Anthrax – Among the Living
(So, I covered this record last year, and due to my laziness, I’m just going to repost that review with a few edits. Funny thing is, even though the original post was written over a year ago, the first paragraph applies today. I am currently doing laundry and plan on going out later, so it’s almost as if I wrote it today.)
It is a dreary day out there, but I’ve got some laundry rocking and plans later today that resemble having a social life and Anthrax’s ‘Among the Living’ to crank out, so I’m good with today so far.
‘Among the Living’ and by extension Anthrax for all intents and purposes was my introduction to thrash metal. I was 13 yrs old and in 7th grade when my neighbor got a hold of this tape. I had heard of the band before, and I think I even had heard the song ‘Madhouse’ from ‘Spreading the Disease’ earlier that summer, but it was this tape that truly exposed me to the band and a new form of heavy metal. At the time, I had never heard the phrase thrash metal, and was vaguely familiar with the term speed metal, and was already listening to Helloween at this point, but for the most part, it was all new to me. I can’t say that I really notice a huge difference in Anthrax’s style of metal compared to the heavy metal I was already familiar with. Sure, it was heavier than AC/DC or W.A.S.P., but to my 13-yr. self, it was just new music for me to get into and absorb and enjoy, and I really liked it from the first listen.
I seriously remember the day I first heard this record as if it was yesterday. It was Friday night and as was my habit at the time, I headed over to my neighbor Chuck house down to hang out and do whatever a couple of country bumpkins might do on a Friday night. We were still just young enough, or I was at least, where we weren’t into all the bad things teenagers do just yet, (those days were numbered though ). Anyway, we’re hanging out in Chuck’s room and he pulls out this tape he borrowed from a friend at school and asked me if I wanted to listen to it. Of course, I said yes and he played it for me. I remember thinking “wow, this is cool”. It was really heavy, but the singer could sing, and they had really good and catchy vocal melodies and I totally ate it up. Plus, the music was so freakin’ cool. I remember reading along with the lyrics and really being caught in Joey Belladonna’s vocal melodies for the pre-choruses on ‘I Am the Law’ and ‘NFL’. Plus, it didn’t hurt they dropped the ‘F’ bomb left and right. That really wasn’t as common for me at the time, so it was crazy to hear it on a record.
Like I said I didn’t really process that this was a different sub-genre of heavy metal initially, I noticed it was different and heavier than what I was used to, I had just gotten out of my KISS obsession for christ sake, so yeah it was heavier than most of the music I was listening to at the time. But it took Chuck to say “I guess you call these guys speed metal” where it sort of clicked for me, this is something new, this is something different. Now, of course, this is 42 yr old me evaluating 13 yr me, and I assure you I did not have anywhere near as deep thoughts about the band at the time. But by being exposed to this record that night, a seed was planted in me that would dictate my taste in music in the months and years ahead. I never really thought about it until right now while I’m writing this, but you could argue that ‘Among the Living’ was possibly the most influential record for me when it comes to my musical taste of the last 27 years. Because after hearing that album, I started to dig into other speed and thrash metal bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and so on and so forth. My love of thrash metal really did start that night with this record. We can’t know for sure, but if it wasn’t for this record being my first exposure to thrash metal, I may not have been as receptive to those other bands I discovered later that school year.
For the most part, pretty much every metal head knows Anthrax and this record. For many of the diehards, it’s considered to be the bands best record and is a favorite for many fans. I fall into that camp for all the reasons I just wrote about, but even if I had heard ‘Spreading the Disease’ or ‘State of Euphoria’ first, I’d probably still site this record as my favorite Anthrax record because there is so much good music on here. Four of the five songs on side one they still play at every show. The opening song on side two ‘Indians’ also still gets played at every show, and they have been known to throw any of the remaining songs into their sets throughout the years. If I were to go see them tomorrow, there is not a single song on this record that I would mad at if they played it. It’s such a strong record.
So yeah if you have not heard this record before, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a great beginning to end. And in the end if you decide you don’t like it, Anthrax is not for you, which is ok, I guess. I mean you’re wrong, but whatever.
Even better go see them live, even if you don’t like metal, you can’t help but be impressed with the energy of this band. They’re one of the most entertaining bands I have ever seen live. They are the real deal.