Often cited as one of heavy metal’s biggest bands, thrash legends ANTHRAX have a solid grip on the metal scene today. Iconic records and a consistently strong reputation in the live environment has helped keep the band remain relevant, decades after they first exploded onto the scene. 2017 marks a major milestone for the band as their pivotal record, Among The Living, turns 30 and to celebrate the band have been performing the record in its entirety alongside fan favourites. But, after all these years, does the band’s breakthrough record still maintain the same colossal impact as it did in 1987?
Prior to the main event, THE RAVEN AGE aimed to leave a lasting impression. Serving as the sole support to ANTHRAX is a tall order and really their performance could prove to be make or break for connecting with the audience and in truth, THE RAVEN AGE didn’t fire on all cylinders. With a lengthy time on stage, the band were able to truly demonstrate what they were all about and at times, there was moments of prowess and showmanship that was certainly impressive. The dual guitar play from George Harris and Dan Wright echoed fond memories of the golden age of metalcore in the early 2000s and the riffs had enough hooks to carry the weight of the band’s sound. That and an enthusiastic approach from frontman Michael Burrough showcased a band that oozed confidence which is certainly impressive given that the band are just breaking through in the metal world. That said, for all their shimmering of quality, THE RAVEN AGE felt sluggish and repetition reared it’s ugly head. Whilst Burrough‘s vocal deliveries made for strong choruses, the verses felt flat and lacked that killer blow. With a lengthy set, this quickly became tiresome and as the band develop over time these niggling issues to their core sound should dissipate, but for now, THE RAVEN AGE did not do enough to leave a lasting impression.
With THE RAVEN AGE acting as the sole support, ANTHRAX lengthy performance was divided into two sets. Whilst the focus was obviously directed towards Among The Living, it was therefore surprising that the band’s first set was directed to other choice cuts from the band’s lengthy career. And certainly having A.I.R and Madhouse as opening songs is a sure fire way to inject a thrash fuelled frenzy and that result was utter carnage. The band were tight unit on stage, with the dual riffing from Scott Ian and Jonathan Donais kept the rhythm flowing relentlessly and frontman Joey Belladonna still showcased absolute quality as he has consistently done throughout his career. With the first setlist covering a range of material across the band’s lengthy career, from the gut-punching riffs of Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t to Charlie Benante‘s slick drum fills on Medusa, ANTHRAX were firing on all cylinders.
Yet the focus was Among The Living being performed in its entirety and this was where the thrash titans truly stepped it up a gear and left jaws gaping in their wake. Granted, the slight gap in between sets where the stage was changed buckled the momentum somewhat, ANTHRAX wasted no time in re-injecting the audience with utter adrenaline. Rather than playing the iconic record from track one through to track nine and instead jumbling the order kept the crowd on their toes and the result was emphatic. Roaring back on stage to the title track followed by Caught In A Mosh, staples of the band’s live set for years now, resulted in the Academy replicating a warzone and the band’s presence on stage was gargantuan in size. And yet it was the choice cuts of Among The Living that had the most explosive response from the crowd and ANTHRAX more than managed to live up to the expectations. A Skeleton In The Closet boasted powerful riffing from Scott Ian and Jonathan Donais whilst the gang shouts from Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna and Frank Bello on Efilnikufesin (N.F.L) were drowned out by the swelling crowd. ANTHRAX‘s live performances have been top tier in recent years and their performance of playing a classic record in its entirety more than showcased that now, decades after they started, have more than what it takes to deliver a performance of pure thrashing mayhem.
Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester from Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography here: