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1988 was a memorable year for thrash; it reached its greatest popularity. The metal scene was plenty of young bands who tried to emulate the Big 4. The big daddies of the subgenre also reached commercial success but they were determined to modify their patterns instead of repeating themselves. Slayer and Metallica got kinda technical, while Megadeth got punkish. Anthrax’s sound didn’t get dramatically different but Scott and co. started taking their work more seriously. Among The Livingdefinitely made them an icon, followed by a legendary tour, reflecting eventually the achievement of their own style, so they had the responsibility of offering a solid successor whose results were fortunately satisfactory.
It was never intended to be a sequel of its predecessor, although the methodology isn’t really alternative here. “Be All, End All” or “Who Cares Wins” are constructed by Scott & Dan’s consistent riffing, which designs a few necessary distinct sequences and bridges, sometimes reduced to support Joey’s vocals instead but mostly leading the pack. Variations of guitar lines aren’t numerous, only enough to configure convincing structures and obtain continuity. So the execution might not be that complicated, though the humble variety of rhythm changes and instrumental passages reflect certain ambition. Although their schemes are clearly simplified on following numbers as “Make Me Laugh” or “Now It’s Dark”, determined by a repetitive melodic vocal line generally, with instruments in the background following Joey inconspicuously, giving him control during most of the songs with their rather tenuous contribution. Inevitably, their music gets pretty commercial, basically because of the notable melody and numerous verses, even more casual on the popular Trust cover and most of the B-Side. “Schism” and “Misery Loves Company” feature a competent performance and development, lacking the grace and inspiration of the rest on other hand, with Anthrax getting a bit predictable and generic, repeating the traditional formulas strictly, setting limits to their creativity unconsciously. Luckily, the final number breaks the monotony of its predecessors, immaculately arranged if we refer to the professional development of those rough riffs and the lyrical structure, conceiving a much more advanced track that denies the stability of tempos and the uniformity of riffs to obtain bigger musical versatility.
This was a decent prelude to the more technical Persistence Of Time, on which they would develop even further their predilection for lengthier instrumental series and much more elaborated structures. A couple of tunes here have already reached a higher level of complication, though in general the record includes a majority of straight tracks, vocal-based and easily focused. However, some of these loose riffs shouldn’t be ignored, once again they refuse to embrace severe alterations to remain uniform and insistent, technically discreet, but both Scott & Dan make a professional combination, constructing efficiently these cuts’ bases. It seems vocals were firstly conceived on some parts on which they are the main attraction, those lyrics are noticeable as always, still plenty of humor and sarcasm, also introducing serious issues on “Who Cares Wins”, particularly so Anthrax are obtaining maturity and sense on their verses, followed by an instrumental improvement too. Passages are mostly short and direct but their development is better defined and richer. Speed and aggression are no longer their main goal either, some of these rhythms have become weightier (with some exceptions), giving their music certain stability and intensity, making it more accessible. In fact, there are many elements that contribute to make this material more polite than before, starting with the indispensable supremacy of melody, also the insistent choruses’ repetition and that immaculate clean production. The essence of Anthrax’s music has always been commercial but it gets even more in these titles, making them so urban and casual. So it’s not their heavier record, though it lacks no energy or attitude.
State Of Euphoria is unfairly forgotten among these guys rich discography, even though it has some of their most fresh exciting tunes. Maybe it doesn’t have the brilliance and power of its predecessor, yet it is still plenty of fine riffs and delightful melody. By 1988, they already found their distinctive identity and sound, but they had to improve it even more, making it complex and intricate in their own way, something they’d do Persistence Of Time. This release contributed to the evolution of their music, showing no spectacular improvement on other hand. Although it’s scandalous some fans only remember “Antisocial” from this pack, ignoring other cool tracks every greatest hits compilation avoids as well, don’t commit that same mistake.