The Triumphant Return of the Original 'Thrax
By Stephen Bronner
Although the 80s have been over and done with for sixteen years now, the music it has spawned is still around. This goes especially for metal, not that cheesy hair metal, but for good old thrash metal.
While tragic death and deteriorating creativity seems to be killing the genre slowly, the least acknowledged of the
big thrash bands stands up and shows that thrash is still strong. Anthrax is back with their Among the Living
lineup: guitarist Scott Ian and drummer Charlie Benante have reunited with ex vocalist Joey Belladonna, guitarist
Daniel Spitz and bassist Frank Bello. The reunion occurred mid to late last year, when the band rocked New
Jersey's Starland Ballroom, which was recorded for 2005's Alive 2 CD.
Although some might see this reunion as a gimmick to try and capture some lost 80s glory, anyone in
attendance at the Nokia Theatre January 7th for Anthrax's second date on tour will tell you otherwise. In fact,
one might have even thought that this show took place twenty years prior, given the band's energy and
performance on stage.
Opening the show was a band by the name of Manntis. Unless a band is relatively popular among the fans in the crowd, it is tough to open a show and not be greeted with negative feedback. Manntis did not have of the benefit of being known and on top of that, they were not mixed properly which yielded low guitars and vocals and loud backup vocals. But while it is unfair to judge a band by a performance such as this, Manntis' crowd reaction was mostly negative, with only a handful moshing and head banging along.
The next band on stage was New York's own Sworn Enemy. The hardcore-metal five-piece played an intense live set that pleased their many fans in the crowd while impressing others who have never heard them. Sworn Enemy played a mix of songs off their first album As Real as it Gets and debuted songs of their new album The Beginning of the End which comes out later this month. If you like New York hardcore and metal, this is definitely a band to check out.
The final opening band of the night was God Forbid. The band, much like the New England hardcore/metal scene which they seemingly fit into, has been gaining heavy momentum within the past few years. As soon as the band began their set, heads began to turn and pits opened up. With the right balance of intense guitar riffs and vocals, amazing drumming and catchy choruses, God Forbid is a band to look out for.
It wasn't too long until Anthrax was ready to come onstage. The Nokia Theatre seemed to finally fill up with the sold out crowd who was waiting for the main event of the night. The crowd was then greeted by Eddie Trunk, radio DJ and TV host. After a few words, Trunk introduced Anthrax, and shortly after the lights went out, the heavy intro of "Among the Living" was being played. Benante then got behind his set and began to play along with the track; soon Ian, Spitz and Bello were onstage playing the intense intro. Belladonna then came onstage to sing "disease, disease, spreading the disease" along with the exhilarated crowd.
The band's performance of the song was dead-on, and would be the perfect setter for the rest of the night. The band's set consisted mostly of "old school" classics such as "Got the Time," "Antisocial," "Indians" and "Madhouse." However, Ian assured the crowd that Anthrax would be playing songs that you wouldn't have heard live unless you've seen the band in the 80s, such a song included "Skeletons in Your Closet."
During the band's set, Belladonna told the crowd how proud and happy he was to be back with Anthrax and apparently the crowd shared this feeling to the point where a chant of "Joey" broke out. The reunited band played with such skill and emotion that one might think that they never separated at all. Ian, one might say the heart of Anthrax, is a pleasure to watch onstage due to his intensity and his signature stomp. Benante, although never given the proper credit, is one of the best drummers around. Bello is an amazing bassist with an original style that you can't seem to take your eyes off of. Spitz nailed every solo and Belladonna sounds as good as he did on the original recordings.
The night ended with a rendition of "I'm the Man" and "I Am the Law," and like every good concert the end was met with satisfaction and the desire for more. If you have the opportunity to see Anthrax live on this tour, you shouldn't think twice, because this reunion might not be permanent. But if you already missed them or can't attend one of their shows, you'll just have to settle for their Alive 2 CD.