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POP and JAZZ REVIEWS : Anthrax Mixes Styles With Power, Passion

May 16, 1994|LORRAINE ALI

New York speed metal quintet Anthrax has picked up a wide range of fans over the last decade, from alternative to metal. Thanks to its collaboration with Public Enemy, the band has even charmed the hip-hop crowd.

Bands often come off calculated and compromised when blending such diverse elements, but Anthrax shows no signs of either. On Saturday at UC Irvine's Crawford Hall, the group--which mixes the aggressive rush of hard-core punk and creative melodies with tribal beats--played with a strong, natural passion.

A solid and confident John Bush, the band's new lead singer, topped the booming songs that rocked the hot campus gym. Formerly of Armored Saint, Bush sang in deep and controlled tones that never seemed strained or rushed, even over the high-speed noise. He occasionally traded lines rap-style with rhythm guitarist Scott Ian. The group also sang anthem-like numbers in unison, causing the mainly male crowd to shout the lyrics back.

The band, which played under a basketball hoop and scoreboard, pounded out a bottom-heavy beat that was so powerful it seemed to come from two drummers. The wood floor shook until the groove broke for galloping speeds driven by thick, but never shrill guitar.

They kicked off one song with the recorded laughter of Beavis and Butt-head and frequently talked with the audience as if they were all old friends--which made sense. Anthrax is a band to believe in.

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