The cover of Anthems for the Damned bears a picture of a helmet on a rifle and its first song is called "Soldiers of Misfortune," two clear indications that Filter are facing the problems of the modern world head-on on this, their fourth album and first in six years. Filter were on hiatus for the bulk of the 2000s, disbanding after 2002's The Amalgamut with leader Richard Patrick spending time with the post-Stone Temple Pilots project Army of Anyone before reuniting the band. Despite this long gap between The Amalgamut and Anthems for the Damned, there is continuity between these two records, as Filter don't abandon the gloomy, hard-edged sound that's been their stock in trade since Short Bus. This isn't to say there's no progression -- this is softer than much of its predecessor and there are distinct traces of U2's anthemic rock, so it feels a little bit more age-appropriate, the kind of music an unrepentant alt-rocker facing down his 40th birthday should make -- nor does it mean that the band is dwelling in the past. Rather, it's just that this kind of well-polished heavy rock -- cobbled together from equal parts grunge, industrial, and '80s rock -- is what the band does, to the extent that the only way to really identify Anthems for the Damned as a product of 2008 is through its succession of antiwar, socially conscious lyrics. Consequently, Anthems for the Damned is kind of a curious amalgam, with Patrick's urgent words not quite jibing with the well-executed mannered angst-rock, yet the disconnect isn't too dissonant, which is the problem: the whole affair feels just a shade too well-manicured -- the rhythms too tight, the guitars too well-scrubbed, the production too well-balanced -- and as a result, the album never gets underneath the skin with way Filter intended.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine