Anthrax - Fistful Of Metal
NOTE: If this or any other review I do of an Anthrax album seems poorly done or lacking proper knowledge, please note my comment on the band page regarding "The Anthrax Project". Thank you.
One of metal's most enduring acts, Anthrax hit the scene all the way back in the early 80's and dropped their first LP, Fistful of Metal, in '84. While I can see some moments of this record turning some heads and earning the band credit where it's due, ultimately the most memorable thing I've taken from my time with it is the album cover, which I have seen many times over the years but never gave the associated album a chance until recently.
While I cannot (yet) speak for what Joey Belladonna would bring to the band, original vocalist Neil Turbin sounds custom-fit for a speed/power metal outfit. With a high register fit for (rough) Halford worship and a decent mid-range snarl, Turbin's contribution to the band on their first go-round is vital. It helps push forward what is sometimes stale, stagnated metal which is, in turn, extremely reliant on punk aesthetics. That is no slander, mind you, as thrash metal itself was born from the womb in which punk laid it's seed. The NWOBHM influences are equally ripe, with many of the tracks coming off as pure Priest/Maiden/Diamond worship. "Metal Thrashing Mad" is one of the better examples, but the album has too many poorly conceptualized tracks to maintain any head of steam. An unneccesary cover of Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" does the band no favors, and it isn't until the powerful "Subjugator" that the record retains some focus. "Death From Above" focuses on a concept that I personally love, the rush and intensity of skyborne combat, but it's far too cheesy and ridiculous to take seriously. "Anthrax" isn't a bad signature track, but doesn't really attempt to live up to the idea of a "signature" track as it's name might imply. "Across The River" is an instrumental that wouldn't have hurt with vocals in the mix, mostly a bit of guitar wankery. "Howling Furies", while unfortunately named, closes the album on a bit of a high note.
For the most part, Fistful of Metal doesn't much excite me for what's coming next from Anthrax. This being my first trip through their discography, I can't say it does much for me unless I attempt to transport myself back to the point in time it was released. If that were the case, I might consider this record to be a solid dose of what was at the time a rising monster of a sound, something that would carry bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Testament and others into major spotlights. Not bad, not great, has not aged well, hopefully not a sign of what's to come but everyone starts somewhere, don't they?
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