They had 8 years to think of a better title.
If you go into Anthrax’s thirteenth studio album Worship Music expecting that the return of Joey Belladonna would herald a return to the thrash sound of the band’s heyday, I’m afraid to tell you that you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Forget Thrash, this isn't even a Metal record, rather, the record has this kind of “hard rock, Damned Things/John Bush” feel to it. You’d think Anthrax would realise that the world wants thrash back; every other thrash band from the 80’s seems to have figured that out, but no, not Anthrax. The songwriting is based in a mid-paced, melodic rock sound that would appeal to fans of Bullet For My Valentine, Asking Alexandria, et all, and call me a cynic if you will, but the whole album seems to be a conscious effort to “get with the kids of today”. That’s not to say that there’s no thrash at all on the album, but it is used very, very sparingly. Opening track Earth on Hell, for example contains some of the thrashy stomp that put a smile on my face and the first time I heard it, I actually thought I was in for a pleasant experience. Of course, I should have known better, for immediately following that track is the stop/start melodic butt rock stomp of The Devil You Know. I took note on this track that even after all these years; Joey Belladonna still has it in him to put forward a commendable effort on vocals, having said that, there was one particular facet of the vocals that was going to grate on me for the rest of the album.
And that was overdubbing.
Worship Music is plagued with horrendously overdubbed vocal lines, from “pseudo-massive” choruses that seem to be custom built with the words “radio-hit” stamped on them in big obnoxious Comic-Sans print, to irritating vocal melodies that Drowning Pool fans would probably love to sing along to if they could find their way out of 1999. This overdubbing is so obnoxious, so shamelessly “rock radio” that it’s hard to imagine any passionate thrash fans that wouldn’t smell the bullshit being waved directly under their noses. Crawl is probably the best example of this overdubbing, whilst simultaneously demonstrating how well Joey can do melody on his own without all the studio fuckwittery.
The middle section of the album is largely forgettable, just more mid-paced melodic cringe-rock coupled with a few musical interludes and a cheesy church-bell intro to In the End. It’s not until the final track of the album, Revolution Screams, that we see some more of the aggression that was promised oh so fleetingly at the start of this clusterfuck of an album. Well, I say last track but I’ll take this opportunity to openly address every band ever... fuck off with hidden tracks! No one wants to waste precious iPod space for 7 minutes of silence and a shitty punk cover at the end of their album.
Despite what many, more complacent, metalheads may be saying, Worship Music is by no means a return to form for Anthrax. If there were any justice in the world, this album would just be a final, embarrassing footnote on a long, seemingly never-ending, period of sucking and the next album be the real return of Anthrax. If however, this is the shape of further things to come for the band, then it may just be time to abandon Anthrax to the annals of history and move on with our lives...