Anthrax Anthems

It's tough to please fans with cover albums, as they complain vociferously if bands stay too close to or stray too far from the originals. Anthrax have spent their 30-year career sprinkling their albums with covers that range from ultra-famous (Black Sabbath) to woefully obscure (Trust). With classic-era vocalist Joey Belladonna back in the fold seemingly for good, the band break down to record an obligatory covers EP, their second since 1989's import-only Penikufesin. That Anthrax kick it off with one of Rush's most bombastic tunes, "Anthem," is worth the price alone. Realizing that Belladonna hits all of Geddy Lee's high notes during the choruses and bridges is even more remarkable. A rollicking take on Boston's "Smokin'," complete with organ solo, is almost better than Anthrax's incredible version of Journey's "Keep on Runnin'," one of the best chestnuts from that band's 1981 blockbuster, Escape. Having covered both Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy on previous albums, "Big Eyes" and "Jailbreak" aren't essential, and the same goes for their by-the-numbers account of AC/DC's "T.N.T." A shorter version of "Crawl" and its remix from 2011's Worship Music are included, but they're superfluous amongst the gems in this collection. For a band that have made cover songs an integral part of their decades-long shtick, Anthems is a metal milestone in Anthrax's storied career. (Megaforce)