I attempted reviewing this album in the style of S.O.D. vocalist (and long-time Anthrax associate/nemesis) Billy Milano, but my fingers cramped up in both protest and pain.
My urge to adopt someone else's voice while trying to pass it off as my own…can't imagine where that came from.
"Crush"--Not as in "pressing between two bodies." As in, "harboring a deep affection for." Hearts and diamonds to you, Spanish panthers.
The mimicry is solid, and the chorus clings to me like a stray kitten, but overall I can't help but feel disheartened. From a new band, "Crush" would still seem like a highly derivative song, but I'd be much more willing to slice the slack. I mean, if you're going to come onto the scene sounding like an established act, might as well show off your good taste. But when it comes from a band that's been around for nearly fifteen years, it suggests a lack of focus at best, and at worst, a shame-free willingness to bend over and make all the right noises.
"Catharsis"--A vocalist really should not sound so angry with such a cool melody, but I'll never figure out John Bush. (Dude, none of this music hurt anyone you love.) Joey woulda owned this chorus, woulda summoned four well-groomed devils and four shabby angels to let the natural order of things commence, and this woulda been a much better song for his effortless touch.
Still one of the best Foo Fighters songs I've ever heard, though.
"Inside Out"--Acoustic guitar twitches evoke a black and white picture of a prairie. Band barfs out a great Pantera riff. Oh, you think I should quit referencing the Cowboys From Hell? I'd like Anthrax to quit pandering and release a record that doesn't remind me of better music I could be listening to/writing about.
Oh, and guess who's back to lay down some instantly-recognizable leads for his good buddies?
"I've eaten from the insane root that imprisons reason." Even funnier than these lyrics is Bush's Layne Staley impression.
"Piss N Vinegar"--"This ain't no peace train." No doubt. That's an okay song, for one.
"604"--A 35-second ode to some fat woman, S.O.D.-style. "Can't stop eating, she's so fat/6-0-4/Katrina!" Anthrax are clearly condemning this mystery blob of breaking the levees in New Orleans seven years before it happened. Clearly, Anthrax are Illuminati.
Y'know, the number "8" used to be called "One Fat Lady" in bingo-speak, back in the days before people worried themselves sick about seeming insensitive.
Hmm…no. No. That's not it. There is no interesting story behind this song.
"Toast to the Extras"--A country & western change of pace. Harmonica is detectable throughout. Help.
I thought Metallica did an uncoordinated hokey-pokey on the corpse of thrash metal with "Mama Said." "Toast to the Extras" fucking line dances on that bitch.
If music be the food of life, this surely be the botulism.
"Born Again Idiot"--I much prefer when uninspired-ass Anthrax halfheartedly mimics a metal band, as opposed to aping an alternative one. Emotion has always suited them sharper than distortion.
Dimebag Darrell is the only thing keeping me from grabbing the dopamine.
"Killing Box"--Wholly hollow. With guest appearance by Phil Anselmo. Good God, can I just tag in a Pantera record for this review series?
"Harm's Way"--Yeah! Who's ready to fall asleep in here tonight?
Cruising the trash stratum for some creative spark, Anthrax return with a song that is every bit as satisfying to the palate as a meal of salt water taffy and pretzel sticks. (What flavor taffy? It does not matter.)
"Hog Tied"--A song carefully crafted to appeal to a key demographic: deaf people. (They did buy a lot of records back then.)
"I get off on laughing/It's like the biggest orgasm."
Remind me to never tell a joke around John Bush.
"Big Fat"--'Bout time one of the Big 4 wrote me a theme song! (Well, me in 1998, but still.) Oh Anthrax, you'd do the Truffle Shuffle for a half-melted candy bar at this point in your career.
"Cupajoe"--Yet another sub-minute S.O.D. tribute waste of space. This woulda been the worst thing on Attack of the Killer B's, and might I remind you, Attack of the Killer B's is the home of "Startin' Up A Posse."
I like milk with my cupajoe, unless Anthrax is serving. Then I'll take "Milk" over "Cupajoe."
"Alpha Male"--I don't need sexualized Anthrax. There's enough eroticism emanating naturally from chords, beats and breaths, the holy trinity of rock music. You don't need to wipe your balls with your bare hands and then start playing, guys.
"Revel in our sated lust/Open your eyes and watch me bust."
There is no more devastating of a mood-killer in the bedroom (metaphorical or actual) than to look a man dead-on as he's climaxing. He might find it a turn-on at first, but I guarantee he won't be very happy when his partner starts laughing. Poor guys. You only get the one orgasm per session, and your facial contortions make it seem like you're trying to work out a particularly complicated math problem the whole time. Whereas the female orgasm is a myotonic splendor that changes lives.
"Stealing From a Thief/Pieces"--Y'all steal from the guys who stole from Exhorder. Ain't a thing new in any house under the sun.
"Pieces" is a ballad bonus track with bassist Frank Bello on vocals. This is not some novelty turn; "Pieces" concerns Bello's younger brother Anthony, who in 1996 was murdered outside of his girlfriend's Brooklyn apartment. I hereby invoke the "Tears In Heaven" rule, and argue that not all art demands critical comment.
When Kerry King contributed to Pantera's "Goddamn Electric," it was great because it sounded like Kerry King playing on a Pantera song. Not Kerry King ripping off a quick solo for some Slayer wannabes. Whenever Pantera had a hankering to play a Slayer song, they played an actual Slayer song. They didn't shamelessly swipe their sound. Say what you will about Pantera, they never tried to fool their fans.
Anthrax have been some foolers these past couple albums. Part of their appeal was their striking energy both on record and on stage. They were the only Big 4 band that could legitimately be described as "fun" (a quality which won them their fair share of detractors, who think metal is serious goddamn business). You can't wear shorts and cut goofy white-boy raps all your life. People age. They mature. Hopefully, they never stop having fun. The things from which they glean enjoyment are sure to change--for some people of a certain age, a nice easy crap is a thing of beauty--but you should never outgrow the need to laugh.
Especially when you sign with independent Ignition Records for your eighth album, only to have them declare bankruptcy shortly after releasing your eighth album. (No doubt they blew most of the budget on that cover.)
I can't even laugh listening to Volume 8. It is an album unblemished by originality. I can throw my hands up into the air in frustration. Shake my head in disbelief. Stare off into space as I realize next week I'll be writing about two albums from two other bands that make this album sound like Axis: Bold As Love.