ANTHRAX, The Raven Age @Institute, Birmingham 09/2/17


It’s a Madhouse, as New York thrash royalty kick their tour off

Whilst The Raven Age might have been knocking around for a few years now and have toured the UK already – notably with British Lion – it feels like in 2017 they could really, probably, fly. A new record deal, a new album due and this Anthrax run to look forward to all seems to have given them a confidence, and it flows through their set. Musically they almost meld together the modern metal of As Lions with a traditional twin guitar attack. “The Fortunate One” does that rather deftly, while current single “Salem’s Fate” builds into something mighty and Angel In Disgrace” is a decent slice of heavy. Singer Michael Burrough has an impressive range, and guitarists Dan Wright and George Harris (the latter using two more strings than his dad to good effect) posses plenty of originality in their riffery. Experience such as this can only benefit them and the Age of the Raven might be about to be ushered in. 

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to admit he’s not young anymore. Music kinda does that on it’s own. And so it is we have to pose the question of exactly how on earth “Among The Living” got to be 30 years old. And therefore is thrash metal classic rock these days? 

Those are questions for an hour or so’s time, because before we get the chance to answer them, there’s a whole chunk of Anthrax proving why they might just be the best thrash metal band on the planet. “Evil Twin” spits and snarls, “Madhouse” sees a lot of blokes old enough to know better rip their shirts off and rip it up in the pit like the good old days, and “Be All And All” is what it would sound like if Iron Maiden had done thrash. 

In between all this, mind you, is all the proof you’ll ever need that the five piece can belt out new ones with far greater quality than just about any of their peers. “Fight Em Till You Can’t”?  Is a cracker but “Breathing Lightning” is a quite incredible highlight of last years supreme “For All Kings” album and so it is here.

That’s the two support bands out of the way, and as good as The Raven Age and Anthrax were, tonight’s headliners are well, Anthrax. Or as Ian puts it: “What about that band that were on directly before us? They’ve got a brilliant new record out, you should check it out.”

For the next hour or so of our lives, though, its out with the new and in with the old. And “Among The Living” is played in full. One of the great albums of the era – hell, one of the greatest albums of any era, and it’s played with rare intent.

Often on these “album” shows, the band seem to be going through the motions. Never here. In fairness, “Among The Living”, “Caught In  A Mosh” and the rest don’t really allow for half measures, but the band – who lest we forget had on stage no less than four of the men who made the original album – do appear to be relishing the opportunity to play these songs. In particular fromtman Joey Belladonna, who is effervescent form.

“Indians” is its usual singalong, “ADI/The Horror Of It All” is expertly played and when “Imitation Of Life” ends it, you are left reflecting that you may have seen something stunning.

There is still more to come, however and the knockabout rap “I’m The Man” is followed by the snotty and magnificent “Antisocial” – which is a singalong, an anthem and a middle finger in the air, all rolled into one.

The band take their bows, and they like the most of the rest of us probably can’t work out where the time has gone either. Anthrax are, though, safe in the knowledge that they still capable of engendering a mighty old mosh when they choose, and they are still wonderfully Antisocial, even after all these years Among The Living.

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