ICE HALL, HELSINKI
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
Anthrax has been regular visitors to Finland for the past ten years. In fact, this show is the band’s fourth appearance here within the past 16 months. But it seems that there’s a lot of demand for Anthrax as the band sold more than 2000 tickets for their AMONG THE KINGS show, held in Old Ice Hall in Helsinki. Anthrax released their latest opus FOR ALL KINGS last spring, but this tour is based on the classic AMONG THE LIVING album, which the band now performs live in its entirety. The rest of the set was chosen by the fans who could vote for their favorite songs to be played.
The show was divided into two separate parts. First, the band played the fan’s favorites and opened up with a pair of SPREADING THE DISEASE classics. “A.I.R.” and “Madhouse” worked out perfectly. Joey Belladonna’s singing was as powerful and crystal clear as ever. He is still in fantastic shape both physically and vocally, and it’s hard to believe that the man is already in his mid 50’s.
FOR ALL KINGS track “Evil Twin” followed and proved that the band can still write as good and catchy material as they did in the ’80s. One of my personal favorites is always “Medusa, ” and it didn’t let me down this time either. Just brilliant! The set was meant to be a fan-voted list, but maybe it wasn’t after all. The band next played three more recent songs in a row, and it isn’t easy to believe that fans are that eager to hear the new stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with these songs, and especially “Breathing Lightning” is one of the strongest tracks from the band in ages, but maybe the voting results had not much effect after all. The first set closed with “Be End and All, ” and it received a warm reception from the crowd.
All in all, this set of eight tracks was enjoyable, and it was good to have that 15 minutes break before the mighty AMONG THE LIVING.
Well, every true metal fan for sure knows AMONG THE LIVING, so there’s no reason to comment on the song order, etc., here. As promised, the band played the whole album, and it was “pure murder” from start to finish. The album is full of metal classics. Songs like “Caught in a Mosh,” “I’m the Law,” “Indians,” “Among the Living,” and “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L)” needs no introduction, but also the less known songs work out great.
There are no fillers on the album, and I would say that “A Skeleton in the Closet” was the highlight of the entire show. “Imitation of Life” is the last song on the album, and it was a perfect closer for this show.
To my surprise, the band returned once again to the stage and played “Antisocial.” I know that it is one of the biggest and best-known songs of the band, but it is also a cover song, and so worn out, perhaps the show could have been better off without it. However, any song would have been in “trouble” after the brilliance of AMONG THE LIVING stuff, so it was not such a big deal here.
To sum the event up, the band was in fine form and sounded fantastic. The stage looked great, and I think that I’ve never seen such a big lighting system used on an Anthrax show before. As mentioned earlier, Belladonna was on fire throughout the show. The hyper-energetic bassist Frank Bello ran and jumped across the stage like a maniac, and Scott Ian was as “cool” as ever and did his trademark jumps and “war dance” moves. The band’s latest addition, guitarist Jon Donais, stayed mostly in the background but played some great solos and paid tribute to the original arrangements.
Unfortunately, Charlie Benante couldn’t make this show, and he was now (again) replaced by the band’s long-time touring drummer Jon Dette. In fact, it’s been ten years when we last time saw Benante perform in Helsinki, so this is something that we are getting used to here. There’s no denying that Dette is a great drummer, and I’m sure that 75% of the audience didn’t even notice who was sitting behind the kit, but I think it would be fair to announce in advance who’s going to play on tour.
Anthrax proved once again that they’re still the kings of thrash metal and AMONG THE LIVING is a timeless classic. However, the band has performed the album this way on selected tours since 2006. It would be interesting to see the band do the same kind of treatment for SPREADING THE DISEASE or PERSISTENCE OF TIME someday.
AMONG THE KINGS!!
Blood Eagle Wings
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Be All, End All
Among the Living
Caught in a Mosh
I Am the Law
A Skeleton in the Closet
A.D.I. / Horror of It All
Imitation of Life