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HARDWARES

ANTHRAX

Anthems

(MRI/Megaforce)

Reviewed by : "Metal" Tim Henderson
Rating : 7.0

Let's be honest here; didn't the cover tune/tribute album phase really hit a peak with Nativity In Black in 1994?! Seriously, this stuff comes through in waves and really after the first listen - to see if the band botched it or built upon the legacy - that's it, it disappears. And most don't live up to the hype. Tell that to the (literally) hundreds of compilations collecting dust in my collection. Anthrax has been talking up these covers for ages like it was Among The Living part II. Damn, I'd rather see the band re-do the entire first album and bill it Fistful Of Memories or something. Even invite John Bush to the party! But here we have Anthems, New York's mighty moshers pledging allegiance to RUSH, THIN LIZZY, AC/DC, BOSTON, CHEAP TRICK and JOURNEY. So is this history lesson worthy? Let's check it out track-by-track:

Rush's 'Anthem' (from 1975's Fly By Night) - This is sacred ground, but Charlie Benante steals the show, no-doubt he's spent his youth (and adulthood) trying to figure out this genius named Neil Peart. But sadly Joey Belladonna tries to play catch-up with Geddy Lee's falsetto voice and kinda struggles. Some bands are meant to remain untouched as they hover so far above our heads! Rush is one of them.

AC/DC's 'TNT' (from 1975's TNT or 1976's High Voltage) - Scott Ian in his glory with the ultimate infectious Angus Young lick, while the blood brothers Benante and bassist Frank Bello hold down the fort as images of Bon Scott's rape and pillaging dance in your head. Oy! This is top notch!

Boston's 'Smokin'' (from 1976's Boston) - I love what Charlie Benante said: "If ever there were a perfect first album, it's Boston's first album. The harmony leads they did would later be heard by IRON MAIDEN, which of course would lead to thrash metal." Late vocal legend Brad Delp is smiling in his grave as Belladonna finally fits the mold like a glove with his soaring melodies and lush harmonies. And those keys? Canuck-born session man Fred Mandel mimicking Tom Scholz clavinet (an electro-mechanical piano) with ease. A smokin' cover to say the least!

Journey's 'Keep On Runnin'' (from 1981's Escape) - The AOR Gods are appeased with this hidden Steve Perry gem … once again Belladonna's voice is perfect for this tune and genre. Uplifting, soul-injecting and edgy, Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano duelling the Neal Schon licks until Benante injects his patented double-bass with passioned precision. Another wise choice.

Cheap Trick's 'Big Eyes' (from 1977's In Color) - I will admit this late '70s tune seems a little out of place. But this is where such tributes can shine; it's one of your legends directing you to their moment of inspiration. It unites generations and fills your collection for a good reason as you seek out the original and perhaps get into the band itself, for those who've only heard Cheap Trick for their 'I Want You To Want Me' or 'Dream Police' pop triumphs.

Thin Lizzy's 'Jailbreak' (from 1976's Jailbreak) - Man, I wish they woulda dug a little deeper, as Phil Lynott has so many overlooked treasures. Don't get me wrong, classic tune, but it's kinda like 'The Boys Are Back In Town' - totally overkilled and overshadows gems like 'Angel Of Death', 'Waiting For An Alibi', 'Dedication', 'Renegade', 'Cold Sweat' etc... Next.

The remix of one of the many stand-out tracks on Worship Music (review here) - 'Crawl' - is palatable in kind of a haunting orchestral-meets-COLDPLAY manner, maybe adding a bit more drama to the track. But if it ain't broke don't fix it.




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