Worship Music (album)

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Worship Music
Studio album by Anthrax
Released September 12, 2011 (2011-09-12)
Recorded 2008–2011
Genre Thrash metal
Length 60:45
Label Megaforce, Nuclear Blast
Producer Rob Caggiano, Jay Ruston
Anthrax chronology
  • Worship Music
  • (2011)
Singles from Worship Music
  1. "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't"
    Released: June 24, 2011 (2011-06-24)
  2. "The Devil You Know"
    Released: August 9, 2011 (2011-08-09)
  3. "In the End"
    Released: November 17, 2011 (2011-11-17)
  4. "I'm Alive"
    Released: January 4, 2012 (2012-01-04)
Deluxe edition

Worship Music is the tenth studio album by American thrash metal band Anthrax released on September 12, 2011 internationally,[1] and on September 13 in the US.[2][3] It is their first album of original material since 2003's We've Come for You All, and the first album since 1990's Persistence of Time to feature vocalist Joey Belladonna.

The album's creation went through a lengthy process, with work beginning as early as November 2008.[4] The album was delayed due to issues with the departure of vocalist Dan Nelson from the band, and the re-joining of John Bush who ultimately decided not to commit to the album. The band would eventually reunite with vocalist Joey Belladonna, and finished recording in April 2011. Upon release, the album was received positively, with critics describing it as "as fresh and eruptive as ever"[5] and qualified it as a "return to form" for the band.[6] The record debuted in the United States at No. 12, their highest chart position since 1993's Sound of White Noise.

Background[edit]

In his monthly Food Coma column,[4] which was posted on December 22, 2008, rhythm guitarist Scott Ian revealed that he had "been in the studio working on the new Anthrax album since November 4." Ian went on to say that drums, bass and rhythm had been laid down on a total of 19 tracks, and that the process of recording the vocals had begun. "We should be mixing at the end of January and soon after that giving birth to a really pissed off, loud, fast and heavy child."[4] In a subsequent May 2009 Food Coma column,[7] Scott Ian announced that the album was being mixed by Dave Fortman whose previous credits include both of Evanescence's multi-platinum selling albums and Slipknot's album All Hope Is Gone. In a post to the Anthrax website, Charlie Benante stated that "Worship Music should be out in May".[8]

The album was initially scheduled to feature Dan Nelson on vocals. However, following the events later that year, he was no longer a member of the band. When asked what would happen to the completed studio album Worship Music, featuring his vocals, guitarist Scott Ian said: "Until we have a new singer, I can't tell you what will happen to the record. We'll probably change a few things on it, including the vocals. However, nothing's been decided. Expect that the release date will go back, possibly to next year."[9]

It was assumed that John Bush was going to record new vocals for the album due to his reunion with the band. However, this ultimately did not happen.[10][11] In an interview at the time, John Bush said: "As of now we’re trying to figure out a way to see if we can re-record some of the songs that the band had already recorded [for Worship Music]. We’re just trying to iron out some of the legalities on it. That’s where we are at today."[12]

Bush decided that he did not want to recommit to Anthrax full-time again and left the group.[13] As a result, the band decided to reunite with Joey Belladonna. Following several shows during the summer and fall of 2010, including several featuring the Big Four of thrash metal, the band returned to the studio. Some of the completed songs were left as is, adding Belladonna's vocals, while others were rewritten and some entirely new songs were written with Belladonna.[14]

Although Scott Ian was quoted in an interview as saying that the album's name could be changed, this turned out not to be the case.[15] On October 8, 2010, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Anthrax performed the song "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" for the first time. It was at this point that Ian said in an interview that fans should expect the new record in late 2011.[16] Ian reported, on December 8, 2010, that the band had almost completed their new album. He stated “We’re almost ready to go, eight things are recorded and we’ve only got to go back and re-record two or three things. And Joey’s singing on all of it.”[17] A related posting on Noisecreep indicated that Worship Music had been shelved until Belladonna completed new vocal tracks.[18]

On April 29, 2011, the band officially finished recording Worship Music, and called it their "most emotional album".[19][20] On June 24, 2011 Anthrax released the song "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" as the album's lead single. It was released as a free download on their official website as a way of saying "thank you" to fans' loyalty in waiting in anticipation for the album.[21] On June 27, 2011, Scott Ian announced via Twitter that the band had started the mastering process for Worship Music.[1] Then, on July 12, 2011 the cover art of the album was revealed.[22]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The songs "Earth on Hell" and "Revolution Screams" refer to democracy in the United States and around the world. According to Scott Ian around the time of the album's release, these songs are "very much about people taking the power back"; despite having written the songs long before, he cited the then-ongoing Egyptian revolution and Occupy Wall Street demonstrations as examples of this phenomenon coming to pass. "The Devil You Know," despite the line "Let the right one in" and the band's history of using horror stories (notably Stephen King) as subject matter, is not regarding Let the Right One In, the 2004 Swedish vampire novel, but rather, veterans from World War II. "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" is about a zombie apocalypse, and "In the End" is a song written as a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio, an inspiration for the band, and Dimebag Darrell, a friend and collaborator on three Anthrax albums. "Judas Priest" was named specifically as a tribute to the metal band Judas Priest, and contains a bridge that references several well-known Priest songs.[23] "The Constant" is about the episode of the 2004 television show Lost of the same name, where a character travels through time until he finds his "constant."[24]

"I'm Alive" was written during the brief period when former vocalist Dan Nelson was a member of the band. Anthrax first performed the song live in 2008, though it was titled "Vampyres" at that time.[25] It is most notable for its tribal-sounding beginning with clean guitars that are eventually backed up by a marching drum groove, before taking off into a heavy thrash song based on the intro beat and eventually breaking into a melodic chorus. In an album preview by online magazine Blabbermouth.net, "I'm Alive" was described as "beautiful and grand with a build that demands audience participation."[26]

Release[edit]

Worship Music sold 28,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 12 on The Billboard 200 chart, the second highest position of their career and their highest since Sound of White Noise in 1993, which landed at position No. 7. The band's previous studio album, 2003's We've Come for You All, opened with just under 10,000 units to debut at No. 122.[27] As of September 2012, Worship Music has sold 100,000 copies in the United States.[28]

When questioned about a possible follow-up to Worship Music in July 2012, bassist Frank Bello commented that the band's plans were to instead re-release Worship Music with several bonus tracks. The bonus tracks were set to include covers of Rush and Boston songs. Bello stated that the plan was for the reissue to be released in the fall of 2012.[29] A few days later while being interviewed by Artisan News Service, band members clarified that five covers were to be included: "Anthem" by Rush, "Smokin'" by Boston, "Neon Knights" by Black Sabbath, "T.N.T. by AC/DC and "Keep on Runnin'" by Journey. Scott Ian hoped that the re-release would be out by the end of the year.[30] It was later pushed back to a 2013 release.[31]

A special edition of Worship Music was released on March 22, 2013 by Nuclear Blast. The special edition consists of the original album and a bonus EP of cover songs, Anthems[32] which was released separately on the same day,[33] though it had been released three days earlier in North America.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 75/100[34]
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 4/5 stars[6]
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
The A.V. Club B[35]
The Boston Phoenix 3.5/4 stars[36]
Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles 9/10[37]
IGN 8.5/10[5]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[38]
Loudwire 4.5/5 stars[39]
Metal Forces 7/10[40]
PopMatters 7/10[41]

Critical reception of the album was generally positive. Two weeks prior to the album's release, reviewer Tim Henderson of Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles reviewed the album and expressed his praise for Worship Music. Henderson noted that "Earth on Hell" was a "punchy introduction to Anthrax in 2011", described "I'm Alive" as "catchy as hell", and commended "In the End" for its "pristine production [and] chugging pace".[37]

Allmusic's reviewer Greg Prato gave the album three-and-a-half stars out of five. Prato noted that in spite of the issues surrounding the departure of Dan Nelson from the band, the album fits together "seamlessly". Prato went on to call the album their finest studio effort since 1990's Persistence of Time.[2] Jason Heller of The A.V. Club praised the album for being rid of the "nü-metal stench" of the band's previous studio effort and the "all-around patchiness" of the other John Bush-era albums. Overall, Heller called the album "more than an Anthrax comeback" and noted that it brought the band back into that "youthful dynamic".[35]

Reviewer Chad Grischow of IGN commented that the album sounded "as fresh and eruptive as ever" and singled out "Earth on Hell", Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't", "The Devil You Know", "In the End" and "Revolution Screams" for praise while only citing a single song, "Crawl", as a "rare misstep on the otherwise fantastic album."[5] Mark Fisher, writing in Metal Forces, highlighted the guitar performance on the record, saying it comes "dangerously close to the thrash sound they are most associated with". He wrapped his review by saying that Worship Music is "damn good album and a career-defining performance by Joey Belladonna".[40] Chad Bowar from About.com also praised Belladonna's performance, noting that the vocal delivery has "excellent range" and is full of "angst and emotion". He spoke positively for the rest of the band, saying they sounded "rejuvenated" and qualified the album as a "return to form".[6] Loudwire's reviewer Matthew Wilkening said that Belladonna’s 20-year absence from the band "doesn’t seem to have affected their natural chemistry one bit". He further said that this album presented a "non-boring type of maturity and musical growth" for the band and it "finds Anthrax very solidly in thrash mode".[39] In a review for PopMatters, Chris Colgan described the music as "a mixture of Anthrax’s later material with shades of their thrash beginnings". He said that this wasn't "the glorious comeback album that everyone was hoping for", but additionally explained that "it is still a very good album with signs of positive movement for the band".[41]

Webzine Metal Rules chose Worship Music as the best metal album of 2011.[42] The song "I’m Alive" was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, making the band's fourth overall nomination for this award.[43]

Touring[edit]

Anthrax spent the following two years touring in support of Worship Music. The band started the tour with shows alongside the other three bands that make up The Big Four of Thrash (Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer) which took place in the summer of 2011. However, Scott Ian missed the European leg of the tour due to the birth of his first child, Revel Young Ian. He was replaced by Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser.[44] Anthrax continued the tour during the months of October and November the same year as co-headliner with their thrash contemporaries Testament. Death Angel appeared as the opening act on the tour which included 23 shows in the US.[45] These three bands resumed performing together in early 2012, this time in support of Testament's upcoming album, Dark Roots of Earth.[46] The trio announced a third leg of their joint tour in the fall of 2012.[47] Speaking about the tour, Rob Caggiano said: "The tour have been great and we’ve been on the road non-stop since the album was released. The other two runs we did were very successful and the fans really enjoyed it."[48] Later that year, Anthrax teamed up with Motörhead for ten shows in the UK. The short tour started on November 5 and went on for two weeks.[49]

Anthrax was announced as the headliner for the third annual Metal Alliance Tour, which kicked off in March 2013 and went on through the month of April. Caggiano had left the band in January 2013 before the tour began, and was replaced by Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais. On the tour, Anthrax performed their classic 1987 album Among the Living in its entirety. The tour also included bands such as Exodus, Municipal Waste and Holy Grail.[50][51] Drummer Charlie Benante has been taking time off from tours outside of the US because of "personal reasons". His place is filled in by drummer Jon Dette during these shows.[52] The group filmed their performance on May 10 at Santiago, Chile, with Benante on drums, for a DVD album. The tour ended with a show at San Bernardino, California, on September 13, 2013, at the two-year anniversary of the album's release.[53] After finishing the tour, the band took a short break before getting back together in the studio to start writing for their next album.[54]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Anthrax (except "New Noise", written and originally performed by Refused). Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12 and 13 co written by Dan Nelson.[55][56]

No. Title Length
1. "Worship"   1:40
2. "Earth on Hell"   3:10
3. "The Devil You Know"   4:46
4. "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't"   5:48
5. "I'm Alive"   5:36
6. "Hymn 1"   0:38
7. "In the End"   6:48
8. "The Giant"   3:46
9. "Hymn 2"   0:44
10. "Judas Priest"   6:24
11. "Crawl"   5:28
12. "The Constant"   5:01
13. "Revolution Screams"   6:10
14. "New Noise" (hidden track; begins at 11:08) 4:46
Total length:
60:45
Japanese edition additional track[57]
No. Title Length
14. "Crawl" (Orc mix) 5:02
Bonus disc[57]
No. Title Length
1. "Crawl" (Orc mix) 5:02

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from AllMusic.[58]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Debut
position
Australian Albums Chart[61] 35
Austrian Albums Chart[61] 30
Belgium Albums Chart[61] 65
Canadian Albums Chart[61] 33
Czech Albums Chart[61] 28
Finnish Albums Chart[61] 6
French Albums Chart[61] 43
German Albums Chart[61] 13
Irish Albums Chart[61] 62
Italian Albums Chart[61] 37
Spanish Albums Chart[61] 70
Swedish Albums Chart[61] 24
Swiss Albums Chart[61] 28
UK Albums Chart[61] 49
US Billboard 200[61] 12

References[edit]

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