Great Metal Albums of 1986: Anthrax- Spreading the Disease


While Metallica toured America in support of Ozzy Osbourne in 1986, they were already popular enough in Europe to headline smaller venues. In the September, Metallica headlined the London’s Hammersmith Odeon and with them in support was Anthrax who were making their own mark in the metal world with their second album, “Spreading the Disease.” Of all the concerts I’ve regretted not seeing, missing Metallica with Anthrax is the one I regret the most. I had been travelling through Europe and then Southern England at the time, so I only learned of it when I got to London. That must have been an awesome show!

“Spreading the Disease” happens to be my favourite Anthrax album. First, while “Battery” from Metallica is the best opening song of all time, coming number two in the 80sMetalman list is the opener from this album, “A.I.R.” This song makes me want to run at 200 mph, while picking up and throwing large vehicles in the process. The first two times I saw Anthrax live, (I’ve seen them six), they opened with “A.I.R.” and they way it starts then only gets faster, the energy just flows through your veins. I know these days, they open with the classic “Caught in a Mosh” and that’s a great opening song too but can you imagine if in concert, they opened with “A.I.R.” and then went straight into “Caught in a Mosh.” To me, that’s the perfect one-two punch!

The opener quickly gives way to another hidden gem on the album, “Lone Justice.” This track only carries the party along further. It’s not as fast as the opener but it does not lack in intensity. Here’s the paradox with “Spreading the Disease.” When the album came out in 1986, it displayed a large black label in the upper right hand corner which read, “This album contains NOT one hit single.” For many metalheads, “Madhouse” is considered a hit single. Sure, it had very little, if any airplay on commercial radio and MTV refused to show the video because they said it was offensive to people with mental illness. But if you listened to Anthrax in 1986, you knew about “Madhouse.”

Anthrax speed things up again with “Stand or Fall.” I remember moshing along to this song quite a bit back in the day. It’s just a great song to do that to. Ending side one, is what I call the least strongest song on the album, there’s no weak tracks here. Nothing wrong with “The Enemy” and I do like it, a lot, but for me, it doesn’t quite measure up to the rest of the songs on the album.

Maybe “The Enemy” was put in as a breather because once side one was done and you flipped the record or cassette over, you are totally belted by the power that is “Aftershock.” The speed of this song is somewhere in between “Stand or Fall” and “A.I.R.” I find myself shouting “Hey!” along with the band at the middle of the song. “Armed and Dangerous” carries the madness along although at a slightly slower pace. I do love that pseudo acoustic intro to the song. Even if Anthrax weren’t considered thrash, it would be a good metal tune. That could have been a breath catcher as well because they go total speed with the remaining two tracks. Both come and go in a whirlwind and before you know it, you are shouting “Not” at the close of the album.

“Spreading the Disease” was the first album to feature new lead singer, Joey Belladonna, although according to some reports, the band weren’t too impressed with his musical background. Happy ending though because they gave Joey his chance and realized what a great singer he is. He shows that he can sing thrash metal and sing it well. The other mention I have to make is lead guitarist Dan Spitz. He does lay down some cools solos on the album, especially on my favourite, the hidden gem and “Aftershock.” His contributions on the album should not be ignored.

Another point to ponder: Is Frank Bello underrated as a bassist?

Track Listing:

  1. A.I.R.
  2. Lone Justice
  3. Madhouse
  4. Stand or Fall
  5. The Enemy
  6. Aftershock
  7. Armed and Dangerous
  8. Medusa
  9. Gung- Ho



Joey Belladonna- lead vocals

Dan Spitz- lead guitar, backing vocals

Scott Ian- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Frank Bello- bass, backing vocals

Charlie Benante- drums

I did get to see Anthrax and Metallica together at Donington, 1987. The disappointing thing was that neither band opened with their all time great opening songs. If they had, that would have made a great day even greater. Still, you can’t go wrong with “Spreading the Disease,” another album which defined metal in 1986.

Next post: Mass- New Birth

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10 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Anthrax- Spreading the Disease”

  1. I’m with you on this one, great LP. I like it way more than Among The Living.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing how much press these guys got back in the 80s. Good on them.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Masterpeice, no two ways about it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Top album, still have it on vinyl. Agree A.I.R is an absolute belter. I saw them twice in the 80s and they were amazing.
    I noticed Dan Spitz’s tee shirt in your pic, and was reminded I have the 12 inch poster bag of I Am The Law with the Judge Dredd artwork by Charlie Benante. We grew up with 2000 AD comics, so seeing Anthrax and Dredd combined was a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this album. I have the double CD that have a live show the did in ’87 in Japan. It is good times.

    Liked by 1 person

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