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On what was hailed as their comeback album, Anthrax return with 'We've Come For You All', featuring new guitarist Rob Caggiano (also a producer), to try and set things straight after what had been a pretty tame 10 years since their last great album, 'Sound of White Noise'.
If you never got the album when it was first released (like me), you instantly look what it was up against from Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth. 'God Hates Us All', 'St Anger' and 'The System Has Failed' are all so different, with only one song between them even approaching thrash, Deth's 'Kick The Chair', I really wondered what the heck Anthrax would come out with in the new millenium. Bearing in mind the band hadn't released anything thrash metal since their peak in 1991 ('Persistence of Time'), and knowing the kind of people who raved about this album (hard rockers, your average John Bush fan), I never gave any thought to actually getting the album. Why bother right? Those three albums above were amongst those band's worst efforts (although Megadeth have released much worse before and since), all I'd be doing is completing the set.
Thankfully, even if there are no elements of thrash to be found on 'We've Come...', it's still an enjoyable listening experience, perhaps Anthrax's best in what must have been a very long 10 years. The music is as simple as ever, basic modern metal with groove elements, but with some great riffs and quite a memorable vocal performance from John Bush. It's hard to pick the best from this lot, because whilst each song is quite similar in quality, there aren't any real standouts either. There is a reasonable amount of variation on here, 'Cadillac Rock Box' is an airheaded and annoyingly feel-good southern rocker (featuring, who else, Dimebag), the 'American Pompeii'-esque 'Think About An End', perhaps the album's most accomplished track, with a second half descending in to Thin Lizzy like guitar attacks, and 'Safe Home' is easily the lamest thing the band has ever tried to get on to the radio, just look out the chorus:
'From out of nowhere you came strong as stone,
and now I never have to be a lone,
What it is I know: you have always been my safe home,
I walk, I run, I burn out in to you: you have always bee my safe home,
My whole world has moved on!'
But at the same time, thanks to a not entirely conventional singer in John Bush, it's not as offensive to your ears as you'd expect. In fact, I have to say I enjoy it. It might make the true-metallers cry foul, but for general music fans like myself, it's a perfectly acceptable single. It's not a perfect song in any way shape or form, and I would never choose to listen to it when faced with any other song on the album, but there's no denying it's a successful venture in to that unfortunate style of music.
There isn't much to rant or rave about guitar wise, beyond a brilliant riff or two (the strange death metal section in 'Black Dahlia', the second half of 'Think About An End'), and not once can I remember hearing the bass guitar do anything special. The most impressive things on 'We've Come For You All' are the vocals and the drumming. John Bush gives 110%, and definately seems to have improved his singing over the years. He basically exists to take this disc to the next level, from an average modern metal album to a collection of memorable anthems. Admittedly, they aren't strong enough to replace any of the real classics (your 'Caught In A Mosh', or your 'A.I.R.') in the setlist (no matter what the band thinks), but this is purely the fault of Scott and Charlie for writing such unadorned music in the first place. Bush just adds a special extra layer. On the other hand, and what I find most ironic, Charlie's drumming is practically without fault. Between the hyperbeats of 'What Doesn't Die' and 'Nobody Knows Anything' we're given a solid performance, with the odd fill here and there adding some much needed flavour.
My only real complaints are that the guitar tone doesn't hit hard enough on songs like 'What Doesn't Die', not doing the riffwork any favours, and generally being a too muddy for my tastes. 'Contact' and 'Crash' are worthless 'atmospheric' filler that I feel could easily have been left out and, along with the title track (arguably the least exciting track on the album) and one of the many interchangeable tracks on 'We've Come...' (pick your own), drag out this album far too long. The band's accessibility just can't stay interesting for 12 tracks (discounting 'Contact' and 'Crash'), and as much as appreciate most of the songs, I wouldn't care if I never heard them again.
All in all, there's not a bad or unenjoyable song on 'We've Come For You All', although the title track is a terribly flat way to end the album. Whilst it never quite lives up to 'Sound...' - the crowning moment in Bush era Anthrax - 'We've Come For You All' is a nice attempt at trying to claw back some attention for themselves from metal and rock fans. Not that it really did.