar solo is really great, sounding a lot like Yngwie Malmsteen. Excellent and a great musical statement, Joey Belladonna sounds a lot like Deep Purple when he sings here. A brilliant tune, full of power and energy. The climax at the end is awesome.
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) has some truly awesome guitar parts to begin with, before going into a simple yet energetic palm muted riff and some midtempo playing by Anthrax. It is a story about high school drama and some of the issues involved. Great and energetic, this is the sort of music you would listen to if you love extreme sports and the like. It goes into an interesting midsection that is cool, sounding like a medieval and demonic piece, especially with the guitar solo here. Awesome stuff, although not super fast, it is a good listen. Some excellent musicianship is here.
Next up is A Skeleton In The Closet which begins with more Metallica styled chugging guitar parts, before launching into mayhem and speed styled music. It is very catchy here, and eventually singing kicks in. Another top tune by Anthrax, this is surprisingly fresh and powerful, and the singing here is quite a lot better than James Hetfield’s early singing on Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning. Some call and response between the singing and lead guitar playing are here, and the song itself refers to hiding secrets away. Hence the title. The guitar solo here, once again, is really amazing. The second half has some original and mindblowing playing on it. This is not the sort of music you would play to anyone of religious faith, but is great to hear regardless. The outro is top, a brilliant finish.
Following is Indians which begins with a catchy drumbeat and guitars to match. It quickly goes into a very Thrash Metal piece that is fast and frenetic. Sounding very interesting and fresh, this is a highlight of this album. The piece has many twists and turns, in both tempo and structure that blows away many bands before them. This is a wonderful and energetic listen, and no doubt was hugely influential on many bands and musicians afterward. “Cry for the Indians!” is chanted here. A great and powerful piece of music, this is stunningly good. In the midsection, it goes into a restrained part with further singing, before going into a very interesting guitar solo here. The song quickly resumes, and we go into more chanted singing before this songs ends. Excellent.
One World begins with crashing guitar chords and kicking drums that sound super suspenseful. It goes into an unusual sounding guitar riff that sounds satanic. Before long, a crazy drum intro boosts this piece along. This is terrific stuff, Joey Belladonna sounds like the Thrash Metal Deep Purple singing away here. This piece sounds a little more straightforward than previous songs, but is just as good to listen to. The music here is really fantastic and excellent to hear, and deserves your attention, particularly if you are a fan of any sort of Heavy Metal. The second half goes into a syncopated part, before going full speed into a Thrash Metal section. A really fast and blistering piece of music this is really excellent. A cool and fine listen. The outro goes into an awesome and suspenseful finale. Top.
Medley: A.D.I. / Horror Of It All is actually devoted to Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, who died in tragic circumstances before the release of this album. It begins with some downtuned acoustic guitar that sounds eerie, yet oddly melodic and quite beautiful in a way. It sounds very unusual. Before long, the piece gets underway but is a slower approach than before. It is still really good all the same, and there are some amazing wailing guitars in this track. The pounding drums drive this one along. No singing here for quite some time, until it comes along before the middle of this song. Still, the band do a great job here and deliver they do. Some interesting lyrics are here, and this combined piece is a must listen. The riffs in the second half are really awesome. This is a top and glorious listen, and indeed for a devoted piece of music, this is excellent. A Deep Purple style singing squeal begins the super fast outro here, and it goes super quick towards the end. Incredible, a must listen. It goes insane towards the end, and finishes with a delayed outro. Cool.
Last is Imitation Of Life which begins with some super cool Metal riffs, before launching into a double track Heavy Metal guitar playing frenzy. With singing against fakes and phoneys, we quickly go into one of the fastest tracks here. Some brilliant vocal work is here, and this is a very memorable and fast piece from Anthrax. It set the scene for Metallica’s …And Justice For All album here, which they responded with Dyers Eve. Still, this shows that the competition here was really good here. Obviously a band who knew their craft, Anthrax finish this album off nicely. Brilliant and worth your time.
This is an amazing album, and one of the definitive Thrash Metal albums out there. Sure, it is not as intellectual and artistic as the Metallica albums of the 1980s. However, it stands tall on its own as and made Anthrax enter the musical history books. If you love fast and hard music, check this out. A great album.