You’re probably wondering why I’m writing this. The album is ancient. Well, you’re right but I’ve been getting a few emails saying “you never review any metal”. And that’s funny to me for the following reason:
THERE ISN’T ANY NEW METAL.
Anyway, I was in HMV the other day and in the metal section. I kind of wander past it with that brief interest on a genre long since dead. I’m always amazed that there aren’t any new albums there. Or if there are it’s bands who existed 15 years ago or a side project by the front man. Admittedly this is HMV we’re talking about but even so I think the point remains valid. The popular metal scene is finished and split into either pop music dressed in gothy outfits but with McFly guitars (that applies to most metal band in the last ten years who have had a top 40 single) or tiny genres of doom, thrash or every other possibility – where only the former genre is popular. And that’s cos it isn’t actually metal.
I agree with one of my close friends (@faulknmd) opinion that “Anthrax’s Sound Of White Noise represents the last great metal album”. And when I say “metal” I mean vocals that sing aggressively but don’t scream and solos, etc you know? After this album came nu-metal and everything went tits up. I listen to Sound of White Noise at least once or twice a year and still love it. Sure, there must be a bit of nostalgia there too but I still rate it as a perfect album. I mean, I used to like Korn more than anything when I was, er, whatever age I was in 1994 and I thought they were the best thing. But try to listen to all of a Korn album now. It’s easier to strangle yourself with Mini-Me’s dick.
So while trawling for something new in this section I came across Anthrax and was like “whoa, these guys are still going?”. I have fond memories of Sound of White Noise. I remember when it came out and the artwork was totally different from every other metal album. The font they used for the song titles was totally un-metal (at the time) and the song titles sounded like they could be from 2 Unlimited. I had this huge fear – “I’m not buying that – they must have sold out and are playing a different genre”. You know the way you are when you’re a child and you like metal and therefore no other type of music is allowed? The way you grow out of unless you’re a scientist?
So yes, songs like Hy Pro Glow and Burst made me not buy it. Then I remember it being on a listening post in Our Price, listening to Only and buying it immediately.
Anyway while I looked at Anthrax in HMV the other day I saw that they had several Greatest Hits collections and scouring them I noticed that none of them contained ANY tracks from this album. I was like “Hang on now. This was/is the best thing they ever did. WTF?”. I mean, sure, they changed singer on this album (to someone who was good) and they had lyrics that for the first time actually came across like some thought had gone into them. So compared to previous examples such as “Got The Time”, “I’m The Man” or the truly Kafkaesque “Now It’s Dark” I’m sure “Potter’s Field” or “Packaged Rebellion” just didn’t hold up. I guess for the average thrash-fan you’ve already shaken all your braincells out after a couple of albums.
The album starts with an awful lot of white noise (Title may have given that away…) then some scientist dude saying “This is a journey into sound” (That fear of it being a dance album back to the forefront of my mind) then in come the guitars and drums. And oh my it sounds good. Very chuggy indeed. What’s noticeable is the loudness of everything. The drums are crystal against the bass and the guitars are a wall of balanced distortion and tone with the vocals bang centre. An embarrassment to the production styles of rock and metal over the last ten years where everything suffers just to balance the vocal.
And then we’re into it and the songs blaze by. I was going to try and do a song-by-song but a) you don’t care and b) I don’t care about you. They are all as great as they ever were.
I mean, of course, it’s a little bit silly. It’s loud guitars and a gruff man shouty-singing. Not only that, but it’s ripe for parody. Every fourth line he holds the last syllable – you could imagine that dude from CSI Miami putting his sunglasses on afterwards. YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!
“Transparent at critical moments
you drop me when your hands aren’t full
you call yourself my closest friend
then you make yourself invisibuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul”
But in my honest opinion, I think those lyrics are pretty good. Even with the tenuous invisible/full rhyme. But you get the idea.
To get back to what I was saying before – it’s strange none of the songs here are on the Greatest Hits album. I went back and listened to Anthrax’s earlier stuff and it’s fucking terrible now. Stinky head banging nonsense. Which means their Greatest Hits is total bawls. Even their collab with Public Enemy on Bring The Noise sounds dated now. Maybe this albums fuller sound didn’t sit well with their fanbase. Living up to their long hair the fucking girls.
For me, the change in style is what makes this album. It’s a thrash band who want to evolve working with a grunge producer who had just recently recorded Alice In Chains’ “Dirt”. It’s fair to say that Dave Jerden produced two of the best albums of all time in less than a year. The bastard.
*edit* Oh and one more thing, if you listen to it on Spotify – don’t listen to any of the bonus tracks. They are all shit. As far as I’m concerned the album finishes after This Is Not An Exit.