First impressions: Anthrax, Megadeth, Metal Church

Examining newly released songs, videos from metal legends
By Peter Lindblad

Anthrax will discuss their new LP 'For
All Kings' on the series  "Backstory" on
Wednesday, Jan. 13. It'll be live streamed
as part of the AOL Build series. Gets tickets
to be there in person for the interview.
Appetizers have been served, and they were delicious. Soon, the tables of famished thrash-metal fans the world over will be overflowing with main courses from three of thrash metal's most enduring acts.

First to arrive is Megadeth's Dystopia on Jan. 22, followed by Anthrax's For All Kings via Megaforce Records on Feb. 26 and then comes Metal Church's XI, slated for a March 25th release on Rat Pak Records.

Megadeth - Dystopia 2016
On Thursday, Dave Mustaine and company teased their upcoming release by unveiling the title track for streaming on, this after rolling out a new video for the song "The Threat Is Real" in December.

Not to be outdone, Metal Church announced a release date Monday for XI, which marks the return of vocalist Mike Howe. "At first I struggled with the decision to come back, but after hearing the riffs that (guitarist) Kurdt (Vanderhoof) was writing, I just couldn't resist. The music called to me and I wanted to be part of it!" said Howe.

In July 2014, Howe began working with Vanderhoof on a side project with Saxon's Nigel Glockler, leading to a reunion of Metal Church and its former singer, all of whom are featured in a new video for the debut single off XI, "No Tomorrow," that premiered along with these glad tidings.

And then there's Anthrax, looking to follow up the sensational 2011 LP Worship Music, one of the best records of that year and some have even claimed it to be as good anything in their catalog.

So, what's the early verdict on the new stuff? Here's a rundown:

Megadeth: By the time "Dystopia" the song made its introduction, the public had already been treated to a cool animated video for "The Threat Is Real" and another new track, "Fatal Illusion," the latter a mean, seething slab of heavy, gnarly thrash that harkens back to Megadeth's early days.

With "The Threat Is Real," exotic Middle Eastern wailing fades as Megadeth unloads a barrage of crazed guitar riffs strikes. Later, hitting its stride, the track morphs into a vigorous, hard-hitting Iron Maiden-like gallop, charging ahead with nostrils flared. Vic Rattlehead, the band's mascot, makes an appearance in the song's video, with its comic-book illustrations and video-game graphics acting out an attempt to stop an act of terrorism. At its core, it's a song that makes the case that our fears of sudden violent episodes of terrorism – like the ones that have dominated the news cycle in recent weeks – becoming the norm are very real, indeed, and that there's a reluctance to address the problem head on.

"Dystopia" is a bit different, its stylized, clean guitars practically gleaming and sharply etched. Here, high-definition production enhances the urgency, the pure energy of a track that takes off like a rocket. Mustaine has been singing the praises of new guitarist Kiko Loureiro to anyone who will listen since his hiring, and apparently there's a good reason for that. The six-string action on "Dystopia" is dazzling, with a solo that requires a dose of Dramamine before going on this ride and classic twin-guitar sculpture leading into a chaotic, fiery ending that takes your breath away.

Wipe that saliva from your mouth. Dystopia will soon be here. You can check out the song below:

Metal Church: A lapsed member of Metal Church has returned to the flock in the form of Howe, who is pounding the pulpit once again, just as he did on such landmark records as The Human Factor, Blessing In Disguise and Hanging In The Balance in the late '80s and early '90s.

His pipes sound as commanding and venomous as they ever did in a thrilling new sonic blitzkrieg called "No Tomorrow." The accompanying black-and-white video is now available for viewing, and it takes place in what appears to be a secret Roswell-like location, within a huge, abandoned, cylindrical concrete structure where space aliens are running around causing mischief or trying to escape. What exactly is going here is somewhat unclear, but it's a fun, sci-fi distraction.

Essentially, what Metal Church has offered up is a performance video with vague and shadowy conspiratorial undertones. As for the song itself, the exhilarating "No Tomorrow" is good, slash-and-burn metal, with a ripping Vanderhoof solo to boot. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but there's an electricity running through its veins that is undeniable and the band seems to be enjoying itself in the video, which may speak to their enthusiasm for the XI material. Going back to church never sounded more appealing.

Anthrax: Already a Hot Track on iTunes, "Breathing Lightning" is sure to have tongues wagging. Anthrax bassist Frank Bello said of it, "That should be the biggest song Anthrax ever had."And he's right. It's got big, roundhouse hooks, a vitality and an immediacy that grabs you and an exciting, radio-friendly quality that's all fairly unusual for the band. The guitars are strong, melodic and powerful, the vocals are expansive and the rhythm section moves with dexterity and purpose. It's easy to get swept up in its currents. This could be a game-changer for Anthrax.

There's a clip of Bello, Charlie Benante and Scott Ian discussing the track on YouTube, and I urge you to check it out, because it offers real insight into the making of "Breathing Lightning." You can check it out here:

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