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Decent above average music that doesn't sink - 76%

Face_your_fear_79, March 8th, 2018

For All Kings is the second new studio album from Anthrax since re-uniting with singer Joey Belladonna. The last album, Worship Music, was written with a different vocalist in mind and Belladonna had to come in and work around the songs that weren't written for his voice and style. However, he did a great job and the album was very good so it was with much anticipation we all waited for For All Kings. This was the album written with and for Belladonna and come a long five years after Worship Music. The question is, can this album surpass Worship Music, or for that matter can it live up to their legendary past catalog? For the most part For All Kings follows in the footsteps of Worship Music. The album is heavy but melodic and built around Charlie Benante and Scott Ian’s melodic and thick riffing driven by Benante’s inspiring drumming. After a quick intro, You Gotta Believe rips through the speakers with a classic sounding Anthrax riff that could have been taken right from their classic 80's catalog. The song is fast and furious, which is not the norm for the album. For the most part the band avoids the speed of thrash metal and keeps things more mid-paced. However, there are exceptions such as Evil Twin and the closing song Zero Tolerance where Anthrax revisits the speed and aggression that made them one of the Big 4 back in the early 80's. These three tracks are three of my favorites on the album and should please any longtime Anthrax fan.

With above average songs like Breathing Lightning the band shows off their more accessible side, not unlike the hooky The Devil You Know on Worship Music. Likewise Monster At The End and Suzerain contain solid hooks and remind me of the John Bush-era of the band. Perhaps one of the best tracks on the album is buried at the end of the album. The Battle Chose Us is a driving song with a big groove and monstrous, head-banging vibe and memorable chorus. However, what really makes the song one of the best is the last half of the song which is a smattering of the glorious thrash metal of the past with Benante’s controlled chaotic drumming driving the song without forsaking the melody. Vocalist Joey Belladonna is back and his clean mid-range vocals fit the material ever so perfectly. He's not forcing out the high notes as he once did, but his voice is strong and aggressive. New lead guitarist Jon Donais of Shadows Fall fame replaces longtime guitarist Rob Caggiano. His leads throughout the record blend seamlessly with the songs.

Overall Anthrax captures the same blend of melodic heavy metal and thrash metal leanings that were present on Worship Music. No, nothing they do now will be able to overtake the raw, youthful energy of their early catalog or even Worship Music for that matter. The nostalgia most fans hold alone would never allow it. However, they deliver a diverse selection of songs that is easily one of the best in years.

Melodic Thrash Kings - 95%

Rhinosaurus, December 9th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

Just before I get into my review, I just want note that I've never been a life long fan of Anthrax. I'm not even familiar with their back catalog, so they are really new to me. I think that historically, it's because the first time I heard them, which was in the mid nineties, they sounded like a rap-metal fusion band, which I seriously didn't like, and it deterred me for two decades. This time around, I heard the single, 'Evil Twin', and I thought that it sounded really good, so naturally, I gave the album a try, and it's been worth it.

This is a really good album, with some really good songwriting, good guitar parts, excellent vocals, and a top level production. There's a strong variation of song types, and a couple of good instrumentals, which add atmosphere. The lead protagonist, Scott Ian, sounds like a bit of a riff master, because the first song, 'You Gotta Believe', is carried by some really good, energetic riffs, and there's a really cool mid section interlude, which helps the song build-up nicely into it's finale. The riffs continue to come throughout the album with, 'For All Kings', 'Suzerain' and also, 'Evil Twin', which makes me wonder if this is all new, or are they drawing inspiration from their heyday.

If melody was a part of Anthrax's past, then this album uses just the right amount. They never seem to overdo it, so this is a well balanced blend of styles. The balance is just right on songs such as, 'Breathing Light', and my personal favourite, 'Blood Eagle Wings', which is a colossal blend of melodic thrash. This one needs to be singled out for special mention, because it's the epic centrepiece of the album. Maybe a modern-day 'classic' and comparable with some of Anthrax's earlier stand out songs, none of which I can mention, because I have no reference. Also, the guitar soloing/harmonies compliment the emotions of the outstanding lyrical content. And, when called upon, lead guitarist, Jonathan Donais, can deliver lightning fast solos, hence, the latter part of 'You Gotta Believe', as well as songs such as, 'Evil Twin', and 'All of Them Thieves'.

And, that's another thing I want to add about this album; latter songs such as, 'All of Them Thieves', are strong enough to keep me engaged. I can't think of a single bad song, and none of them drag on for too long. Granted, not all of them are a 10/10, however, none of them drop below a 7. And, the lyrics follow a very personal, social and political theme, which all sounds very authentic. Lead singer, Joey Beladonna, delivers these lyrics in a very distinct and different way to some of his peers within the thrash metal scene. Dare I say it, but he actually sounds like a real singer, rather than someone who had to step up because there was no one else suitable or available. Here, his vocals perfectly compliment the fast thrash, as well as the melodic parts, and during the heavier moments, he can go heavier himself.

As I mentioned, the album doesn't have a bad song, although it could be argued that the first half of this is just a little stronger, but still, closing songs, 'This Battle Chose Us', has some really good vocals, and, 'Zero Tolerance', is a really good short sharp pounding thrash number, which convinced me to play back the entire album for a second time. I imagine that the mix makes all of the difference as well. Every aspect of the recording to the final mix sounds well balanced. The guitars, bass, and drums, are all working together to produce this really enthusiastic and energetic sound.

Overall, this album is a great blend of melody, heavy thrash, and songs with relevant lyrics. Scott Ian's riffing is distinctive and aggressive throughout, while Jonathan Donais' lead work plays well along side him. A mention should also go to drummer, Charlie Benante, who's blend of aggression, coupled with great technical skills, enhances the energy in every song. If this is so highly regarded, then it must say a lot for them during their heyday, and I wonder where this stands in their discography. This year has seen some excellent releases from thrash metal giants Megadeth and Testament, though, in terms of 'melodic thrash', Anthrax are the 'kings'.

The kings have delivered royally - 96%

slayrrr666, September 21st, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

Following the years of tribulations together, New York thrash legends Anthrax have soldiered on despite the constant line-up shuffling and uncertainty to come back recharged, refocused and more intent on providing the type of thrashing material from their heyday. Coming back together with Megaforce Records once again, the groups’ eleventh full-length of original material and first with new guitarist Jonathan Donais was originally released February 26, 2016 after a five-year gap between releases.

Being around for as long as they have, this here is pretty similar to what’s been apart of their sound for the majority of their career which focuses on the tight, melodic twin guitar-based thrashing that’s featured here. The riffing is highly melodic and makes for quite a rousing series of high-energy riffing that’s quite heavy while also bringing along plenty of melodic harmonies in the vocals as well as the strong leads throughout here create a strong sense of surging melody that compliments the varied heavier riffing throughout here. That comes from a selection of pieces that range from hard rock-inspired numbers mixed with some mid-tempo groove to their traditional stomp-style thrashing that raises the energy considerably and even drops the energy level down into a more slower-paced crawl with the addition of ballad-esque numbers that occur here which are also quite evenly mixed into the album as a whole. This is quite a dramatic variety that delivers on a dynamic level quite readily with this one having such a varied yet still contained feel and tone that carries throughout the album as a proper whole which makes for a highly-appealing time here that offers up enough sections from each part of their career that it readily allows for anyone to get into it. The only real breaking point is the ballad which some would claim might not really belong on the album but for the most part it’s still a great listen on the whole.

With plenty of variety to get any fan of any point of their career covered which makes this one of their brightest and most enjoyable releases in their vast catalog and ranks as one of the better releases of the year which makes this an easy choice for fans of the band’s more recent output or the group in general as well as the old-school thrash scene overall.

You Always Have The Chance to Do The Right Thing - 87%

Twisted_Psychology, May 30th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

Joey Belladonna's return and the subsequent release of Worship Music in 2011 put Anthrax in a pretty good place, but it seems like they didn't keep a high momentum going for long. Releasing the Anthems cover EP and switching lead guitarists may have spiced things up but they didn't exactly strike while the iron was hot. Fortunately For All Kings comes through as a solid addition to the band's discography, even if it took its sweet time getting here.

In the grand tradition of The Last In Line and Defenders Of The Faith, For All Kings feels like an extension of Worship Music and features many of the same elements. The style still compromises the melodic thrash of the classic era with the grunge metal outlook of the band's stint with John Bush. The production also leans in favor of the rather chunky guitar tone but it is Belladonna's persisting vocal talents that continue to lead the charge. They even kept a couple orchestral interludes around though they may actually be more properly composed this time.

Speaking of which, the vocal hooks in particular keep this album from feeling like a tired retread. While songs like "The Devil You Know" and "The Giant" had plenty of infectious choruses, there seems to be an even greater emphasis on catchiness here. Despite seeming like an odd single choice before the album's release, "Breathing Lightning" is a strong example of this as the catchy as hell vocal line works well with the more rock approach. In addition, songs like "Monster At The End" and "Defend/Avenge" are guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days while the vocal layering on "Blood Eagle Wings" makes the near eight minute long track even more inspiring.

It also helps that the styles are a little more jumbled here. In comparison to the fast to slow song progression on Worship Music, For All Kings is rather unpredictable and seems to jump styles between songs. While "You Gotta Believe" starts the album off on an upbeat note similar to "Earth On Hell," the following tracks opt for a mid-tempo approach and songs like "Zero Tolerance" bring some speed toward the album's end.

Overall, For All Kings is a good addition to Anthrax's discography, even if it does often feel like more of the same. It'd arguably leave more of an impact if it had come out a couple years ago, but it still manages to be pretty enjoyable on its own terms thanks to its earworm quality. Megadeth may be back on top as the most relevant part of the Big 4 but Anthrax shouldn't be reaching the Slayer levels of stagnancy anytime soon...

Highlights:
"Monster At The End"
"Breathing Lightning"
"Blood Eagle Wings"
"Defend/Avenge"

Not quite kingly, but very enjoyable nonetheless! - 85%

Caleb9000, April 10th, 2016

Anthrax can easily be considered the smallest of the big four of thrash metal. After the heyday of the genre, people were paying less attention to them than the other three, even more so than Slayer. However, it would seem that with the exception of Metallica, who have released nothing, they have all released their best works in years. The most recent has been Anthrax. Megadeth has released "Dystopia", which was a great album that was not a completely flawless effort by any means, but still very enjoyable. Slayer had released "Repentless", in 2015, which was not amazing, but exceptional when compared to their past works after the pinnacle of their career. I have now listened to the most recent, which is Anthrax's "For All Kings". The question that was circling around in my head was, "Will this be the thrash-terpeice that we all need?"...

This album is not a masterpiece. There are flaws with it that can be easily be pointed out. While the songwriting steers clear of predictability, it just doesn't seem all that captivating, or at least not as much as Megadeth's recorded greatness that had broken free in February. Although the music can be tedious at times, for the most part, it is quite enjoyable. Far superior to the album that was released five years prior to it. The straightforward, yet complex songwriting could not be complemented more that it is by the insanely heavy production. This is the finest production that I have ever witnessed on an Anthrax album. When I listen to the classics by this band, the thing that comes out most as a negative is the fact that the production should be a bit thicker. I would also say that "Spreading the Disease" could turn the volume up on the drums. This fixes that with ease, despite the lack of grittiness that we found on previous works.

Although some of the music is opposing captivation, there are some truly great songs here. The title track is an anthem, yet it remains with sincerity. There is a lot of sincerity within the lyrics, but I feel as though this is one of the more thought-provoking ones. The melodic riffs complement this. Anthrax is a band that is known for being more melodic that the majority of their counterparts. However, I feel as though this album focuses more on heaviness than a big deal of aggression. I feel as though this song has more of that than other tracks. This is also present in tracks such as "Evil Twin", or "Zero Tolerance", which is the closing track of the album. It is enjoyable, music-wise, but lyrically, it is ridiculously cliche. Maybe a cover of Death would have been better. If they could make Joey's vocals work in some way.

The real star of the album is "Blood Eagle Wings". This is a thrash metal ballad, which is not easy to make. They did it right. This song has a very well-crafted structure and melody, as well as very inventive lyrics which cover a topic that many others have not covered in such a way, which is the fact that many of the great city's of the world were built from bloodshed and death. I first listened to this while watching the video of it, which definitely gets its moral across in a grotesque way. I do not enjoy this as much as a classic such as "Madhouse" or "Caught in a Mosh", but it is still my favorite heavy metal song to come out this year. It does not get the praise that it deserves, as it is definitely a song that does what a lot of others fail to do. It makes me feel.

This as a whole is similar to the rest of the music and lyrics on here. It is taking itself much more seriously than the past works in Anthrax's discography. This does not make it the best in their discography, but it was probably needed of them in modern times. They were in need of more focus and quality on an album. The lyrics go away from the celebration of the genre that they belong to and go into social/political commentary. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I would like to, but I still enjoy the various statements that are made.

Another standout that I must mention is the solo from "Zero Tolerance", which is easily one of the most chaotic and energetic that the band has ever given. It works well with the very punk-ish nature of the song, as well as the very fast tempo. Some of the other solos on the album are a bit forgettable. The solo on "Blood Eagle Wings" is definitely one that provokes a lot of emotion, just like the rest of the track, but this is where the lead guitar work is better than the rest, in terms of technicality and memorability.

Joey's vocals are the final aspect that I feel the need to cover, as they could not fit in further than this, which is definitely a major surprise, considering that harsher vocals usually give a lot more charisma to music like this. This band has been doing this for years, but even with the increased heaviness that is present here, it still perfectly works. They just had to raise the vocals up in the mix. If there is one thing about this album that is consistently genius, it's the production. Definitely something that I can commend it for.

For All Kings is a truly good album. It has generally fine songwriting, enjoyable edgy lyrics, great vocals and phenomenal production. It showcases the maturity that this band is going through with very solid music that has sincerity, but with fun. You can't have an album done by this band, absent of that. Can this compete with their classics? No. Can it be placed on a higher platform than anything that followed? Absolutely. This is something that I'd started to doubt that Anthrax still had the ability to release anymore. Now, they did just that, but in a more serious way.

For All Metalheads! - 85%

ScantyMattwhu, March 23rd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, 2CD, Nuclear Blast (Boxed set, Digipak, Slipcase, Limited edition)

First off, I write this review as someone who has listened to classic Anthrax albums always seemingly unable to get into the dated sound, excluding heavy metal classics such as "Among the Living", "Madhouse", "Indians", "I Am The Law" I found the majority of their tracks somewhat unmemorable. However this album has completely changed my perception of a classic heavy metal band.

For All Kings throughout seems to have been gifted with near perfect production, with the drums, rhythm guitar, and vocals all grabbing you from the balls. The bass compliments each and every song comfortably, where I find the only disappointment in the production scheme of things are the guitar solos. Don't get me wrong, throughout the album, newbie guitarist Jonathan Donais brings surprisingly fantastic fret work, but as the producer has decided to tone the sound down, it unjustly causes the listener to sometimes almost forget the solos, and never truly appreciate them as they should be in their glory.

The tracks on the album all vary from short to long lengths, with two instrumentals hidden in the first and fourth track on the album respectively, both enhancing the album as a listen. Scott Ian has provided some fantastic riffs in the album, most notably in album opener "You Gotta Believe" and other tracks such as the crushing "Suzerain" and also previously released single "Evil Twin" which has a humdinger of a intro riff. However the true essence of this album is not in what could've been a nostalgic failure of the band trying to recreate their 80's thundering thrash which was so popular in that era and is still revisited by many metal heads today. The true essence of this album is the melody Anthrax have implemented in this modern metal creation. Anthrax have gone the opposite direction of trying to please fans with the intention of creating a 'new Among The Living' and ending up making a poor thrash album like so many of their 80's thrash counterparts. Instead they have created catchy, melodic choruses with a lead guitar that at times instills a slower feeling into fantastic songs like "Breathing Lightning" and "Blood Eagle Wings" side by side with mouthwatering metal chunky riffs to the credit of Ian.

The true highlights in the creative side of Anthrax's "For All Kings" lie within the diversity of the first seven songs. Although the latter end of the album includes some decent songs such as "This Battle Chose Us" which includes attractive choruses from Joey Belladonna and a strong lyrical performance of the anti extremist song "Zero Tolerance". However the way in which the end of the album somewhat peters off, doesn't pay enough respect to the rest of the album, which truly is a great listen.

Kings - 94%

Larry6990, March 16th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

Hard though it is for me to act abrasive towards my favourite band ever, the 21st century has not been a generous era for Anthrax. Two great albums simply cannot eclipse the years of patience us die-hard fans have had to endure whilst tumultuous changes occurred within the quintet. It's safe to say the majority of us are ecstatic that Joey Belladonna has settled back into the frontman's position with ease. Also, the rock-solid pillar of Scott, Frank and Charlie remains confident and unmoved. It's only new arrival Jon Donais whose talents remain to be seen, but 2016's hugely anticipated "For All Kings" will reveal all...

The bottom line? It's fucking brilliant. Stop expecting a second "Spreading The Disease" or "Among The Living", because it's not 1986 anymore. This is melodic thrash metal for the 21st century, for now - and boy are New York's finest leading the way! This current effort is a whole hour of varied, dynamic, progressively-tinged gems which seem to echo the mammoth musical journey Anthrax have made over the past 35 years. It's got the stomping groove, it's got the full-tilt thrash, it's got the mellow soothers, it's got the theatrical atmosphere, it's got irregular rhythms - but most importantly - it's got a fistful of metal.

As in the equally varied "Worship Music", "For All Kings" sucks the audience in with a swelling, orchestral intro (featuring that cello the band seem to be so fond of!) before the slamming opening half of "You Gotta Believe" knocks them on their asses with a megaton of thrash metal goodness. If lyrics like "you can die screaming" and "viciously impaled" don't convince you that this is still the 'Thrax we know and love, then the monstrous groove at 2:12 sure as hell will. This is an excellent opener which will surely go down a storm in a live setting.

"For All Kings" is wonderfully structured. Each track has had its position carefully selected so the listener is treated to a multi-dimensional mix of experiences. It allows the individual songs to stand out from each other with ease, each bringing something fresh to the table. The first half is a mixture of broad melodic tracks like "Breathing Lightning" and "Monster At The End" which wouldn't have sounded out of place on "The Sound of White Noise" - thrown in with the up-tempo thrashers like "Evil Twin" and the title-track. The title-track is a particular highlight, with its dramatic chorus and vicious main riff.

All band members are on top form this time round. Charlie's lightning-fast double-kick attacks are a welcome, familiar sound - complementing the crunchy production perfectly. Scott brought a plentiful bag o' riffs to this recording session, ensuring that there's never a creative slump. You only need to hear the first 20 seconds of "Suzerain" to be assured of his credentials as a riff-writer. Frankie's bass clangs away, reliable as ever, whilst Jon Donais' fresh leads bring a youthful vibrancy to the table. Not to mention the inimitable Joey Belladonna...yup, he's still got it! We'll have no naysayers here! It's only when a band is at their peak should they be comfortable enough to write shockers like "Blood Eagle Wings" - which WILL divide fans, no question!

The final third of "For All Kings" is sheer magic. "Defend/Avenge" is an uproarious thrash anthem (a thranthem, if you will) containing joyous riffage and barking, shout-along choruses straight out of "Among The Living". The hammering menace of "All of Them Thieves" paves the way for the perfect closer: "Zero Tolerance". It feels like the whole album was building up to this finale. Four minutes of non-stop, frenzied thrash metal with a generous dose of that classic East Coast sarcastic humour we've missed so much from Joey: "What would your God say to that, motherfuckers?", "I am fire, I am death...I'm out!". Where has this Anthrax been for the past 25 years?! Welcome back, boys!

With Slayer's disappointing "Repentless" flying their flag, and Metallica still doing absolutely fuck all worth mentioning - the 'big four' is currently half as iterated. But it's being fired up again thanks to Megadeth's awesome "Dystopia"...and now Anthrax's "For All Kings". The NOT man can bare his cheeky grin once more and all die-hard fans can breathe an enormous sigh of relief. "Worship Music" may have been a commercial success, but now the 'Thrax have really tapped in to their inner thrash metal vein, and are ready to take on the world once more.

"For all kings committed!
For all kings old and new!
Young blood of the old blood,
For all kings are through!"

Liberating metal potpourri on the pulse of time - 90%

kluseba, March 8th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

''For All Kings'' is Anthrax's newest studio release and it is very similar to its predecessor ''Worship Music''. This album is very diversified, melodic and modern. Let me explain what that actually means. From melodic alternative rock anthems over instrumental interludes to mean thrash metal stompers with a solid dose of punk spirit both musically and lyrically, this album summarizes almost everything the band has tried out in its career but adds some fresh enthusiasm and consistent high quality song writing. This is also the band's most melodic album. Especially new guitarist Jonathan Donais really shines here and adds a more modern and quite catchy tone to the thrash metal legend. I must also point out Joey Belladonna's energizing, juvenile and melodic vocal performance. He has always been my favourite singer of this band and his gifted vocals distinguish this band from other genre bands who might have charismatic but ultimately technically less talented performers. Our Native American frontman really delivers his best career performance so far on this output. This new album can be called modern because the production is precise but not polished. The rhythm section is the powerful backbone of this record while vocals and guitar sounds have a few efficient sound effects here and there. Some songs on this album have traditional heavy and thrash metal sounds that should please the more conservative fans. Those who liked the band's more experimental phase during the nineties might also find a few interesting passages here and there even though this is only a subcategory on this record. The album offers a lot more catchier, shorter and more modern alternative rock and metal passages that could actually get some mainstream radio airplay if the band really tried to become more popular. ''For All Kings'' would actually be an appropriate album for younger audiences to discover the world of metal music. To all open-minded teenagers with a weakness for rock music out there: go ahead and try this record out!

Even though some band members described this album as a heavier output that goes back to the band's earlier albums, I would rather disagree. If you liked ''Worship Music'', you will equally fall in love with ''For All Kings'' but if you are expecting a youthful thrash metal revival, you should look elsewhere. Since I admired the predecessor, I'm also satisfied with this album even though some of the new material needs a few more spins to open up if compared to the infectious previous strike. The most accessible songs can be found in the strong middle section of this album. ''Breathing Lightning'' is a very melodic and uplifting song that you won't get out of your mind. The guitar melodies sound harmonious and positive and the vocals are refreshingly liberating. The track has both a proper introduction and an instrumental coda as a short separated track. The songs builds up a majestic yet honest atmosphere that is crowned by an efficient chorus. It's one of the band's mellowest yet one of their best songs ever.

The coda entitled ''Breathing Out'' leads to my personal highlight ''Suzerain'' that starts with heavier guitar work and an energizing rhythm section. The song then gets a more mysterious and sinister tone just to surprise you with a catchy, melodic and positive chorus which is simply unforgettable. The hypnotizing vocal performance is spot on and I feel like singing along to this track all the time these days.

''Evil Twin'' is one of the straightest tunes on here and mixes vivid heavy and thrash metal elements in equal parts. The lyrics are very interesting and comment on the events that shook up France last year, especially the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Since thrash metal is closely inspired by hardcore punk music which is a genre that regularly comments political and social events, the combination of meaningful lyrics and a meaner sound works perfectly. Especially the chorus with lyrics such as "You represent your discontent slaughtering the innocent - Insolence, you're no martyrs - The arrogance to reinvent - The holy words their meanings bent - Evil twins, you're no martyrs!" offers some food for thought, remembrance and debates.

The album closer ''Zero Tolerance'' has a very similar tone and is the band's most vivid album closer since the unchained anti-conformist statement ''Imitation of Life'' twenty-nine years earlier on the legendary ''Among the Living'' album. ''Zero Tolerance'' starts as a focused heavy metal tune before it turns into a fast thrash metal anthem. The band makes a very important statement in the middle part of this track: ''Zero tolerance for extremism - in the name of religion - zero tolerance for racial hate - no police state - zero tolerance for politicians - on the left and the right - zero tolerance for killing children'' before adding the pissed off question ''What would your God say to that, motherfuckers?". Usually, I don't like profanity in lyrics but in this case, the angry attitude is spot on and offers once again some food for thought, remembrance and debates.

In conclusion, Anthrax offers a diversified, melodic and modern output with lyrics on the pulse of time. This logical sequel to ''Worship Music'' proves that Anthrax is back for good and offers the most consistent present day efforts among their genre colleagues. This one hour of positive power might reunite traditional heavy metal fans, thrash metal maniacs and younger audiences with a weakness for modern metal. ''For All Kings'' might have a couple of average tunes but the greatest tracks are so close to perfection that this album can already be considered a serious candidate for album of the year. If the American quintet comes close to your town for a show with this new material, you know what you have to do.

This is Actually Fantastic! - 90%

stainedclass2112, March 1st, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

I am completely new to the new Anthrax, I haven't heard even one song off of Worship Music (I did hear the little cover EP and it wasn't bad) and I haven't heard anything from John Bush except for Sound of White Noise (that album can suck it) so this has been an interesting listen for me. Anthrax is one of the thrash bands that I have the most respect for, they have always been Anthrax, they aren't cocky sellouts and they don't beat the same formula into the dirt like some other bands do. They also aren't conforming to that atrocious "new" age of production in which the guitars sound like shit and the focal point of everything is the double bass. I honestly didn't know what to expect in listening to this, but I must say, this is good. Actually, I'm surprised, this is very good. I was not expecting anything like this, 'Thrax have proven once again that they rule with another great album. This is really refreshing to listen to, I see it as a continuation of what Persistence of Time was doing, which is a good thing; the goofy Anthrax is totally gone in favor of the heavier, more focused Anthrax. These guys will never, ever, best what they did on some of their older albums, but with this collection of fresh and creative metal songs they are only adding more and more to what makes Anthrax awesome.

The songs on "For All Kings" are pretty diverse, with each containing different songwriting elements that keep everything fresh. Most of these are adhering to a more mid-paced formula full of more melodic and catchy chorus' and musical sections. Some of these riffs and ideas are downright spectacular and I have got to give Scott some props for continuing what he does best. The more simplistic riffs are reinforced by some spectacular drumming by charlie. He really has always been one of my favorite metal drummers, and he is fantastic on this album. It sounds like I could be talking about any of the old Anthrax albums with descriptions like that, but this is definitely not the case. The talent of these guys is still refreshing and full of energy and ideas. Most of the modern thrash that I hear is just a try-hard attempt at being brutal or being heavier then the last album or whatever, but For All Kings actually sounds like Anthrax were full of ideas and had the will power to actually put together a good album. Tracks like "Evil Twin", "Suzerain", "Defend/Avenge", "This Battle Chose Us", and the best on the album, "Breathing Lightning" are all spectacular showcases of a band that definitely still has the stuff. The most striking thing about this album is by far its very melodic and atmospheric tendency. This is very obvious in the title track and "Breathing Lightning", and also in "Suzerain". A great example of what I mean is on the track "Breathing Lightning", which begins with a soft, and quite beautiful clean intro before blasting off into some wicked riffs until the awesome chorus. The "Angels sing" section of this song is one of my favorite moments on the album, it's beautiful, and after that part ends you get a taste of how wicked the new guy is with some awesome leads. Using words like "Beautiful" when describing a metal album might sound a bit weird, but it's a refreshing and exhilarating experience to hear some modern metal that actually steps outside the box to do something creative. It really does get annoying hearing the same thing re-hashed over and over again, and that is something that I think most of the newer metal bands can't wrap their head around, i'm glad Anthrax realizes this. Don't get me wrong, this album is still a heavy freaking metal album all the way, with burly riffs and thrashy drums, but It's nice to see that these guys are still exploring and experimenting as a band, and I gotta say, it paid off.

So while the songwriting is totally new and refreshing, the instrumentation is on par with the usual Anthrax that I'm used to. Scott still riffs like a beast, Charlie is still playing some of the very best drums out there too. Good 'ol Injun Joe has definitely still got it, even though he can't still hit those crazy highs. He doesn't try to push his voice too far at all though, he knows his limits and he makes sure to make the most and then some out of his voice, props to you Joey. Frank is a beast on this album, as always. He is playing with a heavier, more thicker bass tone that fits the album wonderfully. I have to give some major props to the new guy: Jon Donais, this guy is awesome! I have no idea where this dude came from but damn he is great. His solos are all fantastic. He is not an all out shredder, but he has some wicked chops and I really appreciate his melodic take on the leads, it works great. The production is some of the best I've ever heard. Everything is balanced perfectly, and when I crank the volume, everything has this badass punch that a lot of modern metal albums don't have. I don't know how Anthrax did it, but I'm impressed, it is almost as if they are a completely rejuvenated band.

I have been listening to this album nonstop for a while now, it is honestly fantastic. Some people are probably thinking that I'm just sucking up to this because I am an Anthrax fan, but I'll have you know, I hate modern thrash almost completely, that includes the stuff by the old bands. So when my sis told me that this album was amazing, I was super skeptical until I popped it into the player. While the first track, "You Gotta Believe" is by far the weakest on the album, the album just gets better and better. I still can't get over how good "Breathing Lightning" alone is, definitely my favorite on the album. Overall, this is outstandingly consistent and fresh. I didn't want to give this album a good score at first, because new metal doesn't really hold up to the classic stuff, I was wrong to expect mediocrity from this record, it's fantastic. I highly recommend this to any other skeptics out there, and all fans of all kinds of metal should definitely pick this up. I am so pleasantly surprised by this album, and I'll probably listen to this one as much as I do the others, I've been listening non-stop since its release and it keeps getting better. Bravo Anthrax.

"You always have the chance to do the right thing
Until the right thing comes undone
And with a thunderclap I’m breathing lightning
And this world has moved on
I look inside myself is this the right thing?
Is this the right thing, I don’t know"

Much more melodic yet more metal than Worship - 80%

morbert, March 1st, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

t’s 2016, bands that were in their twenties during the eighties and released youthful energetic albums, have aged, just like us. No one in his right mind expects a new Peace Sells, Reign In Blood or Master Of Puppets. Impossible. So the main question here is not have Anthrax gone back in time and done another Spreading The Disease or Among The Living but have they made a worthy follow–up to Worship Music.

Well; to put my conclusion here: For All Kings (4AK from now on) is simply better than Worship Music. Worship was an album I gave 70 points here because it was very unbalanced and trying to please fans from different eras just too much. And that’s still how I feel about it all these years later.

4AK is a lot more cohesive than Worship was. Worship was mostly written in a period when Anthrax were clearly unsure who they actually were or planned to become and the album sounded like it. A mixed bag with, honestly, only a handful of stand-out songs that stood the test of time like ‘Fight ’Em’, ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘In The End’. 4AK has more in common with the principle idea behind Spreading The Disease when it comes to combining faster material with more slower and melodic material. However the songs here sound nothing like that era. Anthrax sound much poppier and darker at the same time. Again they have presented us with an album that could be placed, stylewise, between Persistence of Time and Sound Of White Noise but with even more melody. Much more melody than they ever had really. The pace is just not as high anymore as on their first 4 studio albums although a few thrashers are present.

If you like Anthrax a bit more old school, with more speed and energy, then you can’t go wrong with these four songs: “You Gotta Believe”, “For All Kings”, “Evil Twin” and especially “Zero Tolerance”, the fastest song they’ve done with Joey since… well, since ‘Discharge’ on Persistence albeit far more melodic, vocally. I am sure these 4 songs will please Anthrax fans from all eras.

It’s the rest of the album that’s a mixed bag. ‘Monster at the End’ could’ve come straight from Worship. It’s in the same vein as ‘I’m Alive’, a simple midpaced tune that misses real stand-out riffs and balls but somehow grows on you because it’s so damn catchy! ‘Defend / Avenge’ at first might come over as more of the same un-fast grooving material the band has filled several of their less classic albums with, but turns out to grow on the listener. There are great tempo changes to be found, catchy riffs and Belladonna really makes it shine!

‘Breathing Lightning’ is interesting. It’s a poppy tune. Before releasing the single the band claimed it had an epic chorus. When it finally came out, it was underwhelming and not everybody was equally enthusiastic. In official publications on social media the band still claim they only get positive responses to the song but my experience, in Europe, has been rather different. A lot of folks just find it way too cheesy and poppy. I must say it’s not among my faves on the album but it has grown on me as part of the album. It’s not one of those song I ‘skip’. The verses contain a riff that could’ve come straight from any Megadeth album in the 1992-1997 period (don’t tell me you don’t hear it! It has ‘Mustaine’ all over it) and if you imagine John Bush singing it, it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on ‘We’ve come For You All’ yet on 4AK it’s a fun moment of relative relaxation.

However, like on most Anthrax albums since 1990, it’s the amount of filler that once again tempers the enthusiasm. Best of the rest is ‘Blood Eagle Wings’ which is only damaged by it’s very, very poor chorus but apart from that is a pretty great song. Especially after the 3:15 minute mark the song really comes to life with a beautiful riff and great vocal melody.

‘Suzerain’ has a great opening riff and throughout the song a few good variations on it. But the song as a whole never erupts and has pretty much one of the dullest choruses on the album. ‘All of Them Thieves’ and ‘This Battle Chose Us’ are utter filler. Even more obvious because the band contrived an upbeat part for both songs to give’m more ‘edge’. Fun parts, maybe, but they just can’t save mediocre songs.

Should I say something about new lead guitarist Jonathan Donais? Well, I shall. I love his leads! He might be a salt pillar on stage but his leads are awesome. He does, what I call, ‘an Adrian Smith’ here. Catchy leads which also shred. My favorite stuff on lead guitar since Sound Of White Noise!

The artwork and title of the album? Well, it’s Manowar-like tongue-in-cheek humor. You either like it or don’t. I personally feel the majority of songs is not as epic as the cover implies. But I like it nonetheless. It’s pretty iconic and I love the colours.

59 minutes of music with about 20 minutes of it rather useless. They could’ve left out 3 or maybe even 4 of the worst tracks and this album could’ve gotten a 90-95 point review from me, being hailed as the best BigFour album in about, uhm, 22 years. In it’s current form with much filler, I’ll stick to 80 points.

Stand-out songs: “You Gotta Believe”, “For All Kings”, “Evil Twin” and “Zero Tolerance”.
Turds: “All of Them Thieves” and “This Battle Chose Us”

Catching up with their grandiose exterior. - 86%

hells_unicorn, February 28th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

Anthrax has been something of a wild card in recent years, both in relation to the media manufactured "Big 4", as well as with the broader school of thrash, be it the modern subset or the revivalist throwback crowd. They arguably ended up falling the hardest and losing their identity the quickest in the carnage of the American rock scene of the 90s, largely due to an artificial and jolting set of evolutionary shifts in style to try and placate covetous record labels and fickle fans, but also in part due to an inability to gel with Joey Belladonna's replacement John Bush. But with a slow and methodical recovery of their brand after some sizable bumps in the road in the mid 2000s, they managed a respectable offering in Worship Music, which while not a complete throwback to the glory days, was nevertheless a needed shot in the arm of a band that had been comatose for the better part of 20 years. Almost exactly five years to the date of the release of said album, and with minimal disruption to their lineup, For All Kings continues and expands upon the ground broken by its predecessor and leans a bit closer to where they left off with Persistence Of Time.

Along with other Big 4 mainstay Megadeth, Anthrax has decided to pull in some younger blood for their lead guitar wizardry, though in this case taking in a metalcore ax-man in Jonathan Donais rather than a power metal virtuoso from Brazil. While Anthrax has always been more recognizable for Scott Ian's riff work, Charlie B's insane drumming and a smoother and more melodically tinged vocal performance, Donais' fancy lead guitar input is a welcome addition and puts this album in similar territory in terms of technical detailing to where Metallica was at the height of their popularity in the 80s. But in contrast to Megadeth's recent turn towards a streamlined thrashing formula that reflects their 80s sound on Dystopia, For All Kings is not quite as steeped in guitar shredding and functions more as one of those longer winded, progressive-leaning albums that was being explored by the thrash world in the early 1990s just before the groove sound took over. It's been taken a step further with a heavy degree of orchestration and atmospheric ballad elements that give things more of an epic feel and a stylistic tinge more common to a power/thrash sound, but this album could be chalked up to the long awaited successor to Persistence Of Time that many Anthrax band has been hoping for since Belladonna returned to the fold.

Though the songs are a bit on the longer side for the style and the pacing is a bit more moderated compared to the mayhem that typified Among The Living and pretty much everything Anthrax put out before that, the energy and infectious hooks are by no means in short supply. Chasing a fully orchestrated and dramatic sounding instrumental "Impaled" and building gradually from a mid-paced crunch to an up tempo cruiser, "You Gotta Believe" brings a strong sense of nostalgia for the more commercially viable and stripped down character of State Of Euphoria, embodying something of a more elaborate version of "Be All, End All". This sort of measured, tactical employment of speed with a greater degree of mid-paced build up is generally echoed through most of the longer offerings on here, particularly "Breathing Lightning" and "Blood Eagle Wings", incorporating a heavy degree of atmospheric elements to complement the sparing use of sheer impact-based riffing and shred-happy solo work, and coming off almost like a power metal oriented approach similar to what Megadeth was toying with in the mid-1990s. But bringing up the opposite end of the spectrum are a couple of truly riveting speed thrashers in "Evil Twin" and "Zero Tolerance", followed by with a slightly less overt shot of intensity out of the title song "For All Kings".

As with any recent outing by one of the original stalwarts of the style, it's important to approach an album like this with a reasonable expectation that it won't be an exact replica of what came out of this band's golden era (1984-1990), though it gets a hell of a lot closer to that than any recent Metallica offers or the last Slayer debacle. Thankfully Anthrax was forthcoming in the generally mixed stylistic character of this album, opting to lead it off with something representing their 80s efforts in their first single and a more laid back, rocking and melodic number in "Breathing Lightning" for their second. It's a slightly more polished and engaging improvement over Worship Music, but generally has a similar composition of old and new, with maybe a slight bit more of their pre-Bush influences and arguably the fanciest assortment of lead guitar breaks in this band's 30 years plus history. The only thing that hopefully doesn't happen in the future is for it to take another five long years for this band to do this again.

Still Metal Thrashing Mad - 79%

PassiveMetalhead, February 27th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Megaforce Records

Anthrax has always seemed the smallest of the Big 4, however recently you could argue that they’ve certainly been the best. While Metallica bask in their own popularity and constantly postpone any work towards recording new material, while Megadeth are recovering from their “Super Collider” flop in 2013 and while everyone’s throats become sore from shouting "SLAYERRRR" so much to distract themselves from the fact they haven’t actually done anything daring in 10 years, Anthrax have been rising in leaps and bounds.

If you need another reason to suspect that Anthrax are back on track from their lengthy hiatus, other than 2011’s “Worship Music”, then “For All Kings” will certainly convince you. They still prove that they are metal thrashing mad fanatics of the genre with tracks such as ‘Defend Avenge’ and ‘This Battle Chose Us’ where strong riffs trample through with no finesse and crazy solos spring out from nowhere. ‘You Gotta Believe’ displays their melodious side with airy harmonies that become potent hooks to thrash metal however it still delivers a fine dish of (albeit slow) cat-and-mouse rhythms from guitars and drums alike.

The talent behind the instrumentation of Anthrax is showcased equally between all members on “For All Kings”. On ‘Suzerain’ founding members Scott Ian and Charlie Benante show no signs of aging despite it being 35 years since Anthrax’s conception. Whenever a blast beat explodes into action, Banante particularly exhibits his percussion precision as if he still maintains his youthfulness of the 80’s that will give any fan of metal a good ol’ thrashgasm. New to the band is former Shadows Fall guitarist, Jon Donias. While his predecessor Rob Caggiano was a great ingredient to Anthrax, his absence is barely noticeable as the melodies and solos in ‘All Of Them Thieves’ proves that Donias is a worthy replacement and has clear respect for the role of being a guitarist for one of the most popular thrash bands around. Frank Bello is an effective bass where he provides bounciness rather than solemnity to the downbeat bass however on the animated ‘Blood Eagle Wings’ his bass is shrouded behind his energetic band members by unfocused production.

If you’re looking for the hardcore punk aspect of Anthrax then Joey Belladonna is the place to start. The radicalising and condemning lyrics in ‘Evil Twin’ depict the vicious French Charlie Hebdo shootings in 2015 where Joey describes the evil twin as the person behind the savage massacre of the innocent compared to their humane twin. With a lyrical theme as strong as this his snarling performance is just as powerful. Furthermore, the satirical quality of hardcore and punk is mimicked on ‘Zero Tolerance’ where Joey describes terrorism in lyrics such as “zero tolerance for extremism/racial hate/killing children” and the brief cry of “What have you got to say to that mother fuckers?!” before a tirade of Scott’s furious solos symbolise their lividness with a -quite literal- zero tolerance attitude.

Scott Ian described "For All Kings" as “the most metal album they have recorded in years.” As clichéd as this statement is, he’s not lying. Anthrax out do themselves once more with another album that, in recent times, puts their esteemed colleagues to shame-again.