Great Metal Albums of 1987: Anthrax- Among the Living

Anthrax’s 1987 album, “Among the Living,” which was the follow up to the fame launching “Spreading the Disease” album was one that caught a lot of people off guard. Many people assumed that after the success of the slightly more melodic predecessor, they would continue the same way with the new album. Boy, was everybody wrong! If anything, “Among the Living” was the thrashiest album to date.

This is evident with the very first song, the title track where they do quote the previous album title in the lyrics. This track beats you around the head with two very large blunt objects. It is just hard and heavy, just the way any thrash metal fan would expect. However, Joey Belladonna still has his highly melodic voice, blowing the myth that thrash singers all sound like barking dogs out of the water. If anything, the title track fulfills the speculation of what Joey would have sounded like if he was the lead singer in the Stormtroopers of Death.

Listening to the album again these past few days has brought a paradox to my insane mind. Back in 1987, I accepted the title track as a great opener to the album. However, all three times I saw Anthrax live in the past decade, they opened with the second song on the album, “Caught in a Mosh” and it is a great song to open a show with. Believe me, it gets people moshing but here’s the thing, even though Anthrax opens their live shows with it, it still doesn’t sound out of place being second on the album. God, I better stop thinking about this or my head might do a “Scanners.”

Ian and Bello proving that age has little effect on metal. Bloodstock 2016

Another concern, at least for the record company was that a return to a more hardcore thrash style might not be a successful venture. Album sales and the consensus from many in the metal world that this is Anthrax’s best album shoot that down. Although, I am still partial to “Spreading the Disease” but I admit I’m mental. However, further proof is the fact that in February, 1987, while watching the famous UK show, “Top of the Pops” in the student bar, I had the satisfaction to see Anthrax break into the top 40! Okay, it only got to 34 but it was a slap in the face to all the pop loving trendies.

Yet a further element which sets Anthrax apart from many other thrash bands is that their songs are about topical issues. “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)” is an anti drug abuse song inspired by the tragic death of John Belushi. It is also “nice fukin’ life” spelled backwards. However, Scott Ian still gets asked by the less informed why he wrote a song about the National Football League. I agree with Scott here, listen to the song you asshole! “Indians” is about how badly the Native Americans have been treated throughout the centuries since Europeans came to the Americas. Then there’s my vote for hidden gem, “A Skeleton in the Closet.” This song is about former Nazis who were allowed to come to the West undetected and live among the populace as if nothing happened in their past but are still being hunted by those who won’t forget the holocaust.

All of these songs are done with the full ear pounding power of Anthrax. Each song has drum fills, pounding bass and a rhythm guitar which can change speed at the drop of a hat. Dan Spitz produces some good solos along with the mosh parts and it is his efforts on “A Skeleton in the Closet,” which makes it my hidden gem. However, in spite of all the hardcore, thrash and speed metal all rolled into one, Joey Belladonna sings through these songs as if it’s just another day at the office. There are also some nice little surprises along the way, for example, the acoustic intro to “A.D.I./Horror of it All.” With all of these element in place, it is little wonder these songs are so good.

Track Listing:

  1. Among the Living
  2. Caught in a Mosh
  3. I Am the Law
  4. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
  5. A Skeleton in the Closet
  6. Indians
  7. One World
  8. A.D.I./Horror of It All
  9. Imitation of Life
Anthrax

Joey Belladonna- lead vocals

Scott Ian- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Dan Spitz- lead guitar, backing vocals

Frank Bello- bass, backing vocals

Charlie Benante- drums

Anthrax proved with “Among the Living” that you don’t always have to compromise your principles to be successful. With this album, they came back harder and faster and for that, the album was very successful.

Next post: Metallica- The $5.98 EP/$9.98 CD Garage Days Revisited

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

11 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1987: Anthrax- Among the Living”

  1. Nice write up of a really good LP. Can I be a heretic though and say I like The Sound of White Noise even more?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I listened to this cassette on repeat as a young teen, after reading this I realize I need to go back and REALLY listen to the lyrics. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why is that I didn’t really listen to them a whole lot, but I can name the band members?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have this one and love it. Then I got to see them on the SLAYER!!! \m/ \m/ farewell tour and it cemented their songs into my pantheon for good.

    Liked by 1 person

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