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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : SONIC UGLINESS

Anthrax operates with one foot in speed-metal territory, while the other toes the traditional head-banging heavy-metal line. On stage at the Olympic Auditorium Saturday, this approach produced bursts of thunder that lacked the bone-crunching force of a Metallica or Venom, and emphasized more guitar solos and Siamese-cat vocals than those groups fool with.

The show served as noisy confirmation that within the Anthrax attack, there’s about as much room for variety as there is for melody--that is, not much. The East Coast quintet wears this sonic ugliness on its sleeve--literally: The cover of “Spreading the Disease,” the group’s new LP, bears a sticker that reads, “This record contains NOT one hit single.”

Anthrax’s relentless thrash-metal did do a fine job of stirring the crowd. The entire Olympic floor quickly became a vigorously churning slam pit, while singer Joey Belladonna and his shaggy-haired compatriots had to share the spotlight with massive fights that kept erupting on the right side of the auditorium. By the end of this excruciatingly loud fury, the evening’s biggest winners may have been local ear doctors with small practices.


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