Kings Among Scotland
Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
In the 37 years that Anthrax have been around in one form or another, they’ve released 11 studio albums up to and including 2016’s excellent For All Kings. In and around all of that, they’ve also released six live albums – five of which are fronted by Joey Belladonna on vocals. Hot off the back of supporting For All Kings, the quartet hit Scotland’s famous Barrowland Ballroom for a sold out show that was recorded by no less than 17 cameras to ensure every essence of Anthrax live was captured for this release.
Having seen them only a couple of weeks prior to this show being recorded, it was clear that the band were in absolutely brilliant form and this release is a testament to that. The 18 song setlist is reasonably comprehensive featuring all of the staples (Madhouse, Among the Living, I am the Law and Indians) as well as some newer cuts (Blood Eagle Wings, Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t, Evil Twin and Breathing Lightning). There’s nothing from Fistful of Metal which is a little odd, whilst it should be no surprise to anyone that the John Bush era has been neglected entirely.
The couple of clips that I’ve seen from this live release are stunning. The array of cameras mounted throughout the gig capture everything you’d expect from a live show in truly stunning detail and colour saturation. Couple the stunning visual presentation of the show with the full bodied audio soundtrack and it makes for an excellent live release. Visual aspects aside though as this live release is also available as an audio only purchase which stands on its own merits, too.
I’d love to see Anthrax perform their legendary 1987 album Among the Living in full. Perhaps this release is as close as I’ll get. The second part of the show is the band ripping through Among... but for the life of me, I cannot understand why such an undertaking would be done with no respect for the running order of the actual studio album. Drummer Charlie Benante was quoted as saying, “It was a challenge for all of us to play Among The Living live. We've played a number of that album's songs in our shows over the years, but not all of them, and playing a song in a recording studio is not the same as playing it live on stage. So we put in a lot of time to get all of the tracks down perfectly.” Y’know Charlie, that’s great. But did anyone put any effort into getting the order of the setlist right? I don’t think playing an album as a part of the set should be messed with. Maybe I’m in the minority with that point of view, but to me, if you’re going to play an album in full, it should be in the album track list order. Don’t mess with that shit. As a purist and someone that holds Among the Living on the top of the pile as far as Anthrax releases go, this setlist thing is a real bummer.
With both Worship Music and For All Kings both highlighting that there’s plenty of life left in the band, this release only solidifies that. I’m already looking forward to the next Anthrax studio album. In the meantime though, I guess this will have to do. It sounds great, looks great (if you opt for the DVD version of this… and while I’m at it, why no BluRay version Nuclear Blast???) and all around this is a solid live release for sure. But man, why did they have to fuck up that running order? It wouldn’t stop me from buying this but it’ll forever be a sore point.