UK/Europe: Nuclear Blast
Review: Rick Ossian
All I can say to begin is welcome back, Joey Belladonna! Thank the metal gods that he has returned, and, many have speculated, in rare form. In fact, as one reviewer has suggested, he ‘can’t imagine anyone else singing these songs‘ (Classic Rock). Joey does indeed bring the power, as is evidenced by any of the tracks on offer here, save, of course, for the itty bitty instrumentals. These short shorts (Worship-Intro., Hymn 1 and Hymn 2) strike me as tribute(s), of sorts, to the mighty Black Sabbath, whose acoustic interludes graced a couple of my faves of theirs in the early days. Needless to say, this reviewer was barely able to contain his excitement when it was revealed that Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t was to be released as a free Mp3 download for the fans and their patience!
That being said, I AM a John Bush fan, having listened to Armored Saint and loving The Sound of White Noise. Not knowing the Belladonna material as well, I just always assumed that John was the man. Joey has proved me, at least in part, very wrong. As Eddie Trunk of vh1’s That Metal Show has stated, Joey can knock you off of your seat, and is a very melodic vocalist, which is definitely the case on any number of tracks here. If this were a piece of vinyl (and that IS available for all you die-hard phono junkies), you could, as they say, ‘drop the needle in the groove’ anywhere on either side, and you would still come up with a winner. Those who are faint of heart or are easily excitable may want to seek your musical satisfaction elsewhere, as the lion’s share of these numbers are powerful, in-your-face slammers.
Take the opening salvo, Earth on Hell, for example. Now here is a track that slams balls-to-the-wall from start to finish. All listeners better strap yourselves in, you are in for one hell of a ride. The Devil You Know (an RJD tribute, perhaps?) is the first of these tracks that I actually heard. It includes a ‘rap’ section of sorts, for better or worse, about hypocrisy (what you see is what you get), a telling missive of our times. Perhaps the devil we know is a politician? Stranger things have happened…
On the above-mentioned Fight Em…, a zombie warning in the form of a spoken word section, alerts us to “the bodies of the dead hav(ing) risen and are attacking the living”. Indeed! The killer riffs alone in this number could stop most walking dead in their tracks, methinks. This also is the case with the fist-pumper I’m Alive, which features a chugging/chanting intro, and advises us that “hell lives in everyone”, but we can “beat the demon, (to) be the one”. A couple of really fine guitar solos grace this one as well.
In The End features bells (church?) and more cool riffs; The Giant (dig that beat!) features drums and guitar, and why not? Charlie Benante and Frank Bello are one of the best rhythm sections in the thrash genre, locking in together and bearing down like none before or after. Judas Priest (not about the band, Scott suggests, but a traitor in the midst) is an epic six-and-a-half minute stomper, finding all of us “bound to bow down to” this “destroyer of worlds“. Crawl, another bass-and-drums workout (is that water drops I hear at the end?), is another longer number, weighing in at just under 5 1/2, and one gets the feeling that it may involve addiction, or beating it: “so addicted to the pain, making me insane” — but then it could be about being addicted to a female (say it isn’t so!), “if you crawl/I’ll follow/don’t walk away”.
Two absolute scorchers grace the ending of this wholly bombastic record; The Constant, a grinding, tough number about being stronger, standing up to obstacles (I AM HERE), and Revolution Screams, the pounding, pulsating closer.
All in all, not a bad set, especially if you’re an Anthrax fan. It’s easy to see why these gentlemen are part of the Big Four. They may be one of the best thrash acts going. Buy now!
Rating: ***** (Superior)