Thirty years is a long time. Thirty years ago, I was 14 and actually had hair. It was long(ish), curly and wouldn’t grow past my shoulders. I was also just getting into metal having graduated up from the likes of Bon Jovi and Poison, through Maiden and exploring the thrash scene.
Anthrax appealed to me, perhaps for their lighthearted take on things, and I spotted this album called State of Euphoria in the little music shop in Gateshead’s underground indoor market. I kept an eye on it for weeks, eyeing it up on the way home from school before finally taking the jump and splashing my pocket money on it. This wasn’t the kind of shop with “listening posts” so I was acting on faith and impulse.
I still remember getting home and wondering what was going on for the first few seconds. What were those strings? A cello or something? Then the downtuned guitars and drums kicked in and… wow.
Now I know that State is much-maligned and many people – including fans – reckon that the only good track on it is a cover (“Antisocial”). Frustratingly it’s about the only one that’s survived into the modern setlist to any degree and this is a hell of a shame as it is a good album. From those opening strings to the interesting way “13” opens (before going all weird), a sound which would be revisited and expanded on for Persistence of Time.
Getting the chance to review this 30-year anniversary edition gave me a chance to dust off a few memories and also gain a little insight into how the album was created. Let’s assume for a moment that I like the album. It’s been out for 30 years, I’m sure you’ve heard it by now. You’ve probably also heard most or all of the other tracks on CD1 – they’re B-sides from the singles and most were on Attack of the Killer Bs. What you won’t have heard is what’s on CD2.
When Anthrax were sat in the studio working on the album, they recorded everything. From a riff being hummed, to the first time that was transferred to a guitar; the vocal-less run-throughs with the original structures as the songs are tweaked and shaved and shifted and perfected. This second CD has the creative process for each of the songs laid bare for all to hear and it’s genuinely interesting.
I’ve seen other bands put demo versions of tracks on singles and albums, but never a whole “here’s how we made it” CD before. It’s genuinely worth listening to more than once, as well, as it’s not a documentary (there’s virtually no talking, only the occasional clip from an interview), but a collection of tracks and snippets edited together in chronological order.
I’d really like to say it’s worth the extra for that second CD / vinyl disc, but that may only appeal to the real nerds like myself. Certainly Disc 1’s additional material is top notch if you don’t already have it. Their version of “Friggin’ in the Riggin'” has been a long time favourite of mine, as have “Parasites” and “Pipeline”. For those looking to expand their collection, or who don’t already have State of Euphoria, this is the version you should be buying.
State of Euphoria (30th Anniversary Edition) is out now on CD and vinyl.