In many ways, Anthrax has always been in that grey area between the Big 4 of thrash metal, and their less famous but equally heavy contemporaries like Testament, Exodus and Overkill. Although albums like ‘Among The Living’ and ‘Persistance Of Time’ have become classics in their own right, a spate of sub-par releases in the 90s as well as constant line-up changes and the band’s post-9/11 PR nightmare in the noughties diminished their status somewhat. However, after a triumphant return with 2011’s stellar ‘Worship Music’ album, Anthrax is back to spread the disease once more; case in point, their new live album, ‘Chile On Hell’.
Filmed at their 2013 show in the Teatro Caupolican in Santiago, Chile, this performance boasts Anthrax’s greatest hits from their back catalogue as well as their more recent crowd-pleasers. The film also celebrate the band’s 30th Anniversary by including behind-the-scenes clips from their promotions for ‘Worship Music’ as well as their Metal Masters shows in New York. Now, countries that are or have been under repressive political regimes tend to produce some of the most passionate metalheads around, and the crowd in the Caupolican that night was no exception, from what you will witness in ‘Chile On Hell’.
For all you aspiring filmmakers reading this, let’s get into the technical aspects of the film. There’s really nothing much to complain about with the camera work here, as each camera takes great shots of the band members and the audience at good angles; standard work for a live album today. The interplay of different colours brought on by the stage lighting on the band and their surroundings is captured very well here. The audience also (literally) gets their moment to shine, with the camera capturing a good number of them holding up brightly-burning flare sticks (because Zippo lighters are for pussies).
|Photo: Stephanie Cabral|
As for the band themselves, Anthrax are on top form even after thirty years in the game. One thing that has always separated them from their thrash brethren is the punk-like groove and spirit in their music, possibly inherited from their New York punk heritage. This really resonates in ‘Chile On Hell’ as Anthrax pounds out anthem after stadium-ready anthem for the Chilean crowd.
Guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Frank Bello headbang, shout and jump about on-stage like a bunch of twenty-somethings, all the while not missing a note. They are greatly supported by expert skinsman Charlie Benante, whose drumming still sounds as tight as your mom’s spandex pants. And John Bush be damned, vocalist Joey Belladonna is the closest thing you’ll get to an operatic singer in thrash metal today. It is a treat to watch him channel his inner Dio in “In The End” by prowling about on-stage and flashing the good old Malocchio to everyone in the vicinity. His stamina and his command of the crowd greatly belie his wrinkled visage.
The only X-factor here is new lead guitarist Jon Donais (of Shadows Fall fame). He pulls off his leads and solos with aplomb, but he occasionally looks like a piece of dead wood compared to the rest of the band by standing still in one place just off the spotlight. I really hope that Donais loosens up and starts to channels Anthrax’s fun spirit in the future, especially since he may be looking at a permanent spot in the band after the break-up and hiatus of Shadows Fall.
All in all, ‘Chile On Hell’ may very well be the performance that will smash Anthrax’s underdog status to smithereens and rightfully establish them as top players in their genre; if ‘Worship Music’ didn’t do that already. And as someone who missed the opportunity to see them live in India (due to the irresponsible louts behind the ‘FLY Music Festival’), I highly recommend this live album. What else is there left to say but, “Olé, Olé-Olé-Olé.... Anth-raaax, Anth-raaax!”
Sairaj R. Kamath
Sairaj R. Kamath