Thursday, March 04, 2010

As the Palaces Burned: Anthrax - Sound of White Noise

On September 24, 1991 Nirvana released Nevermind. Nine years later, a reunited Iron Maiden played Madison Square Garden. The time in between was one of metal's bleaker periods, where the genre's mainstream face all but disappeared and it retreated not just underground, but underwater. To celebrate the rare gems of this dark time - and remember our fortune now that metal has ceased to be such a dirty word - we present As the Palaces Burned, a weekly series published every Wednesday that covers notable metal albums released between 1991 and 2000.

Today's entry is Anthrax's 1993 album Sound of White Noise.

John Bush's Anthrax was the best version of Anthrax. Period. His voice, attitude and vocal style mesh perfectly with the band overall. If you need to hear the old Belladonna songs pick up The Greater of Two Evils, the album where the Bush-era lineup does new versions of Belladonna songs.

This is the first album released by the lineup, and one of their best albums overall. To let you know just how good this record was, when I saw them on this tour at Roseland, Quicksand and White Zombie opened. How is that for a bill?

Sound of White Noise is a record which retained all of its Metal roots and spirit while embracing more "Alternative" elements and dipping further into Hardcore than they had since the early 80s. And on top of all of this the record is super catchy and has some amazing hooks and vocal harmonies.

Kicking off with some great proto-blast beats, the first song "Potter's Field" gives a good indication of the melodic riffing, grainy overdriven vocals and very heavy drumming all blending into a very pleasing midrange which mixer Dave Jerden treats us to over the course of the record.

Afterwards things kick into high gear with "Only," which was not only a huge hit at the time, but probably the best song Anthrax has ever written. What a monster of a singable riff. Droning chords have never had such forward momentum before! That song is about as perfect as you can get without standing out to much on the record as a "single" amongst filler tracks. In fact almost every song is presented as a possible single. I'm always surprised "Invisible" was neither released as a single nor a huge breakout hit.

And no Anthrax album would be complete without a big nerd-out moment. On Sound of White Noise this is delivered to the listener in the form of "Black Lodge," a song about the TV show Twin Peaks co-written with the man who composed the music for that show, Angelo Badalamenti.

This album is certainly not as obscure as other "As the Palaces Burned" entries but there are still a lot of people who never followed this era of Anthrax. They never made a bad record. Stomp 442 and Vol. 8 both have amazing songs and We've Come For You All, released far too late to be included in this column is a masterpiece which I listen to at least once a month. Just fire up "What Doesn't Die" in YouTube. You'll see what's up.

So let's have a listen.......



Black Lodge:

1000 Points of Hate:

Potter's Field:

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