Cover albums can be hit or miss and have a tendency to be a cash cow for the band. Lots of time they should just be called contractual obligation. Thrash metal icons Anthrax have just released Anthems a 6-track nod to their youth. I say their youth because all the songs are from the 70’s just very beefed up. Since there is only 7 tracks, I’ll go one by one.
First up is the title track originally done by Rush. I am not a Rush fan, only had a couple of their albums. However, Anthrax does a real good job on this Fly By Night original. The band chunks it up some and Joey Belladonna does a terrific job in singing Geddy Lee’s unique vocals. Next is “T.N.T.” by AC/DC’ All I can say is “eh”. Does anyone really need another AC/DC cover? Unless you are going to do it death style like Six Feet Under did, why bother. That is followed by album radio mainstay “Smokin’” from Boston. This is my favorite song off Anthems. Anthrax stays true to to the original just heavy-ing it some. Big highlight is the outstanding organ work from Fred Mandel. This is a perfect party song.
When the news leaked of what songs were on this, the one shocker was “Keep On Runnin” from Journey. While it is not of the best known tracks from their classic album Escape, it is still a curious choice. How are a bunch of New York metalheads going to treat a San Fran pop hit? Thrash the fuck out it. It is played faster than it has ever been played before and Belladonna’s high register works well mimicking Steve Perry’s voice.
Then some familiar artists get a second song covered. Anthrax had already done a Cheap Trick song before, “Auf Weidersehn” from the Sounds Of Black Noise expanded version. This time around it is “Big Eyes”. Music wise it is fine, but here Joey’s voice doesn’t work for me. I really wish they would have done “Gonna Raise Hell”, that would have killed. The other second timer is Thin Lizzy. On Sounds they did an awesome version of “Cowboy Song” this go round we get “Jailbreak”. I have the same feelings about this track that I do about “T.N.T.” Why bother? Again, Joey’s vocals do not work here. On the original Phil Lynott’s voice drips with a confidence and swagger that Belladonna can only dream about. I believe that “Cold Sweat” would have been a much better choice but if they wanted to stay in that same era for Lizzy, “Waitin For An Alibi” would have been an interesting choice.
The album is rounded out with two versions of “Crawl” from last years Worship Music. An album version and the orchestral version which sounds like if one of these “sad bastard” metal bands covered it.
All in all, Anthems is a good buy. While I do not love all the choices they are still enjoyable when they pop up on iTunes. Plus it is only $7 so you can’t be all that mad.
Oops, almost forgot that there is several different album covers for Anthems. The one I got has an homage of the Boston artwork. Looks pretty cool. Tough to tell which version you will get as the slipcase only has a small cut out for you to view the artwork.
Again, adjust for the fact you only pay $7 for this. This is too much math involved for me to re-calculate this. Sorry, I was a history major.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space