Anthrax - Spreading The Disease
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.
What a difference a year can make. Between their lukewarm debut and Spreading The Disease, Anthrax saw their lineup shift and perceptions begin to change for the better. The introduction of Joey Belladonna and his highly capable pipes to the fold was seemingly the beginning of an upward ascent that would eventually see the band being named in the same breath as the rest of thrash's prominent names of the 80's and beyond, including Metallica, Slayer and Testament.
From what I've heard so far, what seems to seperate Anthrax from the less is a bit of a lack of seriousness. A bit of humor, lighthearted fun and lyrics that dwell in the realms of fantasy and fiction were all in stark contrast to some of the darker, more social/political instigations of their peers at the time. Also, Joey's vocal range seemed to put some seperation between them and others as well, as the band is able to shift from a more straightforward, punk-fueled thrash attack to a more melodic, NWOBHM-esque groove with a frontman who could easily handle the demands of either. Songs like the awesome intro "A.I.R.", "Lone Justice" and "S.S.C. - Stand Or Fall" are prime examples of Belladonna's strong impact, and also of the band's songwriting evolution. Take "Madhouse" for example. A track that I have heard before (most notably on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City) and instantly recognized despite having not heard it for years. To me, when I think of Anthrax in 1985, I think this had to have been one of their signature tracks. The higher-tempo sections just get your blood boiling, with racing drums and a slick little bass line. As for the rest of the album, "Aftershock" might be the heaviest track at hand and "Medusa" may be the goofiest but appeals to those nostalgic for old-school cheese. "Gung-Ho" closes the album on an extremely hectic note, leaving you craving more.
Any previous misconceptions I had about Anthrax seem to have quieted some with a lengthy amount of time spent with Spreading The Disease. A huge leap forward from their debut and a massive statement of songwriting chops and a frontman who was easily distinguishable from the rest of the pack. Considering I've only heard two Anthrax albums so far (and I'm reviewing 'em as I go), I am, and would have been 27 years ago, highly excited for what comes next.
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