Artist : Anthrax
Album : Among The Living
Released : March 22, 1987
M.M. Album Rating : 4.5/5 (The Closest The Band Came To Greatness.)
By 1987 it was clear that it was time for the band Anthrax to make a record that would rival the landmark records their peers had made just a year before. In 1986, Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth had all made classic landmark records that to this day are three of the greatest Thrash Metal albums of the genre. Anthrax themselves didn’t release an album in 86, but to be fair they pretty much released two records in 1985 if you include the Stormtroopers Of Death album, which still to this day is the album they were associated with that has aged the best. That being said their third album needed to show Anthrax making strides musically to keep up with the excellent music the other bands on the scene were now making.
With their previous album “Spreading The Disease” it seemed like it was a smart move for Anthrax to bring in new lead singer Joey Belladonna. By the time they released their third and to this day best album “Among The Living” it was proven to be the right move. By bringing in legendary producer Eddie Kramer, and armed with their best overall material, they made their most consistent record to date. Kramer obviously helped to focus the band, letting them know also that mediocre material wouldn’t be tolerated. As it turned out it would be exactly what the band needed. Songs like I Am The Law, and Indians became got some AirPlay on MTV, and some hard rock radio stations, but the whole album was so strong overall that those two songs don’t really stand out when playing the album front to back.
Released as a tribute to the late great Cliff Burton who had just died a few months before it’s release, and to feature the last songwriting contributions from bass player Danny Lilker, (it’s not a coincidence that they always seem to make their best music when Dan is around) this became the album that truly introduced Anthrax to the mainstream audiences. It’s just too bad for them they really couldn’t take advantage of the momentum. Unlike bands like Metallica, Slayer, or even Pantera, they couldn’t sustain their peak over multiple albums. Their next record “State Of Euphoria” was a huge letdown coming off this album. What’s even more of a disappointment is they also knew they were putting out a mediocre album at best. More concerned about having a new record for their tour opening for Judas Priest, instead of making an album worthy to follow up what Among The Living was. That’s just one example of why Anthrax was always a step below the great bands of that era. And although the album following that “Persistence Of Time” is what should’ve been the true follow-up to Among The Living, Joey Belladonna would soon be gone, and the band would take a different direction with John Bush.
As the years have passed Among The Living has withstood the test of time. To this day (especially with Eddie Kramer’s excellent production) the album still sounds fresh, and enjoyable. With the inconsistency of the Anthrax discography as a whole this is still the best evidence that even though you can’t really call them a great band, they were good enough to produce some magic every now and then.
Track listing :
All tracks written by Anthrax except “I Am the Law” and “Imitation of Life” by Anthrax and Danny Lilker.
Side one :
1.”Among the Living”
2.”Caught in a Mosh”
3.”I Am the Law”
5.”A Skeleton in the Closet”
Side two :
8.”A.D.I./Horror of It All”
9.”Imitation of Life”