The Importance of Being Metal: Anthrax-Among the Living

1987; Island/Megaforce Records

1. Is It Any Good?

It is good. It's not terribly interesting to talk about, because it's an incredibly straightforward collection of music, but it is worth listening to.

Here's the requisite part of any review when you talk about Anthrax: They're considered to be one of the Godfathers of modern American metal music, along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. They don't get nearly as much respect or acclaim as any of those three bands, however, and in a lot of ways it's easy to see why. Don't get me wrong-this is a good album, in many ways it's probably better than anything Slayer has ever done. The problem is that it's not terrifically memorable.

There are, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of things to like about this album. The title track is a little uninteresting, but it quickly subsides into "Caught In A Mosh", Anthrax's signature anthem and one of the greatest metal songs ever released. Seriously, that song is a force of nature and it's one of the most appropriately titled pieces of music of all time-you're going to find it impossible not to jump around and scream and hit people once this song gets going. It makes the album worth owning all by itself.

"Eflinikufelsin(N.F.L)" is a song about Jim Belushi, of all fucking things, and it's a pretty good one at that, talking about the remorse the band feels for an obviously talented his guy who screwed his life away taking drugs and alcohol. It could be a Minor Threat song, honestly. That gives way to "A Skeleton In The Closet", a speeding tank of a song with an absolutely monstrous bassline and a blistering, driving drumline that launches the song into a league of it's own when it comes to intensity.

Aside from the songs mentioned, and the closer-"Imitation of Life", a funny sendup of the commercialization of metal-there's not too much to talk about with this one. The only outright stinker is "Indians", an embarassingly weepy song about the Trail of Tears. Don't get me wrong, it's a subject that's rife for metal, but when you have the singer crooning "Crrryyyy for the indians!" backed by a chorus of "CRY! CRY!" from his bandmates, pretty much any chance of being taken seriously is shot to hell. The rest of the songs aren't necessarily bad, but they're not memorable, which makes an album composed of 4 amazing tracks, 4 mediocre ones and 1 clunker.

All that being said, I'll take 4 incredible tracks out of 9 out of an album that's only okay the entire way through. The great stuff here is really amazing and memorable. The stuff that isn't so great...well, it makes you see why the only thing people remember about this band is "Bring tha Noise". I guess what I'm trying to say is: Get it used.

2.Is It "Influential?"

I'm not absolutely positive, but this album is held in pretty high regard in some circles, and this is probably the most well liked release from one of the kings of thrash, so I'm sure it's gotten a small slew of musicians to try and make it to the big time.

3. Is It A Good Entry Point For Beginners?

I'm going to go with yes. This band's rhythm section is probably the most underrated in all of metal and the band can consistently make catchy, if not terribly original, riffs and hooks. The vocals aren't intense enough to scare anyone off and the instrumentation is intense enough to give a rookie a good idea about what good thrash should sound like. In many ways, it's almost a perfect place to introduce somebody to the big leagues of metal.


1 comment:

  1. Have to agree with you on most points, but I disagree with the slayer entry. I honestly think Slayer is much more musically talented and innovative with their songs, with their respective peak on 'Reign in Blood' Now thats a record worth owning