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Spreading the Disease
LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Spreading The Disease
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Plastic Head Music USA presents the latest from its distributed label Vinyl Collector Series. Each title is manufactured on heavy weight, 180-gram vinyl for optimum sound quality. The titles are hand-selected representing the best of the respective artist or genre. Strictly controlled, these titles will quickly sell out so stock up now before they are gone.
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Indeed, from the very second the exhilarating opener, "A.I.R.," begins until the last second of the uncompromisingly off-the-rails and double-bass-driven closing blast, "Gung-Ho," the intensity and frenetic energy levels are never compromised in favor of obligatory balladry or uninspired (or even half-hearted) riffing. A definite Metallica-esque vibe is present on the aforementioned opening "A.I.R.," a track that hits the ground running with pounding thrash grooves, violently thrashing guitar leads, lots of double bass drumming, and ripping, piercing shred soloing. The vocals in this song are also of note, as they are of the Iron Maiden-ish variety, and are sure to include plenty of anthemic choruses, as well.
Elsewhere, "Lone Justice" finds a good bass intro giving way to thrashing grooves, and catchy, galloping riffs; "Madhouse" is a crunchy chugger; and "Medley" absolutely flies by with its blistering riffage, soloing, and catchy, call-and-response vocal patterns. And what to make of the mid-tempo chugger that is "The Enemy"? Well, it certainly does differentiate from the norm in that it allows the listener his or her first chance to really catch their breath, but is nevertheless a vehement, vitriolic, and caustic anti-Nazi rant, and a tirade that cuts right down to the bone.
But immediately following this comes the blistering "Aftershock," which overflows with streamlined, chainsaw-fast guitar leads and screaming, white-hot soloing. Then we get "Armed And Dangerous," which puts the album back on the more restrained side of the line, as it is a Judas Priest-y ballad, at least in part. And the other part of it is a blistering, blood-pumping thrasher with ripping speed, insistent double bass thudding, fiery solos, and killer (and thus instinctively memorable) choruses.
And the set is rounded out by "Medusa," a track that plays more-or-less like a piece of pure power metal, what with its tuneful, Bruce Dickinson-lite vocals icing a musical bed of hook-heavy crunch and chug riffing and winding melodical solos. Said tune is also of note for featuring some catchy, call-and-response vocal patterns in its choruses, thus making them sound not unlike a precursor to 1986's "Among The Living." It is just one other song that serves to beg one final, irrefutable question: Why should you bother waiting the excruciatingly long periods of time for new Anthrax material when the old-school stuff rocks so darn righteously?!
The production could have been a little better, for today's standards, but hey, it was 1985. This is one of the best Anthrax albums with Among The Living and Fistful of Metal. Period!
This album is substantially less thrashy than their following few albums. It's got much more of a NWOBHM feel with an obvious Iron Maiden influence. Frankly, it just barely qualifies as a thrash album. Still, despite stylistic differences, their talent is already apparent. Charlie is already a first rate thrash drummer, with a lot of energy and nice use of the double bass, and newcomer Bello's bass makes it presence known, unlike just about every other thrash bassist out there. Ian's rhythm guitar isn't a tight or sharp as it would become, but it's noticeably more melodic and can still thrash it up quite efficiently. Belladonna's vocals are also more melodic than they'd later be. He's a little over the top occasionally, but that's alright, especially in conjunction with the more light-hearted feel of the album.
Over the next couple albums Anthrax's lyrics became progressively more serious and dark. On Spreading the Disease, however, they are almost completely non-substantial or light hearted. This wouldn't work for every thrash band, or album, but it works here, and makes for an album which is more genuinely fun to listen to then lots of other high quality thrash albums. This is also more hook-driven then just about any other thrash album I've heard. Fortunately, they almost always work, and pretty much every track has a nicely melodic and immediately memorable chorus.(and a nice pre-chorus too, much of the time)
The big standout on this album is Lone Justice. Unspeakably catchy, but with the riffs to back it up. A.I.R. is a classic opener with all the energy that such a title entails. The closer, Gung-Ho is probably the thrashiest thing here, with an absolutely outstanding main riff, and a copmletely silly but still very enjoyable chorus/pre-chorus. The Enemy breaks the mood of the album, as it is a very serious minded song about Hitler/Holocaust etc. It still works, although it certainly isn't the best thing here. Stand or Fall and Aftershock are the relative weak points, but they are still some solid early thrash. Lastly, although the rest of the song doesn't stand up to some of the stronger material on the album, the intoduction to Armed & Dangerous is just great, perhaps the best part of the album. Great vox from Joey. Lots of melodrama, perhaps, but rather effecting as well.
Anthrax were one of the best thrash acts around, and this is one of their classic albums. Get it.