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Anthrax - "Worship Music" (CD)

Anthrax - "Worship Music" CD cover image

"Worship Music" track listing:

1. Worship
2. Earth On Hell
3. The Devil You Know
4. Fight 'Em Til You Can't
5. I'm Alive
6. In The End
7. The Giant
8. Judas Priest
9. Crawl
10. The Constant
11. Revolution Screams

Reviewed by on August 30, 2011

"Simply put, 'Worship Music' is the Anthrax album fans have been praying for."

With "Worship Music," Anthrax has created its most praiseworthy album of the past two decades. In combining the thrash anger and speed that fueled their first few albums with the more melodic approach that defined the band in the 1990s and beyond, the band has created an album that feels like a logical follow-up to both "Persistence Of Time," the 1990 album that ended singer Joey Belladonna's first tenure with the band, and 2003's "We've Come For You All," the band's last studio album of original material until now.

A lot of the credit for that has to go to the returning Belladonna, who delivers a powerhouse performance that's every bit as potent as his 1980s work with the band. In fact, age has given his voice a greater depth, which he puts to excellent work on tracks like the melodic "Crawl" and "In The End," an ode to fallen metal heroes Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell Abbott.

There's been a lot written in the metal press about the turbulence surrounding the creation of this album, and in particular, the fact that both ex-Devilsize singer Dan Nelson and Belladonna's longtime replacement John Bush were both in and out of the band when the songs were being written. There's absolutely no evidence of that on the album. None of the songs feel like they were written for anyone else to sing, so thoroughly excellent is Belladonna's performance.

Then, there's guitarist Scott Ian, cranking out rock-solid riffs and rhythms like a thrash metal Malcolm Young. "The Devil You Know," in particular, feels like a love letter to AC/DC, with a "Whole Lotta Rosie"-type riff married to Anthrax aggression.

The band also sets the wayback machine to 1987 on "Fight 'Em Til You Can't," with lightspeed guitars and zombie-fighting lyrics that could've come right off "Among The Living." Ditto for the cleverly titled "Earth On Hell," with a clever stopwatch-and-guitar break that'll take your breath away and drumming from Charlie Benante designed to remind up-and-comers who the real master of thrash metal drumming is.

At the same time, the band also explores the more melodic direction of the John Bush era on "Crawl" and "I'm Alive," which both feel very much akin to "Safe Home" from "We've Come For You All."

Rob Caggiano more than earns his paycheck as both lead guitarist and producer. Scott Ian has said that Caggiano has inspired him to become a better player, and it's easy to see why with leads and solos on tracks like "Fight 'Em Til You Can't" and "The Giant" that display both technical skill and melodic finesse. His production skills (as well as those of co-producer Jay Ruston) are also on display, with a superb mix that gives Benante and bassist Frank Bello plenty of room.

Even a classic album has a flaw or two. In this case, it's the generic rocker "The Constant," which feels like it was designed with the express purpose of getting the band on the radio. It's not a terrible track, but it certainly doesn't measure up to the majesty of the rest of the album.

Simply put, "Worship Music" is the Anthrax album fans have been praying for. It mixes the thrash aggression that was the hallmark of the band's early years with the sense of melody the band groomed in the '90s and 21st century — often in the space of a single song. This one is going to be on best of 2011 lists for metal fans and critics worldwide — and deservedly so.

Highs: Superb playing and songwriting throughout, with "Fight 'Em Til You Can't," "Earth On Hell" and "Crawl" standing out.

Lows: The generic rocker "The Constant."

Bottom line: A superb return to form that will deservedly be atop metal critics' and fans' top 10 lists for this year.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)