HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Anthrax - Fistful Of Metal & Armed And Dangerous

With Anthrax back hoping to be a baby version of Maiden's and Priest's recent reunion ploys, it makes sense that their pioneering early label Megaforce would come up with a tidy reissue, coupling the band's seminal debut and follow-up EP, the first bit o' crumpet with Joey Belladonna, the now-returning classic lineup vocalist. Twenty years back, right coaster Fistful Of Metal said "Up the irons" to left coaster Kill 'Em All, the two relentless and professional proto-extremities forming a pair of barbed wire headphones that would ignite the speed, thrash and death movements that dominated the underground for the rest of the decade. Neil Turbin sounds like Eric Adams, and the band behind his wailing shrieks are relentless yet in control. Fistful Of Metal is a classic, and its touch of NYC tradition and trace of NWOBHM structure - its odd groundedness - distinguish it nicely from Metallica's no life 'til leather mania. Come the EP, and the band get even more anthemic, also offering a Pistols cover to reveal the punk stripes that would become more pronounced later. As a reissue package, this disappoints. What little graphics there are are classy, but other than a page of useful notes from the band, there are absolutely no credits to this four panel booklet, which repeats the same band shot three times, one panel also being an exact copy of the back cover. And number the damn tracks, will ya?
Rating 7.5

Nightingale - Invisible
(Black Mark)

Do-it-yourselfer Dan Swano and his Nightingale concept are still humming along, coming up with hummable hard rock songs that are a joy to deconstruct or headbang whole. Swano's production is elegant - no other word for it - and his sonorous vocals are a perfect fit to the band's heady brew of progressive, blues and pan-'80s metal moves. Drummer Tom Bjorn has the deft touch of Ian Paice, balancing artfully groove and innovative yet tidy fills. I hear Ratt, Vanderhoof, Masterplan, Ark and the new Russell Allen in here, along with Heep, Purple, Magnum, post-Rodgers Bad Co. and Martin-era Sabbath, Swano building each track ambitiously, pacing the record nicely, layering vocals, tweaking the sounds, resulting in nice aural surprises everywhere. It's a record and a band conceived by a guy who is encyclopedic in his knowledge of what sounds good, reads good, is novel, is melodically something fresh. If, indeed, Swano is even capable of writing in cliches, he's obviously smart enough to strip them all out before the final cut. Every proposal, every offering, every sculpture on here is that good.
Rating 9

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