Anthrax Album Review – ‘For All Kings’

Anthrax certainly have a challenging decade behind them. Plagued by the many line-up changes between vocalists John Bush, Dan Nelson and Joey Belladonna as well as Charlie Benante’s legal and health issue and the departure of Rob Caggiano, the band was left with a rather fragmented experience of the last ten years between massively successful events like ‘The Big Four’ shows and rather disappointing long waiting times between albums. The 2011 release ‘Worship Music’ was widely regarded as a step into the right direction without really blowing anyone away. Five years later Anthrax now present their latest record ‘For All Kings’.

‘For All Kings’ is certainly an album that I would call a surprise. It is a surprise because it is not just the logical continuation from ‘Worship Music’ but it includes some long forgotten references to the ‘Among The Living’- and ‘State Of Euphoria’-phase of the band. And it also includes completely new features like the progressive rock/metal influences in ‘Breathing Lightning’. The album is also a surprise because it has a consistently high quality throughout the eleven songs (I don’t count the couple of intros/outros). I didn’t expect Anthrax to release an album that doesn’t quite reach their absolute classics but is certainly right up there with ‘State Of Euphoria’ and ‘Persistence Of Time’. That makes ‘For All Kings’ the best Anthrax album in 25 years.

Overall the album is quite diverse. Tracks like the opener ‘You Gotta Believe’ and the last song ‘Zero Tolerance’ are fast and heavy and are reminiscent of the late 80s. ‘Monster At The End’ and the title track venture into a more melodic area and seem to tie in with the majority of songs on ‘Worship Music’. Centrepiece of the album is the track ‘Breathing Lightning’. After a 30-second acoustic intro the song kicks into second gear with a classic Anthrax-riff of the slower kind. Chorus and refrain then add a ‘proggy’ feeling. ‘Breathing Lightning’ is also the appropriate track to give a special mention to Jonathan Donais. After he had joined the band shortly before their touring commitments in 2013, ‘For All Kings’ is his first album with Anthrax. And he adds his own tone to the album. His style is actually multi-dimensional ranging from tender and melodic to vibrant and colourful and sophisticated. His strong performance definitely adds another note to the Anthrax sound.

Bottom line is ‘For All Kings’ is a strong album. Die-hard, old-school fans of the band might be disappointed because the album might not be heavy and fast enough for them. Those times have long gone and will never come back. However, Anthrax managed to write, record and release an album that does not have any weak tracks. And they also managed to combine old and new and even have included a few new features to their sound. You add the excellent performance of a new lead guitarist, a Joey Belladonna in top form and an impeccable production and you have must-buy heavy metal album.

8.5/10

Anthrax official website