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Stale bread works. It's fine. Put a little mayonnaise and some deli meat and cheese and you have a decent lunch. Anthrax's stale songwriting is made stronger by record company muscle. That muscle makes this album widely available to the masses for cheap consumption. Much like stale bread.
That cheapness is the very reason I got this album. I remember sampling a trough of Anthrax on the internet a long time ago, and even then thinking that it sounded pretty boring. But I saw this new, not even used, at a fye for like 6 bucks, so I snatched it up. Now it’s nigh impossible to make me regret a purchase so cheap, but thank goodness it is cheap.
The songwriting here is very boring. The only parts that separate the songs in my memory are the vocal lines, which are delivered with gusto by Belladonna. He doesn't have the most powerful voice, but his enthusiasm comes through, even if he sometimes sounds pretty flat and flawed. The chorus of Lone Justice is a great example of his voice just not being strong enough to achieve what I think they wanted to achieve. "...stubbled chin, he rides through historeeeeeee!" Listen to it, it falls so flat of the power it should have had. Which makes the cheesiness of the lyrics that more obvious.
He fares better and tracks like Madhouse and Armed and Dangerous, where his wonky delivery fits perfectly with the music. Like the weird inflection used when belting out "Armed and DANGER-US!” I find his best performance vocally here is on Medusa, my personal favorite here, because the vocal lines are the most memorable.
For musically this album struggles to hold my attention. For one, the guitar tone is like the tinny sound on ...And Justice for All but without the concussive power to them. Though unlike Justice this album actually has a great bass tone albeit it just follows the rhythm guitar. And the guitars are so uneventful; it drives me crazy thinking how and why this band got signed to a big label.
After repeated listens, almost no sections are in my memory. I just fucking listened to it two minutes ago and I don't know how the hell I'm going to finish this review! Grasping at straws, the main riff of A.I.R. is nice and bouncy, with a good groove to it. And it's no surprise that I remember that riff, since it is repeated through the entire song....
But really that’s all I can remember. The songs do not progress in a memorable fashion. There are no great bridges, or solos that stick out at all. Just decent rhythmic chugging for every song. Only a few decent choruses. Madhouse comes to mind immediately, and the delivery is one of the more solid of the album, though still lacking a lot of the power I wanna hear from my metal vocalists.
The few chorus sections that aren't decent are downright grating. If gang shouts are your thing then pick this up, but holy shit it annoys me. I was gonna count how many times STAND OR FALL is shouted in that damn song to illustrate my point, but I can't put myself through it. Armed and Dangerous would have been a highlight if it wasn't for the freaking gang shouts. And Gung-Ho is downright annoying for the same reason. Some albums gang shouts sound a little off (like The New Order) but here the tone is actually pretty good, but that does not mean it should be flaunted 3000 times in the 45 minute run time.
The Enemy is a nice moodier track and, along with live staple Madhouse, has a very good use of gang shouts. But the album definitely suffers from an over-saturation of them, and even the more effective ones aren't as powerful as heard on "In Union We Stand" or "Wake up Dead." In fact on every level this album isn't as effective as a slew of other thrash bands. The riffs go in circles, the drumming is hardly noticeable, forget about memorable, the bass is there which I suppose makes it better then on some albums, and the vocalist sounds less like a singer and more like a guy with a high pitched voice. But, as stated before, this album can be found very easily, and for cheap.
And that is my verdict and tip of the day for you. This is not horrendous or revolting. It's pretty effective in some respects. It’s got a decent bass tone, a respectable vocalist though his range and dynamics are not top quality, and a nice lightheartedness to it that makes it pretty charming. But if you really want some good early east coast thrash, Overkill is a much better option. So grocery customer, will you grab the stale bread that’s readily available or dig a little deeper and find some fresh baked honey-wheat?
For lacking a lot of substance to every aspect of the album, Anthrax's Spreading the Disease gets 45 out of 100 or 2 out of five.
One of Anthrax's best albums that they totally did right. From the start, the thrashing is there in spades, and while it's certainly not the same as Bay Area thrash, it definitely has a nice punk vibe while earning them a slot in the great "Big 4". They just sound like they are having fun, not taking things too serious, but still doing a professional job. Not only that, but everyone does a great job on this album.
Scott Ian's rhythms are heavy, punk-influenced, and give the impression of someone making a devilish, but entirely-pleased-with-himself smile. The rhythm guitars are great throughout the disk, but especially so on Madhouse. His tone is also worthy of noting as it's nice and crunchy and well-balanced as well. It's not your typical Marshall on steroids with a boost connected to the front end and a high output pickup in the guitar. It certainly goes to 11 and kicks your ass as he thrashes away on his guitar, which is either a Gibson flying V, Jackson soloist, or Jackson RRV according to interviews. His tone is also a nice backdrop for Danny Spitz to solo over.
Frank Bello is a pretty underrated bassist. I think the intro to Lone Justice is great even if it is simple. There's also nice little fills that Bello adds throughout the entire song that really sets it apart. He really lets loose on this song and even if you thought the song was a 7 out of 10, his bass parts easily make Lone Justice a 9. His playing on Madhouse is also worth noting as his fills really add something to the songs than just following the root notes of the guitars alone like most metal bassists do just wouldn't add. Of all of the thrash metal records of the '80s, I think he possibly has the best space in the mix of the album because he's always as discernible as the guitars are. He definitely isn't buried or is just there to add a little more low end to the guitars.
Danny Spitz is definitely an interesting guitar player. Like all of the lead guitarists of the Big 4, he has an identity that, if you know your Anthrax, would be easily identifiable. While his playing isn't super clean and precise like Yngwie J. Malmsteen's, he definitely can play with reckless abandon. All of the other guys in the Big 4 and '80s metal in general were obsessed with precise notes in the sense that if they were 16th notes, they were almost robotic with how even spaced all of the notes were. It's hard to describe, but Danny's playing is more about feel and less about how rhythmically precise they are. A particularly interesting solo is on The Enemy. I'm not sure whether it was a composed or improv solo, but it has a nice flow and in a short space of time and has a beginning, middle, and end to it. His solo for Armed and Dangerous is great as well, which follows a nice heavy riff and the solo is also preceded by a cool harmonized guitar riff. The song in general is notable because of the clean guitar intro which is accompanied by drum accents and Joey using a more intimate singing style to fit the feeling of the intro.
Some argue whether Joey Belladonna or John Bush fits Anthrax better, but either way Joey does a great job. His style is more of a singing vocal and helps further separate Anthrax from the other Big 4 bands. He does a nice falsetto as well, which is great if you can get into it and is a strong plus as it doesn't sound forced like a lot of male singers who try to do falsetto. I'm curious what his singing background is because he's got some serious pipes. Anyways, I think his best performances on this album are Madhouse, Medusa, A.I.R., and Armed and Dangerous, however his work is consistently great.
The mixing and production is great. I'm not entirely sure what the budget was, but the band comes across as very well-rehearsed, which I'm sure helped them put every penny into the recording and less into renting the studio trying to get decent takes. As I mentioned when talking about Frank Bello's great bass playing, the mixing is well done because Frank's bass isn't buried or muddy and everything seems to fit into its own space sonically. Overall, it's probably one of the top 5 in terms of production and mixing, not just of the Big 4, but of '80s metal in general. For Anthrax, it's perfect.
I'd suggest everyone buy this record. It's great and well worth the money. While Anthrax may have slightly better [Among the Living] or more 'mature' [Persistence of Time] albums, this is definitely the "golden ticket" that got them a spot in the Big 4 of American thrash metal.
I used to always say Persistence of Time was my favorite Anthrax release, however over the years I've come to land on the side of Spreading the Disease as both my favorite Anthrax album, as well as feeling it is their finest offering.
This was 1985 and thrash was really starting to take off, Ride the Lightning and Bonded By Blood were out tearing their fair share of heads, doing their bit for the Bay Area scene. Anthrax along with Overkill and their awesome debut Feel The Fire proudly flew the flag for the New York scene. Whilst Anthrax would later come to blend crossover with their thrash Spreading the Disease was pure heavy/speed/thrash.
I can't stress how much of an asset Joey Belladonna was and is to Anthrax, as some people have of course mentioned he was given somewhat the short end of the stick as far as vocal lines went, I feel that on their debut and Spreading the Disease his vocal lines were really great, and he had plenty of room to do what he does best.
Rounding out the line up we had guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Spitz, the former delivering the kind of riffs he would be famed for, and the latter delivering some really cool and interesting leads, quite the underrated player when compared with some of the more flamboyant lead guitarists ala Megadeth, and bands such as Toxik or Heathen. The rhythm section was great, Frank Bello is as reliable as ever, and his bass is perfect in the mix, locked in with the drums provided by Charlie Benate who was at his best in the 80's.
Spreading the Disease is home to some of the very best Anthrax numbers, "Madhouse" is both catchy and heavy, a live favorite that never fails to get the blood pumping. "A.I.R." is the glorious album opener, reeking of 1985, an excellent exercise in thrashing brilliance. Other standouts would include the final double punch of "Medusa" and "Gung-Ho". The former is one of my very favorite Anthrax songs, with a certain degree of heavy/power metal to it.
Anthrax often get a fair bit of flack, especially due to them be considered part of the media machine that is the "big four". I never bought into the whole "big four" thing, but that isn't to detract from what Anthrax were doing in the 80's. Spreading the Disease is right up there with the finer releases from 1985, and is a no brainer for any thrash metal fan worth his kutte.
The sophomore effort from Anthrax, Spreading the Disease, represents the moment when the band transitioned to Thrash Metal, with only one holdover from their Speed Metal days. It was also the first full-length to feature Joey Belladonna on vocals, which marked another change in their sound and was their major label debut, having signed to Island Records. The L.P. was released in October 1985.
This was the last of the old Anthrax albums that I obtained, as it was never in stock during my frequent visits to the local record stores. The time period was a little darker, and thus the music here took on a little darker tone for me, as opposed to Among the Living or State of Euphoria. Part of this may also be a result of the more serious approach, since the band had not yet become labeled as 'fun' thrash ketal with the goofy lyrics and horrible sleeve photos.
The music still includes some faster riffs, but the mid-paced sections dominate many of the tracks. Nearly all of the riffs are very memorable and quite easy to headbang to. Joey's voice suits the material well and he sounds more natural here than he would on the following release. The guitars possess more of a crunch and this helps to accentuate the heaviness of the songs. Tracks like "A.I.R.", "Aftershock" and "Gung-Ho" retain the more aggressive spirit that was present on Fistful of Metal. "Madhouse" and "Medusa" are quite catchy, though not as intense. Still, they rank among the most memorable songs on the whole album. As for the rest of the tracks, they fit more into traditional metal territory, or even edging too close to hard rock. "The Enemy" comes off almost as a ballad, as does the first part of "Armed and Dangerous". There is certainly a lot of variety on this record and it is enough to satisfy different tastes. However, Spreading the Disease would have only benefited from more songs like "Gung-Ho", one of the final tracks to have been written by Turbin, Ian and Lilker.
The overall production is really good, without sounding overdone. The guitars retain a sharp edge and seem to be the primary focus. Joey's vocals are mixed in well enough, high enough to be effective but not too prominent. On the following album, it would seem that his voice would become too disjointed from the rest of what was going on. The drumming is about the same as on the previous record, though a bit more relaxed in general. Benante's work is at the right place in the mix, never overpowering the drums and with the double-bass parts keeping to the background, where they belong.
Spreading the Disease may be the best of the Belladonna-era Anthrax albums, as it comes off as more natural and serious as well. Following this, the band would do a lot of things to tarnish their credibility, while expanding their fanbase despite everything. This album is highly recommended to anyone that is looking to explore this era of the band's discography, as it is very solid and really captures the spirit of the time period.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
The only reason I’m giving this album 98 instead of 99 points is because I like “Among the Living” slightly better. Anthrax still plays some NWOBHM inspired speed metal here and it wasn’t until their next album they’d play thrash metal all the way. Having said that I also must add that “Spreading the Disease” is in fact one of the best speed metal albums ever made.
The holy threesome “Stand Or Fall”, “Aftershock” and “Gung Ho” are the fastest songs here. “Gung Ho” being the most famous one here because this song also crushed in the live environment. These songs continued where songs like “Panic” and “Deathrider” had left off earlier.
In terms of fastness opener “A.I.R.” also had its moments but this song is more based on good breaks, lots of changes in pace, very catchy riffs and highly memorable vocal lines. One of the best songs on the album.
“Madhouse” is a very catchy pounding heavy metal song. The intro as well as the video was pretty enjoyable. Not really thrash or speed metal but too good not to be mentioned and certainly a highlight on this album. But then again, isn’t everything on this album a highlight?
Not really, because two songs are extremely good but as genius as the rest. We’re talking “Lone Justice” and “The Enemy” here. Lone justice fall short in terms of impressive riffs or memorable vocal lines and is a song that was probably written in their Fistful Of Metal days since it’s still a bit mainstream metal. But hey, it’s a good song! “The Enemy” is slightly heavier and has its catchy moments.
The best heavy pounding song here is “Medusa”, based around a fairly simple main riff in F# and E this song is eerie, anthemic and has a very strong chorus. The song picks up some speed on the “Seize, appease, deceive, die” section.
Leaves us with “Armed and Dangerous” which was released earlier on an EP. This song mixes slightly Maiden-inspired epic tendencies with speed metal and is a very dynamic and diverse song with some of the best riffs on the album. This song and “A.I.R.” truly are the compositional masterpieces of the album.
The new boys Frank and Joey are more than decent. A lot more actually. Frank Bello has his own type of playing and apart from keeping the rhythm extremely well he plays enough fills and licks to stand out. Joey sings more melodic than his predecessor Neil Turbin but he does not fail to deliver on the faster more aggressive songs. His vocal style proved to be the finishing touch to the music and with him singing the songs the earlier shortcomings of Neil Turbin become really obvious.
The perfect balance between Dan Spitz and Scott Ian on guitars is remarkable. Scott plays his rhythm parts with ease and extremely tight. This gives Dan Spitz more room to excel on leads. His solos at times almost sound neurotic and manic on this album. Just check out “Gung Ho” for instance!
The production was good enough. It was a lot better than Fistful Of Metal and had a lot more power and crunchy guitars. Of course it could have been better but I’ve grown accustomed to this sound over the years and it even has sentimental value.
Not much to complain here then. Even the two lesser interesting songs are still good enough and an important part of the majesty that is called “Spreading the Disease”. So god damn good, so classic.
This might be my personal favorite by Anthrax but it's still hard to say since all of their albums with Joey Belladonna are great. Anyway, I'm gonna try to get me feelings about this masterpiece into this review so you can get a clue about the greatness of this album... So here we go!
The first song I ever heard by Anthrax was "Madhouse" and I had a really hard time to accept Joey Belladonna's voice. Actually, it took me maybe 2-3 years but now I love it and even though "Madhouse" probably is their biggest hit and a real "headbanger's ball" classic, it's still not much of what this album's about. Actually, it doesn't have much at all to tell about this album. There are several tunes that could have been "headbanger's ball" classics. Take "Medusa" for example, it's a great and really catchy tune which happens to be a classic today. It could have been maybe just as big as "Madhouse" and it's not even like that one. Some other classics that also could have made it big are "A.I.R.", "Armed And Dangerous" and "Gung-Ho". "Armed And Dangerous" is maybe the best tune on this album. It has everything. Great acoustic opening with some whisteling before the vocals and drums comes in and it's so beautiful that I almost want to cry. It then explodes into a thrash metal masterpiece, just awesome and so are the most of the album.
The production is weird. I love the guitar sound but then somehow I feel like everything sounds like it was recorded from an old radio and put on vinyl. It's like I'm having a hate / love relationship to the production. I like it but at the same time I think it's sounds like I playing it through a bad radio. I still have to admit that the production is pretty cheap but still awesome. It's just the way it is. Another great thing here is that all the instruments are balanced unlike "Fistful Of Metal" where the drums and the bass was pretty much dominating through the whole album.
The cast is doing a great job. I thought Charlie Benante was fabulous on "Fistful Of Metal" but here he's even more experienced and better. Blowing fast and great as hell on the drums. Scott Ian and Dan Spitz are both doing a great job with the rhythm guitar parts and there are some really nice guitar solos by Dan aswell. Frank Bello don't really need any further description, he's one of the best bassists of all time, there's no doubt about that. Joey Belladonna is as usual fantastic and I can't understand why I didn't like his singing before...
So what's my final comments on this masterpiece. Well, it truly is a masterpiece. It might be Anthrax' best or at least it's splitting the 1st place with some of the other albums. Every track is a classic somehow and I recommend "Madhouse", "Medusa", "Armed And Dangerous" and "A.I.R.". It's probably the best tracks on here.
So right now I think you should check out this album if you haven't. Enjoy "Spreading The Decease".
Anthrax represents a sort of “road not taken” in the thrash metal genre, as they are considered the least influential of the founding fathers of the genre that made playing faster than one thought possible a staple of greatness. While Slayer was obsessed with evil and aggression, MegaDeth with writing songs too complex to be easily ripped off, and Metallica with wowing the masses with their slick production work; Anthrax elected to stick the closest to the NWOBHM side of the thrash coin and consequently came off as a bit more conservative.
One of the reasons why so many disown the 80s era of Anthrax is because it doesn’t conform to the stereotypical thrash sound of ugly as hell vocals, overbearing pentatonic shred solos that can not be recalled after hearing (MegaDeth is an exception in this department as well), and cramming 9 or 10 riffs into a song with long ass interludes and instrumental breaks. Charlie Banante can go an hour straight at the double bass pedal with the best of them, but is equally adept at playing a nice simple 4/4 rock beat, and makes that quasi-punk snare sound sing like few others can. Dan Spitz’s solos are well conceived and sing as well as shred; Kirk Hammet could definitely learn a thing or two from his approach.
The big minus in the eyes of most from the 80s era is Joey Belladonna, who’s voice is more indicative of early power metal vocalists like John Arch and Harry Conklin than the ugly barks of Tom Araya or James Hetfield. Say what you will about Belladonna’s quasi-glam 80s image, the guy sings his ass off and rivals many of the early 80s NWOBHM singers. I challenge Araya or any of the other so-called true thrash vocalists to hit the high note during the chorus of “Medusa” and have it sound remotely as somber and neurotic as it sounds on here. Although I’m a pretty avid fan of Neil Turbin as a singer, as far as Anthrax goes, I’d say Belladonna takes the lead for top vocalist in this outfit.
“Spreading the Disease” is the best representation I’ve heard of the eclectic musical direction that the mid-80s exhibited. You get some pretty solid speed/thrash in the classic album opener “A.I.R”, which is still a favorite amongst fans, as well as the post-apocalyptic politically charged cooker “Aftershock”, a song that is as fast and intricate as anything Metallica did during their better days. “The Enemy” is a solid upper mid-tempo melodic rocker that has a slight Manowar tinge to it. Spitz’s lead work on this one, as well as the crazy ass intro to “Stand or Fall” (after the mid-east sounding stuff) are particularly exceptional. The NWOBHM inspired homage to Clint Eastwood “Lone Justice” is a nice lyrical change of pace from the politically charged stuff that dominates much of this release.
“Armed and Dangerous” has a beautifully serene acoustic intro, followed by a fast swinging riff fest and mostly listens like something Accept or Judas Priest might have come up with at around the same time. Likewise, “Madhouse” has some strong Iron Maiden influences at play, although it’s a little bit faster than the bulk of their work. “Medusa” gets my pick for the most memorable song on here as well as the best vocal performance out of Belladonna. I defy anyone to listen to this song once and then tell me that they haven’t got that catchy as hell main riff stuck in their head. The album’s closer “Gung Ho” was a co-write with Neil Turbin that is a better produced version of what the all speed no compromise sound heard on “Fistful of Metal”. That funny as hell ending with the military theme in the lead guitar cracks me up every time.
Despite being released in a year where such amazing releases as Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”, Maiden’s “Powerslave”, Dio’s “Sacred Heart” and Accept’s “Metal Heart”; I’d argue this is the best album of 1985. It embodies all of the best elements of power, thrash and NWOBHM in one compact 44 minute package. If you want a taste of the real Anthrax, the one before all the extra punk influences, grunge, and then rapped/groove metalcore crap started worming its way into their sound, this is definitely the first one to look for. Most would point to “Among the Living” as a better thrash release, and from a purely thrash point of view that opinion is correct, but there is more to life than thrash alone, and “Spreading the Disease” has it all.
Warning: do not drive while listening to this album, it might cause you to crash. I meant that in a good way i guess.
It took me a while to get into Anthrax. Out of the "big four" I always found them the weakest of the group. Man was wrong, not only did I overlook a great band but I overlooked THIS masterpiece of an album! Anthrax's debut album was recorded with Neil Turbin and after he was fired Joey Belladonna was recruited. Anthrax was one of the few Thrash metal bands in the 80's who had a vocalist that could actually sing instead of hoarsely spitting or growling out lyrics. While "Among the Living" might be their most popular and "Persistance of Time" their Thrashiest album,Spreading the Disease is the Magnus Opus of Anthrax and you can not deny that this is a classic
thrash album at its best. Joey Belladonna is at the top of his game here and his vocals fit great with the music (unlike john bush in "THe Greater of Two
The production of this album is great, pefect vocals, catchy choruses and great riffs to headbang to. What's great is that you can actually hear the
bass on this album and Franky manages to keep it interesting too. Don't get me started on Charlie's drumming...he is a beast!!! Even today people cannot
match this guy's instense drumming. Scotty is able to keep up with Charlies insane drummer because of his thrasy riffs and while his guitar partner Danny
(pun intended) Spitz out leads that are able to melt peoples faces.
The album starts out with "A.I.R." which starts off kind of slow until Charlie kicks in and you know you're going for one hell of a ride.
After getting kicked in the ass the gallopping "Lone Justice" comes afterwards which slows down a bit but, that doesn't mean that's a bad thing. It's probably one my favorite songs because it's so catchy.
Then comes the albums single "Madhouse", and by no means does it mean this song is going to suck. After the sinister laugh all hell breaks loose and you just want to jump out of your window.
"Stand or Fall" comes up next and starts off with a nice eastern influenced guitar intro but then goes into full throttle thrash. Joey destroys in this song, he just sounds pissed off but he is so great, especially when he does the high pitched yell when the choruses end.
Next is "The Enemy" which is probably the slowest song in the entire album but, that doesn't mean it sucks, it's quite catchy with hooky choruses and the lead part is awsome!
Oh look another favorite just came up and it's "Aftershock". The song immeadiately captures you with the cool drumming intro and then scott ian goes crazy playing fast ass thrash riffs. The chorus of this song is very catchy causing you to headbang while singing along which really isn't very safe especially while driving hence the warning in the beginning.
"Armed and Dangerous" is next and starts off slow with a nice little intro with Joey singing alongside but then goes into thrash mode, the chorus is fun as hell too.
"Medusa" comes up and it's not exactly thrash heavy but more groove metal in my opinion but nonetheless is very catchy and it gives me chills everytime I hear the chorus "Medusaaa!!!!", it's just great!!
Last but not least is "Gung-Ho", and wow what a kick in the face. Probably the fasest song in the album or the whole Anthrax discography. Charlie goes fucking psycho on the drums and Scotty right beside him keeping up with him. This song just kicks major ass and the chorus .....well what can I say besides its catchy as hell. The ending is very funny with the guys playing some revolutionary chant and then making some wierd ass noises, great ending to an awsome album.
If you like thrash or heavy metal i'm telling you're missing out if you do not have or listened this album. An album every metalhead must have listened to
atleast once.....no make that twice. While not as extreme as other thrash bands like Vio-lece, Kreator, or Razor it is still classic thrash and must not be looked aside. Cheers to Anthrax for making such a kick ass album. I don't give albums 100% because no album is perfect so 95% will do!
As much as I love the carefree wailing of Neil Turbin, it was Anthrax’s decision to fire him and recruit Joey Belladonna that resulted in their best material. Spreading the Disease is one of the finest examples of melodic thrash metal in any book, and just because it’s not as heavy, fast, or as unrelenting as what would follow it (Among the Living, for instance), doesn’t mean it’s chump change either.
“A.I.R.” starts this album out fantastically and serves as an archetype for the remaining songs. The riffage is mighty, the drumming is fierce, and Belladonna has got to be heard to be believed. His melodic singing, along with Anthrax’s generally upbeat rhythm guitar, tends to get them written off as less thrash and more power metal, but a quick listen to this song quickly wipes away any such allegations. This album is all riffs all the time, up until the final seconds of the explosive “Gung-ho,” which would’ve fit on Among the Living quite nicely. The only breather here is “Armed and Dangerous,” which opens with a fantastic clean passage, with Joey interpreting the vocals as Halford might have done it, before transitioning into a much heavier norm. His finest moment, however, is the soaring lyrics over the mid-paced riffing of “Medusa,” another legendary tune from this album. Overall, not a single song that sucks or is out of place, with quite a few that would be requirements for making a greatest hits album. Sure, some of this is mid-paced and a bit too upbeat for fans of darker thrash metal, but what it lacks in brutality it makes up for in heaps of catchiness and classic riffing.
The band is also at their best as far as instrumental prowess is concerned. The Ian/Spitz rhythm tagteam produces nary a poor riff, expertly complemented by Charlie Benante’s increasingly powerful drumming. Danny Lilker is a good bass player, but Frank Bello kicks his ass here, interweaving some memorable lines amidst the guitar madness. Guitar solos are nice as well.
Hmm… there’s not much more to say about this one. It’s just a prime example of Anthrax’s powerhouse songwriting and catchy riffery. So get it, it’s great!
Anthrax, one of the "big four" bands of American Thrash. Like each one of the big four, Anthrax had their moments. Obviously, from the score given to this album, you can tell that this was their best work and the band's pinnacle album.
Starting with the band, Joey Belladonna (Vocals) is in top form as he puts on a great performance. Some of his notes are insane and even his lower voice is good.
Scott Ian (Guitar), one of the masterminds behind the songwriting on this album, delivers punishing thrash riffs on songs like A.I.R., Gung-Ho, and Medusa, and a few galloping rhythms a-la Maiden (Lone Justice). He even plays a few (crappy) solos every now and then.
Charlie Benante (Drums), the other mastermind of Anthrax, puts on a tight performance with lots of snare bashing beats that fit well with the music.
Frank Bello (Bass) tends to throw in cool bass licks under the pounding rhythm in some songs (like the chorus in A.I.R).
Dan Spitz's (Guitar) performance seems kind of limited but still adds some cool solos to the songs.
The production is clear, all the instruments can be heard even though sometimes Charlie's snare seems to muffle the sound a bit.
The songs here are very well written, lots of variety. The highlights are A.I.R., nice catchy chorus and an insane thrash riff under the rapping part :). Madhouse, which is thrashier than A.I.R. is also pretty good. S.S.C. is a little useless interlude where Dan shows off some of his noodling, but right after it is another simple but effective song, Stand Or Fall.
The Enemy kicks the album into high gear with some cool lyrics about Hitler and the Reich and an amazing vocal performance by Joey, especially in the verses and at the end where the song speeds up. Armed and Dangerous starts off kind of balladic but ends up to be a thrash monster, and finally Medusa is also a great song, nice opening riff and chorus and lots of cheese in the lyrics.
However, the best song on the album is the song with the least thrash parts. Yep, Lone Justice is an amazing speed/power metal song with great lyrics and great vocals, not a lot of heaviness in the riffs, but still a great song.
The reason this album didn't get a 99% rating is because of Aftershock and Gung-Ho. The songs are good straight-forward thrashers but come a bit short when compared to the rest of the tracks.
Bottom line: Anthrax's best album is a must-have especially for Speed, Thrash, Heavy, and Power Metal fans.
Well, now that the "classic" Anthrax lineup has reunited, I thought I'd go back to the very first album that they put out. Well, actually, it didn't quite happen that way. I had no clue that the lineup from Spreading the Disease was back; I just happened to see it for 8 bucks when I bought the new Napalm Death album, and figured, hey, why not?
Most people see this record as the band's best work, and it's easy to see why. It's a solid effort from start to finish, and there isn't a single song on here that stands out as being particularly bad. Compare this to one of their lesser albums, say, State of Euphoria, which came out three years later. Only one song, Antisocial, stands out as being particularly good. I would agree that Spreading the Disease is the band's strongest album.
While Anthrax were widely known as one of the Four Horsemen of Thrash, (albeit, with the passing of time, they've become the lesser known of the four) this album isn't really thrash, per say. It's definitely speed metal, but it sounds a lot more like Judas Priest than Megadeth or Slayer. This is largely due to the fact that Joey Belladonna has Halford-like range, and can really wail, something that isn't seen amongst too many thrash vocalists. The dual guitar attack of Scott Ian and Dan Spitz is also reminiscent of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton at times. The one major difference between Anthrax on this record and Judas Priest is the prominence of the rythym section; Charlie Benante's drumming is great on Spreading The Disease. (Quick, name me one Judas Priest drummer...)
This record included three of the band's big hits; the opener, A.I.R., third track Madhouse, (which would later be the name of a greatest hits package released on Island) and seventh track Armed and Dangerous. While these tracks were obviously great, the other six were far from being fillers.
Second track Lone Justice is very reminiscent of Priest, from the lightning fast riffing down to Belladonna's wails. Fourth track S.S.C./Stand or Fall starts off with what sounds like Indian instruments, and has a catchy, shout 'em out chorus. Fifth track The Enemy may be the most mainstream oriented track on the record, as it's a bit softer than the rest, but it's also a pretty catchy song.
The aformentioned Armed and Dangerous is sandwiched between two great thrashers, Aftershock and Medusa, although Medusa's lyrics (about the mythological creature, naturally) are my least favourite of the songs on here. That kinda stuff does nothing for me, personally...
The album ends with Gung Ho, which is a great album closer. I like how it stops for a bit, then has the guitar playing some patriotic theme over military drumming, before ending with a buncha people screaming.
All in all, Spreading The Disease makes for an enjoyable listen. While the band definitely wears their Judas Priest influence on their sleeves, what they lacked in originality on this record, they more than made up for in catchiness and musical ability. Considering how their music took a turn for the worse when they started experimenting, (don't even get me started on the popularity I'm The Man!) perhaps it woulda been better if they just kept it simple...
After hearing some of the later albums by Anthrax, I was a bit skeptical when it came to giving this album a listen. I was never a huge Anthrax fan, mostly because of the vocals on some of the albums that I have listened to. This album changed my whole view of the band, proving thus again, that when it comes to being introduced to a band it is usually wise to start towards the beginning of their careers.
The first three songs of the album are mediocre, as compared to the rest of the album, with “Madhouse” being the best. The next three are better, but “The Enemy” was practically a filler in my opinion. It could almost pass of as a Power Metal or Traditional Metal song in the vein of Armored Saint. “Aftershock” and “S.S.C./Stand Or Fall” are the thrashier songs on the album, the latter being the better track, both in composition and overall structure.
This album is truly great, mainly due to a bit of a NWOBHM influence in the songwriting and sound of some of the songs. One instance of this is the song “Medusa”, which is also one of the highlights of the album. The first time I heard it, I could have swore I was listening to Grim Reaper. Sort of reminded me of “Night of the Vampire” for some reason. Although “Medusa” is thrashier, it does have a heavy metal sound to it. If Anthrax continued with this sound throughout their career they would have easily been one of my more listened bands. Along with “Armed and Dangerous” and “Gung-Ho,” the last three songs are what the album should have sounded like.
Although I have no actual problems with this album, I would have enjoyed it much more if it had more thrash. More songs like “Gung-Ho” would have been nice, along with a “Medusa” here and there. The overall mood of this album is satisfying, as it gets better the more you progress into the album. In the end I was satisfied, but if you are looking for thrash do not come here, but pick up a Kreator or Sodom album instead. If you are looking for a great metal album or if you want to introduce yourself or someone else to Anthrax this album will surely suffice.
Anthrax had burst onto the scene in 1984 with Fistful Of Metal, quickly establishing themselves at the top of the New York
thrash scene. However, internal conflicts reportedly between bassist Danny Lilker and vocalist Neil Turbin saw to the
departure of Lilker, who later formed Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth and later played the bandslut, lending his services to a whole host of other bands. Not long after, Neil Turbin was also booted out of Anthrax, and would wallow in obscurity for the next 20 years. Recruiting bassist Frank Bello and vocalist Joey Belladonna, they quickly recorded the Armed And Dangerous EP and quickly followed it up with their second effort, Spreading The Disease.
This is the album that cemented their position in the Big Four, and for good reason. This album is well-executed thrash that improves upon its predecessor and as such is one of Anthrax's most popular thrash albums.
Joey Belladonna (vocals) - Belladonna's first appearance with the band, and he wastes no time in becoming an integral part of the band. His voice is melodic. higher-pitched and less aggressive than other thrash vocalists, and was one of the things that made Anthrax unique to other thrash bands.
Scott Ian (a.k.a. Scott Ian Rosenfeld, guitars) - Scott Ian is easily one of the best and tightest rhythm guitarists in the history of thrash metal. Ask no questions, raise no objections. His jackhammer style isn't as prominent as it will be later, but still manages to work in some nice rhythm work in A.I.R. and Gung-Ho, with the rest of his work here is delivered with a suffocating tightness. He contributes a couple of leads here and there on this album, which are Kerry King-style whammy-bar wankery, which unfortunately show his shortcomings as a lead guitarist.
Dan Spitz (guitars) - Dan Spitz locks well into Ian's rhythm. His lead guitar work unfortunately seems very limited, with Spitz seeming to favour the Phyrgian Dominant and Diminished scales heavily. However, this approach lends a Middle-eastern feel to his leads, which is another distinctive aspect to Anthrax's sound. A good representation of his style can be seen in
the small instrumental preceding Stand Or Fall (Suck Some Cock, or S.S.C. for short).
Frank Bello (bass) - Bello doesn't show off much of his capabilities here, preferring to lay down the low end and lock in with his uncle Charlie to provide a tight rhythm section.
Charlie Benante (drums) - Charlie is an absolute BEAST on the kit, using gratuitous double-bass and throwing in deft fills with extreme precision. Although not as crazy as he would get on later albums, he still pulls off and admirable performance.
The production was handled by Carl Canedy and Anthrax, and is an admirable job for 1985. The drum sound is good, with the snare sounding natural (with a slight papery edge) and natural sounding bass drums. The guitar sound is nice and full, and Belladonna's voice is mixed to the front where it should be. The only problem seems that Dan Spitz's lead guitar tone seems a little too thin for my liking.
A.I.R - Wasting no time, Anthrax kick off with A.I.R. (acronym for Adolescence In Red). This features a great performance from all members, in particular Scott Ian's tight riffing, Benante's over-the-top drumming and Belladonna's melodic vocals. This track also boasts a textbook slow break in the middle which would become a trademark of the big three New York thrash
bands (the other two being Overkill and Nuclear Assault). Best song on the disc.
Madhouse - With this track, Anthrax aren't in danger of shooting their load too early by kicking off with A.I.R. A more mid-paced song that is catchy and well-executed. Also features a good performance from Belladonna.
The Enemy - Christ, this one is HEAVY! This one is a slow, bludgeoning and aggressive song about the evil of Adolf Hitler (a recurring topic that Anthrax used earlier in their career, which is not surprising given Scott Ian's heritage). This one speeds up towards the end and gives Belladonna a golden opportunity to go off over the top, an opportunity he uses to great effect.
Medusa - This one is carried by one hell of a catchy riff and will stay in your head for days. Also features some excellent leads from Spitz.
Gung-Ho - Perhaps forshadowing their later efforts, this is the fastest, most aggressive cut on the disc. Exceptionally tight rhythm work from Ian and impressive double-bass from Benante. The silly ending with the small interlude (F-Troop theme?) before the "NOT NOT NOT" chant at the end takes away from it slightly though
S.S.C/Stand Or Fall - This one seems mediocre next to the other songs. It starts off nice, but it doesn't really grab me by the balls like any of the others did.
Even though it was an earlier Anthrax before the more overt thrash tendencies came to light, this is still some really well-executed fun early thrash. No serious thrash fan should be without this CD.
Being the first Anthrax album I owned, I used to play this an awful lot, along with the next album "Among The Living" which I got a short while after. Both those albums were just gradually left to gather dust as many new and interesting bands started to come by me thick and fast. But looking back on them, at first this one and realising it's not an album destined for the title of "got bored by it", as it still very much kicks my ass! It's a good starting point for getting into the band, and a thrash newbie should make this one of his/her early pickups. It's a very fun and lively power flavoured thrash album with plenty of those "mosh" moments! We get treated to that Anthrax crunching rhythm guitar, squealing lead guitar, and the soaring vocals of then new frontman Joey Belladonna, with a perfect singing voice, he'll always be a rather unique figure in thrash. The catchy and energetic songs are a fullproof trap for a potential fan, and even for hardened thrashers as well (but then again it's quite likely they will already own this album!). The songs are pretty standard in the school of thrash songwriting, not meaning to indicate any averageness but as in they are the general standard! A complete defiance of mainstream structures and techniques, but never becoming oversaturated in complexity. Each song is written this way, aside from perhaps the slightly more adventurous "Armed And Dangerous", though each is its own distinct slice of the whole, and when it starts good, it stays good! The fantastic metal feast of "A.I.R." (with that unforgettable bridge riff that still makes me go crazy), the album's "hit" "Madhouse", "The Enemy" and "Armed And Dangerous" could each contend very strongly for my top 10 favourite thrash songs. (Though the start of "Armed And Dangerous" is just a little bit too loud... hehe).
The standard occassionally drops a notch from excellent to very good on "Aftershock", "Medusa" and the fast but slightly faltering "Gung-Ho", though there's nothing on this album that approaches the category of "skippable" or "filler". The songs jump between teenage and social themes, along with military satire with "Armed And Dangerous" and "Gung-Ho", it's kind of usual thrash fare, but in Anthrax's own way.
Many claim "Among The Living" as the best example of the band's work, but "Spreading The Disease" for me is nonetheless an excellent album, and an essential addition to any thrash fan's collection. It won't be forgotten any time soon.
Forget all the rap-core, the big bermuda shorts, and the NOT-man. Before Anthrax started hanging their notoriety on those big hooks, they were a decent, fast power/thrash band who actually had long hair and leather jackets, and Spreading the Disease was probably their finest moment. It was their second album, but the first to feature (at the time) new vocalist Joey Belladonna, who turned in what was undoubtedly his best vocal performance with the band - melodic without getting annoying, and he didn't really overuse the high notes. The band themselves hit a high mark as well - I personally think that they never really achieved the heaviness they had on this album: the slow-groove 'mosh' parts in AIR, the blazing thrashing in Aftershock and Gung-Ho, that heavy-as-fuck opening crunch in Madhouse... This album has LOTS of great moments like that. Scott Ian's heavy-handed rhythm style was at its peak, and Frank Bello's agile bass lines really spiced things up. I've never thought Dan Spitz was that great a lead guitarist, but he was at his least annoying on this album.
Hot spots on the album are Armed and Dangerous (opening with some nice acoustic guitar work and melodic bass lines), Medusa (with it's infectious main riff and great lyrics and vocals), and my personal favorite, Lone Justice. Overall, though, this album is sort of like a snapshot of the state of 'just above underground' thrash metal of the time, and as such quite worth checking out.
(Originally published at LARM (c) 1999)