The last few years in Anthrax history are ones to forget. The original reunion with Joey Belladonna that left John Bush out in the cold eventually left Anthrax without a vocalist. Cue the shambles that was Dan Nelson, and the binned version of ‘Worship Music‘ which may never see the light of day, and yet more flip flopping between Bush and Belladonna probably lost them a lot of fans and integrity. But having finally settled on the man who sang for them during their evolution into one of the Big 4 in the 80’s and 90’s, ‘Worship Music‘ has been rerecorded and finally released, and thankfully, its not a steaming turd and actually manages to hold its own for the majority.
Any doubts about Belladonna’s ability to adapt to Anthrax’s modern day sound are quickly removed in the opening few tracks. ‘Earth is Hell’ and ‘The Devil You Know’ give Belladonna plenty of scope to flex his pipes in different ways, and the latter of those, plus the lead single ‘Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t’ are potential ‘Thrax fan favourites in the making. The album wears a little thin after that, at least upon first listening, due to the mid-paced nature of most of the songs, but further listens prove that their depth in quality remains, particularly on songs such as ‘Crawl’ and ‘Revolution Screams’.
I personally found the cover of Refused’s ‘New Noise’ a little bit strange both in the band’s decision to finish on it, and also to bother with it whatsoever. Though Anthrax are no strangers to crossing over into different musical territories, this particular venture is one step too far. Belladonna and Dennis Lyxzén are poles apart vocally, on the face of this song anyway, and for me Belladonna’s vocals really don’t suit the song.
Overall, though, ‘Worship Music‘ is a solid effort – though not a great one – despite the upheaval that proceeded it, and Belladonna in particular has certainly proved there’s still life in this old dog yet. Although by no means a classic, its far from the catastrophe it could well have been.