ANTHRAX: STOMP 442 (1995)
1) Random Acts Of Senseless Violence; 2) Fueled; 3) King Size; 4) Riding Shotgun; 5) Perpetual Motion; 6) In A Zone; 7) Nothing; 8) American Pompeii; 9) Drop The Ball; 10) Tester; 11) Bare.
This is where the band officially turns to shit. No one knows why exactly, but three factors may be of importance: (a) Scott Ian has crossed the 40-year mark, automatically putting him into the «Metal MILF» category, an acquired taste if there ever was one; (b) lead guitarist Dan Spitz, a major pillar of melody for the band in the past, abandoned his comrades, unofficially replaced by his former guitar technician (!) ominously named Paul Crook; (c) most importantly, even though the band insists on more or less continuing in the same doom-laden, smile-free style they had on White Noise, they went from producer Dave Jerden — who knew how to get that style right — to a brand new veteran producer duo, who quite obviously do not know how to get it right. They call themselves The Butcher Bros., and that's just about right.
The riffs have lost all sensitivity; still brutal and venomous, but no longer communicating with the listener. So much so not communicating, in fact, that, first time ever, I find the best song on here to be the acoustic ballad 'Bare', graciously offering a last-minute respite to those brave few who have withstood the metallic pressure to the end; and even then, there is hardly anything special about that number. It merely reminds you of the long-forgotten fact that music may have actually been designed by its original creators to nurture your senses, not torture them.
There is nothing informative or meaningful I can say about these songs. The band complained that Elektra Records had let them down by refusing to promote the album, but, for once, I see the record company's point very clearly — what was there to promote? There is not even a single song that could qualify as a stand-out single. It's all about the branding-iron guitar tones and the clenched teeth vocals from a totally misused John Bush.
Earlier on, I mentioned how State Of Euphoria may not have a lot of outstanding tunes, but sort of gets by through conviction and passion alone. The idea does not, however, work with Stomp 442. As hateful and aggressive as it is, the band has completely lost direction — it is hateful and aggressive because that's what the fans expect out of them, not because they want to experiment with the emotion of hatred. The results are predictable and boring, and there are few things in the world more threatening to one's love of music than having to sit through a boring metal album. Thumbs down; stay away unless you're into dental extraction.