among the living

Anthrax, Among the Living

I first heard this cassette in Phoenix, AZ, after reading about them in RIP magazine (rest in peace, ha)–( “…just listening to this record will make you break out in a sweat”*) in the summer of 1987.

I didn’t get the breakneck (i.e., fast as shit) tempo at all; it sounded like noise to me. I listened to it over and over and over and over again until it “clicked.”

And– it really did click.

I love this cassette (which still works in my 20-year-old-caddy and its cassette player);

A quarter century later, I hold that this is better than all the other “big four” and their commonly-held best (meaning Reign in Blood and Peace Sells…) except, (I hate to add) than Master of Puppets.

And I love those other albums. Their cassettes still work and I still play them when I’m MP3-less.

And I hate Megadeth and Mustaine– but from someone who still begrudgingly loves Peace Sells…?

Among the Living is genuinely better.

Now don’t get me wrong– I’m a full-on genuine Anthrax fan (I fully believe they’re the only member of the “Big 4″ who continued to evolve over 20 years; I love Persistence of Time (as their #2 album) and Sound of White Noise (as #3)– but Among the Living should be (and mostly is) legendary.

Megadeth disappeared behind Mustaine’s junkie/Christian persona; Slayer couldn’t give less of a shit about musical evolution; and Metallica… well… you know.

But Anthrax, even when they fail, are still obviously trying to change and become something more. They’re true artists, to me. They risk.

True story: “A Skeleton in the Closet” was the first riff I learned to play completely correctly.

This album is still just as fast and mean and stuff released decades (literally!) later… “I am the law,” “Indians,” and “A.D.I./ Horror of it All” are still genuine metal monsters, and Scott Ian’s tone and Charlie Benante’s simple yet-metronome-like drum parts are their perfect foil.

Listen

*I still remember the add copy, 25 years later!

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