To all of the people who think that Anthrax did not belong in the Big Four, they have forgotten how big the band was at one point. There is no denying that they were far bigger than Exodus, Testament and especially Overkill, who seem to be the three most often referred to bands when this debate happens. By record sales alone, they crushed these other bands. That does not make me like them any better, but they were huge in the late 80s and people seem to forget that. To me, they have always been overrated. Some songs were really good, but the majority of their songs were marginal.
With Anthrax’s latest effort, For All Kings, the band surely seems to be flexing their groove metal muscles more these days than in previous releases. It has been nearly five years since the release of Worship Music, which marked the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna. Their last album got more attention for Belladonna’s return than the music itself and it was not a bad release at all. The band promised a return to their thrash roots and made it a point to get back there. With For All Kings, the focus is still on their classic thrash sound, but also shows off the bands groove metal chops.
The album opens with “You Gotta Believe” showing that the band still has something left in the tank. One of the best aspects of the band historically was their shredding tone, which is still as sharp as ever.
“Monster at the End” is one of the groovier songs that the veterans have ever written and is easily one of the best tracks on the album. The riffs are simply massive and the verse sections are extremely strong with a catchy chorus. The title track, “For All Kings,” is almost a throwback of sorts to the bands’ earlier days. The verse sections are intense with the rhythm guitar work as well as the drum lines.
“Breathing Lightning” starts off innocently enough only to become one of the more thrashy tracks on the release with a some exquisite guitar riffs. The chorus becomes a little too catchy, but as an overall track, it is still relatively strong. “Suzerain” is an evil track with a powerful opening into a haunting verse section. The tempo slows down a little for this track, which fits the mood perfectly.
“Evil Twin” is yet another good thrash track that, while “Blood Eagle Wings” brings the band to a darker place with a more experimental sound and becomes the longest track on the album. “Defend Avenge” brings the band back to their more familiar thrash sound and is good for the most part outside of a few odd moments. The use of background vocals truly helps it out.
At the end of the day, Anthrax has put together one of the better albums of their career, not just their reunion. The band has not sounded this strong in a long time. I can honestly never have called myself a huge fan of the band, but always respected their work and always listened to their albums a lot. They were just not nearly as strong as other people thought they were. For All Kings kicks ass and gets me excited for more from the band.