The career arc of long-running successful metal bands seems to have some similarities. They burst on the scene with a fresh sound, have a run of a couple to several successful albums, then the arc curves downward. They may change their sound, have personnel changes and release lackluster or disappointing albums. Then at some point, there's a turnaround, righting the ship and ascending to at least some level of their former glory. At least 3 of the “Big 4,” including Anthrax, fit that profile. That leads to the obvious question: is Worship Music their turnaround?
Yes it is. After an opening interlude, Anthrax unleashes “Earth On Hell,” an intense and aggressive song that's a solid punch in the face reminding listeners they are indeed back. It's a streamlined and straightforward track that serves its purpose well. “The Devil You Know” is one of the strongest songs on the album. It's catchy and memorable.
It has been 20 years since Belladonna has done an Anthrax studio album, and he's in great form on Worship Music. He still has excellent range, and there is plenty of angst and emotion in his performance. Even on songs like “Fight 'Em Til You Can't” where the lyrics are fairly cheesy, Joey sells it. The rest of the band sounds rejuvenated as well. You'll hear potent riffs from Scott Ian, some nice shredding from Rob Caggiano and a rock-solid rhythm section of Frank Bello and Charlie Benante.
Anthrax went through a lot of adversity and turmoil in the years that went into making Worship Music. Most fans waited patiently, though there were whispers from some quarters that the band had outlived its usefulness and relevancy and might be better off just calling it a day. Never one to pay any heed to the critics, Anthrax persevered, and Worship Music is a welcome return to form.
(released September 13, 2011 on Megaforce Records)