The Heavy Metal Review

Album Review: Anthrax’s ‘Anthems’ EP is enjoyable, but not the record fans need right now

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anthrax-anthems-ep

It’s always intriguing when a famous band decides to release an album of covers. Especially when that band is Anthrax, who released a strong comeback in the form of 2012’s Worship Music with frontman Joey Belladonna returning on vocals and even more recently lost lead guitarist Rob Caggiano, whose last recorded work with the band is featured on the Anthems EP.

The best cover albums come from musicians who put their own signature sound into the tracks they choose to record, such as on Metallica’s Garage Inc. full-length, otherwise a covers album is a passing pleasure that doesn’t do much to enhance a group’s catalog.

Anthrax’s Anthems EP generally plays it safe in the delicate balancing act between staying faithful to the originals and putting the band’s own thrash-fueled spin on things, which results in a mostly pleasant, but not entirely necessary listen, unless you are already a diehard fan.

Longtime members Scott Ian and Charlie Benante come across as traditionalists in their music preferences during interviews, so the covers of Rush, AC/DC and Thin Lizzy come as no surprise. Anthrax’s version of Rush’s “Anthem” off Fly By Night was the first track to be released to the public and also the most hit-or-miss in terms of vocal styling. Belladonna is extremely talented, but even the best singers would have a tough time tackling old-school Geddy Lee banshee wails.

Thankfully, the record only gets better with each subsequent track, and while covers of AC/DC’s “TNT” and Thin Lizzy‘s “Jailbreak” feel loyal to the point of being stale, renditions of Boston’s “Smokin,” Journey’s “Keep on Runnin,” and Cheap Trick’s “Big Eyes,” are the true highlights of Anthems, combining a familiar sound with an occasional Anthrax groove or energetic solo to make each song worth listening to.

The EP also contains Worship Music original “Crawl,” which will only make Anthrax fans long for new music, though the band is obviously trying to convert newcomers and not the already faithful Anthrax Army. A remix version of the same song doesn’t add much to the original, outside of some extra orchestration and audio effects, but it is interesting to listen to at least once.

While Anthems provides a fun experience for longtime fans and may even convert some newcomers, this is not the album Anthrax fans need right now. After waiting so long to hear Worship Music, and with it being so damn good, fans expect a follow-up release sooner rather than later (before more members decide to leave like Caggiano did). So let’s get on it guys!

Final Verdict: 7.0 out of 10 (revised after repeat listens)

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Written by Eric

March 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm

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