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Spreading The Disease: 30th Anniversary Edition

(Universal Music Group)    

 

     When New York City-born Thrash Metal pioneers Anthrax had unleashed their groundbreaking sophomore effort Spreading The Disease upon a largely-unsuspecting public in 1985, it seemed as if the group was destined to have a significant and lasting impression on the genre as a whole 'Jam-packed' with a dizzying array of soon-to-be classic offerings (“Armed And Dangerous”, “Gung-Ho” and the Jon Zazula-co-penned “Medusa”) and armed with an unprecedented focus on honing their already razor-sharp chops, the group appeared destined for a long and fruitful career. Fortunately for all parties involved, this was indeed the case as they continued to flourish, releasing a series of increasingly influential efforts, most notably the groundbreaking Among The Living and State Of Euphoria). Needless to say, when we were approached regarding editorial coverage of the highly-anticipated Spreading The Disease: 30th Anniversary Edition, I was only more than happy to re-indulge. 

     On the brilliant Spreading The Disease: 30th Anniversary Edition (2015), an expertly assembled twenty-eight song collection of Thrash Metal, each track, beginning with the scalding, quasi-epic “A.I.R.” and the hook-laden ode to bounty hunters “Lone Justice”, instantly commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Wasting little--if any--time improving upon the Neil Turbin-led audio abomination Fistful Of Metal (1984), the group fires on all cylinders early and often. Proving themselves entirely capable of permanently joining the ranks of the then burgeoning Thrash Metal sub-genre. Further highlighting their frequently overlooked (at the time, at least) anapestic and compositional wizardry, the group punctuates each carefully-crafted excursion with an unparalleled intensity without interring their newly-acquired constituents amid a tidal wave of mind-numbing Progressive foolishness.

     Continuing with the maddeningly infectious first single “Madhouse” and the shred-fueled, mosh-inducing tirade “S.S.C./Stand Or Fall”, the newly-rejuvenated combination of vocalist Joey Belladonna (replacing the previously mentioned Neil Turbin, who would go on to form the sporadically active Deathriders in 2001), lead guitarist Dan Spitz, rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, bassist Frank Bello--replacing future Brutal Truth, Nuclear Assault and S.O.D. alumnus Dan Lilker--and drummer Charlie Benante steamroll ahead like the well-oiled machine they so obviously had become. Armed with a carefully balanced blend of oft-frenetic Thrash and a less than obvious sense of harmony and melody, the group brazenly engulfs both new and established listeners alike with a disturbing efficiency. Driving home each key focal point with a renewed sense of purpose, the group unleashes a seamless barrage of multi-octave vocals, razor-sharp fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms.

     With Belladonna's Steve Perry and, to a lesser extent, Brad Delp-inspired histrionics elevating the group to a previously unparalleled creative and commercial peak, other standouts, including the relentlessly pummeling lament “Aftershock” and the equally impressive, speed-of-light closer “Gung-Ho”, serve as a much-welcomed reminder of the improbably long-running group's occasionally groundbreaking legacy. Fortified throughout via a series of delightfully incendiary in-concert recordings (taken from the group's presumably sweat-soaked 1987 performances at the Tokyo Sun Palace) and the inclusion of several exceedingly rare 'Rhythm Track Tape' renditions of “Armed And Dangerous”, “Lone Justice” and “Metal Thrashing Mad”, Spreading The Disease: 30th Anniversary Edition ultimately provides a veritable wealth of insight into the improbably long-running group's primeval origin, yielding what is undoubtedly the archetypal pre-Among The Living Anthrax experience.

     But is it really worth your hard-earned money and increasingly limited time? Absolutely. A definite must have for any die-hard Belladonna era completist, Spreading The Disease: 30th Anniversary Edition effectively encapsulates the group's first true breakthrough. With the majority--if not all--of the decidedly ferocious wares contained herein serving as an initial catalyst for the group's eventual propulsion to the dizzying heights of international acclaim, the end results of their more than considerable efforts are, without a doubt, nothing short of extraordinary and should be revered accordingly. Accordingly, if you've once again found yourself in search of a trip down memory lane that doesn't involve embracing a morbidly obese expanse of spandex-clad Velveeta (or, worse yet, the skeletal remains of a once-proud group operating at an embarrassingly sub-par level) then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane assuage for what ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

 

Select Discography

Worship Music (2011)

Anthrology: No Hit Wonders (1985-1991) (2005)

Alive 2 (2005)

We've Come For You All (2003)

Return Of The Killer A's (1999)

Volume 8: The Threat Is Real (1998)

Stomp 442 (1995)

Live: The Island Years (1994)

The Sound Of White Noise (1993)

Attack Of The Killer B's (EP) (1991)

Persistence Of Time (1990)

State Of Euphoria (1988)

I'm The Man (EP) (1987)

Among The Living (1987)

Spreading The Disease (1985)

Armed And Dangerous (EP) (1985)

Fistful Of Metal (1984)


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