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Not on par with Penikufesin but still entertaining - 80%

morbert, November 27th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, 10" vinyl, Nuclear Blast (Coloured Vinyl)

We, Anthrax fans, all know the long story behind the Worship Music album. The album which was finally released without Dan Nelson (thank god!) and without John Bush (I’m sure he would’ve sounded great on at least half the songs) but with the returning Joey Belladonna!

To emphasize the sheer pleasure Anthrax are having to be working again with Joey, there is this little EP to make it all the more obvious to the fans. We have a song from Scott’s favorites AC-DC but also a moment for Charlie to shine on a Rush cover. But to be honest, all the songs on Anthems in the first place show how diverse Joey can actually sing. He is the biggest revelation here. He makes all these songs work. He can do Bon Scott AND Geddy Lee. So what is YOUR argument for not liking Joey Belladonna?

'Anthems' is an EP from an eighties metal band sounding like a seventies rock group. The band sticks to the originals. They don’t make these songs sound too heavy or too metal. What we hear is a band covering songs by trying to come as close as they can to the original. Even ‘Smokin’ features a really superb keyboard solo. I am NOT going to describe all songs here. Saying the band chose to stay close to the originals and Joey performing better than ever should be enough for you to get a general idea. However since this is Anthrax and we all know their Penikufesin EP and the many covers they have played on their albums, b-sides and live, we are used to something heavier (remember their version of Twisted Sister’s ‘Destroyer’?) but that should not put you off. This EP is a fun little addition to an Anthrax collection for anyone.

I’ve also heard this EP was initially a vessel to promote their song ‘Crawl’ from the Worship album but honestly that song is the only one that feels out of place. Sorry to say it also is one of my least favorite songs they ever recorded with Joey. A rather cheesy grungy song which also was one of the worst songs on Worship Music. Their ballad-ish songs can't all be Black Lodges or Safe Homes of course. (I LOVE those two by the way)

The only downside, apart from ‘Crawl’, coming from this EP is not even (on) the EP itself but is its apparent consequence in general. Anthrax quite often fill their live set with many covers. I am starting to find it rather dull hearing them play Got The Time and Antisocial over and over again and this little EP, even though it’s excellent, has led Anthrax to also put TNT in their set. When I go out to watch a classic Big4 band that only has a set of 45 minutes, I expect to hear as many of their own classic originals as possible put within that limited amount of time with maybe, possibly, one cover if they feel like it. But not three…If they enjoy playing covers so much, maybe a hobby band under a different name would be a good idea. ‘The entire population of Hackney’ might be a good name. No, wait…I meant ‘Basket full of Puppies’.

They only covered mainstream bands - 73%

kluseba, May 25th, 2014

Less than two years after their diversified party album “Worship Music”, the sympathetic American East Coast thrash metal institution Anthrax comes along with a new fun ride in form of the EP “Anthems”. This release includes six cover songs plus a song from the last album in form of the modern and slightly alternative rock or grunge influenced “Crawl”. This song also comes along in an alternative version that has already been included on the Japanese version of the last full length release and that surprises with more experimental orchestral parts. The remix happens to be as great as or even more interesting than the original which doesn’t happen so often.

Concerning the cover songs, Anthrax chose six classic tracks from quite well known Western hard rock bands. Even though the songs are well done, I miss a few experimental choices and a truly courageous cover of the six well known tracks. Another mellow version of AC/DC’s “TNT” simply wasn’t necessary for me for example. Honestly said I even prefer Puddle Of Mudd's version of that song.

On the other side, the challenging Rush classic “Anthem” was covered in a great way and is almost on the same level as the progressive original version. This is by far the best song on this EP. It didn’t only give this release its name but opens the record with a lot of positive energy.

The new versions stick all very close to the originals and don’t really have their own note. Thanks to a good production, a solid instrumental work and last but not least a very convincing job by singer Joey Belladonna, the songs though still work well enough.

Faithful Anthrax fans should get this EP if it’s offered at a low price. Add to this that the simplistic but very fitting vintage cover art is also very appealing for collectors in my opinion. There are six different versions of it, so you can really waste your money on that. Those who usually listen to hard rock and don't like heavy metal, should also give this record a try because Aanthrax indeed delivers some energizing hard rock music on here without making it sounding all too metal orientated. The cover songs are also be included on a new edition of “Worship Music”. The metal fans in the world who haven’t bought this vivid record yet have one more big reason to do so by now. Anybody else could though also skip this release as it’s just an entertaining gimmick but far from being outstanding. Let's hope that this band soon comes around with some new material after this swansong by Rob Caggiano who left the band after the recording session and finally joined Volbeat.

Originally written for The Metal Observer