I Am the Law
Kings Among Scotland
As one of the so-called 'big four' of thrash metal - Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer being the other three - Anthrax blazed an innovative trail throughout the 1980s. The big four, and innumerable others with angry-sounding names such as Destruction, Overkill and Nuclear Assault, heralded a new level of aggression within the scene. The hydra-headed beast that is metal today therefore owes much to Anthrax and their ilk, and their influence is difficult to overstate.
Released in 1987, Among the Living was Anthrax's third album and arguably their big breakthrough. 1985's Spreading the Disease had seen them tour in support of Metallica, but in the wake of Among the Living they became a headline act in their own right. Often cited by fans as their favourite Anthrax album, it features some of their most memorable moments and is impressively consistent.
The production standards of the era favoured instruments and vocals drenched in reverb and processed effects. By contrast, Among the Living is bone-dry, and all the more brutal for it. Taking a leaf out of Metallica's book, the band opt for an epic opening, the title track's portentous power chords shifting first to a chug before launching themselves into all-out thrash. Concert favourites Caught in a Mosh and Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) continue to induce grins and furious head-banging in equal measure, while I Am the Law and Indians - both successful singles - have lost none of their insistent urgency. Overall, Among the Living strikes a deft balance between marauding speed and judicious use of melody, a juggling feat they'd fumble on later albums.
This shiny new re-mastering job is crisp and punchy, very much a case of preserving the original recording with a bright 21st century sheen to show it at its best. Of the extra archive material, the handful of B sides and studio outtakes can't really compete with the bonus DVD featuring the band's 1987 concert video Oidivnikufesin (N.F.V.). Filmed before a packed house at London's legendary Hammersmith Odeon, it's Anthrax in their prime.