Picks and Pans Review: Music on Video

UPDATED 03/20/1989 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/20/1989 at 01:00 AM EST


The title of this Anthrax concert tape abbreviates a phrase that begins "Nice" and ends "Video." That vulgarity is apt for the nasty music of the New York speed-metal quintet, here at London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1988. The self-consciousness of that vulgarity is fitting too. Pile-driver metal like Anthrax's is often assumed to issue from rock's lunatic fringe. In fact, it's a conservative genre. The stage dynamics—red-filtered and strobe lights and smoke machines galore—haven't changed since the angry rockers MC5 and Alice Cooper loosed the dogs of metal 20 years ago. Anthrax is at least one of the sturdiest bands still working that dark side of the street, as their performance of, say, "Madhouse" attests. But for rock fans, not much is new. We see the band backstage. They're likable and unpretentious. We also see lots of their fans, most of them emulating the musicians' antifashion sense—a style best termed no-budget urban pirate. While echoing lyrics that celebrate anticonformist rebellion, the kids, many in black T-shirts and black leather, look to be in uniform as sure as the commuters lined up for the 7:28. Of course, the kids in this audience seem to be having more fun. And they're sure sweating more. (Island)

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