Reviews list for Anthrax - Penikufesin (1989)


My initiation to thrash metal hit me like a freight train through Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” album in late 1988 & I’d proceed to throw myself into the Big Four with a commitment that I’ve rarely matched in my life. Anthrax would very quickly find my radar, although admittedly after both Slayer & Megadeth. It would be their 1988 fourth album “State of Euphoria” that would be my first experience with New York’s most notorious thrash exponents & I’d very quickly venture back through their entire back catalogue too. Each new release would be eagerly awaited & purchased on the day of release so when I noticed an expensive imported European vinyl copy of 1989’s “Penikufesin” E.P. (i.e. backwards for “nice fuckin E.P.”) in the local record store I immediately forked out my hard-earned money for it. It was a fairly insignificant release in the grand scheme of things but I had to own literally everything & I remember it being a bit of fun.

“Penikufesin” is your classic example of the metal E.P. in that (with the exception of opener “Now It’s Dark” which is taken from the “State of Euphoria” album) it essentially draws together a bunch of leftover material that wouldn’t fit terribly well on a proper album. “Now It’s Dark” wasn’t one of my personal favourites from that particular record but I definitely have some time for it so it was an enjoyable way to kick things off. It leads into a variation on another track from “State of Euphoria” in a French language version of Anthrax’s very popular Trust cover version “Antisocial”. I’ve always thought that “Antisocial” was one of the weaker tracks on “State of Euphoria” too but it’s still very catchy & serves its purpose quite well here too. The remainder of “Penikufesin” is made up of four additional cover versions that were recorded during the album sessions in Sex Pistols’ “Friggin’ in the Riggin”, KISS’ “Parasite”, Trust’s “Sects” & The Chantay’s “Pipeline”, a collection whose merits are fairly shaky at best. Three of the four songs would be included on 1991’s “Attack of the Killer B’s” compilation with only “Friggin’ in the Riggin” (a B side from the “Make Me Laugh” single) being unique to this release.

“Penikufesin” sees Anthrax in their strongest incarnation with the same lineup that recorded classic albums like “Spreading The Disease”, “Among The Living” & “Persistence of Time” still going strong but it’s also not intended to be taken too seriously & I’m sure that even their label Island Records would agree that its target audience was only ever intended to be diehard fans. English producer Mark Dodson had a fair bit of experience under his belt by that point, having already built up an impressive resume that included not only “State of Euphoria” but also albums like Metal Church’s “The Dark”, Suicidal Tendencies’ “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow If I Can’t Even Smile Today” & U.D.O.’s “Animal House”, so he knew his way around the studio & the release is well presented as a result. I guess it just depends on your personality as to how much value you’re going to find in a release like this one as it sees Anthrax fully exploring their silly side. You know, the one that saw them making a track like “I’m The Man” & galivanting around on stage in surf wear. If that sort of stuff puts you off then potentially so will “Penikufesin” as a whole. Where do I sit on that particular topic? Well, I generally don’t like too much humour in my metal & it’s subsequently taken some of the gloss off the experience if I’m being honest.

Despite my feelings of nostalgia for this record, “Friggin’ in the Riggin” & the silly surf rock cover version “Pipeline” do nothing for me whatsoever while “Parasite” suffers from a very flat chorus after some promising lead-up work. The speed metal version of “Sects”, on the other hand”, is an excellent inclusion & is the highlight of the release for mine. It’s worth mentioning that tracks like “Friggin’ in the Riggin”, “Parasite” & “Pipeline” aren’t exactly thrash metal either. They fall much closer to your traditional heavy metal model only they also possess that punky vibe that was perhaps a little absent on “State of Euphoria” which was admittedly a touch more serious than we’d usually expect from Anthrax too. There’s little doubt that I prefer a thrashier Anthrax. Also, what is the go with American thrash bands producing surfing tunes in the late 1980’s? First it was M.O.D. & Sacred Reich. Now Anthrax too?

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been a little underwhelmed by this revisit when I consider how much fun I had with records like this one as a thirteen year old. I didn’t know that “Attack of the Killer B’s” was going to be a thing at the time & that's certainly made an impact on the value you might get out "Penikufesin" in the several decades since its release but, when you take a look at it in any sort of detail, “Penikufesin” is still a pretty disposable record even if I do get quite a bit of enjoyment from a good half of the tracklisting. It’s certainly the weakest release they'd put out since their demo days in my opinion & is very much a release for Anthrax completists only although Overkill, Nuclear Assault & S.O.D. diehards may find something of value in it too.

Daniel Daniel / September 30, 2023 08:43 PM