Released: 2004, Sanctuary
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, Anthrax is among the original “big” thrash bands. Anthrax and Overkill had the east coast scene locked while bands like Testament, Dark Angel and the above embodied the Bay Area thrash scene. While all have certainly wavered from their original sound (it HAS been almost twenty years), the band that has stayed the closest to their roots is Anthrax. They still crank out the tunes and tour relentlessly, though their fanbase has slipped a bit of late. Their latest offering is a CD/DVD release entitled MUSIC OF MASS DESTRUCTION. Instead of going for the easy cash grab, the band released both in a single package so fans don’t have to shell out $15 for the CD and another $15-20 for the DVD. It’s even available in box a CD jewel case or in a DVD Amaray keepcase. NICE WORK, GUYS!! The main show was recorded at The Metro in Chicago on December 5th, 2003 on Anthrax’s WE’VE COME FOR YOU ALL tour. The same show is on both formats but the CD has a different track order and fewer songs due to space limitations. The DVD features the full show plus bonus tracks and extras.
The DVD is the better of the two discs offered here. It contains a full 88 minute Anthrax concert and is presented in widescreen and either Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround Stereo. The video is framed in what looks like a comic book panel theme, which builds on Alex Ross’ brilliant cover and booklet art (don’t miss Captain ‘Thrax, “The sender of zombies back to Hell”). Portions of the video are mixed with enthusiastic fans yelling their appreciation of the band. The band is seen wearing Anthrax numbered jerseys with their names across the back and, as usual, bring an unbelievable energy with them on stage. I saw Anthrax open for KISS in 1988 and they stole the show, with ex-vocalist Joey Belladonna donning a headdress during “Indians” and the whole band mixing things up on “I’m The Man.” Sixteen years later and they’re still going strong. Sadly, this will be the last document of bassist Frank Bello performing with Anthrax as he recently announced he was leaving them. He was always an integral part of their live act, but Bello’s background vocals on tracks like “Safe Home” and his frenzied bass on “Got The Time” will be missed. The band brings out a pretty decent setlist (standouts include “Caught In A Mosh,” “Antisocial,” “Inside Out,” “Only” and “Safe Home”) and with the exception of 1985’s SPREADING THE DISEASE, songs from all of their CDs are covered. Seeing “Be All End All” included from 1988’s STATE OF EUPHORIA put a smile on my face because this is one of the most underrated Anthrax tracks. “Metal Thrashing Mad” from 1984’s FISTFUL OF METAL is also played and John Bush does a decent job on vocals (Neil Turbin sang on the original). The speedy thrash of “604” could have been left off but at less than two minutes, it doesn’t take up much space. “Bring The Noise,” which was one of the first crossovers between rap and metal, is also played as an encore with the first verse and chorus of Metallica’s “Whiplash” to end the show.
Besides the show, the DVD includes two bonus cuts that are available in multi-angle playback. There are six cameras positioned and the viewer can choose which to watch at any given time. Very cool feature. A 20 minute chat with Alex Ross shows the artist working on the cover art while talking metal and comics with drummer Charlie Benante. Finally, there are band profiles of each member that last about 5 minutes each. They are mostly fluff with the exception of Benante’s (showing him collectible shopping) and Scott Ian’s “Fists of Fury Theatre”, which shows backstage footage, as well as Ian getting the “pentathrax” tattooed on his forearm.
As mentioned earlier, the CD is a shortened version of the same show with a different track order. Quite honestly, the DVD is the gem here, but if you want to take your Anthrax on the road, you have the CD, too! You can’t beat the value that is provided here getting both a CD and a DVD for around $20. The songs are great, the band looks and sounds good and there are lots of extra goodies to sweeten the deal. This package is a MUST for any Anthrax fan and will serve as an excellent introduction to new fans one to one of the pioneers of thrash metal.