As strange as it may seem, 1988 stands as the only year where each member of the “The Big Four” all released new studio albums. Go on, check if you want. I’ll wait.
With Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica having pulled significantly away from the rest of the pack with those 1988 releases, the beginning of the ’90s gave each of them the chance to reaffirm their place at the top of the thrash metal food chain. Along with the likes of Testament, Exodus, and Kreator, 1990 opened the new decade in a blaze of glory while also becoming arguably the last truly great year for the genre.
Although we had to wait until the following year to be delighted/disappointed/outraged by the arena-filling direction Metallica was taking, Slayer and Megadeth were still nice enough to treat us to a pair of instant thrash classics. However, although still regarded as a success, a mixed reception to State of Euphoria (Island Records) combined with the release of novelty single ‘I’m the Man’ and a perceived lack of seriousness, had left New Yorkers Anthrax needing to quickly recover a certain amount of lost ground.
Returning with a substantially moodier edge, Persistence of Time (Megaforce, Island) not only relaunched the band in style but also resulted in their first-ever Grammy nomination. Keeping away from some of the more irreverent and comic book aspects of the last few years, the new record turned its attention to the dark underbelly of family and society instead.
Although bookended by the drama of a studio fire in which the band lost nearly all of their equipment, and the departure of vocalist Joey Belladonna a couple of years later, Persistence of Time remains one of Anthrax’s best and most enduring records. Packed with dark, thunderous grooves, and tinged with a newly acquired progressive streak, the first half of the record is an almost flawless display of quality thrash, highlighted by tracks like ‘Time’, ‘Blood’, ‘Keep it in the Family’, and the single ‘In My World’.
A (slightly) lighter affair, the second half includes the classic cover of Joe Jackson‘s ‘Got the Time’, the hugely underrated ‘Belly of the Beast’, ‘H8 Red’ and ‘One Man Stands’, and the raucous explosion of punky closer ‘Discharge’.
Remastered for its 30th anniversary (purchase here), POT boasts Salvador Dali inspired artwork which guitarist and founder member Scott Ian had originally intended for the cover, and a plethora of rare material lifted from drummer Charlie Benante‘s own archives. Liner notes include script pages from the band’s appearance on long-running TV comedy show Married… With Children, and the third disc – a DVD – includes footage shot by the band and crew on their 1991 tour with Iron Maiden.