September 17, 1990 12:00 PM


There are few things sadder than an aging punk rocker. The mohawk has gone gray. Arthritis has put a crimp in the dance moves. The skateboard creeps along now, slowing down everyone behind it.

Punk may not be dead, but it certainly could use some resuscitation. And that’s where Anthrax comes in.

The band is a champion of speed metal, the brain-impaling genre that has assumed punk’s mantle as music for restless youth. On Persistence of Time, which is not for the faint of heart or ear, Anthrax produces an album to warm the hearts of all ex-punkers. In fact, the only difference between this record and a golden oldie by the Circle Jerks or Black Flag is that it is even faster, louder and angrier. (The slowest tune on the record is a cover of former new waver Joe Jackson’s manic “Got the Time.”)

The guitars seldom move slower than a stock car, and the rhythm section never drops below the beat of your heart after six cups of coffee.

It’s the lyrics—what you can catch of them—that really make Anthrax something more than just noise, though. They’re full of surprisingly grown-up, almost semiarticulate angst. “Keep It in the Family,” for instance, is a bitter rant against those who willingly inherit their parents’ racism: “And you don’t even know why you feel this way,” ‘Cause Daddy hated this and Mommy hated that.” “Belly of the Beast” and “One Man Stands” are protests against oppression, both personal and political.

Persistence of Time includes too many songs that sound the same, and too many listens to this hypernoise could make you end up beating your head against walls. Still, punk and now speed metal have never been about getting things right. They’re about thinking young. And doing it very loudly. (Island)

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