After a near eight year recording hiatus with more drama than a Van Halen tour bus, Anthrax returned with a strong offering of metal in Worship Music. Worship was originally slated for release in 2009, but then “new” lead singer Dan Nelson left the band, leaving Anthrax with an album soon to drop but no vocalist. After a short attempt to court former vocalist John Bush to no avail, came the services of 80s heyday Anthrax vocalist, Joey Belladonna. It was decided that Belladonna would sing on a reworked Worship Music.
Unlike other metal bands who stay stuck in their past releasing the same album every two years or try to experiment and be something they aren’t, Anthrax has taken key bits of everything that has made them great over the last 30 years and spun it into a modern metal cocktail.
Worship Music begins with a minute long intro and explodes with blast beats galore to settle into a grooving riff on opening track “Earth on Hell”. The song is a bold opener to show the listener just what they are in for. The next two songs feature both ends of the Anthrax spectrum. “The Devil You Know” has a very Bush era sound with a radio sensibility to it. The song features a catchy chorus and the lyrics may be a nod to recent cult horror classic, Let The Right One In. “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t” is an immediate blast from the past and is so 80s Anthrax that the main riff bares great resemblence to Persistance of Time’s “Gridlock”. The song latches on to the the recent zombie craze and is simply about well…killing zombies.
The mid-point of the disc features the real listening gems on Worship Music. “I’m Alive” is one of the best Anthrax tunes written in some time. The intro is an instant sing-along that will get any live crowd pumped as it flows into the main chugging riff. This song is a perfect example of Belladonna vocally taking over a song that was clearly a more Bush era Anthrax composition. Though some prefer John Bush’s more aggresive vocals to Belladonna’s higher pitch singing, it is clear that Belladonna commands a much wider vocal range and it is curious that it has taken the band over 20 years to get him back full-time.
Anthrax has never been known for writing “epic” compositions, but they have done so magnificently with their track “In the End”. Preceded by the somber cello intro “Hym 1”, “In The End” opens with bells that explode into a crushing guitar. The song rides like a roller coaster and builds into a crescendo with a harmonized solo to end the ride before sending you back to the platform. The song is dedicated to the memory of friends Dimebag Darrell of Pantera fame and Ronnie James Dio. The song seems a heartfelt shedding of grief in every way. It is no doubt that the subject matter inspired main Anthrax composers Charlie Benante and Scott Ian to write quite possibly their best track to date.
The album hits a slight lull before picking up with “Hym 2” and continuing into the song “Judas Priest”, which is an obvious nod to metal giants and Anthrax inspiration Judas Priest. The song is a thrash classic and a fitting tribute to their childhood heroes.
The album is rounded out nicely with “Crawl” and “Revolution Screams”. “Crawl” is a song that Belladonna shows some umph on and once again commands the song as his.
The production of the album is crisp and clean, and the guitars have the signature sound taken on by Anthrax during the John Bush era. After eight years and three lead singers standing in front of the mic, Anthrax has overcome adversity and delivered the album of their career, one that cements their legacy in the metal community and proves that they are indeed one of the Big Four of the thrash metal movement.
8.5 of 10