Caught in a Mosh: BBC Live in Concert
Two old school big ones from one of the big four!
Anthrax probably don’t need a lot of introduction. Whilst the recent line-up antics since Bush left/was fired/whatever prior to their 2005 “classic” line-up reunion tour leave a lot to be desired, there’s no denying the brilliance of their early output. Whilst 1983’s Fistful Of Metal and 1985’s Spreading The Disease showed potential, it was 1987’s thrash metal master piece, Among The Living, that really cemented the group (who were vocalist Joey Belladonna, guitarists Scott Ian and Danny Spitz, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante) as a part of the “big four” of thrash alongside Megadeth, Slayer and of course Metallica.
Possibly celebrating the band’s classic line-up reunion and also the soon to be reissued deluxe CD and DVD release of Among the Living, the band’s fostering label have seen fit to unleash a two CD set that features a full show from the band’s legendary stint at London’s Hammersmith Odeon (on 15 February 1987) – a.k.a. Oidivnekufesin (N.F.V.) – and the band’s performance at the now defunct (read replaced by Dowload) Donnington Festival from 22 August of the same year.
The first set consisting of a dozen ‘Thrax tracks sounds a little muddy with Belladonna’s vocals and the furious riffage of Ian and Spitz getting lost in the mix. The intensity is there which is what matters and the band certainly deliver across their then three album catalogue reasonably well. Although, it could be argued as to why the likes of Among the Living, Caught in a Mosh and Indians don’t get a go yet covers of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Black Sabbath) and God Save The Queen are both represented. I can see arguments on both sides I guess - but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Finishing with a blazing version of Gung-ho at least counts for something though.
The second disc is post the release of I’m the Man - possibly the first ever metal/rap crossover track and it includes that track as the finale. It does however include the aforementioned omissions at the expense of anything pre-Spreading the Disease. The mix this time is well rounded with everything really coming through consistently. Benante’s drums are a little tinny sounding but hey, at least they aren’t sounding like St Anger, so it’s all good.
For many, including this reviewer, this era was without doubt Anthrax’s finest hour. Among the Living is the Anthrax album of choice for many of the band’s fans and this two CD live set is a real treat for fans of that part of the band’s history.
(Island Records/Universal Music Australia)