For All Kings

(Megaforce Records)

     I have a confession to make; when pioneering New York City Thrash Metal veterans Anthrax announced the curiously-motivated departure of vocalist Joey Belladonna following the lackluster performance of Persistence Of Time (1990), I was more than a little disappointed. Although the prospect of multi-octave Armored Saint frontman John Bush the group's de facto leader wasn't entirely dissatisfying (the initial fruits of their labors, The Sound Of White Noise, remains a watershed moment), I occasionally found myself speculating 'what might have been' had the fabled Among The Living (1987) line-up remained intact. However, following the release of the Modern Rock-tinged We've Come For You All (2003) and an embarrassingly protracted falling out with Bush, the group soon found themselves reunited with Belladonna, ultimately culminating with the release of Worship Music (2011). Five severely long years later, the group has again returned with the mighty For All Kings (2016).

      On the brilliant For All Kings (2016), an expertly assembled thirteen song collection of Thrash Metal, each track, beginning with the relentlessly pummeling anthem “You Gotta Believe” and the maddeningly infectious lament “Monster At The End”, instantly commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Firing on all cylinders early and often, the group reaffirms their well-deserved reputation as a bona fide creative and commercial force not to be ignored without, believe it or not, resorting to the payola-driven tactics of their few legitimate contemporaries. Deftly obliterating their understandably-misguided detractors with an efficient and clinical enthusiasm that belies their fractured lineages, the group harnesses the frenetic, unadulterated energy and spirit of their quasi-virtuosic tendencies with a near-breathless elegance, reminding everyone of their overwhelming lyrical and compositional ingenuity.

      Continuing with the grandiose--albeit highly-effective second single--“Breathing Lightning” and the hook-laden tirade “All Of The Thieves”, the combination of vocalist Joey Belladonna, lead guitarist Jonathan Donais (ex-Shadows Fall, replacing the mercurial Rob Caggiano who departed in 2013 to join Dutch Psychobilly stalwarts Volbeat), rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante steamroll ahead like the well-oiled machine they so obviously have become. Wisely re-capturing their quasi-prototypical roots and adding a fresh, modern twist, the group engulfs the proverbial average listener (i.e. you, the increasingly faithful reader) an avalanche of soaring vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. With Belladonna proving that some voices do in fact improve with age and Donais adding a much-welcomed element of Spitz-esque 'shred', the end results of their initial undertakings are indeed nothing short of truly extraordinary.

      Produced and Mixed by the acclaimed Jay Ruston (Adrenaline Mob, Steel Panther, The Winery Dogs) and adorned throughout by stunning artwork from National Cartoonists Society Awards winner Alex Ross (The Amazing Spiderman, Justice League Of America, Wonder Woman), other standouts, including the fist-pumping, mosh-inducing call-to-arms “The Battle Chose Us” and the equally impressive, Charlie Hebdo massacre-fueled closer “Evil Twin”, serve as a much-welcomed reminder of the improbably long-running group's occasionally groundbreaking legacies. Serving as an ideal follow-up to the group's universally-heralded 'comeback' Worship Music (2011), even the disappointing--if not outright--conspicuous absence of the delightfully tongue-in-cheek, oddly Hard Rock-driven “Soror Irrumator” (a.k.a. “Sister Fucker”, taken from the second Catch The Throne: The Mixtape, Vol II) cannot subtract from what should only be described as a thoroughly exquisite performance.

     But is it Among The Living redux? Absolutely not. But then again, that's the point, now isn't it? Easily their finest post-The Sound Of White Noise 'moment', the majority--if not all--of the decidedly ear-pleasing wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to leave both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike only wanting for more. Even if you still somehow find yourself less than enthralled with the group's seemingly all-consuming obsession with recapturing/reliving/revisiting their past, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire their seemingly ceaseless dedication to honing the already razor-sharp chops. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a refreshingly thunderous alternative to the painfully mindless, Hip Hop and Pop-tinged din and clatter that so often dominate the charts and airwaves, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane audio counterirritant for whatever it is that ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.


Select Discography

For All Kings (2016)

Anthems (2012)

Worship Music (2011)

Anthrology: No Hit Wonders (1985-1991) (2005)

Alive 2 (2005)

We've Come For You All (2003)

Return Of The Killer A's (1999)

Volume 8: The Threat Is Real (1998)

Stomp 442 (1995)

Live: The Island Years (1994)

The Sound Of White Noise (1993)

Attack Of The Killer B's (EP) (1991)

Persistence Of Time (1990)

State Of Euphoria (1988)

I'm The Man (EP) (1987)

Among The Living (1987)

Spreading The Disease (1985)

Armed And Dangerous (EP) (1985)

Fistful Of Metal (1984)

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