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Commercial? I don't hear it - 82%

radiohater, December 30th, 2003

Anthrax were riding high after the release of 1987's Among The Living. That album had cemented the band's position in the top thrash elite, and made them into one of the most popular metal acts of the era. However, internal strife started to plague the band, which led to the departure of vocalist Joey Belladonna (or was it before Persistence Of Time? I forget). However, they eventually accepted Belladonna back into the fold, and retreated to the studio
to record their 1988 followup, State Of Euphoria.

This one is seen as the weakest of the Belladonna era, with detractors attacking it for being light/fluffy/commercial. I can't really see their argument, as it doesn't seem all that different to their earlier work. Aside from Antisocial (which was a cover anyway) and some parts of Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind, this album doesn't seem too different from their earlier works, and certain songs could even have fitted cohesively into Spreading The Disease. Anthrax's brand of sarcastic humour is evident on tracks like Make Me Laugh, while tracks such as Who Cares Wins, Schism and Finale are some of the angriest tracks they'd written to date.

The Cast

Joey Belladonna (vocals) - Joey's vocals have improved from the previous release. He seems to stick to his lower register, not trying to overextend his range. He also seems to have injected a fire into his vocal style that wasn't there previously, with his work on tracks such as Schism and Finale carrying a raw aggressiveness.

Scott Ian (a.k.a. Scott Ian Rosenfeld, guitars) - Scott Ian's trademark precision riffing is present here. His lethal downpick is in full effect here, and his rhythm work sounds more aggressive than usual.

Dan Spitz (guitars) - Dan has refined his leadwork, taking a more melodic and less frenetic approach to his soloing, basing the majority of his leads around simple melodies. The result is more memorable leadwork. The Middle-eastern feel to his soloing is less overt here.

Frank Bello (bass) - Frank's form continues from the last album, although there's less licks here and there. He does provide a nice pulse under the guitars that fits in nice with them and Charlie Benante. The only time he truly shows off his bass work is on the rather pointless 13.

Charlie Benante (drums) - Charlie Benante's work here is vintage Charlie Benante. The work here shows his improving use of double-bass and increasing amount of crazy fills which will culminate on their next release.

Production was handled by Mark Dodson, and he does an admirable job. The guitars sound nice and full, and Spitz's lead tone has become fuller with a hint of echo in areas. The drums are mixed nicely, although the bass drums seem to be a little too high in the mix. Belladonna is mixed to the front where he should be.

Choice Cuts

Be All, End All - Starting off with a cello intro, Be All, End All begins with a mid-tempo riff, then with thrash breaks in the verses which is kinda different from the norm. This features an excellent vocal performance from Belladonna, and a textbook middle break that Anthrax is known for.

Make Me Laugh - This is one of the songs where Anthrax's trademark sarcastic humour is present in the form of an attack against TV evangelism. This features a catchy-as-hell verse (which apparently Joey could never sing properly) and another slow-section in the middle reprising the theme in the beginning of the song.

Who Cares Wins - This one starts off with a semi-clean Middle-eastern sounding intro, this morphs into an intense piece of New York thrash with plenty of time changes, intense vocals, and a lengthy and well-executed lead in the middle. This one finishes in a rather chaotic fashion as well amid a torrent of double-bass and whammy bar wankery.

Schism - Perhaps tied with Who Cares Wins as the most intense cut on the disc, this one starts out with a more rock feel with some intense speed-picking in the pre-chorus. Also features an intense performance from Belladonna and a vicious solo section featuring a nice melodic lead.

Finale - An intense closing cut which reprises the trademark Anthrax humour, this one about a man dominated by his wife. Of particular note is the final riff set in the song, which is laid down with some of the most forceful playing on the disc, gradually speeding up and showing off Benante's incredible drumming prowess.

Off Cuts

13 - Although it does show off some of Frank Bello's chops, this track ultimately is pure filler and serves no real purpose on this album.

Raw Sewage

Contrary to popular belief, there's really nothing here that really stands out as being pure shit.

Closing Comments

I don't really see why this album is so maligned, as it doesn't really seem sufficiently different from their previous works. Do not pass up the opportunity to check this one out, you could be pleasantly surprised.