Anthrax - Among The Living

Anthrax - Among The Living

(1987, Island Records)

There was much of a debate for whether New York’s ANTHRAX should have been listed a one of the Big Four of the American Thrash scene. Giving a more detailed look on the other three participants would not help much either since all three of them had their big share of the pie in the 80s but afterwards took separate ways also releasing themselves from the intact Thrash borders. Oppressing any fundamental legitimate beliefs of one or another in order to build the ‘true’ Big Four billing and having at least 2-3 more candidates that showed more loyalty in the basic thrashin’ lines (EXODUS, TESTAMENT or OVERKILL) you cannot ignore that the certified 80s works of METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX have left few space for dispute. And, for ANTHRAX in particular, it’s the “Among The Living” LP pushing the band to the mainstream and artistic top.

When ANTHRAX was formed the Thrash movement was not even born yet (circa 1981); hence the primal demo works of the band assembled by Scott Ian and Danny Lilker were clearly NWOBHM-influenced but with a speedy touch and a US Punk draft layer but as soon as the Bay Area style started pumping up in the West Coast and METALLICA visited the East Coast for a series of gigs it was evident that the seed was going to flourish; ANTHRAX and OVERKILL would bear the cross and many more bands would follow in New York and New Jersey in the years to come. Till then, ANTHRAX had employed their own signature style and the “Fistful Of Metal” and “Spreading The Disease” were just the first dish for the maximum breakthrough till that time.

So, why is “Among The Living” the most beloved album between fans and critics? I’d start by dare saying the stellar rhythm guitar work is a basic reason. The riffs that Scott Ian and Dan Spitz unleash are irresistible if you wanna bang your head or mosh nonstop. Really, there’s so much lunacy and volume in the riffs here that you simply can’t resist but nail down some serious headbanging. Be it the fast parts or some e-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-t bridges (you know, the ones we all love Thrash for), this 1987 disc is so powerful and groovy that few minutes you may find yourself feeling fed up or something close. Then, it’s the bass/drums lines that show no mercy and tie great with the guitars throughout the whole album. Fast, pounding but also dance-along, it’s no wonder the whole album is a headbanging lesson to learn.

The production here is perfect, nothing less. Made my Eddie Kramer (KISS, APRIL WINE, FASTWAY, LOUDNESS etc) it shines hard in full power and an American style that separates the band from the West Coast rivals by building a huge sound with stellar middle frequencies and a total ‘rhythmic’ layer that is rarely seen in other Thrash bands. Really, the sound in “Among The Living” is a certified winner by itself. The same goes for the vocals, both lead and back-up, that push up Joey Belladonna to a charismatic frontman and the rest of the band to a blowing up choir team that lives like there’s no tomorrow when singing “Cry for the Indi-aaaa-aaaans” or “I Am The Lawwww!”, to give you an example.

Now, after 25 years having passed by, “Among The Living” is still consider ANTHRAX’s magnum opus. The timing was perfect, the band was in its ‘classic’ lineup and the songwriting was just immense. Being a fan or not of ANTHRAX’s post-80s works you should not ever forget that the 80s were the time that (just like every other big Thrash band) the bar was raised high in Thrash music and this is and will forever be the point of reference. 2012’s ANTHRAX have little in common with those years but in any way you should not consider yourself a serious thrasher if you do not own this album.


Tracklist

01. Among The Living
02. Caught In A Mosh
03. I Am The Law
04. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
05. A Skeleton In The Closet
06. Indians
07. One World
08. A.D.I./Horror Of It All
09. Imitation Of Life


Lineup

Joey Belladonna - Vocals
Dan Spitz - Lead Guitar
Scott Ian - Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Frank Bello - Bass, Backing Vocals
Charlie Benante - Drums