ANTHRAX: ATTACK OF THE KILLER B'S (1991)
1) Milk; 2) Bring The Noise; 3) Keep It In The Family (live); 4) Startin' Up A Posse; 5) Protest And Survive; 6) Chromatic Death; 7) I'm The Man '91; 8) Parasite; 9) Pipeline; 10) Sects; 11) Belly Of The Beast (live); 12) N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin).
This pun-heralded collection of B-sides and rarities, spanning from around 1987 to 1991, would normally belong in the «Addenda» section, but not only is owning it an absolute must for anyone even remotely interested in Anthrax, I would even go as far as to state that this is the one Anthrax album to own if you decide to only own one (a rather natural wish, actually).
To be more precise, it is one of those rare cases when a rag-taggy bunch of an artist's throwaways and temporary distractions may turn out to be more involving than his «regular» stuff. Everything that we know and love (hate) about the band is here, along with quite a few new facts in their biography, and the diversity is very refreshing if you like your thrash slightly watered down with extraneous influences.
The album opens quite conveniently with 'Milk', a solid, predictable thrasher originally recorded by the Anthrax side project S.O.D., but after that the only standard thrash metal tunes are live renditions of 'Keep It In The Family' and 'Belly Of The Beast'. The rest can simply be defined as «Anthrax Meets...», with the object position filled in in either a literal or figurative way, e. g.:
— «...Public Enemy»: 'Bring The Noise', sometimes viewed as the second most historically important rap-rock collaboration after 'Walk This Way' by Aerosmith/Run-D.M.C., although the main riff can hardly stand competition with Joe Perry;
— «...Hardcore Punk»: the cover of 'Protest And Survive' by British punk rockers Discharge is one of their strongest injections of punk aesthetics inside the thrash riffs;
— «...The Simple & Stupid»: their take on KISS' 'Parasite' is tons more accomplished in the technical sense than the original (this can be easily guessed without even hearing the song), but the band's «street feeling» makes them succeed in not losing the dumb fun factor of the original, either;
— «...The PMRC»: 'Startin' Up A Posse' sews together speed metal and cowboy muzak (!) to deliver an adequate answer to Tipper Gore's initiative. It may not be as funny as intended (the lyrics are too straightforward, and the inclusion of each single specimen of «strong language» that they could think of is too predictable), but it works, and whatever works in the war against censorship should pass each and every seal of approval;
— «...surf rock» (!!) — a phenomenal idea to dress up the head-whirling speed entertainment of the genre in metal guitar clothing, illustrated by their hearty rendition of The Chantays' 'Pipeline'. So when is that thrash metal album by The Ventures coming out in response?;
Among The Living may have been Anthrax's greatest contribution to this world, but, frankly speaking, it was not until I had thoroughly assimilated Killer B's that the true — and usually carefully concealed — scope of the band's talent became understandable. Why they felt it necessary to confine their wild genre experimentation to such hard-to-find periphery and streamline most of the LPs in a far more generic manner, we will never understand; the likeliest answer is that they felt a spiritual/financial obligation to all the «moshers», too dumb to accept anything beyond the basic headbanging pattern — but, on the other hand, it's not like they ever made it all that high on the charts (certainly never higher than someone like Faith No More, who had no problems whatsoever about merging intelligence with moderate commercial success). So there is really no ground for speculations. Thumbs up, and a hearty recommendation for even non-metal fans as long as they are ready to appreciate the power of invention in popular music.