[Review] Anthrax: Armed and Dangerous (EP) (1985)

BellaDonna and Anthrax turn out to be a killer combination on the classic lineup’s mini debut.

Kronomyth 1.5: A little nightshade music.

It was becoming clear that Anthrax wasn’t your traditional heavy metal band. Heavy metal bands, for example, didn’t release extended-play records. They didn’t cover The Sex Pistols. And they didn’t record live versions of their songs that clocked in at three minutes (unless they were Judas Priest). Armed and Dangerous does all that while debuting a new bass player (Frank Bello) and lead singer (Joe BellaDonna).

The opening track, Armed and Dangerous, starts out with an acoustic guitar intro—a standard device for heavy metal bands—and for a moment it seems like Anthrax might be just another hair metal band after all. That moment is soon shattered, however, as the band starts flexing their thrash metal muscles and BellaDonna begins to let loose with those remarkable pipes. Raise Hell doesn’t waste time with pretty introductions; BellaDonna probably oversings it, but the band still sells it.

The second side starts with a surprisingly good rendition of The Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, complete with English accents. If you doubted that Anthrax were punks at heart, here was your proof. The record closes with two live-in-the-studio (can you say Unleashed in the East?) performances featuring songs from their first album: Metal Thrashing Mad and Panic. Dan Spitz is amazing on both tracks, and BellaDonna hits the high notes with the greatest of ease.

In later years, the labels included the band’s first single as bonus tracks, then decided to just add the whole thing to Fistful of Metal as a twofer. Honestly, this might be the only reason to acquire Fistful of Metal—to hear Armed and Dangerous. It’s both a reset and the perfect set-up to Spreading the Disease.

Original EP version

A1. Armed and Dangerous (6:01)
A2. Raise Hell (3:57)
B1. God Save the Queen (Paul Cook/Steve Jones/John Lydon/Glen Matlock) (2:56)
B2. Metal Thrashing Mad (live) (2:43)
B3. Panic (live) (3:39)

All songs by Anthrax unless noted. Additional lyrics by Neil Turbin.

CD reissue bonus tracks
6. Soldiers of Metal
7. Howling Furies

The Players

Joe BellaDonna (vocals), Frank Bello (bass), Charlie Benante (drums), Scott Ian (guitar), Dan Spitz (guitar). Produced by Carl Canedy and Anthrax; engineered by Alex Periales and Norman Dunn; executive producer: Jon Zazula.

The Plastic

Released on EP and cassette EP in February 1985 in the US (Megaforce, MRS/MRST-05) and Canada (Megaforce, 20286 6902-4).

  1. Re-released on expanded compact disc in Austria (Caroline, CAROL CD 1382) with 2 bonus tracks.
  2. Re-packaged with Fistful of Metal on 2-for-1 2CD in 1998 in Germany (Steamhammer, SPV 076-18182) with 2 bonus tracks.
  3. Re-issued with Fistful of Metal on 2-for-1 compact disc in 2004 in the US (Megaforce, MEGA2953) with 2 bonus tracks.

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