A classy and electrifying Thrash Metal album especially crafted for all of us, the real kings of heavy music.
For All Kings, the eleventh studio album by American Thrash Metal titans Anthrax, is definitely not just another ordinary Thrash Metal album. It truly feels like a classy and passionate tribute to heavy music and to their longtime hardcore fans, who have never turned their back on these Ney York City metallers and kept flying the flag of old school Thrash Metal high no matter what. Actually, I shouldn’t be calling those people as just “fans”, but as real kings according to Anthrax themselves when explaining the title of the album. “The meaning, to me, for this title is that everybody can be a king.”, said the iconic guitarist Scott Ian. And you know what? We should indeed feel like kings being honored by Anthrax with such a beautiful album.
After the superb Worship Music, released in the distant year of 2011 when Anthrax emerged from the ashes like a metallic phoenix, I had no idea if they would be capable of maintaining (or even surpassing) the extremely high level of quality and energy flowing from now classic songs such as “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” and “The Devil You Know” in their future albums. Especially after the departure of the amazing Rob Caggiano (who joined Danish rockers Volbeat in 2013), being replaced by Jon Donais on lead guitar, that uncertainty grew even more as Rob used to be one of the masterminds behind the band’s unique musicality. Well, I said once to a friend that if they were able to deliver maybe just half of what they did in Worship Music I would be extremely happy, and fortunately for all of us For All Kings is more than that, sounding just as electrifying as its predecessor.
Are you ready to get caught in a breakneck Thrash Metal mosh? This is what will happen in the opening track, the fantastic You Gotta Believe, where after an imposing intro (featuring background noises from probably Anthrax fans during their live performances) we are treated to 7 minutes of the purest and finest Anthrax. Scott Ian and Charlie Benante are already on their beast mode, while “newcomer” Jon Donais does a superb job with his guitar solos providing a nice balance between violence and melody to the song. The following chant, Monster at the End, is not only a melodious ode to Thrash Metal similar to some tunes from Worship Music, but also an irreproachable option to sing along with the iconic Joey Belladonna. And what can I say about the great riffage by Scott in the title-track, For All Kings, especially during the chorus? In addition to that, the thunderous bass guitar by Frank Bello adds a lot of power to this amazing hymn, putting a smile on the face of every fan of old school Thrash Metal.
You might not agree with me, but in my humble opinion the superb Breathing Lightning is a masterpiece, and I simply cannot wait to see them playing this live. Thrilling and electrifying from the very first second, its classic rhythm is flawlessly complemented by its simple but beautiful lyrics (“You always have the chance to do the right thing / Until the right thing comes undone / And with a thunderclap I’m breathing lightning / And this world has moved on / I look inside myself is this the right thing? / Is this the right thing, I don’t know”). Besides, Joey’s performance is beyond outstanding throughout the entire song, not to mention the soulful guitar solos by Jon. Suzerain is another kick-ass traditional Anthrax chant, showcasing precise beats by Charlie and tons of riffs by Scott and Jon, and sounding as if it was recorded back in the 80’s but with a fresh vibe; while Evil Twin, inspired by events like the 2015 attack on the offices and staff of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and various other mass shootings (Scott mentioned the song is about the actions of people “who feel they have become judge, jury and executioner over their fellow man”, calling this mindset the “evil twin” of humanity), has that perfect rhythm for having fun inside a circle pit with your friends. The band once again shows all their passion for Thrash Metal through the song’s heavy riffs and acid lyrics (“You represent your discontent slaughtering the innocent / Insolence, you’re no martyrs / The arrogance to reinvent / The holy words their meanings bent / Evil twins, you’re no martyrs”), with the riffs and bass lines at around three minutes being fuckin’ awesome.
After so much destruction and shredding, it’s time for some classy and passionate Heavy Metal entitled Blood Eagle Wings (Anthrax surely don’t need to be fast all the time to be awesome), where you can feel the entire band is putting their hearts and souls into the music; followed by the fighting chant Defend Avenge, which despite being heavy as hell it’s still very melodic, with Anthrax demanding us fans to bang our fucking heads nonstop and scream its chorus together with them at the top of our lungs. The good All of Them Thieves falls flat after a while due to its repetitive lyrics, despite the great job done on both guitars and bass, whereas in This Battle Chose Us it feels like Anthrax are paying a tribute to themselves, with Frank kicking ass on bass while Charlie provides his always groovy and pleasant beats. Moreover, it’s indeed incredible how Anthrax still sound crisp and alight after so many years on the road.
Now just grab a beer and head to the mosh pit to the sound of the insane riffs and nonstop adrenaline flowing from one of the best songs of the album for sure, entitled Zero Tolerance. This is the perfect way to close this solid album, with Joey and Scott leading this fiery hymn which will undoubtedly please all fans of good Thrash Metal. But wait, there’s a lot more Anthrax if you purchase the limited edition of the album (or even better, the jaw-dropping POKER EDITION) in the form of four high-octane bonus tracks recorded live in Tokyo, Japan, with my favorite being obviously their most recent classic Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t.
What are you waiting for to keep worshiping the unique music crafted by Anthrax in For All Kings? Featuring a stunning artwork by American comic book writer and artist Alex Ross, this is one of those albums that without even noticing you’ll be listening to nonstop at home, in your car, at work or anywhere else where first-class Thrash Metal is needed to fight our biggest enemies and fears. For All Kings is classy, electrifying and, more important than that, especially crafted for all of us, the real kings of heavy music.
Best moments of the album: You Gotta Believe, Breathing Lightning, Defend Avenge and Zero Tolerance.
Worst moments of the album: All of Them Thieves.
Released in 2016 Megaforce/Nuclear Blast
1. You Gotta Believe 7:32
2. Monster at the End 3:55
3. For All Kings 5:00
4. Breathing Lightning 6:33
5. Suzerain 4:53
6. Evil Twin 4:40
7. Blood Eagle Wings 7:53
8. Defend Avenge 5:13
9. All of Them Thieves 5:14
10. This Battle Chose Us 4:53
11. Zero Tolerance 3:48
Poker Edition/Limited Edition Box Set bonus tracks
12. Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t 6:11
13. A.I.R. 6:38
14. Caught In A Mosh 5:18
15. Madhouse 4:06
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums