Anthrax - Sound of White Noise (1993)Release ID: 1534

Anthrax - Sound of White Noise (1993) Cover
Ben Ben / March 26, 2019 / Comments 0 / 1

Just about every thrash metal fan seems to enjoy Anthrax's classic releases (we're talking Spreading the Disease, Among the Living and Persistence of Time). But it seems that nearly all those fans were disappointed with Sound of White Noise. I have to say that I wasn't in the slightest. Yes, it has a new singer (Joey Belladonna left to be replaced by Armored Saint's John Bush). Yes, the style is certainly less thrashing with more groove and grunge than previous outings. But damn, this album is entertaining for almost the entire hour playing time. I'm not suggesting that it's a better or more important release than those aforementioned albums, but it's just as enjoyable in my opinion, and certainly underappreciated.

Firstly, John Bush is a great vocalist. He brings with him a certain level of class and while Joey will always be the archetypal Anthrax singer, Bush is a more superior talent. A lot of fans consider Sound of White Noise to be the album where the band sold out. I think if those fans really listened to Persistence of Time, they would see that the band had already started to concentrate more on song structures rather than silliness or thrashing madness. This really isn't that far removed from that release and in fact, tracks like 1,000 Points of Hate contain more aggression than the band had displayed for a while.

Anyway, obviously I'm a defender of this album. I'll admit that a few tracks don't hit the mark as much as others (Invisible and C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na for example), but Potters Field, Only, Room For One More, Packaged Rebellion and even the ballad Black Lodge are all fantastic Anthrax tracks. If you're into Anthrax at all, don't assume Sound of White Noise is an album not worth checking out. You'd be missing out on a brave and enjoyable release that I for one rate up there with their best.

Daniel Daniel / July 17, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

The early 90's was a terrifying time to be a classic thrash band. By 1993, the grunge scene had unceremoniously stripped thrash metal's audience with some of the remainder being carried away by the death/black metal boom so many of the major bands were all fighting for a smaller market share. Pantera had also hit on a key niche of the market with their fresh new groove metal sound that had taken the metal scene by storm &, in order to survive in that environment, many artists simply chose to jump onboard the grunge or groove metal bandwagons with mixed results it has to be said. Big Four member Anthrax was one such act with their 1993 sixth album "Sound of White Noise" seeing the five-piece transitioning away from their thrash metal roots for a sound that took an each-way bet on the grunge & groove metal movements. Many fans would immediately jump off the train but the inclusion of talented Armored Saint front man John Bush in place of classic Anthrax singer Joey Belladonna had certainly peaked my interest, particularly given that I was a huge fan of Bush's work on the Saint's 1991 fourth album "Symbol of Salvation". Ben would purchase "Sound of White Noise" on CD upon release & we'd both spend some time adjusting to the new Anthrax direction. Interestingly, I recall both of us really enjoying it & nothing much has changed there either.

Although "Sound of White Noise" is generally regarded as a groove metal release, I would argue that there's actually a lot more alternative metal here, easily enough for a dual primary tag with thrash metal being the lone secondary influence. To say that "Sound of White Noise" sounds like a different band to the one we heard on classic thrash records like "Among The Living" or "Spreading the Disease" is not entirely accurate though. You can still clearly hear a lot of the techniques the band had made their calling cards but they're used more sporadically here. Tracks like "Potters Field", "Invisible", "C₁₁ H₁₇ N₂ O₂ S Na" & "Burst" would have comfortably fit on earlier Anthrax records though so this isn't a completely foreign environment for extreme metal fans. Bush's more masculine vocals are certainly a little different from Belladonna's but not to the point that you couldn't easily imagine him singing the earlier classics pretty successfully. I personally gravitate more to the Bush tone anyway so this change was always gonna appeal to me. He doesn't nail everything in front of him here but, after a few listens, I can't imagine too many punters feeling like he'd rained on the Anthrax parade.

The eleven-song tracklisting doesn't tend to unveil all of its charms upon first listen & repeat listens definitely see it opening up progressively more. There are a couple of genuine Anthrax classics on show if you're open to discovering them. The obvious highlight of the record is the anthemic single "Only" which possesses an absolute belter of a chorus hook & is the best reference for the skill set that Bush brought to the band you're likely to find. High-octave, energetic alternative thrasher "C₁₁ H₁₇ N₂ O₂ S Na"  is also an underrated gem & I've found that it's dug its talons into my flesh to ever greater depths over the last week. The rest of the tracklisting ranges from pretty decent to very solid with only the lackluster alternative metal number "Hy Pro Glo" failing to offer me any level of appeal. Perhaps there aren't enough tier one inclusions to see "Sound of White Noise" pressing for Album Of The Year honors but it certainly had enough about it for Ben & I to remember it very fondly amongst our childhood memories.

So, where does "Sound of White Noise" sit in the prestigious Anthrax back catalogue then? Well, it might surprise a few people to hear that I actually rate it somewhere in the middle rather than towards the bottom rungs. I'd comfortably take it over the legendary New York thrash metal establishment's 1984 debut album "Fistful of Metal" & also feel that it's a more consistently interesting record than 1988's "State of Euphoria" fourth album which was more acceptable than it was impressive. Many people seem to try to tarnish this record with a harshly-worded groove metal brush but that's not a true reflection of the quality of the song-writing or the professionalism in the performances. Anthrax were a high-quality metal act who have produced another high-quality metal record here in my opinion but there's no doubt that it requires thrash fans to go into it with an open mind.

For fans of Acid Drinkers, Prong, Sepultura.

Shadowdoom9 (Andi) Shadowdoom9 (Andi) / February 19, 2023 / Comments 0 / 0

OK, I may have been a little too optimistic when I said I have a great feeling about groove metal. This was around the time when grunge was entering the mainstream. A dark heavy rock (sometimes metal) genre with bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden reigning in the scene. Though as well-respected as a couple of those band's albums may be, the classic bands ended up following their footsteps. The 90s saw many of the American thrash bands discard their classic sound for something more modern. Metallica is the most famous victim of that trend. Though this band, Anthrax has ended up taking a more hardcore groove metal direction throughout most of that decade...

Well, it's not as atrocious to me as what many people think of it, there are some good points. Sounds of White Noise has some decent moments that I enjoy. The band knew how mature and capable they can be, surviving the reception for what they record and promote. With Sounds of White Noise showing the band abandoning their 80s thrash sound, this different direction isn't so fast, but it is darker. Joey Belladonna left the band (though he would return when the band's thrash returns) and taking his place is ex-Armored Saint frontman John Bush. He's not too bad, sounding better than the false grunge idols of Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. The lyrics Bush sings are more coherent, and his vocals sound more melodic. I kind of like his voice here, though he doesn't have a lot of capability.

Listen to "Potter's Field" for the dark heaviness to come. Despite sounding closer to the grunge movement, the notable highlight "Only" is a true keeper. The upsides of this different direction make something quite great there. "Room for One More" gives the first third of the album room for one more solid track.

"Packaged Rebellion" is where the band starts to take on the dreaded grunge side, detracting the might the album would've gained from the opening trio. Same with the next song "Hy Pro Glo". The following track "Invisible" is very good, despite the downsides making their appearance. "1000 Points of Hate" is a track I really hate, though it's not the biggest sh*tter. Sure there's a bit of their earlier fast thrash but it's f***ed up by the occasional switch to mid-tempo groove.

Despite being a dark soft ballad, "Black Lodge" is another favorite you just can't miss. The atmosphere makes the song sound dark instead of cheesy. There's also beautiful guitar harmony midway through. "C11 H17 N2 O2 S Na" means "sodium thiopental" is periodic table elements language. It's a slightly better bridge between the band's earlier sound and grunge. "Burst" shows the band continuing their darker direction while throwing back to the earlier thrash in a much better fashion. Another one of the three 4.5 star favorites! "This is Not an Exit" is a boring closer, sounding too much like an attempt to rip off Alice in Chains. That sh*tty-a** ending gives the album the most damage.

Despite sounding close to grunge at times, Sound of White Noise is a decent addition to the band's discography and 90s metal. It hits a few high levels while falling into lower ones. There are more slips and slides through a different direction than what they're known for, similarly to Metallica's motive, all occurring in the 90s. This is more recommended to fans of grunge and earlier groove metal. The heavier metalheads, especially fans of the band's classic thrash era, should avoid this kind of noise....

Favorites: "Only", "Room for One More", "Invisible", "Black Lodge", "Burst"