Among the Living is the third studio album by American thrash metal band, Anthrax. It was released in March 1987 by Megaforce Worldwide/Island, and was certified gold by the RIAA on July 31, 1990. The BBC has described the album as "arguably their big breakthrough", and "often cited by fans as their favorite Anthrax album". Drummer and principal songwriter Charlie Benante has referred to Among the Living as Anthrax's "signature album".
Among the Living was produced by the noteworthy producer and engineer Eddie Kramer. The album features the singles, "I Am the Law" and "Indians". A music video produced for "Indians" received moderate rotation on MTV in the late-1980s thrash metal heyday.
The album's cover art, produced by illustrator and painter Don Brautigam, has been the subject of some discussion. It was long believed to depict the character Rev. Henry Kane, antagonist from the film Poltergeist II: The Other Side, while others believed it depicted the character Randall Flagg, the subject of the album's title track and the antagonist from the Stephen King novel The Stand. Drummer Charlie Benante, who conceived the concept for the cover, denies this, claiming "It (the cover art) was just about how much evil there is amongst us. I wanted to show just the same type of person on the cover. The same type of people and then, the one person that was sticking out kind of giving you a wave, like a 'hi!'".
The song "I Am the Law" is a tribute to comic book hero Judge Dredd. Numerous characters, settings and story elements from Dredd's fictional universe are referenced in the song's lyrics. "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" ("nise fukin life" spelled backwards) is about comedian John Belushi's drug addiction and death. "Indians" and the mosh pit anthem "Caught in a Mosh" are still considered Anthrax classics today. "A Skeleton in the Closet" is inspired by the Stephen King novella "Apt Pupil".
This was the final Anthrax album to feature songwriting contributions from original bassist Danny Lilker, who, despite having left the band after 1984's Fistful of Metal, was credited as the co-writer of several Anthrax songs for the next two albums. On Among the Living, he is credited as the co-writer of the songs "I Am the Law" and "Imitation of Life". With Lilker's contributions gone, the album marked the beginning of a new songwriting arrangement that would see the band through their most successful period, with Benante writing the bulk of the music and guitarist Scott Ian composing the lyrics.
The album was dedicated to the memory of Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, a highly regarded figure in the thrash community, with whom they were friends and label mates at Megaforce Records. Burton was killed in a bus accident on tour with Metallica in 1986 while Anthrax was recording the album.
On November 10, 2009, a deluxe edition of the album was released which included a bonus concert DVD. The deluxe edition featured alternate takes of several album tracks, live versions and "I Am the Law" b-side, "Bud E Luv Bomb And Satan's Lounge Band". During the Metal Alliance 2013 tour, Anthrax played the Among the Living album in its entirety.
In August 2014, Revolver placed the album on its "14 Thrash Albums You Need to Own" list.
"Among the Living" is based on the Stephen King novel The Stand. "The Walkin Dude" is Randall Flagg, the main villain in the book, and the beginning verse: "Disease! Disease! Spreading the disease!\With some help from Captain Trips\He'll bring the world down to its knees" refers to the virus that destroys most of the population in the novel. The song was released as downloadable content for the Rock Band series as a master track.