Anthrax | Worship Music

Megaforce Records (2011)
By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  August 24, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

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Anthrax has remained relevant over the past two decades mainly because John Bush, with his rumbling and powerful vocals, replaced Joey Belladonna. Belladonna came from the Rob Halford school of hitting high notes, which had become passé by the early '90s. So when it was announced that Belladonna would be returning and doing a new record with the thrash-metal pioneers, more than a few people saw it as a massive step backward. And yet, surprisingly, Worship Music is anything but. It's the sound of a band determined to prove that it finally knows what it's doing after a few stumbles in recent years, including screwing over Bush to bring back — and then break up with — Belladonna, and then finding yet another singer to record a full album with before shelving it right before the release date. Heads were left spinning. But with Belladonna back in tow, Worship Music finally sees the light of day in September. "The Constant" and "Fight 'em Till You Can't" balance melody with old-school choruses, while "Revolution Screams" just piles on the guitar riffs before dropping into a brutal midsection that reminds you why these guys mattered in the first place. Most important, Belladonna keeps his range in check, finding that elusive middle ground between Bush and his younger self, which should satisfy fans of both eras. Evident between the speed-fest of "Earth on Hell" and the stomping "I'm Alive," his singing has even reinvigorated Anthrax's music. That's not to say there aren't flashes of ol' Joey reaching to the rafters — he does it in the grandeur of "In the End" — but it works instead of reeking of nostalgia. Anthrax have always brought humor to their music, and it resides here in a faux zombie radio warning (dude, so 2009), and their choice to drop a Biggie Smalls line in "The Devil You Know." But for the most part the band play it straight, delivering a fresh fistful of metal.
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