The album, produced by the band and Dave Jerden, includes the singles "Only", "Black Lodge", "Room for One More" and "Hy Pro Glo". This album marked a significant revision in the band's sound, with the departure of lead vocalist Joey Belladonna and the introduction of grunge influences (Dave Jerden was the producer of Alice in Chains). Typical thrash metal elements such as speed and aggression, which characterized much of Anthrax's earlier work, are largely absent from their sound at this juncture in their career. The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 charts, Anthrax's highest ever chart position. Sound of White Noise was certified gold by the RIAA. "Only" and "Black Lodge" charted at No. 26 and No. 38 respectively on the BillboardHot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Dave Connolly reviewed the album on behalf of AllMusic, giving the album three stars out of five. Connolly called the album "surprising melodic" but "predictably pummeling" and the music "relentless." He commends the overall quality of the songs on the album before settling on "Only" as the best overall, but calls out several other tracks for praise as well.Spin critic John Wiederhorn described the album as "a good typical heavy-metal record." Nevertheless, he also noted that the album "doesn't wander beyond the sound of its dark, moody intros and tuneful, galloping rhythms." Tom Sinclair of Rolling Stone described the album as "a powerful comeback from a group that never went away."
Among the album's songs, "Only" has received particular attention; Metallica frontman James Hetfield is said to have referred to "Only" as a "perfect song."