Anthrax - Fistful Of Metal review


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Band: Anthrax
Album: Fistful Of Metal
Release date: February 1984

01. Deathrider
02. Metal Thrashing Mad
03. I'm Eighteen [Alice Cooper cover]
04. Panic
05. Subjugator
06. Soldiers Of Metal
07. Death From Above
08. Anthrax
09. Across The River
10. Howling Furies

Everyone must start somewhere, and for Anthrax they were very humble beginnings indeed. Fistful Of Metal is a fun first outing and does send sparks flying that would later catch a flame and burn bright. To assess the album on its own merits however, it is a mixed bag to say the least.

What will strike you when listening to this record is the sizeable jump they would take when moving on from Fistful Of Metal. The sonic identity the band would create for themselves is in a very nascent form on their debut. While the band do have talent, it has yet to fully mature or find a way to channel itself constructively.

Ian and Spitz rip through riffs like men possessed, eschewing character in favour of intensity. The riffs owe a heavy debt to NWOBHM bands and often sound like said riffs but played like a buzzsaw at full speed, sacrificing character for cheap intensity. Benante has yet to fully master speed and flair that would later serve as his strong suit; he is able to do both here separately, but has yet to combine the two effectively. If you compare the versions of these songs with the ones that were on The Greater Of Two Evils you can hear how the band matured and sees the primal form found on Fistful Of Metal realized.

Of course this realization would take place without singer Turbin and bass player Lilker; while Lilker would go on to show he had talent in spades and could have matched the band going forward especially when you look at his work with Nuclear Assault and Brutal Truth et al, it doesn't appear to be the same with Turbin.

Turbin is a very one-dimensional singer on Fistful Of Metal; he is able to wail like a banshee and shriek with a power that could shatter glass but is unable to do any other than that with much conviction. On tracks like "Anthrax", where all-out intensity is eschewed for a restrained approach, Turbin doesn't sound as convincing or as good; he isn't bad but it does mean the band are driven down a creative cul de sac should they want to play to his strengths.

Given it's their debut album, of course there are missteps as the band come to their find their footing; "I'm Eighteen" is the obvious lowlight, with the band's attempt at the track robbing it of the charm and angst the original had in favour of shoving a bit of unnecessary extra power into it. There are other examples as well; "Soldiers Of Metal" is so cheesy yet taken so seriously by the band that you can't help but chuckle to yourself.

Even at the very start though, Anthrax show that they had a bright future ahead of them, with tracks like "Deathrider" and "Subjugator" showing they were not just another speed metal band and were on another level than many of their peers. "Metal Thrashing Mad" and "Howling Furies" are fun listens; while they may not become classics in the grand scheme of things, they are well worth a listen to.

It's fun to look back at how far the band has come and where it all began, but it is that nostalgia that is the main draw for this album; strip it away and you are left with an album that shows promise but has yet to develop a way to truly live up to these expectations. Well worth a listen if you want some straight up speed metal fun that reveals in youthful exuberance, but for someone who wants a refined well composed album, then Fistful Of Metal isn't for you.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 6

Written by omne metallum | 01.08.2020


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