Anthrax - Among the Living - March 22, 1987
After two full-length releases, Anthrax have proven that they are quite capable of writing music that is catchy as hell while remaining every bit as heavy. Their second album, Spreading the Disease featured whiplash-inducing thrash riffs coupled with infectious choruses infused with gang vocals and lead singer Joey Belladonna's soaring vocals -- the latter being a feature that separated them from the rest of the thrash metal pack, who's lead vocalists could usually be heard shouting, screaming or growling over the same type of riffage.
Enter Among the Living. The vocal approach has remained largely unchanged from Spreading the Disease. Belladonna is still truly singing over thrash riffs with barely even a hint of gruffness to his voice. The gang vocals seem even more prevalent however. It's almost as if Scott Ian has heard the Metallicas and Slayers of the world, and decided to add some sandpaper in the vocal department to match the ridiculous heaviness of the instrumentation, which is indeed ridiculous. There are very few albums at this point in time that sound as bone-crunchingly heavy as Among the Living does. "Caught in a Mosh" in particular embodies the Anthrax sound -- heavy as all hell, but every bit as catchy as anything Motley Crue could write. Songs like "Indians", "One World" & "NFL" follow suit, thrashing like mad and engraving themselves into the minds of bangers the world over.
There is a problem, however. That problem is filler. Songs like "A Skeleton in the Closet", "Horror of it All" and even the title track certainly present heavy enough music but are too simplistic in their riffage, so much so that the overall result is rather underwhelming. The feel is more punk than metal, more "go through the front door" than "find a second-floor window and kill 'em from there". There is a savage cleverness to albums like Ride the Lightning and Peace Sells, but that attribute is not always here. Anthrax writes front-door, smash-you-in-the-face riffs, and that's it, and it's OK for the most part. If this is Anthrax's finest moment (which, in the eyes and ears of many, it is) then it is no wonder that they are condisered "Band No. 4" in the Big Four.
Standouts: Caught in a Mosh, Indians, One World