Anthrax – For All Kings
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: February 26, 2016
Coming straight to the point, Anthrax will release their 11th full length album For All Kings and how much you love or hate it will depend on how much you enjoyed their previous release Worship Music. If you are one of those who expect them to churn out tracks similar to Among The Living or Spreading the Disease on this new album, please look away, but if you care less about the past and are open to listening to something new and interesting, read on.
The band teases you with the intro of “You Gotta Believe”, starting with a drum roll, and slowly building into a crescendo with an ominous string arrangement. There is a crowd chanting in the backdrop as the song finally bursts into a fireball of crunchy thrash riffage. “You Gotta Believe” is a kick-ass, catchy opener and has that familiar Anthrax ring to it, but just when you think you have figured out how the song will unfold, they completely twist it to traverse an entirely different sonicscape; with an elaborate solo over a simplistic yet intriguing guitar line. The track ends in a flurry of double bass and snare hits from Charlie Benante, amidst a faster solo over the intro riff making you realize that you are in for hell of a ride. The band does not make any conscious efforts to sound like their former self and are not at all afraid to transgress musical boundaries on multiple occasions on this album. The end result is a great amalgamation of groove and melody. Tracks like “Breathing Lightning” and the title track, “For All Kings”, are a perfect blend of mind-bending hooks and catchy rhythms.
Guitarist Jonathan Donais delivers amazing solos throughout the album that will surely fuel many an air guitar moment during the course of this album and Scott Ian’s punchy riffs will take you back to some of their older stuff. Tracks like “Evil Twin” will most definitely hit those neurotransmitters in your brain to make you gush with nostalgia as the groove laden hooks enter your ear drums. However, on the whole, the band exhibits a newer approach to their songwriting style combining melodic guitar lines amidst the razor-sharp groove attack, as can be heard on tracks like “Blood Eagle Wings” and “All Of Them Thieves”. They go really well with Joey Belladona’s soaring NWOBHM influenced vocals and leave me no doubt that he is the perfect fit for this band.
There are some weak moments as well on this album especially during in the verse sections of some of the songs. Tracks like “This Battle Chose Us” and “Monster at the End” sound too simplistic and offer very little variation during its course and stand out as the weakest tracks for me, although, the solos are still face melters.
Scott Ian mentioned in one of his interviews that For All Kings is the heaviest and the most metal Anthrax record, but I would totally disagree with him. This album, has its heavy and thrashy moments, but on the whole it sounds less thrashy even when compared to Worship Music, let alone their earlier releases. However, this does not mean that For All Kings is not enjoyable. Barring some minor flaws, this album will most likely end up in many people’s year-end lists for the best records of this year. The album also features nice bonus tracks including gems like “A.I.R”, “Caught in a Mosh” and “Madhouse”.
Bottom line: For All Kings is a thoroughly enjoyable album. It will make you nostalgic but also surprise you with some new tricks. All you need to do is to just keep an open mind and give it a chance to grow on you as you spin it multiple times.