Anthrax - Sound Of White Noise

Anthrax – Sound Of White Noise

90 / 100

This masterpiece remains proof of how good Anthrax once were, a classic in a barren era for metal.

Written by: Dangerzone

ARTIST: Anthrax
ALBUM: Sound Of White Noise
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: 9 61430-2
YEAR: 1993
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: John Bush – vocals * Scott Ian – guitar * Dan Spitz – guitar * Frank Bello – bass * Charlie Benante – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Potters Field * 02 Only * 03 Room For One More * 04 Packaged Rebellion * 05 Hy Pro Glo * 06 Invisible * 07 1000 Points Of Hate * 08 Black Lodge * 09 C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na * 10 Burst * 11 This Is Not An Exit



With the state of heavy metal in major transition in the early 90’s, Anthrax found themselves caught up in the beleaguered genre’s apparent demise at the hands of grunge and other shoddy forms of music. As part of the ‘Big Four’ they found themselves laboring below Metallica and Megadeth in particular, as those two bands released their most popular albums during 1991 and 1992, softening their thrash stance in favor of more commercial fare.

It’s not as if Anthrax had been forgotten, in 1991 they’d teamed up with Public Enemy for ‘Bring The Noise’ and also been part of the famous ‘Clash Of The Titans’ tour with Megadeth, Slayer and Alice In Chains. But Anthrax had never really shrugged off their well-earned cartoon image from the 80’s, even though they’d tried with the more serious ‘Persistence Of Time’ in 1990 (somewhat of a bore in retrospect).

Realizing a change was needed to remain viable, the axe fell on Joey Belladonna and in 1992 he was given the boot. The choice to replace him with John Bush was a wise one, with Bush’s deeper vocals giving them an edge Belladonna couldn’t.

Bush always had the charisma and presence with Armored Saint and if there was ever a more critical moment for Anthrax to succeed, this was it. The result was perhaps their best album and although successful, it never catapulted them the way it should have, a sad indication of the times.

It’s been said many times, but this was a more mature Anthrax, with serious thought given to the music and the direction. It retains elements of their thrash years, but the introduction of melody and slight alternative influences is readily noticeable. Whether this was the work of producer Dave Jerden is unsure, but Anthrax had never sounded as professional and heavy as they do here. It’s a more satisfying heaviness than ‘Among The Living’ and radically removed from the traditional metal of ‘Spreading The Disease.’

The Songs

It’s still metal though and opener ‘Potters Field’ opens with some industrial effects before leading into a thrasher of sorts, with Ian’s riffs bludgeoning with no respite. By all accounts Spitz barely played on this album and you can tell his role is reduced on this track and throughout.

Bush turns in a masterful effort on ‘Only’ which is one of Anthrax’s best tracks, commercial but heavy, an indication of their change in direction from thrash. It’s more palatable than their peers though and this should have been a huge hit. ‘Room For One More’ manages to be aggressive without speed, simply through the riffs which are overpowering and Bush manages to squeeze the word ‘schism’ into the lyrics, a trait once present on every Anthrax album.

The lyrics of ‘Packaged Rebellion’ seem to be an angry and well deserved rant against grunge, the musical highlight being a brief thrash section which recalls the 80’s. There’s a touch of alternative harmony in ‘Hy Pro Glo’ which is offset by a melodic chorus and a stop start rhythm section, but this isn’t essential by any means.

The more basic thrash style of ‘Invisible’ works better, with the riffs not as overproduced and not adopting any production gimmickry from Jerden. There’s a punk meets thrash vibe to ‘1000 Points of Hate’ and the track is laden with speed, showing how devastating Anthrax could be in their prime. The riff buildup near the conclusion is thoroughly brutal.

Quite a stunning departure is the acoustic ballad ‘Black Lodge’ which was perhaps the most commercial and melodic track of the bands career to that point. A brilliant song, this would have probably been huge in the hands of Metallica. It just seemed the timing wasn’t there for Anthrax. The improbably titled ‘C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na (Sodium Penathol)’ veers towards a punk style initially, but quickly corrects itself into another energetic assortment of layered thrash riffing from Ian.

It has nothing on the thrash of ‘Burst’ which leaves nothing to the imagination, just a slice of insanity which even Slayer would’ve been swayed by. The crazed riffs and drumming represent the last time Anthrax would ever play so fast and with such conviction. This makes Metallica look weak and it’s easy to wonder how the ‘Black’ album shifted what it did sometimes.

The seven minute ‘This Is Not An Exit’ builds up to a frenetic conclusion, rounding out an exhaustive and rewarding listening experience, one of the best of the decade.

In Summary

For Anthrax this obviously was supposed to be their aforementioned ‘Black’ album and it should have been. It did reach as high as seven on the Billboard charts and went gold, but it had to be seen as a letdown by the band. Perhaps 1993 was too late in the day and the fans from the 80’s had moved on from Anthrax’s antics during that decade. Bush was a natural replacement but even then there was an element who never fully accepted him as vocalist.

It all combined against Anthrax and not long after Spitz left, with Ian burying him in the press stating he contributed nothing to the album and only played on three songs. By 1995’s ‘Stomp 442’ the decline was complete, with Elektra preferring not to acknowledge the bands existence. It shouldn’t have played out this way, but Anthrax made their move too late and never recovered, which is plain to see even today. This masterpiece remains proof of how good Anthrax once were, a classic in a barren era for metal.

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Playlist: Anthrax sound of white noise deluxe
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