Anthrax, Persistence of Time

I'm not sure if the title is an accidental observation on the album's length, but too much of it ends up being an unstable long-form slog that doesn't quite capture the energy of their earlier releases. The shiftier time signatures make it harder to get into instead of drawing you in, and the barer production doesn't showcase their strengths. There are solid cuts: "In My World" has a punchy punk lead-in and great galloping drums, "Intro To Reality" is superb prog metal with almost Queen-like guitars (leading into the paranoia-fueled "Belly Of The Beast" and its grimly literate grind) and closer "Discharge" finally pulls its finger out around two-minutes-thirty. Plus, of course, there's their wonderful headbanger cover of Joe Jackson's "Not The Time," a raucous improvement on the original and probably the high point of the disc. That said, though, most of the tracks just don't reward you enough for sitting through them, and the tracks that are good are mostly too short (or maybe that's why). This album doesn't know what it wants to be and sadly its identity crisis isn't interesting enough to make it worth it. (Content: violent imagery, F-bombs on "Discharge.")