Anthrax - Sound Of White Noise
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
Thrash Metal
11 songs (57:13)
Release year: 1993
Anthrax, Elektra
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

One of the few early nineties ‘experimental’ Thrash albums to be genuinely good in retrospect, Anthrax’s Sound Of White Noise was the perfect stepping stone between their 80s Thrash and 90s Groove sounds. Yes, it is clearly influenced by Grunge, but it’s effectively done, and equally apparent is that the band wanted to continue the darker sound of Persistence Of Time – it’s quite easy to imagine previous singer Joey Belladonna wailing on the likes of Room For One More and Hy Pro Glo. New vocalist John Bush may have been a stylistic shift, having a deeper, more aggressive register, but he more than fit the band’s still riffcentric sound, and if there was an ever greater focus on songwriting who really cared? In many ways it’s easy to praise Sound Of White Noise as Anthrax’s greatest achievement in that respect, as nearly all of the songs are instantly catchy and focused Thrash blasts that use this newfangled ‘groove’ element without becoming its bitch. No-one who has heard Only and Room For One More will deny the similarity to Alice In Chains, Bush himself sounding like a tougher Layne Staley at times – Anthrax circa 1993 were clearly trying to fit into a shifting Metal landscape. Admittedly, their albums post-this went a bit far in slavishly adapting to the fields of Korn in the musical landscape then, but Sound Of White Noise was perfectly judged, reaching number 7 on the Billboard 200 in the band’s best commercial standing to date.

As mentioned, the songs themselves are terrific, mildly experimental and often fairly lengthy without dragging. Opener Potter’s Field builds the tension with white noise and Industrialised ambience before exploding into an infectiously Thrashing stomp, simultaneously melodic and driving. It’s a kickass song, and sets the scene well. Only churns the waters with its Grunge-injected energy, grooving along wonderfully and giving Dan Spitz a chance to shine in his last studio appearance for the band, however reduced his role is. Punky, vigorous stompers like Room For One More and Packaged Rebellion simply kick ass, catchy riffs and vocal lines keeping you nodding with just-complex-enough structures for the more cerebrally-inclined, but it’s ballad Black Lodge that’s the biggest surprise. Co-written with Angelo Badalamenti, the successful soundtrack writer who wrote David Lynch’s Lost Highway and Twin Peaks, it’s a haunting, melodic song that reminds me strangely of Metallica’s Until It Sleeps (not to accuse anyone of plagiarism). Ballads aren’t always that successful in the hands of Thrash Metal bands, but Anthrax certainly pull it off here – a twist in style that reinvigorates the album and makes the remaining few tracks even better as they return to the energetic style of before.

I’m getting rather sick of defending my enjoyment of the less popular albums from certain bands, so I won’t bother here. Anthrax may have stepped wholeheartedly into the nineties with Sound Of White Noise, but they knew fully what they were doing. It’s a terrific album, written with a style and skill that was vastly reduced on the follow-up Stomp 442, and deserves to be held in higher esteem than, say, Metallica’s self-titled sellout from a couple of years before. Without a doubt the best thing that John Bush did with the band, Anthrax have sadly been struggling ever since, and it looks more than possible that it will be their last vital album. I’ll deny it those last few points necessary for it to gain classic status, but it remains a damn good listen over fifteen years later.

Killing Songs :
Potter’s Field, Only, Room For One More, Hy Pro Glo, Invisible, Black Lodge, C11H17N202SNA (Sodium Pentathol)
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Adam quoted 73 / 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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