Song: "Caught In A Mosh"
Album: Among The Living
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As the classic era of punk began to fade and then 1970's turned into the 1980's, a new style of music began to form. Taking the high octane energy of the punk sound and fusing it together with the volume and power of bands like Black Sabbath and Motörhead, a sound which was dubbed "speed metal" began to appear on the music scene. Along with the likes of Slayer and Metallica, one of the key bands in this new movement, and a band that remains a massive influence to this day was the New York City based band, Anthrax. Though the band went through a number of lineup changes, Anthrax solidified what would be their "classic" lineup before their 1984 major label debut. Both their debut and follow-up records remain cornerstones of the speed metal genre, yet it is their third album, 1987's Among The Living that is a true classic and contains their finest work. In many ways, Among The Living displayed everything that made Anthrax so brilliant, from the balance of socially aware lyrics with their trademark tongue-in-cheek musings, to some of the most fierce musical compositions that the world has ever heard. Yet even without a sub-par moment anywhere on the record, the band presents their greatest song in history, a song that remains one of the most influential songs in history, the heart-pounding and perfectly titled, "Caught In A Mosh."
Truth be told, few songs so perfectly capture their title, as "Caught In A Mosh" quickly builds to a musical frenzy, and anyone who has ever been in a mosh pit can clearly feel the crowd moving around them. Form start to finish, the song is masterfully deployed musical mayhem, yet the music remains focused and disciplined amidst the swirling chaos, much like the eye of a tornado. After a series of rhythmically crushing chords, which almost serve as a warning siren of what's to come, Frank Bello drops into the song with one of the most wild and tension-fueled basslines that has ever been written. What follows is one of the most brain crushing and absolutely stunning displays of controlled chaos in music history. The drumming of Charlie Benante rarely sounded better, and the break-neck pace which he keeps throughout the song serves as a testament to his talents. Along with the fantastic work of the rhythm section, the dual guitars of Dan Spitz and Scott Ian remains today one of the most legendary sounds in the history of the metal genre. The fact that they are playing at such an amazingly fast tempo, yet never sacrifice any of the musicality of the song is one of the key aspects that sets Anthrax apart from the rest of the metal genre, and it is rarely more clearly shown than on "Caught In A Mosh."
While many have tried over the years, few metal vocalists can present as much diversity, without ever losing the tone and energy of a song as the singing of Joey Belladonna. From his aggressive spoken-word parts to his soaring singing, Belladonna is absolutely brilliant on every part of "Caught In A Mosh." As the tension of the music ebbs and flows, so does Belladonna's vocal delivery, and the fusion of the two sets the song far above the work of a majority of their peers. While the music is absolutely mesmerizing, and the vocals are truly perfect, "Caught In A Mosh" also features one of Anthrax's finest lyrics ever. While at face value, the song may seem little more than a tune to get the crowd energized, the metaphor of a person being fed up with their partner runs through the entire song. The comparison is perfect, as the emotional experience between the two is strangely similar. Summing up the frustrations of the broken relationship in a manner with which all can relate, Belladonna roars, "...shut up, shut up, I don't wanna hear your mouth...your mother made a monster, now get the hell out of my house..." The fact that the lyrics are ambiguous in terms of gender makes the song even more universal, and it is a major reason why the song has become so iconic. With lyrics that are as unrelenting as the music, and the superb vocal performance from Joey Belladonna, "Caught In A Mosh" is by far the groups' finest moment, and the song is nothing short of legendary.
Not only presenting a song that can still make crowds explode to this day, but a song which brings both a universal sentiment and masterfully placed "sing along" moments, there are very few metal songs that are as perfectly crafted as Anthrax's "Caught In A Mosh." Standing today as one of the earlier "crossover" songs from the "speed metal" genre, Anthrax remains one of the few early bands that have not sold out to pop sounds. While their entire 1987 release, Among The Living, is an absolutely genius body of work, "Caught In A Mosh" is clearly the stand-out track on the record, as it perfectly captures everything that makes the groups' music so fantastic, and it also contains one of the finest lyrics ever penned. With the rhythm section of Bello and Benante driving full speed ahead at an absolutely mind-boggling pace, there are truly very few songs that can keep such a tempo without becoming boring or simply sloppy. Similarly, both Scott Ian and Dan Spitz are in rare form on track, and the progressions and solos rank among the most ferocious and flawless in music history. Capped off my Joey Belladonna's sensational voal delivery, the song truly embodies everything that there is to love about the entire speed metal genre. The fact that the group moves so magnificently as a single unit, along with the sheer power and energy of the song is the reason why Anthrax's "Caught In A Mosh" remains a stunning musical classic to this day.