Anthrax return after a long, tumultuous absence from the record bins with their new album 'Worship Music,' a stunningly cohesive re-assertion of their strength and precision. 

It's been eight years since Anthrax's last album, 2003's 'We've Come for You All,' their fourth and final album with John Bush on vocals.

Since then, the band reunited with golden-era lead singer Joey Belladonna for some touring. They then parted ways again, and recruited Dan Nelson to sing on an early version of 'Worship Music.'

Just when it looked like the record would finally come out, in 2009, Nelson was out, too, to be replaced on tour briefly by Bush and then finally on record by Belladonna. Got all that?

OK, well, throw it all out, it's ancient history now.

Cause all that really matters is that this record absolutely smokes. The 20 years since Belladonna's last record with Anthrax, 1990's 'Persistence of Time,' doesn't seem to have affected their natural chemistry one bit.

Unlike the last two (and very very good) Bush-era records, which leaned slightly in a hard rock direction, 'Worship Music' finds Anthrax very solidly in thrash mode. The opening trio of 'Earth on Hell,' the absolutely undeniable 'The Devil You Know' (reviewed here) and 'Fight 'Em Till You Can't' are gonna cause a lot of hearing damage as the faithful give in to the urge to play them often and at ever increasing volume.

But what really makes this album special is the two epics that follow - 'I'm Alive' and 'In the End,' which both demonstrate a very special, non-boring type of maturity and musical growth. It's not that they're ballads, by any means, but by taking the pedal off the gas just a little bit, and perhaps bringing the vocals forward in the mix a touch, Anthrax has hit on a powerful, 'Sad but True'-type of groove that really shows off their songwriting skills.

All that ... and you're just halfway through the album. There's very little in the way of filler the rest of the way out, with the call and response of 'The Giant' and the B-movie monster stomp of 'The Constant' serving as our personal highlights.

Really, Anthrax couldn't have named this album any better. These songs are going to fit perfectly next to the band's classics on their upcoming tour. Let's just hope we don't have to wait so long for the next one!


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