As I look upon the Deluxe Edition remaster of Anthrax's Among The Living which was released in 1987, I can hardly believe that it has been that long since I first spun this recording on my record player in my parent's basement. Yet here we are in 2009 and this is very much the case as the band's most popular recording gets a long overdue upgrade treatment and finds itself bumped up in track number and offering a DVD to the fans as well – talk about cool. To be brutally honest, "ATL" was not my own first Anthrax foray as I had long been a Metal head by the time it had come out but with the Armed And Dangerous EP and the Spreading The Disease CD already in my hands and head the material being dished out on Among The Living was a welcome thing. The video age was upon us now and lucky for Anthrax their short films were beginning to get a little more rotation and songs like "Indians" were regularly seen on The Headbanger's Ball on MTV. "Indians" was of course one of the albums biggest numbers as was "I Am The Law" which sung about the comic book Anti-hero Judge Dredd whom members of the band really enjoyed the exploits of and the bands anthem of sorts "Caught In A Mosh". Whew, that alone makes for a solid album but when you factor in the power of "A Skeleton In The Closet" which always drew me in based on the furious double kick drums of Charlie Benante you have something that will last the tests of time. The vocals of Joey Belladonna are great and I think he was really hitting his stride with this one. Guitar wise it's strong for what the band was intending to do.
As a band Anthrax was one of the biggest providers of the Thrash Metal sound of the time and this particular album found more doors being opened to their style and antics. Remastered all of these tracks sound great and there are some additions that add a few bonus points to the recording. The first few bonuses give us alternate leads or alternate takes on a couple of tracks and depending on your level of Anthrax frenzy, that will gauge how much these tunes appeal to you as a Metal fan. Personally I am not all that fond of different versions of songs and view them as the demoed version that was not used when the release came out. There is some fooling around by the band in the studio for the "Bud E Love" track which again is for a select fan of the group and a live track from Dallas in "Indians". They also give us the instrumental only version of the bands Rap meets Metal classic "I'm The Man" and as it played I was amazed at how many of the lyrics I still knew after all these years. I'm also kind of sad in that fact since I have long forgotten other more important things and somehow this just comes out on automatic. A twenty four page booklet comes with the release and that is loaded with photos of the band during this time period and lyrics for all of the tracks. The liner notes come care of comedian Brian Posehn and they explain a number of things about the album that will definitely interest their fans. The double digipak case slides neatly into a clear plastic sleeve which has become standard for such editions from the Universal Music people. Now to discuss the DVD a little bit.
DVD: Oidivnikufesin (N.F.V.) Live In London 1987: Intro, Among The Living, Caught In A Mosh, Metal Thrashing Mad, I Am The Law, Madhouse, Indians, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.), Armed And Dangerous, Air/I'm The Man/Air, Gung Ho.
*** I had to say that one of the highest points in purchasing this Anthrax remastered edition was their inclusion of the apparently now out of print DVD release "Oidnikufesin" and this film captured the band live on stage during a tour of the UK back in 1987. As you can see by the set list rundown for the show that they performed, it is chock full of numbers from the "Among The Living" release and gives their fans five tunes from the recording. That made sense since they were touring for this album at the time of the films recording and as you watch it you can see just how much fun the guys in Anthrax were having together as they brought their New York City based Thrash Metal to the land that gave us the likes of Sabbath, Priest and Maiden. Fortunately this was also done during a time where bands were not exclusively doing their new material and instead mixing it up. As result we also get a few of my favorites from the "Spreading The Disease" CD. This is a classic music video concert and one that we often see clips from on many Metal programs that discuss the impact of Anthrax on the scene. It's nice to be able to enjoy it in one full sitting and by delivering it here we no longer have to search around or pay outlandish prices on the original version. If you are "that fan" of course don't let me discourage you from hitting E-Bay and looking for one but I will settle for the Deluxe Edition of Among The Living to get my fix of a little bit of Anthrax. Let's hope that a special edition comes for Spreading The Disease soon since that was such an important album as well.
1.Among The Living
2.Caught In A Mosh
3.I Am The Law
5.A Skeleton In The Closet
8.A.D.I./Horror Of It All
9.Imitation Of Life
10.Indians (alternate lead) – bonus
11.One World (alternate take) – bonus
12.Imitation Of Life (alternate take) – bonus
13.Bud E Luv Bomb & Satan's Lounge Band – bonus
14.I Am The Law (live) – bonus
15.I'm The Man (instrumental) – bonus