Anthrax at the Academy, Dublin 16th of November 2012
They may not call it a comeback, but Anthrax have undergone an amazing revival in fortunes in recent years. As one of the Big Four of the 1980s trash metal scene (along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth) they are responsible for defining the genre, and with the release last year of “Worship Music”, they proved that they can still thrash with the best of them. Their Academy gig on Friday night was completely sold out, and with good reason.
Anthrax’s screeching guitar wails and ear-bursting drum fills are the very definition of thrash metal at its purest, and they can still put on one hell of a good show.
Support came from UK band Sacred Mother Tongue, whose hard edged thrash style showed plenty of influence from Anthrax and Metallica. As Sacred Mother Tongue blasted their way through a fierce, foot stomping set, the venue quickly filled up until it was packed to absolute capacity. “Are you ready for Anthrax, Dublin?” cried frontman Darrin South. The crowd roared in approval.
After only the briefest interlude to set up their equipment, Anthrax opened up with the heavy onrush of Earth on Hell, taken from their most recent album ‘Worship Music’. It is real piece of heavy, chugging thrash that wouldn’t been at all out of place in the 80s thrash metal scene.
After the band tore through Earth in Hell in no time at all, they fell silent and the stage went dark. A public service style voiceover announced that, “City authorities in your area are reporting that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living.” This is of course the intro to another song from ‘Worship Music’, the wonderfully aggressive Fight ‘em ‘til You Can’t. Newly returned singer Joey Belladonna’s fantastic vocal range completely nailed the newer material. By the way the fans received it Fight ‘em ‘til You Can’t could have been the band’s encore and most loved song, instead of only the second song in their set.
Anthrax brought things back to their earlier days next with Caught in a Mosh and Antisocial; two songs which still resonate as the soundtrack to angry teenage rebellion. Belladonna hung out over the audience, high-fiving the fans pressed up against the barrier and reaching out over the moshers and crowd surfers as they chanted the chorus, “you’re anti–, you’re antisocial”.
His guitar sound dominates Anthrax, and Scott Ian was also a dominating presence on the stage. While not nearly as animated as Belladonna – he was nonetheless a striking figure with his bald head and wild goatee – and, as he tore his way into the opening riff of Indians, he somehow managed to whip the band and the audience into even greater levels of intensity.
Every one of the band’s five opening songs seemed to get louder and faster, but rather than slowing things down, Anthrax just piled the pressure on even more. They followed Indians with two more tracks from ‘Worship Music’, which fit seamlessly in among their other material. All of a sudden it was three songs later, and the band drew out the final long notes of Be All, End All, and then took a bow and retreated from the stage. The crowd were a little stunned. The gig still felt like it had only started, given that Anthrax had powered through their set with such breakneck speed.
After only a moment Ian returned to the stage alone, and played a melodic solo which transformed into the opening notes of Among the Living. Belladonna showed absolutely no signs of slowing down during the encore, and led the band into vigorous renditions of Madhouse and the super quick Joe Jackson cover Got the Time.
The audience knew exactly what to expect from Anthrax’s final song of the night, and when Belladonna held out his microphone stand over the audience they roared back to him as one , I Am the Law. Belladonna ran back and forth between the drum kit and the edge of the stage, weaving between the other members of the band as he sang. At one point he leaned out into the sea of black t-shirts and long hair and grabbed a camera from the outstretched had of a fan to take their picture, still singing as he did so.
And then it was over, as quick as it started. “Remember to keep on worshiping music,” said Ian as the band took their final bow and left the stage.
Perhaps the show was a bit too short (it only lasted about an hour and half) but it was also an incredibly powerful and energetic performance from a band who still have boundless amounts of youthful passion, and are somehow capable of injecting this energy into every second of their shows.
Maybe, as Ian said, it’s because they never stopped worshiping music.
Earth on Hell
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Caught in a Mosh
Antisocial (Trust cover)
The Devil You Know
In the End
In My World
Be All, End All
Among the Living
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
I Am the Law
Anthrax Photo Gallery
Photos: Aled Owen-Thomas