Attack Of The Killer B's

Anthrax

Island Records, 1991

http://anthrax.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/19/2000

The writing on the wall was there for fans of Anthrax in 1991. All the signs of imminent change and possible disaster were right there in front of our faces. Why we didn't recognize it, I don't know.

Attack Of The Killer B's - great, just the graphics someone who is deathly afraid (no joke) of the little stinging bastards needs to see - was admittedly a stop-gap release that bought the band time to work on their follow-up to Persistence Of Time but also gave the diehard fans one source for the rare, collectible songs. Of course, not long after the album's release, lead singer Joey Belladonna was shown the door, and the band left Island to reap the benefits (or so it seemed) of a mega-deal with Elektra.

But dammit, the signs were there. Of the "new" songs (translation: tracks not recorded live, featured on the import EP Penikufesin or included on a Public Enemy record), Belladonna provides lead vocals on two - count 'em, two - of the six tracks. Hello?!?

Maybe the reason we didn't pay attention to the signs of Belladonna's imminent departure was because we were all fretting and fuming about the half-ass quality of this release. Attack Of The Killer B's has its moments, but this is one that's definitely for the diehard fans only.

Let's look at the two live tracks first. Quality-wise, these tracks recorded in Birmingham, England don't do the band a lot of justice. The sound quality is a bit muddied, and these aren't the easiest tracks to get into from the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Persistence Of Time disc. (For that matter, the last time I listened to that album, I wasn't impressed... but that's another review for another day.) What would have been interesting is if two tracks from a promo-only disc, Free B's, had been included instead.

The material borrowed from the Penikufesin EP hasn't aged too well - the cover of Kiss's "Parasite" sounds a bit sloppy - but is still kinda nice to have in this format. Worth noting: their cover of Trust's "Sects". This particular song still rocks today. But to play devil's advocate, why did they choose not to include the French version of "Antisocial" or their cover of "Friggin' In The Riggin'" that also were on Penikufesin? Maybe to make sure there would still be demand for the original? Hmm...

The collaboration with Public Enemy, "Bring The Noise," is still fun to listen to, and it marked a significant point in the relationship between rap and metal not seen since Aerosmith and Run-DMC joined forces for their cover of "Walk This Way". Rhythm guitarist Scott Ian proves to be quite the rapper, and the track diminishes neither band's power or prestige in any way.

That leaves us with six new tracks on Attack Of The Killer B's. Two of the tracks give Anthrax's spin on S.O.D. - "Milk (Ode To Billy)" and "Chromatic Death". (Hmm, another sign of things that were to come; less than two years later, S.O.D. - which featured Ian and drummer Charlie Benante - reunited for Live At Budokan.) I can't say I like the addition onto "Milk," but the newer, crunchier version of "Chromatic Death" is a rare instance of a re-make improving on the original. (S.O.D. must have thought so; they switched "Chromatic Death" to the Anthrax version.)

The remaining four tracks give new meaning to the phrase "big mistake". "Startin' Up A Posse" proves two things. First, a poorly written song taking the anti-censorship position can only hurt your side's stance... and the fact is, this song is lame to the nth degree. Second, Ian can't carry a tune in a bucket when it matters. (He does a better job on the cover of "Protest And Survive," in all fairness.) This track is easily the biggest nugget of dog crap Anthrax has ever recorded.

Their tongue-in-cheek tribute to rap, "I'm The Man," gets re-worked here as "I'm The Man '91". It has its moments as well, but the old saying rings true: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. As for "N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin)," this track shows how much throwaway material was really on this album.

Collections of b-sides and rarities are almost always a hit-or-miss batch of tracks, but at least the effort to put together a collection worthy of a band's name should always be made. If you pick up Attack Of The Killer B's expecting to hear vintage Anthrax, you're gonna get stung.

Rating: C-

User Rating: B


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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.