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Friday, June 4, 2010

Anthrax: Persistence Of Time


1) Time; 2) Blood; 3) Keep In The Family; 4) In My World; 5) Gridlock; 6) Intro To Reality; 7) Belly Of The Beast; 8) Got The Time; 9) H8 Red; 10) One Man Stands; 11) Discharge.

Anthrax's last album with Belladonna raises the stakes introduced on State Of Euphoria even further, leaving behind all humour and concentrating almost exclusively on human rights, per­sonal freedoms, and the meanest ima­ginable thrash riffs to have ever supported democracy and progress. By overriding the speed limits, they had won back some critical support, and in general statistical terms Persistence seems to have earned itself more points than its predecessor.

This is understandable; the band quite transparently throws itself at the listener this time, despe­rate to make a rousing statement — more than half of the songs are rebellious anthems, thrashy in form, punkish in spirit. Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate! Do you know that at least five out of ten songs on here have the word 'hate', and, quite frequently, more than once? The last time they had so much hatred packed into a record was on Fistful Of Metal, but they were little kids back then, scribbling dirty words on their teacher's chair when he wasn't looking. Now they have an official party agenda about it.

Even the lead-off single, a surprising cover of Joe Jackson's relatively inoffensive 'Got The Time', has been transformed into a fit of mad rage from an immediate lobotomy candidate. (Punk rock­ers might find it their favorite Anthrax tune — it sounds almost exactly like the Ramones, only freshly taught to actually play their instruments). But 'Got The Time' is simply a frustrated com­plaint at being overloaded with all the little nuisances of life; imagine, then, what happens when the band finds itself a more personified victim? The greatest concentration of bile and dynamite is packed into 'Keep It In The Family', a seven-minute rant against «sheep mentality» that never was a single but still became a fan favorite purely on the strength of its intensity and dedication ('this one's the happiest one on the album', Joey would sometimes announce in concert); but most other songs are not far behind it in said intensity.

I do not know if it is the extra injected testosterone or closer attention to songwriting that is re­s­ponsible for the impression that the songs are generally more memorable. There are interesting hooks — the Sabbath-esque guitar twist on the "paranoia, amped and wired" chorus of 'Time'; the chest-baring, inspirational "I'm not afraid, I'm a walking razor blade" refrain of 'In My World'; the apocalyptic atmosphere of "it's a long time, long time comin'" on 'Gridlock', and others. Not my style, never my style, but theoretically quite attractive all the same.

Thus, in a year most rife on classics of the thrash genre — The Black Album, Seasons In The Abyss, Rust In Peace etc. — Anthrax seem to have held their own against all the big brothers, and certainly came out as the most socially active of all, be it just an act of posing or not. Few hold it as their very best (no Judge Dredd, see), but many hold it as their last bout of greatness, and my own brain tends to agree on that and confirm it with a thumbs up.

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