The six songs were recorded last year, and because of the band’s crazy schedule, were done at studios and other locations around the world. From the tour bus to Berlin to New York, they managed to lay down their version of a half dozen tracks. The artists covered on Anthems aren’t necessarily a surprise, but the songs by those artists may not be the ones you’d expect, for the most part.
The EP opens with “Smokin,” featuring guest keyboardist Fred Mandel (Pink Floyd, Queen, Alice Cooper), who adds exactly the right vibe to the Boston track. Joey Belladonna definitely has the pipes to handle a Journey song, and the up-tempo “Keep On Runnin’” from 1981‘s Escape was an excellent choice instead of one of their sappy ballads.
When it came to covering a Cheap Trick song, Anthrax went outside the box as well. They picked “Big Eyes,” a fairly obscure song from the band’s 1977 sophomore effort In Color. Probably the most obvious choice was Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak,” but Anthrax nails it, keeping the classic rock vibe while adding some of their trademark crunch.
Other songs covered include AC/DC’s “TNT” and Rush’s “Anthem.” In addition to the cover songs, there’s a remix of “Crawl” from Worship Music plus the album version. They probably could have omitted the original version instead of having nearly the same song back to back to close out the album.
It’s always fun to hear bands cover songs by the artists that actually influenced them, which is exactly what Anthrax has done with Anthems. It’s certainly not essential, but fans of the band should enjoy it, and it sounds like Anthrax enjoyed making it.
(released March 19, 2013 on Megaforce Records)