Still banging after over 40 years in the trenches, Anthrax stand as a savage beast, a part of the vaunted Big Four, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. Under the stewardship of founder Scott Ian and longtime members Charlie Benante and Frank Bello, they’ve torn through the industry’s chaos, surviving five different labels and a raft of lineup changes, including four different vocalists. Notorious for neck-snapping anthems like Caught In A Mosh and their pioneering rap metal collaboration, Bring The Noise, Anthrax remain one of our genre’s most important voices. Here are their studio albums ranked from worst-to-best.
11. Fistful Of Metal (1984)
Despite its undeniably raw energy, Anthrax’s debut suffers from a disjointed lineup that includes contributions of original members Neil Turbin and Dan Lilker, plus the later arrivals of Charlie Benante and Dan Spitz. This mix results in a patchwork of styles, making it the band’s weakest and most erratic effort. A far cry from the cohesive thrash anthems they would later create.
10. Volume 8: The Threat Is Real (1998)
Anthrax’s third outing with vocalist John Bush is an album of contrasts, with sparks of brilliance like Catharsis overshadowed by a pervasive uncertainty. Ultimately this effort is a testament to survival rather than evolution: a band clinging to their thrash roots while navigating a shifting landscape and gnarly label woes.
9. Stomp 442 (1995)
A chaotic mix, reflecting Anthrax’s ongoing struggle with direction and identity. A regime change within their label, Elektra Records, found the band adrift without their original in-house support team. Despite standout tracks like Fueled and an epic guest turn from Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell on King Size, Stomp 442 mirrors the New Yorkers’ internal disarray during a transformative period in metal.
8. State Of Euphoria (1988)
Following the success of Among The Living, State… offers solid thrashers like Be All, End All, but struggles to match its predecessor’s impact. With a tour booked, Anthrax were under the gun to get new music out and, by their own estimation, recording this album felt rushed. A reflection of a band caught in the shadow of their own success.
7. We’ve Come For You All (2003)
Eight years after their last album and two after the anthrax attacks in the US threatened their existence, the band returned in rejuvenated form. We’ve Come For You All may have been slightly scattershot, but anthems like What Doesn’t Die and the fresh lead guitar of Rob Caggiano saw Anthrax reclaim their rightful reputation as top-notch thrashers.
6. For All Kings (2016)
Melding Anthrax’s grimy thrash roots with the polish of modern precision, For All Kings delivers a sound both ferocious and refined. Tracks like Breathing Lightning and the utterly marauding Blood Eagle Wings showcase a masterful blend of aggression and melody – not to mention Anthrax’s ability to adapt and excel in a constantly evolving metal landscape.
5. Persistence Of Time (1990)
Diving into a darker, more cynical realm, Anthrax shed their trademark humour for intense, progressive musicality. Joey Belladonna’s last outing before the John Bush era was also the final release before the meteoric success of their 1991 Public Enemy collaboration, Bring The Noise. Raw and aggressive, this album is a paragon of depth and resilience.
4. Worship Music (2011)
Anthrax’s triumphant return to form, Worship Music is a thrilling fusion of their thrash roots and a forceful new sound. Reuniting with Joey Belladonna, the album unleashed powerhouse tracks like The Devil You Know and Earth On Hell. This is Anthrax’s comeback album: a pit-filling testament to their resilience, skillfully bridging past and present, resonating with a fierce, unyielding spirit.
3. Sound Of White Noise (1993)
This vastly-underrated classic is a daring departure, with John Bush leading Anthrax into darker and denser territories. Tracks like Only and Black Lodge showcase a band unafraid to evolve without pandering to the grunge and alt-metal trends at the time. A versatile mix of aggression and subtlety, this album stands as a brilliant and criminally-unappreciated effort in Anthrax’s storied discography, catching a band turning a corner with speed and purpose.
2. Spreading The Disease (1985)
Despite falling just short of the coveted number one slot, Spreading The Disease is a fist-pumping thrash masterpiece, combining infectious hooks with bold, intricate musicianship. These nine breathless tracks – particularly A.I.R., Madhouse and Gung-Ho – bottled the nascent thrash explosion, solidifying Anthrax’s place not only in thrash history, but in the annals of heavy metal.
1. Among The Living (1987)
No hot takes here. Among The Living stands as Anthrax’s definitive work: a thrash metal tour-de-force. On the backs of Caught In A Mosh, I Am The Law, Indians and the title track, Among… is a cultural landmark, blending empowering messages and pop culture references with slamming riffs, barreling grooves and jubilant gang vocals. This album not only defines Anthrax’s sound but also stands as a cornerstone of the entire thrash genre, highlighting the band’s vision, ambition and peak creativity.