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State Of Euphoria (30th Anniversary Edition)

(Island Records/UME/Universal Music)

      Let's face it; within the oft-storied annals of the Thrash Metal genre, few recordings have had a more lasting impact and/or impression than the Anthrax classic Among The Living (1987). Hailed by critics and fans alike as a veritable 'instant classic', many of it's noteworthy tracks quickly became staples in the group's live set. When recording for it's highly-anticipated follow-up began in April of 1988, many questioned how they could top such a formidable offering. The end results of their more-than-considerable efforts would become State Of Euphoria (1988). Initially propelled via singles (“Who Cares Wins” and “Antisocial”, a truly blistering cover of the Trust gem), it reached No. 30 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified as Gold by the RIAA on February 8, 1989. Now, with the thirtieth anniversary of it's release having arrived, Universal Music has unleashed a deluxe two disc edition that at long last highlights the glories of what would become the group's most polarizing release yet.

      On the brilliant State Of Euphoria (30th Anniversary Edition) (2018), an expertly assembled two disc, twenty-five song collection of Thrash Metal, each track, beginning with the emotionally-charged “Be All, End All” (featuring a haunting intro from Bobby 'Blue' Bland alumni Carol Freedman) and the groove-laden--albeit relentlessly pummeling--“Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Gleefully flexing their woefully-underrated (at that junction in time, at least) creative muscles early and often, the group yields a series of initial auditory offerings that are as impressive as they are thoroughly satisfying. While not groundbreaking and certainly not revolutionary, they provide the basic framework for the tonalities that would later define their trademark tonality as it progressed from the screeching pupilages of the Neil Turbin-led Fistful Of Metal (1984).

      Continuing with the thought-provoking anti-greed lament “Antisocial” and the thunderous Blue Velvet/Frank Booth-fueled “Now It's Dark”, the airtight--to say the very least--combination of multi-octave vocalist Joey Belladonna, rhythm/lead guitarist Scott Ian (Motorsister, Stormtroopers Of Death, The Damned Things), lead guitarist Dan Spitz (Red Lamb, now a Master Watchmaker Of Mechanical Complications), bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante (Stormtroopers Of Death) steamrolls ahead like the well-oiled machine they were so obviously becoming. Offering a seamless, primarily mid-tempo barrage of soaring vocals, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms, the group wastes little time proving themselves capable of moving on from their recent past. Focusing on a socially conscious vernacular that partially eschew their obvious penchant for all things 'comic book' and horror-themed, the listener is left with a fresh, renewed feeling of self-awareness.

      Co-Produced and Engineered by a dream team tandem of the acclaimed Mark Dodson (Judas Priest, Metal Church, Suicidal Tendencies) and Alex Perialas (Flotsam & Jetsam, Overkill, Testament) at Quadradial Studios, other standouts, including the fist-pumping, mosh-inducing diatribe “Schism” and the maddeningly infectious, quasi-anthemic closer “Fīnalē”, serve as a much-welcomed reminder of the group's once burgeoning prowess. Fortified by the French language version of “Antisocial”, the tongue-in-cheek “Friggin' In The Riggin'” (a.k.a. “Good Ship Venus”) and a refreshingly faithful take on the Kiss termagant “Parasite” are seemingly guaranteed to leave all die-hard completists only begging for more. However, what ultimately separates the mighty State Of Euphoria (30th Anniversary Edition) from it's few contemporaries is the inclusion of the stunning Charlie's Archives (i.e. the entirety of the two-track recording sessions) that highlight its overall development and growth.

      But why should you care? Because it really is that good. Blissfully void of the endlessly re-hashed 'rarities' and sub-par audio that all too often comprise the bulk of such collections, the majority--if not all--of the quasi-historic wares contained herein effectively epitomize the very finest elements of late '80's Thrash Metal. While the original recordings may not be on par with the previously-mentioned Among The Living (1987) it remains infinitely more satisfying than it's follow-up Persistence Of Time (1990), one must, at the very least, sincerely admire the disciplines of execution necessary for such an immersive and encapsulating experience. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a delightfully nostalgic trip down memory lane that doesn't involve wholeheartedly embracing a morbidly obese expanse of leather and bullet belt-clad Velveeta, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane emollients for whatever ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Select Discography

State Of Euphoria (30th Anniversary Edition) (2018)

Kings Among Scotland (DVD) (2018)

For All Kings (2016)

Chile On Hell (DVD) (2014)

Worship Music (2011)

Caught In A Mosh: BBC Live In Concert (2007)

Alive 2 (CD/DVD) (2005)

Live: The Island Years (1994)

Attack Of The Killer B's (1991)

Persistence Of Time (1990)

State Of Euphoria (1988)

I'm The Man (EP) (1987)

Among The Living (1987)

Spreading The Disease (1985)

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