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Of the so called "big four" of thrash, Anthrax has always seemed to have been the underdog. While they have one of the most distinctive and most immediately recognizable sounds of the whole thrash movement, it can be difficult to pinpoint their niche. Slayer was the fastest, Megadeth was the most technical, and Metallica was the smartest (that's a rant for another day), so where does Anthrax sit? I'd say they're actually the catchiest of the four, but it seems odd that a band whose main talent is hooky writing would be so relatively forgotten in the shadow of the other three behemoths. All this pondering is moot point when one just shuts up and listens to any of the stellar Belladonna era albums though, and 1988's State of Euphoria is no exception.
The riffing style primarily on showcase here is less of the speed and quick palm muting of the previous album and more focused on memorability and weight. The riffs seem to be heavier and feature more of a weighty crush to them this time around. This kind of stomping quality has always been present thanks to Scott Ian, but this is the first time it seems to take center stage, as the three previous albums had either focused on speed or melody. I guess I'm saying there is more riffing ala "Caught in a Mosh" as opposed to "Gung Ho". The production is, thankfully, a huge step up from Among the Living. I spent the majority of my review for that album fanboyishly slurping on Benante's sugary schlong and therefore completely forgot to mention how awful the production was. There, the only the astute listener could properly dissect Bello's bass or Benante's drumwork, while here both are turned up and Charlie's bass drums and toms are as powerful as I could have ever hoped for. This most likely adds to the crunch of the riffs now that the rhythm section actually has some audible balls. The album is on the whole around the same speed as the previous, and could be seen as a logical continuation.
I think the main reason that State of Euphoria is so overlooked in Anthrax's discography is the lack of classics that this record spawned. This is bullshit, but it's the way it happened. Think about it, an Anthrax show wouldn't be complete without "Caught in a Mosh", "Metal Thrashing Mad", "Indians", "A.I.R.", or any other classics from the first three albums. Hell, even the next album gave us "Got the Time" and "Keep it in the Family", but what did this spawn? "Antisocial"... that's it. One song, and a cover at that, seems to be what is recalled in the casual fan's mind when SoE is mentioned. Looking through their live catalog, it also seems to be the only consistent cut from this record. It's a shame that fantastic songs like "Now it's Dark", "Schism", and "Finale" have been so shut out to the likes of newer listeners, because they rank up there with their best. So since there aren't many live staples at work here, the album is thankfully consistently great the whole way through. This should logically help it hold up against Among the Living, but it has instead washed away as the forgotten Belladonna album.
This is just as great as any of the "[blank] of/the [blank]" albums, and is worthy of any Anthrax fan's attention. Despite what others say, this is only a minor step down from the previous album, and shouldn't be as overlooked as it is. There is no logical end to this review, so I shall simply take a small bow.