ANTHRAX: MUSIC OF MASS DESTRUCTION (2004)
1) What Doesn't Die; 2) Got The Time; 3) Caught In A Mosh; 4) Safe Home; 5) Room For One More; 6) Antisocial; 7) Nobody Knows Anything; 8) Fueled; 9) Inside Out; 10) Refuse To Be Denied; 11) I Am The Law; 12) Only.
Pretty damn good live album (packaged as one-half CD, one-half DVD; my review only applies to the CD portion), provided you approve of John Bush's frontman image; the live banter is actually quite consistent with his studio spirit — «tough guy with a slightly bigger brain than that of most tough guys». His dedication to patching up the band's uneven history is clearly seen in the intro to 'Antisocial': "How many old schoolers are there in the audience? How many new schoolers are out there? How many people don't give a flying fuck about school?" — this should be taken as a veiled excuse for singing old Belladonna classics, I guess, but it is pretty smart put all the same. Why should we, indeed, give a flying fuck about school?
Besides, he does sing the old classics fairly well; what the guy lacks in swaggering charisma, he easily compensates with sincere workmanhood and stamina. Under his lead, 'Caught In A Mosh', for instance, becomes tighter and more grueling than we heard it on The Island Years — no longer does the chorus fall to pieces. And with all the extra iron in his voice, 'I Am The Law' acquires an extra amount of seriousness that makes the «old school» more in line with the «new school», whether one likes it or not.
The setlist is consistently great — with the exception of, at most, a couple duds from the slipaway period of Stomp and Volume 8, they concentrate on all the right material, including ripping renditions of 'Room For One More' and 'Only' from Bush's best record; and 'Safe Home' is one number to actively benefit from audience participation (it is an anthem, after all), yet the crowd roar is not loud enough to overbear the perfect reproduction of the flaming guitar solo.
It is ironic, of course, that the album, summarizing Bush's decade-long presence in the band, would turn out to be his last — even as Music Of Mass Destruction seems to prove that Anthrax have found a perfect compromise between their early classic humorous image and the later transformation into a deadly serious grunge-o-metal monster, pretty soon it became clear that no one was really happy about that compromise. Still, the album shows that the decade was not a complete waste at all, and I suppose metal history will be sort of lonelier, decide we to erase the Bush years out of our collective memory. Thumbs up.