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The gang rape of heavy and thrash metal was by no standard a pretty scene, but like any horrible occurrence of this nature, there is a moment where the terribleness of it subsides and something slightly better than what’s around it emerges, almost like a temporary flight from the horrid reality that is taking place. That is basically how I’d sum up the title track of this single, as “Only” is pretty much the only song on “Sound Of White Noise” to not either induce boredom or revulsion. This by no means is meant to suggest that the song is good by metal standards, only that it is not terrible by groove/grunge standards.
The riff approach is largely in line with the repetitive chord strum style that was popular among bands such as Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots at this time, although occasionally a remnant of heavy metal will pop out of the verse riff and a couple of bluesy lead fills will break up the soft monotony. The guitar work could be described as Sabbath influenced in some respects, though this mostly the repetitive and extremely basic ones that manifested itself on the famous “Vol. 4” songs “Tomorrow’s Dream” and “Snowblind”. The guitar solo follows a specific pattern, but cuts loose pretty well and shows Dan Spitz still has the ability to pull off something memorable when Scott Ian allows it. Bush’s performance is pure Layne Staley worship, but works reasonably well here and doesn’t sound forced.
The b-sides are a bit less encouraging to anyone who is hoping for a lone diamond release in the post-Belladonna era of the band. “Cowboy Song” is basically a joke pop song that’s been adapted to the sound that Anthrax has adopted here, ergo it’s really sloppy, the vocal lines sound like the spiritual ancestor to Creed’s Scott Stapp, and the comical nature of the melody renders the whole thing basically unworthy of listening to by anyone who likes metal. The other song “Sodium Pentathol” sounds a bit closer to a “Vulgar Display Of Power” interpretation of grunge, as it tries to pump a couple of repetitive, slower thrash ideas into a really muddy style, resulting in something that sounds sloppy, in much the same way that Tony Iommi’s riffs would if he applied the sound he used on “Sabotage” to a song like “Four Horsemen” or “Rattlehead”.
Bottom line, one fairly decent groovy grunge song and not much else to show for it is how I’d define this sing, and with the exception of one or two other songs, the entire “Sound Of White Noise” album. Not to mention that everything good that came out of this era is good really only based on a limited scene of sub-par music where diamonds were few and shit was aplenty. People credit Nirvana alone with killing metal, but the truth is that it was a collective part, and to this day Scott Ian and the others still in the band seem all to willing to try and kill it again, though nowadays they can’t seem to hold a consistent enough lineup to do so.