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U 4 E A - 70%

Vim_Fuego, August 8th, 2004

In Joey Belladonna, Anthrax had one of the most distinctive singers in Thrash. The biggest problem with a voice as powerful and clean as Belladonna's was how the hell do you incorporate it into something as rough and ready as thrash? Well, it took the band three albums, but they finally hit the nail on the head with 'State Of Euphoria'.

Often criticised as Anthrax's weakest album, it is easy to see why many fans don't rate it. Production wise, it lacks the bite and punch of 'Spreading The Disease' and 'Among The Living', and is nowhere near as heavy as 'Persistence Of Time'. Scott Ian's signature rhythm guitar crunch has been strangled, and the drums are right up in the mix. It sounds like a bit of a mess, but it actually works, in an odd way.

Instead of the rhythm guitar leading the songs as is more usual in Thrash, it's the vocals which point the songs in whatever direction they may be heading. Joey Belladonna's melodies shine through, and they are a pleasure to hear. Belladonna has an excellent vocal range and a clear voice, and easily pulls off a number of difficult passages and songs. Few other Thrash singers ever matched him, except perhaps Mark Oseguda from Death Angel.

The odd mix of the album make it far easier to appreciate Charlie Benante's drumming than on other Anthrax albums. While many Thrash fans worship Dave Lombardo and Gene Hoglan, Benante often ends up forgotten, rather unfairly.

Anthrax were called a band with a social conscience after previous songs like "Indians", and that aspect of the band was further developed here. "Who Cares Wins" in particular examines the plight of the homeless, and how easy it is for those living comfortably to ignore. Elsewhere, they take a poke at money grabbing evangelists, on "Make Me Laugh". While it's a tried and true, and clich├ęd, target now, it was cutting edge in 1988. Racism and prejudice also take a hit, with "Schism".

Anthrax have always had a dark sense of humour. The sarcasm through "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind", "Finale" and Make Me Laugh" is biting. "Misery Loves Company" is funny in it's own way too, based on the Stephen King novel 'Misery'.

While not as immediately likeable as other Anthrax albums, this does deserve repeated listens. If it's not heavy enough or the production is annoying, mess with your graphic equaliser until it's fixed. It is worth the effort.