[Review] Anthrax: State of Euphoria (1988)

Metal machine music, heavy on high-end production but light on personality.

Kronomyth 4.0: The metal church of anthrax.

In the late 1980s, thrash metal went mainstream. Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica were now Top 40 bands. Maybe the success went to Anthrax’ head or maybe, like the rest of the world, they were starting to take their music more seriously. Whatever the reason, the band decided to go after a more aggressive and sophisticated sound on State of Euphoria. The results were polarizing. Some missed the band’s sense of humor (myself included), others found the sharpened attack a source of joy.

The band brought in Metal Church producer Mark Dodson to give the music a darker edge. The songs often have an atmospheric introduction (similar to The Dark), the rhythm section is jacked up to fourteen on a scale of 1 to 10 and the production is impossibly tight. The result, to me, feels heavily processed where Among the Living felt raw. It’s the main reason I’m not a huge fan of State of Euphoria; everything sounds like it’s been run through the same metal grinding machine.

As others have pointed out, the most memorable song on the album is a cover of French heavy metal band Trust’s Antisocial. That’s not to say that there aren’t some really good songs on here—Now It’s Dark, Make Me Laugh, Who Cares Wins—but nothing that I’ve ever caught myself singing like “A.I.R.” or “Caught in a Mosh.” You want to marvel at the superhuman efforts of Charlie Benante and Dan Spitz, but that’s just the problem: they seem more machine than human.

Under the surface, the band’s likeable fanboy persona remains. Misery is based on the Stephen King novel, “Now It’s Dark” is an homage to the cult film, Blue Velvet. The band tackling racism (Schism), homelessness (“Who Cares Wins”) and religious hypocrisy (Make Me Laugh) is a bit much—you can’t tear down the world and save it at the same time—although at least they mercifully left the Indians alone this time.

In some ways, State of Euphoria is a bold step forward. It’s certainly their most ambitious album from a production standpoint. It also, however, requires a certain stamina to get through nine pummeling tracks of digitally processed thrash metal without losing enthusiasm for the album. The one thing left behind in the band’s move to a darker sound is the voice of Joey Belladonna, who now sounded like the lone human being in an army of machines.

Original elpee version

A1. Be All, End All (6:22)
A2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind (5:13)
A3. Make Me Laugh (5:41)
A4. Antisocial (Norbert Krief/Bernie Bonvoisin) (4:27)
A5. Who Cares Wins (7:35)
B1. Now It’s Dark (5:34)
B2. Schism (5:27)
B3. Misery Loves Company (5:40)
B4. 13 (0:49)
B5. Finale (5:47)

All songs composed by Anthrax unless noted.

30th anniversary edition 2CD bonus tracks
A11. Antisocial (French)
A12. Friggin’ in the Riggin’
A13. Parasite
A14. Le Sects
A15. Pipeline
A16. Antisocial (live at Hammersmith Odeon)
Charlie’s Archives
B1. Be All, End All
B2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
B3. Make Me Laugh
B4. Antisocial
B5. Who Cares Wins
B6. Now It’s Dark
B7. Schism
B8. Misery Loves Company
B9.  Finalé

The Players

Joe Belladonna (vocals), Frank Bello (bass), Charlie Benante (drums), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), Dan Spitz (lead guitar) with Carol Freedman (cello). Produced by Anthrax and Mark Dodson; associate producer: Alex Perialas; executive producers: Jon Zazula and Marsha Zazula; engineered by Alex Perialas.

The Pictures

Album cover art by Don Brautigam. Cover concept by Charlie Benante. Cover coordinated by Bob Defrin, Scott Ian and Maureen Hindin. Back cover art by Mort Drucker. Logo by Kent Josphe. Photos by Gene Ambo.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc on September 18, 1988 in the UK (Megaforce/Island, ILPS/ICT 9916), the US (Megaforce, 91004-1/4/2) and Germany (Megaforce, 209 334), on October 25, 1988 in Japan (Island, P33D-20077) and in 1988 in Yugoslavia (Jugoton, CAI 9407) with lyrics innersleeve and hologram. Also released on 45 rpm 2LP in 1988 in Japan (Island, R38D-9001/2) with gatefold cover, poster and bandana. Reached #12 on the UK charts and #30 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-released on picture disc elpee in 1989 in the UK (Island, PILPS 9916).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Island, 842 363-2).
  3. Re-released on 30th anniversary edition expanded, remastered 2CD on October 19, 2018 in the US (Island) with 10 bonus tracks.
  4. Re-released on super high material 2CD on February 20, 2019 in Japan (Island, UICY-15804/5) with bonus tracks.

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