Anthrax’s “Worship Music” is like one of those Hollywood blockbusters that is delayed over and over due to script and cast changes. While “Worship Music” probably did not cost millions to make, buzz has been building up for several years now, with “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t” having been a part of their live set for quite a while now. After singer Dan Nelson completed recording the vocals, he was fired from the band and after unsuccessfully trying to get John Bush to rejoin, they settled for Joey Belladonna, who had been hired, fired, re-hired and re-fired before. However, the band is actually enjoying a period of stability and has seen an upswing of interest due to their position on the Big 4 festival shows that have been scheduled in Europe and the USA.
Early reviews have said such outrageous things like that “Worship Music” is a return to form or that it is similar to “Among the Living” or “The Persistence of Time.” Yeah, comparisons can be made to “Among the Living,” “The Sounds of White Noise” and/or “We’ve Come for You All,” but in reality this sounds like Anthrax 2011 and any comparisons to the past will only lead to false hope and disappointment. There is a thrash influence, yes, but an alternative-rock influence is just as prevalent (give “Crawl” a listen and try to argue that it wouldn’t sound out of place on a local modern rock radio station). In fact, it would probably be more accurate to classify this as heavy rock as opposed to heavy metal. Don’t let that deter you, though, because “Worship Music” is chock full of memorable goodness.
Let’s start with the first single, “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t.” There are some thrashy riffs but this song serves more as a headbanger anthem. The chorus is memorable and the “NO MORE!” breakdown part is one of the better mosh sections of their career. The fact that it’s about zombies makes it that much more awesome. Anthrax shows that they still want to evolve and be relevant rather than a nostalgia act with songs like “In the End” and “I’m Alive;” they show a dedication to actual songwriting and dynamics and these two are real growers.
It’s a shame that “Earth on Hell,” the only song that could be considered thrash, is not very good, despite being fairly intense. “The Devil You Know” is a song that tries to be catchy, but the chorus just does not work. Joey Belladonna sings well, but it is painfully obvious that that a lot of his singing is overly processed. Plus, even though he sounds okay (aside from being so processed), he does not pull off the “tough guy” sound nearly as well as John Bush or even Dan Nelson could have. One can only wonder how much better this album could have been if either of them had been manning the microphone instead.
Overall, however, this is still an album that is definitely worth a purchase. It is a ton of fun and makes a great listen for car rides (It’s too bad that colder weather is here or I would blare this with the windows down on a regular basis). Special mention should go to lead guitarist Rob Caggiano, who has a killer tone and writes the best solos Anthrax has had to date. Be sure to catch Anthrax on their upcoming tour with Testament and Death Angel!