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For All Kings
Released: 2016, Megaforce Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
There’s something immensely comforting about Anthrax, and they become more so the more time passes. When the Bay Area thrash masters formed in the early 1980s probably no one would have predicted that they’d not only still be around 35 years later, but actually thriving and perhaps even getting better. But that’s what fate had in store for this classic band. By the time they hit their 35th anniversary most bands are doing the boat show, casino and county fair circuit. Anthrax is still out there melting people’s faces, and it’s amazing to hear.
For All Kings is, in my opinion, their best album since Persistence of Time in 1990. Just about every note is perfect, and if you have any doubts about the abilities of fresh guitarist Jon Donais, put them away now. He’s easily up to the challenge of this material. “You Gotta Believe” is a great opening track, extremely well-written, with just the right doses of crushing heaviness in exactly the right places. It’s fast, catchy and full of terrific guitar work. “Monster at the End” and the title track “For All Kings” are both surprisingly melodic, but they’re extremely thrashy at the same time, both tracks exhibiting the band’s now well-honed skill at constructing songs from a structural standpoint. I love the melodic opening of “Breathing Lightning” as well. “Evil Twin” showcases the best of the old-style Anthrax sound, which, although it bristles with guitars, is surprisingly drum-dependent; I’ve long considered Charlie Benante one of the best drummers in metal. Things slow down—though only a little—in “Blood Eagle Wings,” at nearly eight minutes an unusually epic song for the band. This is probably my favorite track on the album, though I was satisfied with everything.
One of the major strengths of For All Kings is that it’s extremely consistent. Anthrax’s albums since Persistence of Time have had some undeniably terrific songs, but they’ve been far more spotty and hit-or-miss than their 1980s classics we grew up with. I sense that keeping a constant energy going throughout the whole record was a concept the band brought into the studio with them and insisted on sticking to. Consequently, you can hear the immensely hard work that every member obviously put into these recordings. When a band works hard to earn your trust—especially after 35 years when it must be tempting to rest on their laurels—it really establishes a relationship with the listener. This is why Anthrax isn’t doing boat shows.
Anthrax to me always had a very kinetic vibe. For some reason when listening to their sound I often think of a train chugging full-speed ahead. This is perhaps an odd way to judge a band’s albums, but the less I think of trains while listening to them, the less successful the album seems. For All Kings is a locomotive going out of control for 59 minutes. This is a terrific album and one I’m very happy to recommend.
1. You Gotta Believe
2. Monster at the End
3. For All Kings
4. Breathing Lightning
6. Evil Twin
7. Blood Eagle Wings
9. All Of Them Thieves
10. This Battle Chose Us
11. Zero Tolerance
Joey Belladonna – vocals
Jon Donais – guitars
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar
Frank Bello – bass guitar
Charlie Benante – drums
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