Anthrax - The Greater Of Two Evils review
|Album:||The Greater Of Two Evils|
|Release date:||November 2004|
02. Metal Thrashing Mad
03. Caught In A Mosh
05. Among The Living
06. Keep It In The Family
10. I Am The Law
11. Belly Of The Beast
13. Be All End All
In 2004 thrash began to make a resurgence. Veteran thrash bands came back with strong offerings (Death Angel "The Art of Dying" / Exodus "Tempo of the Damned") and others delivered their strongest offerings in years (Megadeth "The System Has Failed"). Younger acts (Merciless Death, Warbringer, Gamma Bomb, Evile, etc.) were surely planting the seeds that came to fruition on their first EP's and LP's that would be released a couple of years later.
Anthrax, along with a few other thrash veterans like Overkill and Slayer (don't bring up Metallica circa 2004), continued to release material into the new millennium after their glory days had long passed. Anthrax maintained some of their early momentum with "The Sound of White Noise" when Joey Belladonna was replaced by John Bush, but they began to fall out of favor with their fans shortly after. In 2003 Anthrax released their strongest offering in years with "We've Come for You All", which seemed to help get them back on track.
A lot of bands now re-record their strongest early material, which they may not be fairly compensated for in royalties. Anthrax did this in 2004 with "The Greater of Two Evils", but their approach did not seem like most others. Their effort here works well in a few distinct ways:
1. The Production - these songs were recorded over just two days and, as Scott Ian refers to them in the liner notes, sound "like a class five hurricane blowing through the room". The band has top notch equipment and a world class studio to give it a great sound, but the short recording period gives it that garage feel that most thrashers love.
2. The Songs -There is no need to talk much about the strength of the individual songs since what's here is basically a well represented "best of" collection of re-recorded songs. You surely have an Anthrax favorite or two that are not represented, but it is hard to argue with what is on here. These are tracks that were selected by the fans, which adds to the throwback appeal. If you stick around through the end of the final track ("Gung-Ho") you will be blessed with "Lone Justice", which is tagged to the end. Everything that is on here was originally released in the periods prior to John Bush taking over lead vocals. This is a plus (see point 3).
3. John Bush - John Bush was with Armored Saint prior to joining Anthrax. He is one of the most overlooked vocalists in heavy metal. His vocals are always powerful and he never has to reach out of his enormous range for a growl or a grunt to get his point across. Most people would agree that Anthrax's best material was written on their first 5 or 6 albums prior to his tenure with the band, but some of us would also agree that John Bush's voice on top of these songs adds to their power. This album is a must have for those people.
Sadly, after this album was recorded, Anthrax seemed to want to cash in on the renewed thrash craze that had built an even bigger head of steam. Thrash acts were being congratulated and rewarded for being "old school". Instead of working with the momentum of "We've Come for You All" and the eye opening aggressive thrash of "The Greater of Two Evils", Anthrax sacked John Bush and went "old school" with Joey Belladonna. Prior history and common sense predicted that this reunion would be short lived and Belladonna was soon again the ex-lead singer of Anthrax. John Bush wisely resisted offers to return and will soon release new material with Armored Saint. As for Anthrax, they tried getting Corey Taylor from Slipknot to join the band and have recently settled on the unknown Dan Nelson. They described his voice as "John Bush on steroids". Yeah whatever guys….if that makes you feel better.
This album really is "The Greater of Two Evils" (the greatness of John Bush and Anthrax's early material). Reviews factor in the work's originality and since this is previously released material it is hard to give it much of a grade there, but it is the only possible detraction in my opinion. A great recommendation for fans of old Anthrax, John Bush era Anthrax and Armored Saint.
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