CD REVIEWS ISSUE 11 Page 1
By Bob Nalbandian
THE GREATER OF TWO EVILS
I felt this was worthy of a review (even though it was released late last year) since it marks what I feel is reasonably the last Testament to a monumental metal band. In actuality, this CD seems pretty pointless considering the fact that less than a few months after this release Anthrax announced they were reuniting with their renowned lineup, bringing back into the fold Joey Belladonna, Danny Spitz, and Frank Bello (who actually played bass on The Greater Of Two Evils but left the band shortly after the recording.) Not only I, but just about every Anthrax fan I've spoken with, sees this as nothing more than a desperate attempt in hopes of rekindling their career. Quite honestly, I don't see this happening, which is why I consider this album to most likely be their final chapter. With no disrespect to the band, I just don't see this evolving into anything more than a reunion tour for the sake of nostalgia - and hey, I love the Belladonna era Anthrax almost as much as the Bush-era (John not George) but let's face it, it's gonna be pretty damn embarrassing seeing a bunch of 40 year-old men jamming to "I'm The Man"! I do give the band credit for continuing and persevering throughout all those turbulent years, and to be quite honest, this reunion was inevitable. But what many people don't seem to realize is the fact that John Bush endured twelve evolving years with Anthrax, producing five albums of memorable and transcending metal anthems. So in that respect, the band certainly deserves credit. So, why do I say this "reunion" was inevitable? Think about it for a moment and then consider the fate of other metal bands that have gone through the task of replacing their vocalist/frontman. Let's take a look...it took Motley Crue one disastrous album with John Corabi before reeling Vince Neal back into the fold, it took both Judas Priest and Iron Maiden two albums before they realized that Halford and Dickinson were irreplaceable. And the list goes on...Van Halen lasted one album with Gary Cherone before they desperately reached out to both Roth and Hagar to return, and even Sabbath finally realized after several singers (even with the return of Dio on Dehumanizer) that there is only one true Black Sabbath lineup. And when Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls...anyway, you get the picture. And not to discredit any of these vocalists, they are all great singers in their own right but it takes more than that to recreate and maintain the magic of a successful metal band. I honestly feel grief for these singers that consequently get the blame for the band's failure...John Corabi is a great singer, but let's face it, the songs on that Crue album sucked-is that his fault? And Cherone...I was never a big Extreme fan but he sang and performed great with that band but the album he did with Van Halen was horrible, not just vocal-wise, but the songs, the energy, the production-the integrity of the band was gone, so why should Cherone be entirely at fault? And that goes for Ripper Owens, Blayze Bayley, and of course Dio, who is still one of the greatest vocalists on the planet and no matter how big an Ozzy fan you are, you can't knock Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules. There's no denying the fact that Dio changed the sound and direction of Sabbath but he consequently rekindled the life back into a band that was slowly deteriorating. And it's sad that Dio rarely gets the credit for his creative input that gave Sabbath a new beginning. And that is precisely my point with John Bush-he was more than just a vocalist for Anthrax, he was in fact an integral part of the creative process of that band. Yes, he changed the sound and the direction of Anthrax but he fueled the fire for twelve years and kept the band's sound not only current, but very, very metal. And that really is something to be said. Quite honestly, I don't think the band could have carried on for nearly half that long with Belladonna or any other singer for that matter for the simple fact that Bush not only had the incredible vocal ability, but the creative sensibility and awareness, as well as the ballbusting attitude. I almost forgot this was a CD review, so onto the music...The Greater Of Two Evils features 14 Anthrax fan-faves from the early years re-recorded and re-thraxed for the new millennium. What I appreciate about this effort is the fact that the band appropriately promote this CD as revised renditions of classic Anthrax songs voted by the fans. Although the production is medial and obviously done on a tight budget (it's obvious their goal wasn't to "out-produce" the pristine production work of either Eddie Kramer or Mark Dodson), this album will certainly appeal to old Anthrax fans, and metal fans alike. Even though I'm not a big fan of bands reproducing old product (and I'm usually overly harsh on the bands, as I was with Saxon's Heavy Metal Thunder compilation) unless I feel there is a real purpose or demand for the effort. The Greater Of Two Evils could have easily been released as a live concert CD or DVD that, incidentally, Sanctuary released earlier that year with Music Of Mass Destruction (the label does have a reputation for milking their artists for all they're worth), but I guess the affect wouldn't be quite the same. John Bush performs splendidly throughout the disc although it does become apparent that much of the material obviously was written and suited for Belladonna's vocal range. But considering the intention of this release was primarily for the fans, it is a commendable effort. My favorites include; "Deathrider," "Among The Living," "I Am The Law," and "Be All End All."
Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 11 Page 2