Few debates in the metal community get more contentious then the Joey vs. John debate. Just take a look at the official Anthrax message board or the comments section of sites like blabbermouth.net, and you’ll see you will have more civil discussion of topics like abortion, gun control and religion then you will about who is the better Anthrax singer.
I will admit that I myself fall into the “John” side of the debate. I myself further admit that when the topic of, “could have Joey sang on the Bush records” comes up, I was firmly on the side of hell no. Well having had just listened to a few spins of Anthrax’s newest release Worship Music. I’m going to have to change my mind on that one.
As a matter of fact, Worship Music may very well be the best Anthrax record ever. Which is an amazing thing when you consider the turmoil that surrounded the making of this album.
First, you had the much debated reunion with Joey, which I and many other Anthrax fans (those that never jumped of the Anthrax bandwagon that is) felt was done for all the wrong reasons. Anthrax’s own Charlie Benante even admitted in a recent interview that it was done for the wrong reason. Then came the decision to move forward without Joey and pluck from obscurity Dan Nelson to sing on the new record. (At some point even Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour was rumored to be in line for the job.) Then they realized that Nelson was not a fit, and John came back for a few shows… only to decide that his heart really wasn’t in it any more, and he didn’t want to re-record vocals on an album that was written with another singer.
Enter, the return of Joey Belladonna for the third time. Joey could have easily (and probably should have) told Scott Ian and Charlie Benante to go fuck themselves after the way he was treated by them, but he didn’t.
And Anthrax fans have now been treated with, as I said earlier, may very well be the best Anthrax album ever.
Scott Ian and his right hand show why he may very well be the best rhythm guitarist in metal, Charlie Benante is drumming out of his mind. And Joey… well Joey still has those sweeping operatic at times highs that he is known for, but has mixed in just the right amount of grit and aggression in his voice as well, which is where I have to admit I have changed my mind and decided that Joey really could have easily sang on 1993’s Sound of White Noise as well as the albums that followed.
2011 Anthrax is a blending of both era’s of Anthrax, while at the same time not really looking into the past and opting for a trip down memory lane just for the sake of nostalgia.
In The End, a tribute to Dimebag Darrell and Ronnie James Dio, may very well be the best song Scott Ian ever wrote. Earth On Hell, is probably the closest “thrash” song on the album to appease the AnThrash purists out there. Judas Priest is epic, Crawl sounds like it was written for John Bush’s voice, but Joey nails it down anyways. And even the slightly poppy Fight ‘em till’ You Can’t, and The Devil You Know are killer tunes.
All in all, and I fully admit to being a mark for Anthrax, Worship Music is a brilliant album, and if it grows on me any more after what I have heard so far I’ll have to change my tune from “this may very well be,” to “this is the best Anthrax album ever.”