Let’s all be honest with ourselves here: Anthrax are forever going to be the runt of the Big 4 litter. There was never any question that they would open the shows with Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica back in 2011/2012, and they will always be lower than them on festival bills. Yet tomorrow sees them release their second album since Death Magnetic dropped, and that even includes the debacle surrounding 2011’s Worship Music. Released via Megaforce and Nuclear Blast, For All Kings is the first album to feature lead guitarist Jon Donais, who replaced Rob Caggiano in 2013.
The beauty of Anthrax is that they’re unwavering in their approach to new music – it’s most definitely an Anthrax record. Thirty-five years down the line and they haven’t lost any of their bite, but the songs snarl nowadays where they once barked. They’ve definitely slowed down, and Joey Belladonna’s voice has certainly seen better days, but for a band this far into their career, the output is no less impressive. The groove in ‘Blood Eagle Wings’ and Rammstein-esque stomp of ‘Defend Avenge’ help keep the momentum often lost in the middle of albums going, whilst ‘Breathing Lightning’, despite the slab of radio rock in the chorus, is a huge sing-a-long and soars despite Belladonna’s vocal limitations. Donais, meanwhile, has fitted in very well indeed, complimenting Scott Ian to a tee and pulling off some great fretwork, especially on closing song ‘Zero Tolerance’.
A heavy metal record this is certainly, but with the band ageing gracefully it doesn’t quite have the frantic nature and blistering pace to fully justify a thrash metal title. Nevertheless, Anthrax have once again slipped under the radar and punched us square in the eyes. We couldn’t be happier for it.
Joey Belladonna – vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums
You Gotta Believe
Monster At The End
For All Kings
Blood Eagle Wings
All Of Them Thieves
The Battle Chose Us