REVIEW: Anthrax – Anthems (2013)


ANTHRAX – Anthems (2013 Megaforce Records)

Anthrax have recorded some of the most entertaining covers of the last 30 years.  Many of them have appeared as hard to find B-sides or bonus tracks.  Anthems is Anthrax’s new covers EP, readily available, and a welcome addition to a metal lover’s collection.

As if they needed to show off how well they could play, the EP kicks off with “Anthem” itself, a Rush cover, and a stunning one at that.  Joey Belladonna’s voice strains to reach the highest of notes, but he hits ’em.  This is one dead-on accurate Rush cover, not an easy thing to execute.  And it’s heavy as balls.

“T.N.T.” is a blast.  Again, this is not an easy song to cover, because it is so indelibly linked to AC/DC and Bon Scott.  Incredibly, Anthrax do so with as much accuracy as they did Rush.  Joey sounds perfectly in his element paying tribute to Bon.  Up next is “Smokin'” as performed by Boston.  Like a chameleon, suddenly Joey is in Brad Delp’s shoes.  As great as the entire band is on Anthems, at this point, it is Joey that is blowing me away the most!  What’s also cool about “Smokin'” is that the lengthy organ solo is intact, performed by Canadian Fred Mandel (ex-Alice Cooper).  An extended keyboard solo with Anthrax?  Smokin’!  (No kidding though, it’s great.  Like it or lump it!)

We all know Joey Belladonna is a huge Steve Perry fan.  It is a joy to hear him having a chance to pay tribute to his hero on “Keep On Runnin'”.  Scott Ian proclaims in the liner notes that “On paper, Anthrax covering Journey may seem weird,” but he reminds us that “the song just fucking rocks”.  Charlie Benate ensures this with surgically inserted blasts of drum fury.

“Big Eyes” is a Cheap Trick song I had somewhat forgotten about.  It has a monster groove and yet another fantastic lead vocal.  Anthrax bring the song to its knees.

“Thin Lizzy is arguably the most underrated and under appreciated band of our time,” says Scott in the liner notes.  Amen brother!  But he also points out their paradoxical great importance and influence.  Scott reveals he’d like to do an entire record of Lizzy covers.  Phil Campbell of Motorhead plays the solo, as per the Live and Dangerous version.  I love hearing Joey do the “Hey you, good lookin’ female! Com’ere!” line.  So much more menacing than Phil Lynott!

From Anthrax’s most recent record, Worship Music, comes “Crawl”.  I am on the fence with this song, as all I can think of is Soundgarden.  “Fell On Black Days”.  Can you hear it, there in the first minute of the song?  (Maybe it’s their Soundgarden cover, eh?)  Also on the EP is the remix of “Crawl”, which was previously only available on the Japanese version of Worship Music.  So this purchase worked out well for me.  I had been putting off buying Worship Music until I could find a reasonably priced Japanese import.  I prefer to get all the bonus tracks, so with Anthems now in hand, I can just pick up the domestic Worship Music and be done with it!

As a nice touch to collectors, Anthrax released this EP with six different covers.  I pre-ordered this thing from Amazon, so I didn’t get the luxury of picking my cover art.  If I did, I might have chosen the Rush or Journey versions.  What I got was the Cheap Trick cover, but I think I like it best anyway.

5/5 stars



        1. I think I would buy the whole album, actually. I’ve actually been looking to buy it (physically) but it’s sold out.

          I suppose I’ll have to buy it from iTunes…


  1. Actually this was the first Anthrax purchase I have bought since State Of Euphoria back in 88…hahahahaha ….my brother Whois 10 yrs younger than me stayed the course and bought there purchases after so I heard what they were doing but I dunno what it was that didn’t make me go out and seek all there stuff ASAP when it was released….
    Having said that….this Ep is cool and to be totally honest if it wasn’t for the fact that it was cover songs on here I don’t know if I would have bought it if it was all originals.
    The playing is superb as are the vocals but I sometimes have a hard time with artists releasing cover tunes. I mean yeah u want it to sound close to the original but u want the artist covering it to insert there own musical spin on it BUT having said that I remember buying the Kiss My Ass compilation and some of those covers were way to out there for me..who knows I guess I’m getting picky in my old age!
    Sorry for the rambling fellas!


    1. Heh Deke, you’re awesome, don’t worry.

      I don’t know about covers, whether I like them one way or the other. Sometimes a cover can be too different, like Rock And Roll All Nite from that same album. But check out something like Stryper’s covers album. They tried to stay reasonably close and they absolutely nailed every cover. The Van Halen one in particular.


    1. Agreed! Anthrax is a band that has been awesome for a long time. And from Mike’s write-up, this sounds even more impressive than Rush’s own collection of cover tunes. The anime boobies cover is fine by me. ;)


  2. Really interesting pics for this. I’m especially keen to finally hear Joey do Journey! Shame that the Anthrax line-up is still unsettled with Rob leaving, I’d hoped they might manage to hold things together for once.


    1. Rob really added stability when the band was somewhat in chaos. Me, I’m just glad Joey is still in. Nothing against John Bush, but I think they are like different bands in a sense. Joey has a more pop quality in his voice that I think gives Anthrax a unique sound. I love John but even that last singer they had was ripping him (and Anselmo) off.


      1. I liked a lot of the John Bush stuff but I’m glad Joey is back too. Despite John’s amazing talent, Joey’s vocals were more unique in a Thrash band.

        I’d be keen to hear Bush work with these guys again, maybe just not as “Anthrax” though. And the last Armored Saint album was incredible so it’s all good!


        1. I’ve been a Saint fan since 84. First time I saw the video for Can U Deliver, I was sold. They had awesome armor. I was the only kid on our street that liked Armored Saint though. They were one of the first bands I caught on my own.


        2. They’re a band I always want to like more than I do though! I can’t explain it…

          There is a 3CD set (which I have) but one disc is just interviews. The bonus demo album is great though. Possibly better than the actual album.


        3. Yes, one. I remember reading about it in RIP magazine. With the analog technology of the time it wasn’t easy to do. But they did it, and I thought that was cool. Under appreciated band, but you have to give Bush credit for his integrity. He could have taken the money and run back to Anthrax twice now.


        4. Yeah I believe for the brief period that Frankie Bello was out, which was like a year. I think Bello ended up in Helmet? I’m just trying to remember without Wikipedia-ing it to make it look like I know. LOL.


        5. I think Caggiano was around at the time too…this is just post-We’ve Come For You All which I’m to understand is supposed to be a fantastic album. I was big time into their single Safe Home.


        6. It’s a great album. My favourite Bush album from Anthrax… and (as I know you like their covers) they did release a tour edition of WHCFYA with a bonus EP that had a few cover versions on it. If you like Safe Home you should definitely get that album. I was all about it for a while.


        7. Here it is on Discogs. I noticed Cowboy Song is on there so it might be worth checking in case you have the other tracks already too. There is another Cheap Trick cover, Celtic Frost and… The Smiths!

          I just fished out my copy of Symbol… Dave is on all the demos and appears on “Tainted Past” on the main album. Funny, I thought he was on more tracks than that. My bad.


        8. As far as I’m concerned they owe ya a free copy now!

          Dear Megaforce,
          Please send Scott 1 copy of Anthrax Anthems (Rush cover preferred but not picky). Please send to:

          HMO Headquarters


  3. I remember a coupla months ago, US DJ Eddie Truck posted a photo on Twitter of the Rush version of the “Anthems” cover. I totally forgot about it, never really heard there were different versions, and when I picked up my copy at the Big Box, I opened it to see the Cheap Trick version! Happy that’s the one I got. Great disc!


    1. Congrats! I’ll be curious in a year to see if any one cover is more common than others. I really like what they did with the artwork. 6 covers is old school!


  4. Anything that is a reward/incentive/something special to those who still buy physical media is alright with me!!!


    1. Damn right man!!!

      Kiss and Zeppelin did this as part of their regular routine in the 1970’s! We all know Anthrax are huge Kiss fans, glad to see them picking up the torch in this way.


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