Among the Living (Deluxe CD/DVD Edition)
Mosh it up!
Anthrax – love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are a big part of the metal history. Although they were a part of the “big four” of thrash (alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer) back in the day, their shorts, colourful attire and crazy characters (The NOT! Man) amongst other things separated these guys from their peers as much as the fact that they hailed from the East Coast of the U.S.A. and not the West. After building some momentum with their 1984 debut, A Fistful of Metal and it’s successor, 1985’s Spreading the Disease, for many including this writer, it would be 1987’s Among the Living that would be the band’s crowing achievement, still to this day in some cases.
But Island Records and Universal Music have – bless their little socks – chosen to give Among the Living the deluxe treatment. Featuring liner notes by metal comic Brian Posehn, this seminal Anthrax album has been remastered, features bonus tracks and includes the legendary Oidivnikufesin (N.F.V.) as one hell of a special bonus on DVD. Although remastered, this deluxe edition still sounds as it should; that is, rooted 80s thrash. Among the Living, Caught in a Mosh, I Am the Law, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.), A Skeleton in the Closet, Indians, One World, A.D.I./The Horror of it All, Imitation of Life all still rock your face as much as always. The audio bonus is the inclusion of never before heard alternate takes of Indians, One World and Imitation of Life, which feature alternate lead breaks. Nice enough for diehards, indeed. Also included are an instrumental of rap metal classic I’m The Man, a live version of I Am the Law (recorded in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. in 1987) and Bud E Luv Bomb And Satan's Lounge Band, originally released as the I Am the Law b-side.
The real treat for fans should be the inclusion of the long out of print Oidivnikufesin (N.F.V.) on DVD. However, any excitement over finally having a digital version of this classic live video will be bittersweet. No doubt we’ve all worn out our VHS copies of this classic performance so it’s very welcomed indeed to finally have this on DVD. However, whilst it sounds stellar (complete with stereo, Dolby Digital and DTS audio tracks), visually, it’s an abomination. I don’t know what source was used for this or how much effort really went into putting it onto DVD, but when it sounds as good as this does, it’s a damn shame to see it look so crappy. It’s pixelated and blocky at times but entirely grainy. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve watched my old VHS copy but I’m fairly sure it looks better than this. Make of that what you will but whilst I’m glad to have N.F.V. on a small, shiny silver disc, it could have been much better.
I’m all for albums getting the deluxe treatment when done right. Weak reissues that smell like cash grabs usually are. But this reissue of this seminal Anthrax album has all the right intentions but falls short on execution. The audio component, the actual album and its included bonuses are tops but it’s the execution of the digital version of N.F.V. that is sure to disappoint. Maybe one day we’ll see a proper digital version of N.F.V. I don’t know. In the meantime, it’s better than having to dust off the VHS… almost.
(Island Records/Universal Music Australia)