Saturday, June 4, 2011

One Great Song - "I Am The Law" - Anthrax - 1987

I have always been aware of Anthrax and enjoyed them on the fringes of my own listening (i.e., while hanging with folks who owned their records). I know I owned a copy of Sound of White Noise somewhere in the haze of college but really only recently dug into their catalogue and am, frankly, thrilled. Seems like the metal community is divided and some ultra-serious folks cannot handle a band that doesn't hide the fact that this can be fun but, personally, I can enjoy this in its own way just as much as the most joyless of death metal. One of the things I like best about Anthrax is how they wear their influences on their sleeves, musical and otherwise, and don't hesitate to pay tribute to the things they love. In the case of "I Am The Law," that thing is Judge Dredd, a subject who should really surface more in metal as there is little more badass than the meanest sonofabitch in Mega-City One.

The third track on Among the Living, which many consider to be Anthrax's finest moment, "I Am The Law" manages to pay tribute to a cult comic strip in great, great detail without a) coming across as a cheesy novelty number and b) alienating the listener unfamiliar with Dredd. This is ferocious rock that still manages to be melodic and carry a complicated narrative. Given Dredd's U.K. origins, one would think Iron Maiden really should have delivered this number though I honestly doubt anyone, Maiden included, could have done it better.

Among the LivingThough largely a mid-tempo churner, the thrash kicks in full-force about 3:30 into "I Am The Law" with a brief Dan Spitz solo springing to life at 4:08. The real stars of "I Am The Law," though, are rhythm section Charlie Benante and Frank Bello. The bass is loud and clear and the power of the percussion is a highlight on all of the Anthrax I have heard. Guitars rule the world but it is rare to find a metal band so well-balanced. Add to that the topper of a vocalist in Joey Belladonna who can actually sing (though the group vocals are the icing on the cake for this particular number) and "I Am The Law" - and all of Among the Living - is a no-brainer for a priority position in any metal playlist. DROKK IT!

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