On initial reaction, it would seem like Anthrax managed to do the impossible and make a good album. In other news, hell froze over, North Korea remained their country “Happy Hugs and Chocolates Land”, and Chris-chan gained some self-awareness. And it’s really done by doing what they promised not to do in this album, by abandoning their thrash metal roots. Sure, it has elements of that in here, but for the most part, the album is full of heavy metal epics.
The music is mature, varied, and actually interesting to listen to. Breathing Lightning gave me CHILLS listening to it. Anthrax did that! Breathing is an uplifting, soaring, real POWER metal ballad. Not in the “lets sing merrily about Vikings and DnD” power metal, but in the way that it has power to give you positive energy and will. It’s an inspiring track and easily the best on the album, and the previous three aren’t slouches, being of similar inspiration levels.
And then track five hits and the album just… falls apart. Maybe that’s a little harsh, the rest of For All Kings isn’t bad. But it’s much more like their previous album, which was to be blunt, and steaming pile of concentrated misery, with some shit thrown in for flavor. They certainly upgraded their sound to a bit above tolerable, but nothing exceeds the level of “this isn’t that bad”. It was as if Anthrax spent months working on the first four tracks, and then realized “shit, we need to finish this album fast” and cashed it in for the next 30 minutes.
Disappointment does not even begin to describe my feelings towards this. I was actually a bit hyped to be that one guy who gave Anthrax a 9/10. It would’ve been cool for a band often forgotten, despite how well known they are, who others constantly dismiss even amongst their success, revitalize to create their strongest album almost 40 years after first started up. Of course, seeing as how they decided that quality really isn’t important enough to make an entire album of it, this was not meant to be. So once again, despite Anthrax showing that they are indeed capable of good music, Anthrax ironically “mails” it in, giving some hope, but nothing more than enough to hype up the “next time” for their next album.