Anthrax - Stomp 442
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
Groove Metal
11 songs (50:56)
Release year: 1995
Anthrax, Elektra
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

It took a stray comment in the discussion thread for last week’s MegadethEndgame review to do it, but a reappraisal of Anthrax’s catalogue is long overdue for me. Like many, I loved We’ve Come For You All back in the day, but found their earlier material considerably lacking when compared to other members of the Big Four of Thrash Metal, and left them languishing rather unfairly. Make a long story short, I put Stomp 442 on to give it a quick listen, starting at what was generally agreed to be the bottom, and found myself enjoying it considerably for what it was. Anthrax’s seventh full-length, it was the first after the departure of long-term member Dan Spitz, and that’s the factor behind many people’s relegating it to the lower ranking amongst the Anthrax discography, the lack of killer songwriting making for an album that definitely isn’t amongst the band’s best. Yet Stomp 442 has a clear drive to it that makes for a decent, if not great listen.

The Speed/Thrash of yore is slowed down and put through the same groove that drove the admittedly Thrashier Sound Of White Noise, and there’s a Rocking feel that makes for more than a couple of enjoyable songs. The strongest element is undoubtedly vocalist John Bush, doubtless to become the most reliable vocalist in Anthrax’s long list of failed singers when Metal historians look back. Fine, so he may have to sing some pretty silly things (more on which later) but his voice is as strong and passionate as ever, making alright songs like opener Random Acts Of Senseless Violence sound simply excellent. It’s the sort of mindless downtuned jumpdafuckup anthem that the Nu-Metal hordes would soon make their own, but for the year it’s a pretty good song, a solo helping immensely as it kicks the album off with a good deal of vigour. The following Fueled was the first single, and it’s easy to see why, the rocking grooves repeating the success of Metallica’s very similar song a full year before it was released. From then on, however, it’s a mixed bag as far as quality goes. King Size may feature a guest spot from Dimebag Darrell, but is a decidedly average song, whilst Riding Shotgun nearly works but is held back by the jerky stop-start nature of the riffs and by the production, which favours the drums and muffles the other instruments, making it hard to hear some of the guitarwork at times.

Perpetual Motion has a fun Punky feel to it that makes it worth a listen, and In A Zone actually is pretty great, a grooving build-up leading into something that pounds along well. The lyrics are dreadful, of course – “sometimes I forget my medication, sometimes I forget to pray” are about as good as it gets. Ironically, the following Nothing is one of the more memorable tracks from the album, chiefly because it’s a departure for the band, sounding more like Alice In Chains in some ways than the Thrash legends that Anthrax once were. American Pompeii, conversely, is very poor, Bush sounding notably strained and the song going on and on and on without end. The album tails off with the so-so Drop The Ball and Tester, and ballad Bare is so bad that I’m not even going to describe it.

Of course, the kvlt trve Thrashers out there will be hopping mad that I’m giving this any points at all; heck, even that I chose to review Stomp 442 over other Anthrax albums, but there’s a point to be made. Even at their lowest, even though I rate them bottom of the Big Four, Anthrax had something even here that the modern hordes of revivalist clones don’t – spirit. Heading out into new territory as Metal was in the mid-nineties, bands dealt with it in different ways, and Anthrax’s experiments are as valid as similar albums from Slayer and Metallica. The Thrash crowd may not prefer them, and they may have come full circle to Thrash again, but they are enjoyable for what they are. Anthrax are certainly better at Groove Metal than Megadeth were at Pop Metal with Risk, and Stomp 442 has plenty of oomph, enough to make it enjoyable if you’re a fan of John Bush and enjoy music that, well, stomps. Judging the album by those criteria rather than as a Thrash album will hopefully help to mollify those outraged at the given score, if they have nothing better to be outraged about.

Killing Songs :
Random Acts Of Senseless Violence, Fueled, Nothing
Goat quoted 64 / 100
Other albums by Anthrax that we have reviewed:
Anthrax - For All Kings reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Anthrax - Anthems (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Anthrax - Worship Music reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Anthrax - Volume 8 - The Threat Is Real reviewed by Goat and quoted 55 / 100
Anthrax - Persistence Of Time reviewed by Goat and quoted 91 / 100
To see all 19 reviews click here
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