Sound — 6
Anthrax aren't quite the dangerous, despicable thrash-peddlers they were thirty years ago. Despite all the lineup drama, they've grown and maintained a reputation as the loveable journeymen of heavy metal. They're friendly uncle who slips you some pocket money as he shakes your hand, and they've got the taste in music to prove it too. They cover Boston, Thin Lizzy and Cheap Trick among others on "Anthems" as they pull some '70s classics from the archives and give them a going over with the stylings of a veteran metal band.
However, those stylings are mostly cosmetic; Ian and co. are so faithful to the originals that the crunch of a modern electric guitar is sometimes the only giveaway. Cheap Trick's "Big Eyes" gets quite the revamp after 35 years of progress in recording technology but AC/DC's "T.N.T." sounds much the same more to their credit than Anthrax's detraction. The tunes are uniformly good but there's only so much enjoyment to be gleaned from these sorts of covers, and most of it will be for big Anthrax fans who like hearing the familiar guitar tones and drum sounds applied a little differently. In truth the highlight is a remix of "Crawl", one of the band's own songs, which lathers the thing in "S&M"-style orchestral backing to rather dramatic effect and reminds us all that they can write something half-decent themselves.
Lyrics — 7
There's not much use in scrutinising the lyrics, especially when we're dealing with testosterone-fuelled classic rock. Joey Belladonna does a pretty reasonable job of imitating some unmistakable singers though, including Bon Scott, Phil Lynott and one of the toughest nuts to crack - Geddy Lee. It takes a pretty talented guy to handle all these styles (particularly after the beating Joey's given his throat and liver over the years) but you do wonder whether he's trying a little too hard to sound like Brad, Bon or Geddy and forgetting that the best covers redefine the originals.
Overall Impression — 7
It may sound a redundant thing to say but if you like Belladonna's Anthrax and you like some of the songs covered then you'll get a few listens out of this. If not then chances are you're only listening out of curiosity after their questionable cover of Refused and if that's you, I'd advise that their song selection is much improved and this is a competent, professional little package.