There is something extremely exciting yet unsettling at the same time when it comes to seeing one of your favorite, classic metal bands perform. There is always a bit of apprehension. Are they still going to “bring it?” Are they still capable of delivering a high caliber live performance? Will they be tired and worn? On the Atlanta stop of their co-headlining tour with Killswitch Engage, Anthrax answered all of those questions and then some.
I have seen Anthrax quite a few times and honestly, the crowd always seemed to a bit lackluster and almost came across as tired. This night was different though. The vibe in the Tabernacle was nothing short of electrifying and honestly I was a bit surprised at this. As the house lights went out to a roar, the room was filled with hilarious intro music from the Blues Brothers. The band took the stage and as they slid right into “Among the Living”, it was very clear that these guys weren’t fucking around. The crowd was absolutely insane as lead singer Joey Belladonna commanded the room to get to their feet which even in the balcony people abided. Without missing a beat, Anthrax then delivered the classic “Caught in a Mosh” which had people going absolutely apeshit.
It was so awesome to see Anthrax receiving such a great response and honestly the band played with the fire and energy of a band ½ their age. I always thought Joey Belladonna was a great frontman but over the past few years he’s grown to be an amazing front man right up there with the likes of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, and Ronnie James Dio. He has this commanding yet humbled and appreciative presence on stage and you just can’t help but lose yourself in his performance. Scott Ian, no matter what I think of him personally, is hands down one of the most underrated rhythm players in metal and he still to this day gives nothing less than 110% to the fans and for that I will always respect him.
Newish guitarist Jonathan Donias has really solidified his role in Anthrax and in my opinion is the best fit for them since Dan Spitz. Donias puts his own twist into these songs while still remaining true to the songs original structure. He really brings a lot to the table and may even be the reason Anthrax is playing with so much fire and youthful energy. Frank Bello continues to astound me and as the years go by he becomes more of a powerful Steve Harris like presence on stage. I also have to add that Charlie Benante is hands down one the most underrated drummers in metal. This guy is an absolute beast and it’s always something special to watch him play.
Anthrax’s hour or so set had an incredible flow to it featuring such classics as “Madhouse”, “I Am the Law”, and “N.F.L.” I was glad to see that the band finally stopped playing “Got the Time” which is a song I hope stays gone for a long, long while. The new material from For All Kings really surprised me as “Breathing Lightning” and “Evil Twin” meshed so well with the classics. “Blood Eagle Wings” is a great song but something about it just seemed a bit out of place. While I totally dug the sentiment of them doing “March of the S.O.D.”, I feel that this song was a bit of a waste. This would’ve made a much better intro song allowing them to actually throw in another song or so.
Anthrax closed things out with the one two punch of “Antisocial” (which never gets old) and “Indians” which had probably the biggest circle pit during the war dance section than I’ve seen at an Anthrax show before. As a whole, the band was more energized, happy, and on point than I’ve seen them in decades and as a long time fan, I couldn’t have been happier. I would’ve loved it to have been a bit longer and I also hope that maybe the band will eventually not play it so safe with the setlist. While I love hearing the classics, Anthrax is at the top of their game so why not challenge themselves and dig a bit deeper with songs like “Belly of the Beast”, “Who Cares Wins” or even pulling a few cuts from Worship Music back into the set? Honestly, an hour and 10 minutes just doesn’t seem to be nearly enough Anthrax for me which is a great fucking thing because a great band always leaves you wanting more.
This show served as a reminder that not only is Anthrax hands down the reigning kings of The Big 4, they are a band that still has a lot of fuel in the reserves. To say this again, Anthrax played the best that I have ever seen them and it made me so excited and proud to be a fan of Anthrax. Anthrax’s best years still lie ahead of them and if their shows and music continues on the path that it has with the last two albums, Anthrax will not be going anywhere anytime soon.