Volume 8 - The Threat Is Real


Ignition Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By all the accounts I read, thrash metal group Anthrax should have been dead. After dismissing two key members over the course of two albums (singer Joey Belladonna and lead guitarist Dan Spitz), some thought that Anthrax had lost their edge. I personally had not liked Sound Of White Noise, their first outing with new singer John Bush (ex-Armored Saint), and I never bothered to buy Stomp 442. (Editor's note: I've since picked up Stomp 442 ... and have yet to listen to it as of June 2001. Some things never change.)

But Anthrax, contrary to popular reports, was nowhere near dead - to paraphrase Monty Python, they were just resting. Their latest release, Volume 8 - The Threat Is Real, shows the band altering their sound a bit to adapt to modern times, but it also features some of the band's best work in a long time.

Drummer Charlie Benante, who has been writing or co-writing the band's songs for the longest time, adds a new credit to his already impressive resume: lead guitar (duties he shares with co-producer Paul Crook and rhythm guitarist Scott Ian). Of course, this shouldn't be any shock to people who have followed the band for a long time. Bush finally sounds at home in his role as lead throat; this is his best work yet with Anthrax, and it almost sounds like he's been with them since the beginning.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Most of the thrash of Anthrax's earlier days is long gone, replaced with more powerful, crunching riffs that form the backbone of the song. (There are still two flashes of Anthrax's old days; "604" and "cupajoe" easily could have been leftovers from Ian's side project S.O.D.) From the thunder of bass drums and tom-toms on the disc's opening song "Crush," Anthrax quickly lets the listener know that they are back, and open for business.

And while the long-time fans might miss the balls-out thrash days of Spreading The Disease or Among The Living, Volume 8 - The Threat Is Real holds its own with well-written songs that capture all of the energy of the old days. Songs like "Catharsis" and "Inside Out" coyly grab the listener's ears and pummels them with catchy riffs and well-written lyrics.

There are some strange moments on Volume 8 - The Threat Is Real, that might leave some fans scratching their heads. "Toast To The Extras" almost has a country-shuffle feel to it, and is very much out of character for the band. It's not a bad track, just one you never would have thought a band like Anthrax would have tackled. "Harms Way" builds up from an acoustic guitar open to a more powerful number, but this is one that will require a little patience from the older fans.

The best track on this album, surprisingly, is one that is not credited. After "Stealing From A Thief" finishes, don't turn off the disc; about 15 seconds after the track fades out, an uncredited track, "Pieces," kicks in. It is undoubtedly the least likely kind of song anyone would have expected from Anthrax (a ballad?!? Who woulda thunk it?). However, the song, sung by bassist Frank Bello, is a moving remembrance to his brother Anthony, who was killed in 1996. Bello proves without a doubt here that he is not only a capable songwriter, but is a helluva singer as well.

Oh, the cries of "sellout" are sure to be uttered by the leather-clad headbangers longing for the days of old. Two words: Shut up . Sure, I loved a lot of Anthrax's older work as well (somewhere in the Pierce Memorial Archives I have a copy of the import-only EP Penikufesin), but with this release Anthrax demonstrate their ability to modernize their sound without losing any of the power they've had in their prime.

Interestingly enough, "Dimebag" Darrell and Phil Anselmo of Pantera make guest appearances on this album, but their efforts are almost unnoticeable without the liner notes in front of you. Now that's seamless!

Volume 8 - The Threat Is Real is a disc that takes some time to adjust to (I listened to this disc about 10 times before I finally felt comfortable enough to review it), but it proves that Anthrax is still very much a power to deal with in the world of heavy metal.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


Christopher, are you a drug addict? I agree with some of your reviews but this makes no fucking sense.

When bands 'modernize' they usually sell out their integrity for money and fame. Anthrax were revolutionary, they had their own sound of punk and thrash. They became a Pantera wannabes with Bush.

If the material was good in ANY WAY, I could let your rating slip, but what the fuck? Toast To The Extras? 604, Cupajoe? Why don't you go read the lyrics to Crush and say that they are not shit?
Where did I say that "604" and "cupajoe" were good tracks? I merely suggested that, due to their brevity, they could have been rejects from S.O.D. (Granted, the placement of that sentence in the review might have given the illusion that I was singling out these tracks as outstanding.)

And, let me get this straight... Anthrax sold out their integrity for money and fame by signing to a record label that closed shortly after this CD was issued? (I know Anthrax has made some colossal career fuck-ups, but... really?) Bush sings a country-tinged song like "Toast To The Extras," but he's fronting a bunch of "Pantera wannabes"? And I'M the "drug addict"?

I refuse to get into a "Joey vs. John" discussion/argument/fistfight, simply because neither side is gonna win, and both are going to continue to claim they're right. Truth is, I appreciated the work of both singers (and wish that Charlie Benante would release the Dan Nelson-sung version of "Worship Music"), and when I wrote this review back in 1998, it was a gut reaction to the product I heard.

Look, if you don't like "Toast To The Extras," fine - I just thought it was a daring (yet temporary) move that people wouldn't have expected. Do I listen to that track a lot today? Honestly, no. But there is material on this disc that I do still think was outstanding - "Inside Out" and "Catharsis" still remain some of my favorite Bush-era Anthrax songs.

Doesn't mean I'm right... doesn't mean you're right. Just my opinion.

© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ignition Records, and is used for informational purposes only.