[We also have the DVD version reviewed!]
I’m pretty sure this is a first, reviewing a live album recorded at a gig we attended and reviewed! A little over a year ago, Anthrax hit Glasgow and blew holes in The Barrowlands. Before the gig it was announced they’d be recording it for a live album and we’re finally able to listen to the result. And it’s a belter.
Say what you like about live albums – they’re filler, a contract-satisfying release, whatever – they make a great jumping-on point for new fans and are usually better value than a generic “best of” compilation album. The trick is releasing something that captures the live show well, without being too good. It needs the crowd in there, but they can’t overwhelm things. You need the bits in between songs, but not too many that you get bored and have to skip them when you’re listening through for the fourth time.
With Kings Among Scotland, the production team have nailed it. The sound throughout is beefy and solid, obviously put together with care to give as brutal an assault on the ears as you’d want from one of The Big Four. Most impressively, even Bello’s bass can be heard throughout – and I often struggle to pick the bass guitar out of any recording.
The set list is a doozy as well, focussing mainly on older songs with only a trio from For All Kings (“Evil Twin”, “Blood Eagle Wings” and “Breathing Lightning”) and one from Worship Music (“Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t”) making the cut. I confess I’m not the biggest fan of the most recent studio album, but the three songs that they did play are probably the best ones on it.
One big selling point of the tour (as if it needed one) was the inclusion of the entire classic Among The Living album played in order. As with the original show, the CD is split into two sets. Eight songs from various points in the catalogue, a breather, and then the album played through… and “Antisocial” to round things off. The entire live show is on here (barring some of the chatter and the intro / outro recordings) – not a song has been skipped.
The whole band are on top form, the crowd roars are there (though could be a little louder, in my humble opinion) and the setlist is great. Sure, there are some other tracks I’d have preferred, but with a back-catalogue as vast as Anthrax’s, you’re never going to have perfection without a 4-hour set.
While I’m more than happy with this audio collection, I’ll personally be holding out for the DVD version. I was there and I want to play “Where’s Moshy” through the crowd shots…
Kings Among Scotland is out on April 27th
Header photo by Lowrey Photography