Yep, as usual this post is slightly late… oops!
Valentine’s Day was different for me. February 14th saw 80’s thrash metal band Anthrax take Manchester Academy by storm.
I’ve never been one to celebrate Valentine’s but my better half and I decided to stray from the conventional meal and drinks date and see one of my favourite bands live instead.
The last time Anthrax hit the UK was for Bloodstock Festival back in August 2016, after the release of their newest album For All Kings last February. It was exciting to see them back performing more intimate shows for British fans on their ‘Among The Kings’ tour.
London’s metalcore band The Raven Age kicked off the night with a strong 7 song set. After supporting Iron Maiden on their ‘The Book of Souls’ tour in 2016 they really are building up quite the portfolio. The band opened with Uprising, the melodic riffs in the song really eased you in to the heavy show you knew was ahead. They then hit us with multiple singles off of their currently unreleased debut album Darkness Will Rise. Promised Land being up next got the crowd into the spirit of things, the song is full of dirty riffs and banging double bass on the drums, much heavier than their opening. Lead singer Michael Burrough made constant effort to bring non-stop energy to the stage, hyping the crowd for Anthrax. The 5-piece ended their set with Angel in Disgrace, another song packed with ground shaking drum beats and passionate vocals. As the final song faded The Raven Age really had pumped up the crowd for what was next. Based on the amount of mosh pits and horns in the air The Raven Age definitely have a fierce future ahead of them, supporting Anthrax is just the start.
Next up, the band everyone was here to see, the thrash metal legends that are Anthrax. As soon as the lights faded the bellow of cheers could be heard from far, simultaneously the intro of A.I.R. played as band members appeared on stage. Even at 56 years of age lead vocalist Joey Belladonna has the most powerful voice, singing over the pounding drums. Multiple times my partner turned to me saying how insane Charlie Benante, the drummer, was when playing. Overall, 18 songs were played; for the first hour Anthrax smashed out 8 songs, featuring well-known anthems such as Madhouse, Medusa and Be All, End All. The band also played a few newer songs, taken from their 2011 release Worship Music and latest For All Kings. It was refreshing to hear more recent music being played live, even though the classics are great. Looking round the room you saw fans of all generations going wild and singing at the top of their lungs to the band’s hits. At the end of the first half you could feel electricity buzzing around the room as fans were waiting in anticipation for the next hour of sweaty pits and dancing.
After a short breather for the band and a change of set, the lights faded once more. Surprisingly the smoother sound of I Can’t Turn You Loose by The Blue Brothers started to play making the bands re-entrance a fun, dancey affair until the familiar sound that is Among the Living broke, sending the crowd into a frenzy. “DISEASE, DISEASE, SPREADING THE DISEASE!” yelled Belladonna, the second half of the show had officially begun – the ultimate treat for any Anthrax fan, the album Among The Living (1987) being played IN FULL.
The album turned 30 this year so what better way to celebrate than play it all live? You could sense the joy amongst fans that have been there from the start hearing the band’s signature album being fired at them (note: the album was played in alternate order). Stand out songs we’re Caught in a Mosh, I Am the Law, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) and Indians. Each of these songs sent vibrations through the building and brought the crowd together through huge sing-alongs complete with neck-snapping headbanging. The fast pace sound Caught in a Mosh delivers got hearts racing as fans sung every word alongside Belladonna. Anthrax really know how to keep a crowd’s energy, they’ve had over 30 years of practice and it shows. Belladonna’s non-stop interaction with fans made you feel like you were not only watching them perform but like you were part of the show. The band continued sending the crowd wild with their most famous songs, heavy drum beats, ear-ringing riffs and between song humour. One particular highlight for me was Indians, as soon as I heard the unmistakable pounding of those 3 drums I felt a new wave of excitement come over me as one of the funnest Anthrax songs was starting. Hearing the whole band singing the chorus in unison was an incredible experience, one fans could never forget.
Just as Imitation of Life was ending you thought it was all over, dropping your head ready to leave. But for a third and final time, the band bounded back on stage to perform one last song. One of a kind anthem, Antisocial got everyone bouncing once again with every soul in the room chanting along to the catchy chorus. The band truly made sure their final song would go off with a bang by giving all that they had left in them to make sure fans left on cloud 9.
I have never seen this band perform live and disappoint their audience, over the (many) years Anthrax have managed to keep up stamina and performance quality. They give their fans more than just a show, they deliver an experience to treasure. They are definitely one of the bands any metal fan needs see live at some point in their lives.
If you’re interested in hearing more from both bands mentioned, The Raven Age bring out their debut album Darkness Will Rise March 17th 2017 and can pre-order it from their official site or listen to older songs on their Spotify. For more on Anthrax their latest album For All Kings can be found on their Spotify or check out their official site for more updates!
The Raven Age, for fans of – Mastodon, Iron Maiden, Parkway Drive
Anthrax, for fans of – Slayer, Exodus, Overkill, Metallica