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Say what you like about Anthrax, but it must have been the coolest thing to see them live with legendary rap group Public Enemy, whilst touring the 'Persistence of Time' album. I knew of Public Enemy long before I'd even heard of Anthrax, even before I'd heard of thrash metal, and I've always had a soft spot for them. A lot of fans of guitar based music tend to dismiss rap as artless music. 'It doesn't take any effort!', 'It's just talking in to a microphone!', 'Where are the instruments?' they'll no doubt say, ignoring lyrical subjects, and disregarding how much a rapper has to perfect the art of delivery, how much effort the sound engineers put in to make the genre sound as clean and professional as possible, and how good an ear the artists and their DJs have for samples and drum loops. I'd much rather listen to a cleanly recorded rap album by the likes of Public Enemy or Ice-T (of the most ironic 'Cop Killer' & Law and Order: SVU fame) than some poorly recorded metal album, clung to like winnets by the most unlovable of metalheads. Anyway, back to 'Attack of the Killer B's', which features covers, remakes, unreleased and live tracks, released shortly after the tour.
The covers can be awesome - There's 'Parasite', (one of Anthrax's many Kiss covers) which is suitably sped up to a grooving thrasher. The story goes that after hearing Anthrax's version, Gene Simmons believed the band had hired a new singer, and couldn't believe it was Joey after all. He does a sterling job. Then there's surf anthem 'Pipeline' (originally by The Chantays), which is covered with such intensity, it's hard to imagine someone surfing to it. It's more... jet-ski appropriate. But the others aren't quite as worthy as the originals, 'Sects' is a little weak compared to Trust's original and the cover of Discharge's 'Protest and Survive' (featuring Scott on vocals) isn't particularly exciting.
My opinions on the S.O.D. tracks are based on the fact I know the originals. Most fans tend to write them off, and I definately prefer the original 'Chromatic Death', and I don't think 'Milk' needed the extra length, but both are well executed (whilst not a shining example, Joey doesn't sound too out of place singing crossover, something I'm always quick to point out).
The reworked version of Public Enemy's 'Bring the Noise' is, quite possibly, Anthrax's crowning moment of coolness. Channeling the fury of the original perfectly, Anthrax turn up the tempo and the gain, introducing heavy guitars and a live drumkit. It features the obvious suspects: Chuck D and Flava Flav, but Scott Ian also fills on vocal duties (and doesn't sound half bad!) on a verse or two! A remake better than an original classic? How I wish I could see this live!
'Keep It In The Family' and 'Belly of the Beast' translate very well to the live setting, as Anthrax speed them up, giving them a heightened sense of urgency and emotion. I've always found it strange why they put these songs on here, as Joey is literally untouchable in bringing a real energy to the songs. Since the band were no doubt planning to kick him before their final decision, it feels like their trying to say... 'Here's Joey. He's great right? But we can do so much better!'. Whether or not they did do any better, will be covered in my 'Sound of White Noise' review.
The original tracks, 'Startin' Up A Posse' and 'N.F.B.' are generally nothing to write home about. 'Startin'...' is a trying-to-be-funny anti-censorship song, full of swearing and sound samples of porn which just seems a bit cheap in my opinion. 'N.F.B.' or 'Dallabnukifesin' is a dumbass parody of metal ballads, sung rather effectively by Belladonna, but totally ruined by the fact Anthrax (without Joey or Dan Spitz) would record one for real not long after.
And then there's the trash. A few things about 'I'm the Man': it was one of the earliest rap-metal songs, the EP went platinum (!) and it was generally intended as a joke. A joke. 'I'm the Man '91' exists to piss on Anthrax's legacy as fun and goofy by taking the innocent, light-hearted original and making it serious! It ruins the whole point of the song! What you end up with is a stale, bitter end of an era. Anthrax aren't fun anymore. What's most depressing about this remake, is that the line mentioning Joey ('Joey mailed the mail, the mail he mailed!') is cut completely, so you can't even enjoy it as some cheap nostalgia, purely because the band refuses to acknowledge their soon-to-be-kicked 5th member.
All in all, an essential purchase for Anthrax fans ('Attack...' went gold too!), even if two or three songs are amongst the band's worst. If you're a fan desperate for some more Joey-era Anthrax beyond the four studio albums, here's something worthwhile, if you can stand the foreshadowing atmosphere.
Anthrax had released EP’s earlier also featuring obscure stuff and covers, and those were either good or great, this time however they released a full length full of it and it was just too much as well as lacking cohesion this time. Why on earth a full length release? Possibly because of the upcoming tour with Public Enemy and their label wanting something new on the market.
Now, the remakes of the S.O.D. songs are utterly useless. I still don’t know why they felt the need to bring songs from a side-project back to ‘Thrax and in fact weakening the legacy. Same could be said about ‘I'm the Man '91’ which is just a horrible unlistenable remix. Also the presence of two live songs, ‘Keep It in the Family’ and ‘Belly of the Beast’, seems rather redundant on a full length album even though the performance and sound are pretty good. And more so because everything is scattered on the album.
‘N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin)’ feels like an answer to M.O.D.’s Ode To Harry. A joke can’t always be funny, especially when you think Scott Ian actually wrote a lot of stuff for the USA For MOD album. Secondly GangGreen had released the ultimate metal ballad parody on their ’89 album ’Older Budweiser’ and this ballad doesn’t even come close to either the MOD nor GangGreen efforts.
What makes this album actually worth purchasing are two songs in particular. ‘Bring the Noise’ and ‘Startin' Up a Posse’. Bring The Noise is a remake of an old Public Enemy song and as it is performed by both bands, it sounds convincing in both the metal as well as rap department. And yes, it is catchy as hell! ‘Startin' Up a Posse’ is a joke, but unlike the ballad it’s a joke which is also funny the second time around. A great foul mouthed happy tune against censorship with Scott Ian taking the mike. Well, actually there’s a third song for those who hadn’t gotten their hands on it already: ‘Protest & Survive’ is just great, good heavy sound and Scott does a great job on vocals. It sounds raw and aggressive, exactly what a Discharge song needs. Great effort.
Am I not forgetting anything? Well, yes I am . An Anthrax collector in ’92 would’ve gotten his/her hands on the 1989 Penikufesin EP already. So either don’t use those songs here or include the whole damn thing, including Friggin’ In The Riggin’ and not just 3 songs. Why on earth did they do this?
Well, at least I give the band some credit for trying to create some stuff especially for this release but it still suffers immensely from having ‘70% filler’ written all over it. And the mistake of not including the entire Penikufesin EP is pretty unforgivable. So, 3 out of 12 songs making this release really worthwhile and then of course two good live versions of great songs. Just get your hands on the Penikufesin, I’m The Man and Armed&Dangerous EP’s first!
Opinion was often divided on Anthrax, even in their heyday. Many a serious metal fan could not take the band seriously — Their crimes against metaldom? They wore surf shorts. They recorded a rap song. They were friends with punks. And perhaps most shockingly, they had a sense of humour. How's a serious grim looking metal head supposed to stay serious and grim when a band is having fun making music? It just isn't cricket.
I say fuck 'em! Anthrax were metal as fuck. All you have to do is listen. Close your eyes and the surf shorts disappear. They recorded a grand total of two rap tracks, and they'd be some of the heaviest rap songs you'll ever hear. Much of the punk fixation was played out in SOD. The sense of fun is inescapable though. Nowhere is it more evident than on this EP.
A 44–minute romp through punk covers, live tracks and comedy piss takes, for thrash fans this is the most fun on record this side of Lawnmower Deth. It kicks off with a romp through SOD's inherently silly but fucking heavy ode to breakfast cereal "Milk".
Thrash did not get much heavier than Anthrax live, and "Keep It In The Family" and "Belly Of The Beast" are utterly crushed into submission by Scott Ian's rhythm guitar. The live tracks also show off Joey Belladonna's undoubted vocal talents. The covers of Discharge's "Protest And Survive" and Trust's "Sects" are also bollock–breaking stunners, showing off 'Thrax's hardcore side.
Two highlights of the album are the tongue in cheek pisstakes of the delightful country and western flavoured "Startin' Up A Posse" and the faux–emo power ballad "N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin)”. Scott Ian took over vocals for "…Posse", spitting out possibly the angriest lyrics Anthrax had recorded to that point. The country verses and hardcore choruses — compete with "Bonanza" refrains — has to be heard to be believed. The "swearing for swearing's sake" lyrics are utterly childish, and a lot of fun. Try to resist figuring out the seven words mentioned in the song. "N.F.B." is one of those lame assed, puke inducing ballads bands like Extreme, White Lion and Poison used to endlessly churn out. Anthrax showed how pathetic those bands were by whipping this up in a matter of minutes. You know the formula– jangly acoustic guitars, "Ooo–ooo"s in the chorus, boy meets girl, boy shags girl's friends, girl forgives boy, girl dies in grisly accident etc. Mr. Big and Skid Row got endless airplay from crap like this. It's a pity Anthrax didn't!
The infamous "I'm The Man" gets an unnecessary remix, pretty much fucking up all that was good about it. "Bring The Noise" is infinitely better as a rap/metal collaboration.
This album was a welcome addition to many a fan's collection, because it brought together the fun (most of the album) and the hard–to–find (the three cover tracks from Penikufesin). Although we weren't to know it at the time, Anthrax were having internal problems and label trouble at around this time. Joey Belladonna left the band soon after this release. A godawful record label knock off contractual obligation live album followed this too. This was the beginnings of Anthrax cleaning out their closet in preparation for the more mature sound they developed in the later 1990s. Spring–cleaning was never so much fun.