AnthraxGood old Anthrax. As the years roll on they seem more and more like New York-style entertainers of bygone age. Always glad to be here, always ready to raise a smile. For all their hardcore aggression and cartoon violence they have always been great fun. They certainly seem to be having fun on this eight track mini album, comprising of covers of six classic rock numbers and ‘Crawl’ (plus a remix), from their last album “Worship Music”.

Personally, I feel that covers albums are the first refuge of the creatively bankrupt. They tend to be the result of a band having nothing to say themselves but the pressures of record labels and expectant fans lead them to the easy comfort zone of playing old favourites. This feeling is hardly dispelled when the covers are virtually straight run through’s of the originals, as is the case here.

What saves several of these tracks from blandness is the vocal performances of Joey Belladonna, who sings the hell out of everything here. There’s an added depth and richness to his voice which may have come with age, and it’s no surprise his vocals are upfront in the mix on every song. He can be very proud of his contribution. I just wish material was more inspiring.

So, ‘Anthem’ by Rush? The title may fit the concept but neither this or the original excite me. No one needs to hear covers of Thin Lizzy‘s ‘Jailbreak’ or AC/DC‘s ‘TNT’ either. They’ll never match the originals and are utterly superfluous. And their version of ‘Keep on Runnin’ ‘ by Journey only succeeds as being as dull as all Journey records.

It’s not all as pointless. Despite being a big fan of Cheap Trick, I don’t feel the same about their tackling of ‘Big Eyes’. It’s punchy, crunchy and swaggering and is one of the two tracks here worth seeking out. The other is ‘Smokin’ ‘ by Boston. Maybe because I’m not over familiar with it, them not being such a big radio presence here as they were in the US? Anyway, it rocks. You really can’t fault the band’s commitment to these songs and the organ solo by Fred Mandel adds great unexpected colour to an Anthrax record!

‘Crawl’ and it’s Faith No More-ish remix holds its own at the end of the record and proves the band can still produce good songs of their own.

Yeah, it’s kind of fun, but I think most if these songs should have remained sound check staples. I look forward to some new Anthrax material now they’ve finished playing Rock Idol.

Anthrax – Official website