Friday, November 11, 2011

Anthrax - State of Euphoria (1988)

State of Euphoria seems to be the one Anthrax release from the 80s that gets the least amount of respect. Released in September 1988, on Island Records, this was the band's fourth full-length album. While it retains some of the same flaws that plagued the previous record, in some ways it is just as solid, if not moreso. Upon acquiring this one, I actually found it to be easier to get into than Among the Living, initially. It is unfortunate that the band (and most of their fanbase) only remember this record for one song, and a cover tune at that.

From the sombre cello, that introduces "Be All, End All" (one of the better songs from this era), to the closing moments of the final track, this album features solid Thrash riffs and memorable melodies and vocal lines. The guitars possess a crushing heaviness, despite the low volume of this record, and the bass adds another layer of doom, at times. There is a dark vibe present in songs like "Who Cares Wins" and "Misery Loves Company". Belladonna's singing kills the atmosphere on some of the tracks, as he sounds too upbeat and the comical lyrics do not help him at all. "Now It's Dark" and "Schism" are too examples of this. Other than this, he does sound more natural here, fitting in better than on this album's predecessor. There is still a rhythmic quality to the music, with the guitars and drums blending together at times, rather than the percussion merely keeping a beat. Overall, the material is a little more simplistic than their earlier efforts, but not too extreme. The lead solos are excellent and suit the songs perfectly.

The production is similar to Among the Living, putting forth a heavy sound but not focusing solely on the guitars. The songwriting is such that the drums have to be as prominent as the guitars since the effect would be lost otherwise. The vocals sound slightly lower in the mix than on the last record, which works out well. The general impression is that the production is rather dry, which is not a bad thing.

State of Euphoria is not a terribly impressive album, but it is not bad either. It includes a handful of really good songs and some that are more boring. In other words, it is like every other Anthrax release from this time period. It should certainly appeal to any fan of the band, so long as you take the bad with the good. One thing is for certain: it is a crime that the band hardly recalls anything on this L.P. aside from the pop-oriented cover song, "Antisocial". There are much better songs on here.