CD Reviews

Anthrax – Spreading The Disease – 30th Anniversary -CD Review

Written by Frank Rini

You cannot claim to be a thrash metal fan and not love Spreading the Disease.  This is the most important album, in their career.  After the success of their speed metal debut, Fistful of Metal, Anthrax went through some changes.  Dan Lilker went on to form Nuclear Assault and vocalist Neil Turbin was relieved of his vocal duties.  Frank Bello stepped in, as bassist and Joey Belladonna became the new vocalist.  The rest is pretty much effin history.   So why is this the most important album in the Anthrax discography, you ask??  Well if the band would have dropped a deuce, during that time period, of 1985 they would have long been forgotten.  Anthrax developed their sound into a hard thrash metal attack, with some stomp grooves, that while not crossover, did have that slight NYHC edge to it, which, being from NY I appreciated very much.  By 1985 I was already jamming to Agnostic Front, on a daily basis.  I got this on cassette when it came out and upon hearing Joey’s somewhat melodic vocals, I was like “who the hell is this dude?  He does not sound metal and where is Turbin’s raspy metal voice?”  Honestly, by the second time I listened to it, right after, playing it through once, I realized how Joey’s style fit the band, to a T, and in doing so became one of the best metal vocalists of our time.  You all read my review for their latest album, For All Kings, on here.  One of their greatest albums ever, in my opinion.  Yes I am a die-hard Anthrax fan, except for when Bush replaced Joey.  I loved Bush in Armored Saint, but not in Anthrax.  Seen Anthrax with Bush and really I did not feel his vocals fit and he was not a good front man.  Just kind of stood there.  Seen ‘Thrax back in the early days, all the way up to their recent tour with Lamb of God.  They are golden with Joey, one of the best live bands, bar none.

Do I really need to go into specific tunes, not really.  They all destroy.  “A.I.R.” has one of the best opening thrash moments ever.  The “Holy Shit” moment has always been that goddamn Charlie Benante drum roll that then goes into the thrash frenzy.  Ferocious.  Each song catchier than the next with choruses that I can sing in my sleep.  The “Madhouse” video was all over MTV back in the day and helped propel Anthrax further.

“Medusa”…”Gung-Ho” …I could go on and on.  The rhythm section of Anthrax is incredible.  Frank Bello..I was like who the hell is this dude?  Turns out his bass playing was outstanding on this album and he always had one of the best live bass guitar sounds.  Scott Ian, the man is a legend, with his songwriting and live performances.  Charlie Benante…I would say one of the originators of the blast beat.  Check out SODSpeak English or Die, folks…that was released before Napalm Death’s Scum.  I’ve already mentioned Joey’s extraordinary vocals, the way he could go from aggressive to melodic and hit those highs then mid ranges-a gift the man still has to this day-Joey I hope you have your vocal cords insured, you bastard!  How about Dan Spitz?????  C’mon Anthrax……How about Dan Spitz….????  Roll onto the next paragraph to read my thoughts.

Dan Spitz was also a very integral part of Anthrax.  He helped craft their guitar crunch and song writing, but also did a great job live and could solo with the best of them.  Hell I met the bastard on the Anthrax reunion tours, along with my brother-in-law, at a meet and greet and he was really down to earth and nice.  But there is a problem when you try to rewrite some of the history when this old bastard has been around since the inception of this music.  I remember all the friggin magazines and articles, because that’s how you got your metal info back then..  There was no social media networks.  I remember alot of the pics that are included in this digipak and on the cd trays; however it is abundantly clear Mr. Dan Spitz has been cropped out of may of the photos, no fooling me.  I remember the originals with all 5 members, but due to personal issues now Anthrax have cropped him out of many of the pictures.  Hell if you would not look at the cd booklet and just perused the digipak quick you would think Anthrax were a 4 piece band in 1985. Yes we have read all the Blabbermouth going back n forths.  I do not know any of the band members personally, but this seems to be some vindictive move to crop Spitz out.  I doubt it would have to do with royalties, since he is listed in some pics and as the guitarist.  You cannot rewrite history, or reprint it for that matter.  I don’t think the band talks with him anymore.  Hell if I was Spitz, I would be pissed opening this up and seeing myself cropped out of photos; it’s direspectful.  I am imploring the band..from the goodness of my heart, to try and bury the hatchet with Spitz.  My reasoning comes from a good place..you know life is fuckin short and you never know how long you’re going to be around.  Anthrax, give the dude a call and dust off the bullshit and try and resolve some of this.  I’m not asking for him to rejoin the band, but bury the hatchet…I truly believe you guys will feel better.

Regardless, I began blathering again.  The remaster of the source material is excellent.  Louder, and clearer, while still retaining the original glory.  You guys have to remaster Fistful of Metal, State of Euphoria and Persistence of Time.  Truly..please.  The remaster of Among the Living, a few years ago with the vintage DVD was incredible.  The extra demos songs on this are ok, nothing special.  The highlight is really the live songs from Japan.  I love the way “A.I.R.” was sped up, probably due to the adrenaline of the band.  I’ve never heard them play this song so fast before..wow if it was recorded on the album like that it would have added an even more intense feel to the album.  The live songs are from 84/85 time period, right before STD was released.  Anyway this is one of the greatest thrash albums of all time.  It got me through some tough times and is such a fun,catchy and wonderfully played thrash metal album.  Anthrax’s sound on Spreading the Disease, would go on to really become their signature sound, but would also influence boatloads of younger bands throughout the decades.  For that Anthrax should pat themselves on the back.  They were pioneers of thrash metal.  Classic and remarkable thrash metal.

Track List:

Disc One
A.I.R.
Lone Justice
Madhouse
S.S.D./Stand or Fall
The Enemy
Aftershock
Armed and Dangerous
Medusa
Gung-Ho
Medusa (Joey Belladonna demo)

Disc Two
A.I.R. *
Metal Thrashing Mad *
The Enemy *
Madhouse *
Howling Furies*
Armed And Dangerous *
Gung-Ho *
Soldiers of Metal *
Lone Justice **
Gung-Ho **
Metal Thrashing Mad **
Raise Hell **
Stand Or Fall **
Aftershock **
Armed And Dangerous **
Madhouse **
The Enemy **

* Live at Sun Plaza (Tokyo) 1987
** Rhythm track tape, 1984

 

9/10  [Album is a 10, dinged them on the cropping of Spitz, out of a bunch of the photos] stamp-e1378235268365

About the author

Frank Rini

Frank is better known as singing on the first two Internal Bleeding albums ‘Voracious Contempt’ and ‘The Extinction of Benevolence’. He loves Death Metal, Thrash and Grindcore and really wants to spread Extreme Music to as many people as possible.