Anthrax have returned and with a real monster here in For All Kings. Pound for pound, this is exactly the kind of disc I was waiting for from these guys and it definitely cements the fact that they can still do it after all these years. The excuse for Worship Music was something to the tune of, “we wrote the music to accompany our new vocalist, Dave” but that's not the case here and you can see and hear the difference. Obviously the band have stepped it up quite a bit and For All Kings definitely sounds more like a thrash album than a modern metal or groove metal disc. There are still groove elements here reminiscent of We've Come For You All, but I actually liked that album and can't say that I mind them. For All Kings is definitely the kind of album that wants to combine thrash with a little more substance and structure, just so long as the choruses come in catchy as saccharine and that they certainly do.
The record is surprisingly punchy, with a drum performance that really serves as a fine backbone, as Scott Ian's riffs seem to have one foot in eighties thrash, with another in eighties prog metal (think Queensryche). There's also an obvious pop/rock flair here as the chorus melody of “Breathing Lightning” sounds very much like a radio cut. Save for the fact that it's almost seven minutes long. Other than the fact that thrasher “You Gotta Believe” (yeah, it makes me think of Sonic The Hedgehog or some anime theme) are quite long pieces, the record features much shorter and easier to digest pieces amongst what some might call more muscular numbers. Yet I feel it was a fine idea to mix them up as the band have done here. I also feel that there's some obvious lyrical nodes to The Dark Tower here, as with 93's Among The Living. All in all, I think that if you're looking for a thrash disc with very bright and memorable choruses as well as prominent musicianship that sounds like a band that's been doing it for over thirty years, you can't really go wrong with this one. As much as I hated most of Worship Music, this album really feels like the band have picked it back up and delivered a record that I think Belladonna fans are going to be very proud of. No, it's not technically as much of a thrasher as was made back in the old days, but it's definitely the best record I've heard from them since We've Come For You All. I've always been partial to the John Bush era, but with this disc I'm opening up to Belladonna and perhaps that's a good thing. I almost feel like it's a thrashier Sound Of White Noise and a secondary “Black Album” in that respect. For All Kings is the kind of thrash album that still sounds like thrash, but still has an obvious commercial viability and will pick up just as many sales at Wal-Mart as it will in independent record shops. Even if you don't like this album, it's really hard to deny the fact that they really put the pedal to the metal on this one. Sure, there are some slower ballads to be found here like “Blood Eagle Wings” and even some touches of atmosphere that might feel alien on a thrash record. But for a band that was fucking around with electronics and Nu-Metal riffs the last time, I don't feel that I mind this kind of experimentation.
There's almost a final opinion in the very phrase that I've used about four or five times in this review so far, “I don't feel that I mind” which couldn't be further from the truth. I don't feel that I mind many of the ideas on this record, I don't feel that I mind this record as a whole and I think they could have put out a far worse recording than this one. It's not perfect, but I didn't expect that. I wanted an album that shows what these guys can do with a little bit of snow on the mountains, and that's what we got. It sounds like it comes from experienced musicians, rather than trend-hoppers and I can't say that I mind that either. Welcome back, Anthrax.
(12 Tracks, 59:00)