State Of Euphoria


Island Records, 1988

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The title of this, the fourth full-length release from New York thrashers Anthrax, should have represented the music. After all, not only were Joey Belladonna and crew coming off of their strongest release with Among The Living, not to mention their best sales to this point, but they had created a mini-sensation with their joke song "I'm The Man." (It's wrong to call this track a parody, seeing how Anthrax supported hip-hop music.) The subsequent EP cemented Anthrax's name into the annals of metal history.

Yes, the title should reflect good things for both the band and the listener. Instead, State Of Euphoria is a misnomer. Not only is this their weakest album featuring Belladonna as lead throat, but it comes dangerously close to erasing all of the progress that Anthrax had made to this point.

To be fair, things do start off fairly well. "Be All End All" might not be a barnburner in the way that tracks like "A.I.R." or "Among The Living" were, but it does suggest that Anthrax wasn't afraid to take some musical chances. It's one thing for Scott Ian and Dan Spitz to play their guitars lightning fast; it's another for Spitz to craft a solo which is melodically consistent with the song. Spitz's solos have most definitely improved on this disc, even if sometimes it feels like his work is mixed down a little more. (Ian, to be fair, has always been a rock-solid rhythm player.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Some people might have written off "Antisocial" as another cover song from Anthrax (albeit from Trust, a band virtually unknown outside of their native France), but one can't deny the infectious nature of this song. It's energetic, it's catchy - hell, it's fun to listen to. The only real sad note is that it's the best song on the album.

This isn't to say that State Of Euphoria is a constant disappointment. Tracks like "Make Me Laugh" and "Who Cares Wins" both show Anthrax taking on serious topics like televangelism and homelessness (the latter song featuring a video highlighting the plight of the homeless). And lest anyone criticize Anthrax for not always being light-hearted, don't forget this is the same band who has summed up both Stephen King and Judge Dredd in about five minutes each, and has sung about the horrors of Nazi atrocities and the poor treatment of Native Americans. "Make Me Laugh" does get a little preachy, but it's not the worst effort on this subject, while "Who Cares Wins" does have the muscle to deliver the message.

Regrettably, the praise for State Of Euphoria stops here. The remaining six tracks dare to suggest that Anthrax was running out of steam creatively, and they were left to scrape the bottom of the barrel for ideas. Songs like "Schism" and "Misery Loves Company" both sound like they are actually tracks which were recorded before the writing process was even halfway finished. Belladonna sounds absolutely bored on tracks like this and "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind". And some of these lyrics - they have to make you wonder just how out of it the band really was. Sample line from "Now It's Dark": "The candy-coated clown has done his part." What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Better yet, who cares?

Even the album's closer, "Finale," tries to keep a tradition alive from previous Anthrax albums -namely, a balls-to-the-wall track with an underlying sense of humor to it. Unfortunately, this one comes off sounding half-hearted, underwritten and bitter ("Drink three six packs / just so I can look at your face").

Even with a few strong efforts, State Of Euphoria is by no means a reason for Anthrax fans to celebrate. It's a discouraging, half-baked effort which feels and sounds like it was rushed out to keep their name in front of the fans; it would have been better for them to have totally re-worked these tracks and made an album worth getting excited about.

Rating: C-

User Rating: B-



© 2003 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.