Scrawl from The Saw’s Butcher Shop: Anthrax — Spreading the Disease CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW

Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop, Butcher Crew! It’s me! The Saw! Did you know that one of the best Thrash Metal albums was released on October 30, 1985? Spreading the Disease (Megaforce/Island) was the second full length album from Anthrax. The band’s debut album, Fistful of Metal was independently released, so Spreading the Disease was their first major label release. And the latter record was huge, a far better offering than the former.

Spreading the Disease featured the debut of Joey Belladonna (vocals), who was not even familiar with Thrash, but who’s voice got him the job. The record was also the debut of Frank Bello (bass) who was one of the band’s roadies and the nephew of Charlie Benante (drums). The album also featured the single, “Madhouse,” and a video was produced to support the song, but MTV didn’t give it much play because executives felt it degraded mental patients. Song credits are listed as Anthrax, but some material came from Dan Lilker (co-founding guitarist, bassist) who left the band during recording sessions to form Nuclear Assault. More of his material would be used on Among the Living, the breakout third album from Anthrax. Scott Ian (co-founding guitarist), now known as a legendary rhythm guitarist, is the mastermind of Anthrax. And Dan Spitz (guitars) was brought in for Lilker on the record and subsequent tour.

In its day, Spreading the Disease was groundbreaking! It was given critical acclaim by (nearly) all in the metal community. In an era when Thrash was driven by West Coast bands, the Queens, NY, boys, Anthrax, blew up and blew out all expectations. Even today, the record is not only considered one of the best for Anthrax, but one of the best, all time, for the genre and Metal as a whole. It contains the blueprints for Thrash Metal’s secret weapons – buzzing riffs, soaring vocals, and pin-point drumming. Spreading the Disease is timeless, it holds up to anything being produced today, 36 years later!

An interesting side note: Anthrax had some leftover session time after Spreading the Disease was recorded. So, Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, and Dan Lilker formed Stormtroopers of Death and recorded “Speak English or Die,” an incredible album laying the groundwork for Punk/Thrash (crossover Thrash) bands to follow.  

Original Song Listing on the ’85 release:

  1. A.I.R.
  2. Lone Justice
  3. Madhouse
  4. S.S.C./Stand or Fall
  5. The Enemy
  6. Aftershock
  7. Armed and Dangerous
  8. Medusa
  9. Gung-Ho

Rating: 10/10!! Simply a mastery of Thrash!

Favorite Songs: Medusa; Madhouse; Aftershock, but you can’t go wrong with any on this record!

Stay Metal,