Nearly five years after delivering the album of their career with Worship Music, ANTHRAX have finally given us some new music in the form of For All Kings, out February 26 via Megaforce Records. Many people, me included, wondered how on Earth the band could follow up such a landmark record, but you know what? They did a great job on this one, they really did. And while not quite the grand slam the last one was, there are flashes of brilliance that prove the previous album was no fluke. New guitarist Jon Donais fits like a glove and his leads are excellent.
Opener “You Gotta Believe” is a good start, but next song “Monster At the End” really gets this shit going full throttle. It’s got a killer chorus, and mines that tightrope between heavy and melodic perfectly. Title track “For All Kings” finds singer Joey Belladonna singing with conviction and bassist Frank Bello, drummer Charlie Benante, rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, and Donais fall in line perfectly to deliver a stellar track. Wow, what can I say about “Breathing Lightning”? That it’s one of the best songs ANTHRAX has ever recorded? That’s true. That it’s one I can’t wait to hear live? Also true. This is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, laying waste to any and all who dare oppose them, and it’s fucking spectacular!
On the heavy scale I was not prepared for how nasty “Suzerain” was. This bitch smacks you in the mouth and laughs while you bleed. Meanwhile it’s got a pretty damn infectious hook, and riffs for days. First single “Evil Twin” is a great song reminiscent of the old days with jackhammer riffs and drums, while Belladonna wails away, making everyone his bitch. The clean, but dark intro to “Blood Eagle Wings” is interesting because you really can’t tell where the song is going, and then it turns into a slow grinder that would have been perfect on 1990’s Persistence of Time. “Defend Avenge” trashes the fuck outta the place, and reminds us just how important ANTHRAX was and is to Thrash Metal. It also has arguably the most attitude on the disc, so there’s that.
“All of Them Thieves” is a song people will either love or hate because of the stop-and-start of the chorus. Me, I love it. It’s a killer track. Frank Bello really gets a chance to shine on “This Battle Chose Us” and at the 3:20 mark he and his bandmates go ballistic, once again reminding the world this thrash band will keep churning out great songs a hundred years from now. “Voice of the People” is one of those tunes that sneaks up on you, and is really well-done. Closing things out is “Zero Tolerance”, and it features some of the best riffs on the album.
When all’s said and done ANTHRAX have made a great record in For All Kings. Longtime fans should dig it, and much like their counterparts in OVERKILL, DEATH ANGEL, and EXODUS, they really are doing their best writing in the second half of their career. I sincerely hope they do a headlining run that shows everyone just how kickass they are both live and on tape, I really do. As soon as a Philly date is announced I’ll be there, money in hand. Go ahead and get this album, you know you want to.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Breathing Lightning”, “Monster At the End”, “Suzerain”, “Blood Eagle Wings”, “For All Kings”, “Zero Tolerance”