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Friday, June 25, 2010

Anthrax: The Island Years


1) N.F.L.; 2) A.I.R.; 3) Parasite; 4) Keep It In The Family; 5) Caught In A Mosh; 6) Indians; 7) Antisocial; 8) Bring The Noise; 9) I Am The Law; 10) Metal Thrashing Mad; 11) In My World; 12) Now It’s Dark.

It is hard to imagine the Anthrax live sound significantly different from the Anthrax studio sound, unless, in a paroxism of cool, they’d want to baffle their fans by playing nothing but symphonic rearrangements of Phil Collins hits. This weakness of imagination, unfortunately, is in full agree­ment with reality, so the only problem of this live retrospective is that one who has already stu­died the studio albums needs it not.

Brief factual notes: all the tracks are from two shows with Belladonna still at the wheel, one in 1991, one in 1992; major emphasis is on the hits, although there are a couple surprises. e. g. ‘Me­tal Thrashing Mad'’from the early Neil Turbin era; and a joint performance of ‘Bring The Noise’ with Public Enemy is included, the only number to be seriously reworked from the original, but, as far as I can tell, seriously less focused and more chaotic.

Brief critical opinion: essential for slavery-bound fans and completists, but hardly worth the bo­ther for those without significant brain damage. To be «caught in a mosh» during an Anthrax show is, in all likelihood, an unforgettable experience (and one that I would not wish for myself even in exchange for world peace), but listening to such a show on record inevitably brings for­wards all the flubs and off-key singing, which, in a genre as demanding as thrash, are unpardo­nable. ‘Caught In A Mosh’ itself, for instance, starts off decent, but they totally ruin the chorus by failing to synchronize the vocals.

At its best, Live succeeds in replicating the power of the studio albums without augmenting it; at its worst, it shows how much care and rehearsal must have gone into the studio recordings, beca­use spontaneity is definitely not on these guys’ side. Not exactly a thumbs down, but it is hard to praise live albums whose main point is to certify that the artist did not suffer from stage fright.

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