It cannot be ignored that the coming to life of Worship Music has been dogged with several issues and problems which have brought into question whether the album would ever see the light of day at all. It has taken 8 years since 2003's release of We've Come For You All for Anthrax to release another studio album, in which time the band has had enough vocalist issues to make Velvet Revolver envious. New permanent vocalist Dan Nelson was initially brought in and was revealed on the festival tour circuit a couple of years ago, only for him to depart, then replaced on tour with John Bush only for him to leave quicker than you can say "Who goes there?". He was replaced with original vocalist Joey Belladonna (a somewhat less popular choice than John Bush).
With the vocalist issue, plus the length of time it had taken for the album to see release, there was genuine concern that the album in the end would not live up to expectations and be overshadowed by these problems (Chinese Democracy anyone?). Fortunately by the time you have listened to the opening trio (excluding the intro) of 'Earth On Hell', 'The Devil You Know' and teaser track 'Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't' there is no doubt that Anthrax are back and mean business.
Sonically this is undeniably an Anthrax style thrash album; old- school, pure and simple. There are precious few surprises here other than the slight Faith No More like tinge on 'Crawl' there is nothing unfamiliar, and to be honest that's what is preferable in this case. Lyrically Worship Music sits in the 'call to arms' variety rather than the quirkier, light hearted affairs of the earlier Belladonna albums, which suggests that these were made with Bush rather than Belladonna in mind, and many people will comment on whether Bush would have been more suitable, but Belladonna is not to be underestimated, as he does an admiral job, and his vocals and range are stronger than ever before, especially on the likes of 'Fight...'.
That's no to say the rest of the band should be ignored as the entire band is in full force here. Charlie Benante and Frank Bello are an ever formidable rhythm section, whilst Messrs Ian and Caggiano are writing some of the best and memorable riffs of their careers, such as the mighty 'In The End'.
There are precious few complaints here, but alas there are a couple. Firstly the interludes 'Hymn 1' and 'Hymn 2' seem rather pointless and add nothing to the album other than to break the flow of the album and so could have easily been done without. The other (albeit minor) complaint is that much of the album sounds very similar, with very little to differentiate with one another other, but when the songs on display are of such a high quality this is not a serious problem whatsoever.
This had a lot of weight upon its shoulders, but Worship Music is the finest Anthrax album in a long time and is pretty much essential listening. Hopefully this will see some more stability in the Anthrax camp and will see the band truly living up to its reputation as one of the most important bands in the Thrash genre.
Recommended: The Devil You Know, Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't, In The End