Written By Jason Voorhees
It's not a stretch to say that Anthrax is often the forgotten band when it comes to the Big4.
While they are sometimes overlooked, they undoubtedly hold a special place in thrash metal hearts worldwide. Wallowing out of the slums of New York, big-time producer Johnny Zazula helped Anthrax rise to the top during the thrash metal insurgence of the mid-eighties.
While fellow counterparts Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer closely followed their same signature formula sound and style during most of their careers, Anthrax ran the gamut in both style and diversity. Most metal fans and critics define the eras by which the lead singer is behind the microphone.
Whether your love finds favor with Joey Belladonna or if John Bush peaks your fancy, one part of the band has always stayed true to form. And that's the triplets: Charlie Benante (drums), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), and Frank Bello (bass). That group has employed Anthrax's core songwriting duties for the majority of its existence.
Over the years, Anthrax has established the most diverse discography catalog of the entire Big4. While there have been a few low points, most of their records have performed very well, enjoying much success. So instead of wasting any more time with boring introductions...let's jump head-on into the fire as we rank the best of Anthrax from worst to first. I forgot to mention...this is strictly studio albums (not including other fine works such as 'Attack of the Killer B's' or 'Anthems').
11. 'Stomp 442' (1995)
Most definitely the low point in their discography. Indeed not a terrible record, but not very memorable either. This was the sophomore album with John Bush in the driver's seat, and the results were inconsistent at best. The songwriting was uninspiring, lacking a clear vision. The standout tracks include "Fueled," "Riding Shotgun," and "I'm In A Zone," which had a very nu-metal style tone. Dan Spitz was out of the band, and so was the energy. Too much filler and little, very little thriller.
10. 'We've Come For You All' (2003)
This was a comeback of sorts during the John Bush era. While many fans had grown tired of the bands' lack of direction, the album was a semi-return to basics. The old inspiration that had been missing the previous few years was back. With Rob Caggiano on the ax, there was more energy, and the groove was back in the band's step. Tracks like "Safe Home," "Black Dhalia," and "Taking the Music Back" offered a more classic style of thrash. It was not the time to "Think About An End" just yet. Anthrax was back in the game.
9. 'Fistful of Metal' (1984)
It was a stellar debut for the New York thrashers. A raw and edgy mixture of in-your-face metal provided the fledgling archetype for the band's future endeavors. Johnny Z hit another home run signing these guys as the results speak for themselves. A classic thrash onslaught featuring "Deathrider," "Panic," mosh pit favorite "Metal Thrashing Mad." There's also a badass cover of Alice Cooper's megahit "Eighteen." A truly substantially solid debut; and, more importantly, an extremely fun listen.
8. 'State of Euphoria' (1988)
This was the epitome of going back to the well one too many times. Instead of building off the momentum from its Mount Rushmore- Esque predecessor, the album sadly became a repetitive beacon of familiarity. Anthrax could have taken their act to new heights, but unfortunately, the creativity stalled. That's not to say that it lacks some beautiful moments. Songs like "Be All, End All," "Make Me Laugh," and "Finale" are standout stalwarts. However, the cover of "Antisocial" became a huge hit appearing regularly on MTV's Headbanger's Ball. Solid but not great.
7. 'Persistence of Time' (1990)
This may be Anthrax's best record both stylistically and lyrically. It's more advanced and closer to what should have come after 'Among the Living.' The songwriting is both intricate and intense. I always say that this is where Anthrax albums go from decent to absolute knockouts. The record is littered with star power beginning to end, including the opener "Time" as well as "Keep it in the Family," "Belly of the Beast," "In My World," "Got the Time," and "Discharge." A masterpiece of violent energy. Anthrax was not messing around anymore.
6. 'For All Kings' (2016)
They say we learn from our mistakes, and Anthrax truly learned after the 'State of Euphoria' aftermath. Coming off of their huge hit 'Worship Music,' the band was faced with a similar situation to that experiment. This time instead of zigging, Anthrax decided to zag. While the album still shared similarities to its predecessor, 'For All Kings' provided fresh and new ideas and various style changes. The album is filled with greatness lead by "You Gotta Believe," "Monster At the End," "For All Kings," "Breathing Lightning," and "Defend Avenge." "Blood Eagle Wings" is an epic masterpiece.
5. 'Volume 8' (1998)
This is hands down their most underrated album ever written. I'm going to catch major flack for placing it so high. But while many fans and critics hold the record in low regards, do not mistake popularity with true greatness. And this is a top album list, not a popularity contest. It features very intense songwriting and too dark lyrics during a very dark time in the band's emotional state. Standouts are plentiful: "Crush," "Catharsis," "Inside Out," and "P&V" is as fearsome of a foursome as you will find in thrash metal anthology. The extraordinary record, fight me if you disagree.
4. 'Spreading The Disease' (1985)
No sophomore slump here, folks. Another stone-cold classic for the empire-state thrash metal rockers. A genre-defining release that's often a prototype metal record for guitarists to learn from. Plenty of high-level material leaves the listener feeling pretty hype and stoked. It's either well-known classics or hidden gem glory in the toe...zero filler resides on this album. Tracks like "Madhouse," "Medusa," and "A.I.R." pace the record while "Gung-Ho," "Aftershock," and "Stand or Fall" define it! Now this was the album that sent them flying to the top.
3. 'Sound of White Noise' (1993)
The birthplace of the John Bush-era could have been a colossal disappointment. Instead, the band buckled down and produced arguably their most artistic record up until that point. The album performed exceptionally well on the charts and was received by fans and critics alike. A provocative induced coma on the senses, this is an eardrum popping barnburner of reckless abandon. The Megahit "Only" is the highpoint, but it's only the tip of the iceberg in this album's greatness. Other standouts include "Black Lodge," "Room For One More," and "Hy Pro Glo." John Bush brought a newfound passion, and his presence was band-altering.
2. 'Worship Music' (2011)
One of the most anticipated reunion comeback releases in metal history was a slam dunk home run. This record is so good, and it could very well be their greatest when truly admiring its contents. Anthrax brought their A-game from opening to close, and it's a classic style Anthrax that you could ever get. This album brings back memories of the classic era thrashers. The fans loved it, and the critics were enamored as well. Probably the best overall produced album as far as sound goes. It runs the entire gamut of Anthrax's career both stylistically and lyrically. It boasts hit after hit with no bad tracks insight. Plug and play at its most delicate push play.
1. 'Among The Living' (1987)
As tough as the competition is, 'Among the Living' undoubtedly takes the cake as the Anthrax discography's quintessential album. Far and away, their most mature songwriting effort overall and one that only fed the rabid moshing persona of its loyal die-hard thrashers. "Caught in A Mosh," "I am the Law," "Efilnikufesin," "Indians," "Imitation of Life," the list keeps going and going. A masterpiece of thrash metal art has stood the test of time and ranks right up there at the top of all metal albums all-time. A definitive cornerstone for the band and one that even the most novel fans must bow to. Say hello to greatness here, folks!
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