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Among the Living
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2004
Among The Living(1987). Anthrax's third studio album.
Back in the mid 80s, a genre of frantic heavy metal music known as thrash metal was beginning to emerge from the shadows of the east and west coasts with big name bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, and Anthrax. While the four former bands emerged in the San Francisco Bay west coast area, Anthrax originated in New York on the east coast and brought many unique aspects to the thrash metal scene. Comprised of vocalist Joey Belladonna, lead guitarist Dan Spitz, rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, drummer Charlie Benante, and bassist Frank Bello, Anthrax is a band about delivering songs full of raw energy, memorable riffs, and endless headbanging. Even though the more famous Metallica and Megadeth were influenced by the NWOBHM scene, Anthrax sports an almost punk-like quality to it, in addition to the insurmountable ammount of heavy metal power. To me, Anthrax has some of the greatest thrash musicians to ever grace heavy metal. Spitz churns out some AMAZING solos. Scott has incredible rhythm guitar talent (second only to Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer). Charlie manages to be an excellent drummer, and even Bello's bass playing stands out quite a bit. But to me, what separates Anthrax from all the other thrash metal bands is that they have the best thrash vocalist. James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine have NOTHING on Belladonna. Unlike the shouting and screaming that most thrash metal vocalists employ, Belladonna can actually sing WELL. His melodic vocals manage to dominate the songs on top of all the frantic instrumentation that's going on. With the talented playing and sheer power that erupts in each song, one can't help but be impressed by Anthrax.
The band started out in 1984 with Fist Full Of Metal and then released the masterpiece thrash album Spreading The Disease(1985). Among The Living was actually the album that got the band really noticed among the legions of metalheads. While Spreading The Disease is an excellent Anthrax album, ATL has the most punch to it and it's definitely their most powerful 80s album. The production is much more crisp and the guitar sound here easily dwarfs the one used on the previous album. Anyone could think that the guitars were straight out of a Metallica album, but the flavor of it all is undeniably Anthrax. The only setback on this album is that Belladonna shouts more here than before, which is a shame because his best voice comes instead from the singing. Still, there's no shortage of catchy anthemic choruses to sing along to, so this isn't any serious drawback. Just press play and prepare to be amazed (if you like thrash metal, that is).
ATL kicks off with a pleasantly powerful one-two punch in the title track and 'Caught In A Mosh'. 'I Am The Law' is an ode to the comic book Judge Dredd, though done in a non-cheezy manner. Of course, 'Efilnikufesin' is a stellar headbanger with a backwards subliminal message contained that's easy to guess (Strange how the media pressured Judas Priest for a song with a subliminal message that wasn't even there, and yet Anthrax really has one and gets away with it!) Next is the Stephen King inspired 'Skeleton In The Closet' which never fails to please, followed by the anthemic 'Indians'. 'One World' and 'Imitation Of Life' are pure thrash muscle numbers, while A.D.I. is the album's lengthy melodic track. All in all, a good collection of thrash songs with nary a moment of filler to be found anywhere.
I actually just bought this album yesterday, but after listening to it 3 times in a row, I wish I had bought it sooner. It's albums like this that remind me of why I wish I had grown up in the 80s, which was a time of prospering heavy metal music. Bands such as Metallica, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Testament were in their golden years. Instead I'm stuck in the now surrounded by the horrificly embarrassing Nu-metal scene, of which I hate with a passion. Everyone around me is obsessed with no-talent bands like Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, KoRn, and Slipkot, and I have no interest in any of it. Though thrash wasn't the most popular metal scene at the time (hair metal actually was), even hair metal is better than what you'll hear on the radio now. With Megadeth and Metallica compromising their sound to an extent (the latter band did it to the point of becoming absolutely unlistenable), Anthrax, along with Testament, remains one of the true metal bands to this day who still retain their signature thrash sound. ATL is one great example of what heavy metal is all about. It gets 4.5 stars hands down. Any true metalhead already has this album in their collection, and if you don't, then make this your next purchase. BUY THIS ALBUM ALONG WITH SPREADING THE DISEASE AND PERSISTENCE OF TIME.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2002
You know, it's albums like this that really make me wish I'd grown up in the 80's. As a high school senior, I am steeped in the "Korn-Limp Bizkit generation", and I hate it. I have no interest in that kind of music, whatsoever. The 80's were a golden age, when bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Iron Maiden were putting out one great album after the other. Of course, it wasn't popular, that would be hair metal, but even that stuff was better than the numetal and rapmetal today. Anyways, in that golden era, this album was one of many to come out. "Among the Living", an album replete with crunching, head-banging rhythms, technical skill, and even some melody. Scott Ian is one the top rhythm guitarists (up there with Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth), Dan's solos are great, Frank and Charlie are both superior on the drums/bass, and Joey Belladonna is probably one of thrash's better vocalists (but I wouldn't compare him to Bruce Dickinson). All in all, a good album. So, why only four stars? Well, the reason for that is that this album is just a little too "punkish" for me. I have to give the band credit for trying something new and not sounding exactly like every other thrash band, but I just cannot stand punk, and all the shouty choruses just get on my nerves. It kinda brings the album down a bit. But oh well, it's still far better than any punk band I've ever heard. One thing that Anthrax has on other thrash bands is that you can actually hear the bass. Metallica and Megadeth had two of the greatest bass players of all time, but half the time you couldn't even hear them, and I can't think of a single moment in a single Slayer song where you can hear the bass at all. But, Anthrax always has audible basslines throughout, much like Iron Maiden. So, anyway, this is a very good thrash album. I wouldn't put it on the same level as "Reign in Blood" or "Master of Puppets", but if you're like me and you feel like throwing your radio against the wall every time that stupid "My Way or the Highway" song comes on, this is a good album to buy. Long live thrash!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2001
Most speed metal fans were initiated by way of either Metallica or Megadeth. Anthrax was my introduction. Albums like this speak to the fifteen year-old in us that gets tired of turning on the radio and hearing only prefabricated crap. 13 years after first hearing this album, and owning it both as cassette and CD, I'm proud to say I still enjoy it.
What isn't to like about it? Out of The Big Four ( Anthrax, Magadeth, Metallica, and Slayer), Anthrax possibly had the best singer. Joey Belladonna, silly hairdo and all, had a tremendous voice. The guitar team of Scott Ian and Dan Spitz was bulletproof. Spitz was possibly the most underrated lead guitarist in all of heavy metal. He sounded like nobody else. Ian deserves a place in the pantheon of great rhythm guitarists. The uncle-nephew rhythm section of Charlie Benante and Frank Bello is unforgettable. Benante had to have been hiding two or three extra arms somewhere. And last but not least, Bello played without a pick like all real bassists. Plus he played FAST.
And finally, Anthrax showed the greatest imagination and diversity with their lyrics on this album. "I Am the Law" is about Judge Dredd. "Among the Living" and "A Skeleton in the Closet" are based on Stephen King's work. "N.F.L." is about a fallen comedian, either Lenny Bruce or John Belushi I think. The arms race, particularly under Reagan, was attacked in "One World". And who can forget the anti-racism classic "Indians"? The lyrics were written by juveniles on ATL. Smart juveniles.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2005
Ok I'm pretty annoyed right now ya know why? Well I just came from picking up my dumb sister from soccer practice and she saw this cd in the car and is like, "there's only 9 songs? That's stupid, you got ripped off man" My reply, "well how many songs should there be huh?" Her- "Man dey gotta have like 20 or sumpin, any less den dat is a waste of money".

My point to this little story is to show how damn ignorant youth is today and why music sucks big d*ck these days. Albums today have way too much filler, they emphasize QUANTITY over QUALITY *ahem* FIDDY cent *cough*. Tsk tsk tsk, maybe one day she'll learn.

So that motivated me to write this review for one of my favorite albums to try and show everyone why these "mere 9 songs" effin' rule and is worth every penny of the price.

Anthrax is probably the most underrated band of the 'big 4 of thrash' which is a damn shame since these guys have something the others dont- Joey Belladonna, one of my favorite metal singers of all time, he is like the Bruce Dickinson of thrash and we all know how much he rules.

Among the Living 10/10 The album starts off with the title track which has some killer, almost 'blast beat' style drumming in it. It's about Randall Flagg, a recurring villain in many of Stephen Kings novels. I might even read it thanks to Anthrax!

5000/10 - Caught in a Mosh is perhaps the greatest mosh anthem EVER! Seriously, this song gets me so pumped up when I hear it and usually can't resist going into a one-man mosh pit! Not possible you say? HAH, I beg to differ. Ya might get injured in the process but its worth it, it's like bringing the action of the concert right to your house!!

10/10 I Am the Law - A tribute song to one of the coolest and underrated comic heroes ever, Judge Dredd. I've read some of the comics and the lyrics are pretty damn accurate, they do an outstanding job bringing his story to life.

10/10 N.F.L. - No this aint about football, I believe it's actually about comedian/actor John Belushi and how he threw his life away due to drugs, etc. It's sad man, RIP John!!

10/10 Skeletons in the Closet- Another song about a King novel, this time "Apt Pupil". This one has the best of Anthrax's killer shout-out background vocals, which one of my favorite things about this band. Musically this one does get kind of repetitive but it's still a grade-A headbanger.

20/10 Indians- Wow, if this song doesn't remind you of Iron Maiden then you must be listening Atreyu and other poseur metal. Seriously, this reminds me of a thrash version of 'Run To the Hills' and basically just as good. Instead of Maiden's lyrics of the violent aspect of the Native American's plight, Anthrax opt to focus on the social aspect and how they are treated like dirt then and today. One of the best Anthrax tunes out there, period. OH I ALMOST FORGOT, you'll just have to love when they yell out WAAAARDAANCE!!!!

One World 9/10 Anthrax once again becomes social commentators. The lyrical theme is the old notion of 'can't we all just f**kin' get along?"

ADI/Horror of it All 9/10 Starts out with a soft melodic intro that we're familiar with thanks to Metallica and proceeds into a SOLID thrasher baby! That reminds me, Anthrax is probably the most positive metal band ever which is good since metal needs that sometimes so we don't always get accused of being negative Satanists and bullcrap like that. Longest song on the album by the way.

Imitation of Life 9/10 I love the lyrics to this song, "There's nothing I hate more than all these plastic people and all their plastic people, they just cant be themselves..." I think all us metalheads can agree with that huh? Killer song people with some crazy vocals.

Yeah I didn't really comment on specifics musically because I thought all members of the band SHRED on all the tracks. Scott Ian tears it up on rhythm guitar, Dan Spitz can play some hard-@$$ riffs as shown on this album, Charlie Benante is a very underrated drummer who really showcases his skills especially on the first several tracks, and of course Joey, like I said before is the best thrash vocalist ever IMHO.

However, I'd like to mention that this album does get some criticism from metal fans for being to punkish or perhaps sounding a little similar among the songs. Just thought I'd be fair and say what the other side thinks too even though I'm a HUGE fan of this album.

Well there you have it, one of my favorite metal albums even ranking in my personal top 10 among the likes of MOP, Powerslave, Ride the Lightning, and Holy Diver, yep I think it's that good dude. Ideally you should like this if you're a thrash fan and a big Maiden fan (like myself). So go buy this, Spreading the Disease, the other thrash classics, Maiden's first 7 albums, Priest, etc for REAL METAL!!!!! Thats what I think, if you dont like it then pfffft I dont really care. Later.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2001
Before this album, Anthrax were just a bunch of speed metal jokesters from NYC who had a thing for comic books. But with the slow rise of Metallica (who were more influenced by NWOBHM than punk), Anthrax's dominance in heavy metal would soon come. AMONG THE LIVING is the band's third album which showed how tight they had become with the inclusion of Joey Belladonna (who replaced the first singer from the FISTFUL OF METAL album). The power riffs of Scott Ian are sick, and who could forget the power of Charlie Benante's drumming? This man should've had eight legs.
While they still got into comic books ("I Am The Law" is about Judge Dredd), they also dealt with the original occupants of the United States ("Indians"), double-faced people ("Imitation Of Life"), and their love of Stephen King novels ("A Skeleton In The Closet"). Most bands around this time were about speed and shock value, the only thing shocking about Anthrax was the whiteness of Scott Ian's legs! But they could play, oh could they play, and didn't sacrifice skills for speed. Their future efforts would be mixed affairs, but this albums easily stands as one of the best of all time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2010
Luckily, I got this from the Amazon Marketplace cheaper then most stores and online vendors are selling it. I did not want to pay $27.99 for the reissue because I aready had the DVD. If you can find it for less I'd definately take it! The packaging is decent. I've seen better but it is cool and I always like digi packs. The bonus tracks are not great but as a completest I had to have them for my collection. The DVD is at least in 5.1 surround sound. Which is better then my original import copy of the DVD.

So, if you are a new fan and are not a collector or completest like msyself. I'd just get the regular version and enjoy the album for which is it amazing! If you are a collector. I'd suggest getting this reissue. Maybe you can ask for it for a gift for your birthday or Christmas. So, you don't have to spend the money again. Or use a gift card etc... You'll enjoy it. I did and I felt it was worth the money I paid for it.

Great album and I'm glad they reissued it. The remastering definately helped. I enjoy the new mix!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2009
Classic album, but...

Have to say that the remastered sound is fantastic. But the video quality on the DVD shows that absolutely very little effort was put into improving the original home video look. Quite honestly, it looks like a mid generation VHS dub. Very grainy. I understand the original VHS was full of grain, but with what can be done now with video remastering, it could look much better!

Also, the booklet is a bit skimpy. It has a nice bit written by band friend Brian Poesehn, lyrics, original release credits and some unseen photos. But previous deluxe edition releases had a well written informative essay that focused on the recording of the album, singles affiliated with the release and well as other informational nuggets. This release is sorely missing any of that making it seem kind of thrown together. There was so much potential in making this an ultimate release, but the opportunity seems to have been partially squandered.

Instead of the DVD, perhaps a 2nd CD of demos, more alternate takes and the remaining songs from the sessions like "Sabbath, Bloody, Sabbath", "I'm the Man" (vocal version) and "Taint" would have been better. Why not include the "I'm The Man" ep, the one live Dallas track is an awkward stand out without the rest of the released songs accompanying it.

So for 30 bucks is it worth it? The bonus alternate tracks are really cool and I am happy to support the band by buying another copy of an album I already have. But unless you're a total Anthrax nerd it is probably best to stick with the original, less expensive release. The video quality of the DVD is inexcusable though for that price. I hope that if there are further Deluxe Edition Anthrax releases in the future, more thought and effort is put into them to ensure that the fan is getting a truly unique and comprehensive release.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2005
As the above, editorial review notes, Metallica and Slayer invented thrash, but Anthrax are just as innovative, because they brought it to the east coast and added some punk touches/flavor to it. Plus, Joey Belladonna and Co. practically invented (or popularized) shout-along refrains. (Most every track on here has a shout along.) "Among the Living" is an "adrenaline pumping" album with exciting and contagious songs, which are full to the brim with circular, buzzsaw riffs, fast, thumping drums, beeping bass notes, catchy shout along choruses, energetic beats, and winding guitar solos. Plus, Joey chooses to actually sing (in addition to shout) in several places. Thus, songs like "I Am The Law" and "Indians" have a melodic edge, and show that Joey can really hold a note well. Other highlights include the album opening title track, "Caught In A Mosh," the slower "A Skeleton In The Closet," "One World" (which has a whiplash tempo change near the beginning), and, of course, my personal favorite "Efilnikcufecin (N.F.L.)." The bottom line is this is doubtlessly the best, catchiest, and most contagious album Anthrax ever released. It's absolutely essential for 1980's thrash fans, and I also recommend starting here if you're new to this band.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2013
What a shame and a waste of money. The sound is so compressed on this remaster (in the name of making the CD as loud as possible) that the dynamics are simply lost. As an Anthrax fan since 1986, this is really disappointing. Among the Living is one of my all-time favorite albums. The music is so suppressed on this version.

When I first listened to the CD, it seemed fuller with more low end. It seemed first. I started to wonder why I began listening to the remaster less and less over the last 2 years. Then I dug out the original CD. I realized how instruments that jumped out on the original now just all blend together on the remaster. Drum hits that popped out before are softened and now in the background along with every other peak, making for a very generic modernized sound. The definition is gone. Frantic cymbal crashes no longer really crash. My favorite part of Skeletons at 3:44-3:49 is a prime example of how Charlie gets totally lost in the bland sonics of this remaster.

Feel can be hard to describe or pinpoint, but the feel and excitement of great albums like this are destroyed by this kind of mastering that has become the norm for new albums and reissues alike. That feeling that made you pump your fist to the original will eventually (or instantly) disappear with this version.

It makes no difference how loud or full the CD sounds compared to the original. When they eliminate all of the peaks, the music overall loses its power. All of the accents are gone. There's no attack. This album was all about attack.

Unfortunately, the record companies (and sometimes the artists) simply want their discs to be as loud as possible. The only way to do that is to compress the music by lowering the peaks and bringing up the valleys.

If I posted this review when I first got this remaster it would have been as glowing as some of the other reviews here. It's easy to think initially "it's bigger, fuller and louder" but over time you'll wonder why you just don't enjoy it quite as much anymore. The punch is taken out and gone.

Much if the time, the levels on this remaster are so maxed out that the level indicators on my CD player are all lit up to the max continuously for extended periods without moving up or down. You don't need to be an audio engineer to realize that nothing can stand out then. Everything is just mushed together. The level indicators should move up and down throughout a song. If you remember the old cassette decks that had those meters, they always bounced up and down. That's how it was in the recording studio when they recorded these tracks on the master tapes. That's how it is on the original CD.
The tracks had dynamics. This remaster has eliminated all of the dynamics of the original. Parts of songs that used to be loud compared to other parts are relatively reduced in volume and there's no longer those big contrasts.

If you don't believe it can be that bad, for a great example and side by side comparison, search YouTube for a video titled "Loudness War is killing music" (not my video) and you'll see and hear what I'm talking about comparing Dire Straits' Money for Nothing original CD vs. the remastered CD. It is the exact same effect as on this remaster.

The alternate take bonus tracks don't justify getting the rest of the package since they are brickwalled as well. They don't differ much from the album tracks. The alternate lead is cool, but not as good as the album version. The DVD is cool. However, I read in another review here that the quality isn't improved over the VHS. I don't have the VHS so I can't confirm this so the DVD is my consolation prize basically.

This is a 1-star version of a 5-star album. Stick to the original single disc CD with the original mastering since it's still available. There's not a bad track on Among and the original is much more enjoyable to listen to.

Here's some other compressed remasters I've wasted money on that should be avoided. I listened to these for a long time before I realized what was missing from the music. This is by no means a complete list. More remasters these days are overly compressed than not. Simply, these are some of the ones that I own and am really glad I never ditched the original CD's. These are albums that I love and do not just casually listen to:

All Atlantic and Sony remasters

Among the Living Deluxe Edition 2009 remaster CD/DVD

Black Sabbath:
Ozzy years Black Box

Def Leppard:
Pyromania Deluxe Edition
Hysteria Deluxe Edition
((I haven't bought the Adrenalize Deluxe, but given the compression of the other 2 above, I won't).

All Sanctuary deluxe remasters with bonus tracks

Iron Maiden:
All 1998 remasters

All 1996 and 2006 remasters

All the early CD's that were secretly remastered (they are not labeled as remasters; any with "EMI Ventues" on the back tray insert are the recent pressings that are remastered)

Ozzy Osbourne:
Every remaster including:

Blizzard of Ozz 2010 remaster

Diary of a Madman 2010 remaster and 2010 Legacy edition

30th Anniversary box set remasters (are the same as above)

All 2002 remasters:
Blizzard, Diary, Bark, Tribute, No Rest, No More Tears, Ozzmosis, Ozzman Cometh

All 1995 remasters (not the worst, but still compressed):
Blizzard, Diary, Speak, Bark, Ultimate, Tribute, No Rest, No More Tears, Live and Loud

(All that's left for Ozzy are the original CD issues, which are the ones to get)

REO Speedwagon:
Hi Infidelity Anniversary remaster

Breakfast in America 2002 and 2010 remasters (can't comment on the other titles).
However, the Japan-only 2013 Platinum CD is simply stunning. It sounds three-dimensional and incredible. That is how a CD should sound and it has received accolades along with other Platinum releases that Universal has done in Japan. (Note: if your CD player cannot play CD-R's, according to Universal, it won't play a Platinum disc).

Van Halen:
All 2000 remasters

1987 (self-titled) Deluxe Edition 2010 remaster CD/DVD

1987 (self-titled)/Slip of the Tongue Axe Killer label 2000 remaster 2CD

Here I Go Again The Whitesnake Collection 2CD of Slide/1987/Slip

Hope all of that helps. You have been warned. Don't waste your money on this remaster. Get the originals if you really want to enjoy this music the way it should sound.

If you think this remaster, or the other remasters listed above are great, like I used to, seriously just check out those eye (and ear) opening videos mentioned above.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 1999
Also called the thrash bible, Among the Living is probably the best Anthrax album ever. Anthrax is one of the best and influential thrash/speed metal bands ever, and this is the album that emphasizes this point the most. Classics such as the title track, "I am the Law", "Efilnikufesin", and "Skeleton in the Closet" will be written down in metal history. Bellandonna has strong vocals, Ian helps nicely. Spitz and Bello perform excellent work on their instruments, and Benante just ripping up the drums. Anthrax should have made more albums like this
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