It was the end of an era. When ANTHRAX and Joey Belladonna went their separate ways in 1992, it was just another sign of progression for many of the Thrash Metal bands. The entire movement was seemingly shifting under the weight of modernity, and changes had to be made. So when “Sound Of White Noise” finally hit stores a year later it wasn’t a surprise that the band had changed their sound – what did surprise fans was how much it changed.
ANTHRAX had moved away from their fun loving Thrash Metal ways and replaced it with a darker, Rock influenced sound that would have many fans scratching their heads in confusion. The direction is completely new for the band on this album but, in true ANTHRAX fashion, they make it feel like they have been writing and playing this way their entire career. They embrace this groovy existence fully and never half ass it on the album.
The band incorporates a lot of rhythmatic structures for the songs on the album. It sways, rocks, rolls, and bounces the entire time with a great low key energy (which I believe is where a lot of the comparisons to Grunge come from) that is brought forth from the increased bass presence and guitar/drum chemistry. Lead guitar parts are almost cut from the music completely except a few circumstances but the soloing still remains viable and well played.
But the true star of this album isn’t the stable line-up but new singer John Bush. He shifts his vocals from a higher pitch (the one he used in the majority of ARMORED SAINT records) to deeper mid range levels that work amazingly well with the new direction of ANTHRAX. Like this new style, it feels as though he has always been with the band performing like this, at the top of his game. He fits right in.
It’s not all flowers and sunshine on “Sound Of White Noise” though. It’s a comfortable sound for the band but many of the songs tend to drag out way beyond their length and thus the album tends to feel very long too. For the style, many of these songs could have easily been cut a minute or so without hurting the overall structure or feeling for the tracks. A bit of a nit picky criticism of the album but it’s the largest issue that is presented on the album.
Fans of older ANTHRAX are in for a shock on this album. “Sound Of White Noise” is not Thrash but it still rocks pretty damn hard. The band feels in their element still on the record and some great performances top this cake with a tasty frosting of sorts. I wish that some of the songs would have been trimmed for the sake of repetitiveness but in the end it’s still a strong album and a great start for their new sound.
Songs to check out: “Hy Pro Glo”, “This Is Not An Exit”, “1000 Points Of Hate”.
(Online November 16, 2008)