Throughout the late '80s and early '90s, Anthrax successfully mixed blistering thrash with riotous humor—even bratty, aggressive rap—earning a dedicated cult following and selling millions of records. Surprisingly, the formula worked best on 1991's Attack Of The Killer B's; it's hard to imagine an outtakes disc as a career highlight, but Killer B's features both a killer reworking of Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" (with guest Chuck D) and a hilariously awful Poison-style ballad ("N.F.B.") that stands as a classic parody. Lamentably, that was the last great Anthrax moment: Singer Joey Belladonna left the group shortly thereafter, belly-flopping into solo obscurity, while Anthrax released Sound Of White Noise and Stomp 442, a pair of overproduced metal albums that were slick and explosive, but ultimately underwhelming. With new singer John Bush sounding like any number of interchangeable metal screamers, White Noise failed to live up to sky-high expectations, while Stomp 442 was barely noticed. The somewhat desperately titled Volume 8—The Threat Is Real likely won't fare much better: It's just another overblown, humorless hour of chunky riffs, machine-gun drumming, and generic vocals. Sure, it's aggressive to the point of being exhausting, but that's as much a result of the jarring monotony as the band's flailing energy. (That's not even getting into the stunning inclusion of Volume 8's bonus track: a power-ballad without a trace of irony. A power-ballad! By Anthrax!) It's fine that Anthrax left its rap/thrash hybrids behind with Belladonna; that's a fairly sound creative decision. But did it have to flush its sense of humor, too? Why even bother slapping the Anthrax logo on the cover?
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