In 1993, Anthrax did something that a lot of bands would have been nuts to do at the height of their popularity. They sacked their well known vocalist for someone completely different. The sound change is a bit striking and divides the fans down the middle. But by the 1995 album Stomp 442, the band sounded tighter and more familiar with their new front man.
As an album, Stomp 442 is considerably more consistent than its predecessor. The band obviously knew what they wanted to do, set their sights on the goal and hit it square on the head. There are no real thrash metal songs here, but more mid tempo rockers. What some people would call groove metal (I hate that phrase). Songs like Nothing and American Pompeii do nothing to help the album. The music on both songs is repetitive and quite tiresome. The band focuses less on grooving to a good riff and more on smashing out the same repetitive chords over and over again. They are a perfect example of what happens when your new style change does not work.
The album makes up for these songs with heavy, thrashier numbers like Drop the Ball, Tester and the opening Random Acts of Senseless Violence. These numbers are a bit more of what I’d expect from a group like Anthrax and really bring out the metal in their sound. You can still hear a bit of that grunge flavour that was added to the mix on Sound of White Noise but it is a bit less obvious and a lot more subtle.
Vocally, I find John Bush sounds a lot more at home on this record. His voice is a lot stronger and brings a lot more to the record compared to his tame performance on the previous album. He has a bit of similarity to the then Motley Crue singer John Corabi and I certainly wouldn’t call that a bad thing. His performance is stronger all round, is easily the first time Belladonna isn’t missed and the band clearly benefited from that strength.
The production is where I find the album lacking the most. The sound is a bit amateurish to say the least. The band sound like they’ve recorded the album in an empty room live with no real thought what the natural vibe of the room will do to their instruments. The drums specifically sound very thin and that takes a lot of the power out of the music. I would have loved to hear a bit more bass too, it is just lacking the kind of power you would expect from the likes of Anthrax.
With that said, I honestly don’t think this album is as bad as it is made out to be. It is fairly consistent and quite enjoyable. Sure the style change is a bit glaring, but the band have done a reasonably good job at it. It’s not their best work and never will be. But it’s a good fifty minutes of mid tempo heavy music that will please fans of ’90s grunge and metal.
Where to buy :
Track Listing :
- Random Acts of Senseless Voilence
- King Size
- Riding Shotgun
- Perpetual Motion
- In a Zone
- American Pompeii
- Drop the Ball