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Somewhat cliche even for '83 - 81%

Gutterscream, October 19th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1983, 7" vinyl, Megaforce Records (Limited edition)

I had read a short article on Anthrax prior to Fistful of Metal’s release, describing the band’s sound as akin to sticking a Black & Decker in your ear. For many fans at the time, the initial din heard by the band erupted from its debut, more than likely the airborne ruthlessness of “Deathrider”. Now Black & Decker manufactures lots of items, highly noted for its array of power tools, and with “Deathrider” it’s easy for pictures of radial arm saws and lawnmowers to flood the mind, but for the more melodic and even bashful “Soldiers of Metal” and “Howling Furies”, I’d have to go with maybe a can opener or an electric tea kettle.

I’m not saying that these are bad songs, just not their best pieces. Both tracks use some of the most conventional main rhythms to grace wax, revamped to some degree and variation by many before them (even at the tale end of ’83). High points are the brisk energy of “Soldiers of Metal” that coalesces into a thudding cessation and the solo in “Howling Furies”, a song with an ending that won’t rumble with double bass until its placement as finale on Fistful of Metal. In addition, the gravity garnered by Turpin’s fervent shrills is a premonition to their future efforts that is already announced on the 7”’s back cover.

The production on this and Fistful of Metal have their problems, of course. The malnourished mix value on the full-lengther is fairly renown, while the 7”’s via Ross the Boss is a tad louder and top-heavy, but still basement level.

In addition to being the band’s first label-backed effort, Soldiers of Metal is also the first 7” pressed by Megaforce Records. But the bright side was that 7” records were only a few bucks and though Anthrax wouldn’t really show anyone not privy to their demos what they’re made of until “Deathrider”, “Metal Thrashing Mad” and ‘Panic”, it’s still halfway decent for the time. Plus now it’s a fair collector’s item.