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Album Review: “Among the Living” by Anthrax

Heavy metal album "Among the Living" by Anthrax receives a nine out of ten rating

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The album “Among the Living” by Anthrax is absolutely amazing. I cannot describe how pure metal it is. One of the many things I truly love about this album is that it’s relentless, and the writing talents of drummer Charlie Benante and rhythm guitarist Scott Ian are both shown. The album has a variety of influences lyrically ranging from the writings of author Stephen King to the comics of Judge Dredd in 2000 A.D. This is definitely an album you want to start with when getting into metal, as it has songs for those who are beginning to listen to the genre along with songs for those who have been listening to metal for their entire lives.

To start, the opening and title track “Among the Living” is a retelling of Stephen King’s novel The Stand. The book is about the spread of a weaponized strand of influenza infecting and eventually wiping out the majority of world’s population, sending it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The song’s lyrics subtly mention the disease in the beginning with the line, “With some help from Captain Trips, He’ll bring the world down to his knees,”.

Captain Trips is the nickname given to the disease by those who survived the plague. The slow intro along with the ominous feeling of the riffs delivered by both guitarists Ian and Dan Spitz help set the feeling of the entire album. The song soon picks up tempo, and you can see the ability for technicality and speed of the band being used in full.

The second song, “Caught In A Mosh”, describes a metalhead’s desire to mosh and be free of his anger and hate towards those who oppress him. The bass line of this song is legendary to me, as Frank Bello delivers one the sickest openings of all time, and even better, both guitarists begin doing the same rhythm. The song’s message is relatable towards the teenage audience of thrash metal because it delves into how the adults oppress the youth of the generation with rules that don’t seem to benefit them.

The third song is my favorite on the album, “I Am The Law”. The contents of the song details the adventures Judge Dredd in the 2000 A.D. comic strip. The original purpose of the comic was to make fun of the Reagan Administration. The song goes into the life of Dredd during the Apocalypse War, and opening with the signature chunky riffs of Scott Ian, it has an authoritarian feel to it. Towards the middle of the song, the tempo picks up and punk influences are readily present. I truly enjoy this song—it is both an anthem and a moshing tune. What sticks out to me the most is how you can learn so much about Judge Dredd with just a couple listens.

The fourth track off this album is “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)”, and it details the life of the late John Belushi, discussing his rise to fame and untimely death due to drugs at the early age of 33. The track itself starts off fairly paced, showing off the writing chops of Benante. As the song progresses, it picks up speed and makes you want headbang. The chorus is very catchy and also shows off the creativity of the band.

The next song, “Skeletons in the Closet”, is based on another Stephen King story, Apt Pupil. The story details a young man’s growing obsession with his elderly neighbor, who in the story turns out to be a retired Schutzstaffel Officer. The song shows off the technicality of the band as it has varying tempos, interludes, and other intricacies.

The sixth song, “Indians”, is about the Native Americans of our nation. The song is very catchy with its chorus and includes riff which keep the song moving. The most memorable part of the song is the brutal “Wardance”, or bridge section. The tempo slows down to allow Ian to let off some serious power, as it summons an almost tribal feeling that makes you want to mosh and tear up just about anything.

My only problem with this album is the distortion. I want more chunk out of the guitar riffs and bass. However, this album is amazing and a great way to get into metal as a genre. I highly recommend that people give it a listen and enjoy it for themselves. In my opinion, I would give this album a rating of nine out of ten.

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Album Review: “Among the Living” by Anthrax