2004 - 2006 was a very confusing period in Anthrax history. The end of one era, and the reuniting of another, in between it all fell 'The Greater OF Two Evils'. Released as the final album of their John Bush years, but preceding their reunion with Joey Belladonna, it's a confounding release that does justice to neither.
A live album recorded in the studio, the formerly-titled 'Metallum Maximum Aeturnum', saw the Bush-fronted version of the band, who had been together for a decade at that point, re-record tracks from the Belladona and Neil Turbin eras. Retracing their history, Anthrax were presenting the songs, according to founder Scott Ian; "the way I had always heard them in my head". Was the title 'The Greater Of Two Evils' - a variation on the lyrics to 1998 'Vol. 8' track 'Harms Way', in which Bush sings about "the lesser of two evils" - a reference to the two singers?
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Having forged a new direction when Bush joined the band in 1993 for brooding masterpiece 'Sound Of White Noise', Anthrax had made a further trio of albums with the former Armored Saint singer, and despite charting poorly, the release prior to this; 2003's 'We've Come For You All', was seen as something of a comeback, after the collapse of not one, but two of their former record labels.
All of which meant that 'The Greater OF Two Evils' was something of a backwards step. So while there's nothing wrong with the musical performances and the fan-voted song choices, it's just a slightly pointless release. On the plus side however, the new version of 'Deathrider' benefits from Charlie Benante's modified beat, and Bush's impassioned vocals. It's also great to hear John tackle tracks that rarely made the set list, such as 'Lone Justice' and 'Panic'.
Reissued by Nuclear Blast in 2017, 'The Greater Of Two Evils' is a curio, and a divisive release that pleased neither Bush nor Belladonna devotees. Taken on its own merits however, it contains some of the greatest thrash metal songs of all time, and features the right-hand riffage of Scott Ian, the metronomic beats of Charlie Benante, and the powerhouse pipes of John Bush. And that can't be all bad.
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