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More like a small precision nuke. - 65%

hells_unicorn, May 24th, 2009

Although I am among the harshest of Anthrax’s critics when it comes to the John Bush years of the band, I do have to give a level of credit where credit is due. For all of the problems that the band has had in the studio since 1993, they still get the job done on stage when it comes time to bring their music back to the masses. It’s where they earned their keep as a band, and it’s ultimately where they are the most at home. They repeatedly victimized themselves by bringing out lousy songs from lousy albums, but whenever the band sticks to the classics, even in the absence of a vocalist who can hit all of Belladonna’s high notes, they consistently shine.

The weak link in this chain is definitely John Bush, not merely because of the self-imposed limitations that the style he’s adopted sets, but also because he is not a commanding stage presence. Some of the time I have a hard time figuring out whether he, Scott Ian, or Frank Bello is actually leading the band considering all the times that the latter two come in and act like a crutch on the old material when there’s something that Bush can’t adequately pull off. Most of the older stuff is taken from the albums that Belladonna complains about being controlled by Ian’s desire for a certain style, yet even despite the lack of classic high tenor wails in line with the earlier metal styles, Bello has to repeatedly come in to provide the top end on songs such as “Caught In A Mosh”, “I Am The Law” and “Indians”. To this day I still can’t believe that this is the same guy who did those amazing vocals on “March Of The Saint”.

For the most part, everything else is on point, in fact in some cases when dealing with the music by itself it’s exceptional. I think that the guitarist on this DVD is Robb Caggiano, but whoever it is (I just refer to him as that guy with the Mohawk); he does an excellent job emulating both Dan Spitz’s idiomatic and Dimebag Darrel’s wildly expressive lead contributions to these songs. Particular lead highlights can be heard on “I Am The Law”, “Room For One More” and “Anti-social”. Likewise, Charlie Benante is up to his usual routine, providing a rock solid foundation to every slow groove and hyper speed thrash song with the precision of a machine and the aggression of a rabid wolverine. The only thing that can really distract from his amazing drumming is that ridiculous coon tail that Scott Ian has hanging out of his chin. Nonetheless, Ian pulls his share as well, and does a particularly nice job on that solo to “Got The Time” that he always loves to show off.

If you get any live offerings or anything else in either audio or video format from this era of Anthrax, this is the only one that is really worth the money, and that’s only if the price is reduced to about $8 for the DVD. Most of the older stuff is worthy, though extremely flawed, while a lot of the new stuff is well performed but suffers just from being in a really boring, repetitive format. It is titled “Music Of Mass Destruction”, but in truth it’s more like a precision nuke, reaping havoc in a controlled manner at a few targeted points, but is otherwise not killer or even remotely close to fatal.