All Access Rating: A-
|Altitudes & Attitude - S/T 2014|
Maybe at some point they did give up on playing guitar as their main means of creativity and source of income, but Anthrax's Frank Bello and Megadeth's Dave Ellefson aren't sitting around crying about what might have been. In early 2014, they released a joint EP under the name Altitudes & Attitude, and it wasn't what anybody expected.
Because they hold down the low end for two of the Big Four, Altitudes & Attitude was bound to bear no small resemblance to Anthrax and Megadeth. Either that or it would take the form of some inscrutable bass-heavy experiment that only bassists would enjoy or even understand. Instead, they leaped out of their comfort zones and made an EP of straightforward, melodic – some might even call it "radio friendly" – hard-rock with clean, modern production, life-affirming energy and surprisingly strong, charismatic vocals from, of all people, Frank Bello, who's never really been thought of as lead singer material.
And while both Bello and Ellefson both play guitar on Altitudes & Attitude, although that's Gus G.'s serious fretwork searing the brass-knuckled, hard-charging closer "Here Again" till it's scorched, there's plenty of room for them to take lead on bass and give the instrument its due, exploring all of its potential to form dynamic melodies and well-developed hooks. More impressive is the songwriting, with "Tell the World" an affecting, and ultimately hopeful, yearning for inner transformation and an appeal to mankind's better nature.
There is, however, a reason why "Booze and Cigarettes" was the group's first single, this rousing, uplifting anthem with slashing guitars, driving drums – courtesy of Jeff Friedl, from A Perfect Circle, who control tempos beautifully here – and Bello, all heart and soul, belting out the words as if his life depended it. Their attitude will help you get to a new altitude.
– Peter Lindblad