The moshing wasn't nearly as chaotic at Anthrax's triumphant homecoming gig at New York's new Nokia Theatre. But the true believers still turned out in droves to see the classic Anthrax lineup deliver

I was a senior in high school when I first caught Anthrax live. It was in the fall of 1991, and they came to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on the groundbreaking Bring the Noise tour with Public Enemy, Primus and Young Black Teenagers.

Let me tell you, when I say the pit that evolved on the floor of the Mid Hudson Civic Center was the largest and craziest I have ever seen, I am not exaggerating in the least. You think things were hectic at CBGB on hardcore Sunday? Imagine that intensity coming from a bunch of rural laborers who have nothing better to do than drink cases of Milwaukee's Best, bang their head to Slayer's "South of Heaven" and punch people in the face.

The moshing wasn't nearly as chaotic at Anthrax's triumphant homecoming gig at New York's new Nokia Theatre. But the true believers still turned out in droves to see the classic Anthrax lineup deliver 20-odd years of disease spreading, time-persisting, euphoric fistfuls of metal.

After hobbling through the '90s and early '00s without a thumb and forefinger, it was wonderful to see both original guitarist Dan Spitz and the mighty Joey Belladonna, one of the greatest power belters in heavy metal, back in the fold. And with these guys all in, perennial drummer Charlie Benante, bassist Frank Bello and guitarist Scott Ian haven't sounded this driven since that tour with PE.

They played just about everything you wanted to hear from them in just a few minutes shy of two hours. The old schoolers reveled in the performances of such early anthems as "Medusa" from 1985's "Spreading the Disease" and "Death Rider" from the under-appreciated "Fistful of Metal."

Those more partial to such LPs as 1988's "State of Euphoria" and the 1991 Belladonna swan song "Persistence of Time" were appeased by choice cuts like "Be All End All," "Antisocial" and a perfect cover of Joe Jackson's "Got the Time." Shoot, they even busted out their pioneering rap-metal nugget "I'm the Man."

But ultimately, it was the 1987 thrashsterpiece Among the Living that ruled the set list this evening. Anthrax tore through about half of the album with unmerciful versions of "Caught in a Mosh," "I Am the Law," the killer title cut, "N.F.L." and an extended take on "Indians."

At the end of the night, Ian promised the band is working on "the most brutal f***ing Anthrax album yet." If this show was any indication of things to come, you might be wise to believe him.