Comment permalink

Anthrax, "Fight 'em 'til You Can't"

Get ready to Worship

 

It's been a long time since we've heard anything new from Anthrax. Their last album of original studio material was 2003's We've Come For You All. Since then, vocalists and guitarists have come and gone, and the unceremonious firing of singer Dan Nelson and continually-delayed release of Worship Music, the band's 10th album, made Guns 'n Roses look good by comparison.

 

 

 

But Anthrax have made a habit of never saying "die"; they survived numerous lineup changes (including firing Dan Nelson, re-hiring John Bush and then re-hiring Joey Belladonna) and a couple of poorly promoted and received albums to pull things together in time to open the historic Big 4 shows, where they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow thrash metal legends Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. Somehow, despite melodramatic and embarrassing lineup troubles and stuttering creative output, Anthrax were still around. Who knew, maybe even the much-delayed and much-re-recorded Worship Music would see the light of day.

 

Then came some real news. Anyone can throw out release dates and talk about how excited they are for the album, but Anthrax debuted a new song off Worship Music, "Fight 'em 'til You Can't" back in October. Talk is cheap; playing a new song live means it actually exists. And if it exists, that means there might be more where that came from.

 

To thank their fans for patiently waiting (or even impatiently waiting) all these many years for new Anthrax, the band decided to release the CD version of "Fight 'em 'til You Can't" on June 24th. Worship Music is due out September 13th, and if the song is any indication, the eight-year gap between We've Come For You All and Worship Music will be worth the wait.

 

"Fight 'em 'til You Can't" starts with a radio report of how the dead have come back to life ("in your area") and are attacking the living. We've heard it all before, but then the music comes in, a pounding, blistering attack of crunchy guitars from Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano, and thunderous drumming by Charlie Benante. Under it all, like some hungry and pissed-off subterranean beast, is Frankie Bello's rumbling bass. Helped by the crystal-clear production, Anthrax have wasted no time in announcing that they're back.

 

Joey Belladonna's voice comes in over a simple, catchy, typically Anthrax riff, exhorting his listeners to "Fight 'em 'til you can't fight no more." It's not just zombies that are the enemy, but every naysayer, every Internet critic who said that the band were washed up after years of lineup changes and Worship Music languishing in production hell. "Fight 'em 'til You Can't" begs to differ.

 

Everything about the song works - from its ultra-melodic chorus and guitar solo, to the gang vocals of "Fight 'em!" and "No more!", which are sure to go over huge in a live setting. It's taken a long time for Anthrax to sound this revitalized, this urgent, but eight years is a long time to languish.

 

The song does bear a passing resemblance to the song "Gridlock", off Anthrax's 1990 album Persistence of Time, but "Fight 'em 'til You Can't" - and, by extension (one hopes), Worship Music - is definitely 21st century. I've never put much stock in this stuff about heavy metal bands going "back to their roots"; all I can say is that "Fight 'em 'til You Can't" sounds fresh, it sounds invigorating. It is definitely Anthrax's brand of heavy metal, the sound of New York punk marrying Bay Area thrash. Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer each have enjoyed second winds in their careers - it's a pleasure (and a relief) to see Anthrax finally catching up.