Scott Ian and Dan Lilker who were at high school together and were influenced by metal and hardcore formed Anthrax in Queens, NY. Together with guitarist Lilker, drummer Dave Weiss, bassist Paul Kahn and singer John Connelly (later in Nuclear Assault), Ian formed Anthrax which was a name suggested by Lilker. A couple of line-up changes later, including the inclusion of Ian’s brother Jason on vocals, saw a support slot with Manowar. Manowar's Ross The Boss produced the band's Soldiers Of Metal single. It was around this time that the Anthrax guys do the Metallica for the first time and incessantly bug Zazula the owner of Megaforce into signing them. Johnny Zazula also became the band's manager. Lilker, who was now on bass, was kicked out due to narcotics problems and Benante's cousin Bello was recruited in his place. Ian Scott and Metallica’s Cliff Burton were arrested and incarcerated in 1984 on drug suspicions, but no charges were laid. Spreading The Disease was produced by Carl Canedy of The Rods. Belladonna brought a whole new range to the band and many believe he was why Anthrax grew as a band. The band also spent a few more days in the studio at the same time period to record left over, newer and sillier songs for an album with roadie and loudmouth Billy Milano. Speak English Or Die was a hit for SOD. Later, never a band to shy away from commercialism, Anthrax does the Metallica again (does a covers album) and goes further by doing a rap song as part of a crossover appeal campaign. Simultaneously, the band was seen wearing 'jams' shorts on and off stage as part of an endorsement deal. The band was constantly on the road be it the Metal Hammer shows in 1986, Castle Donington in 1987 or Monsters of Rock in 1988. State Of Euphoria had a hit with another cover version (Trust's Antisocial) and MTV's Headbangers Ball tour with Exodus and Helloween followed. This tour did much more for the band than the 1992 tour with rappers Public Enemy. The tour followed the recording and release of the rap-metal collaboration between the two bands for the song Bring The Noise. Anthrax and Public Enemy shared the same management and Anthrax had previously rapped on the song I’m The Man. The band managed to do the Metallica again and get a huge deal with Elektra. Still Elektra was late to the party and the mixture of the departure of Belladonna in 1992, the commercial endorsements (jams, Adidas, etc.) and the rap overtures have permanently tainted the band. The band was looking to be more mainstream in the '90s and felt Joey's voice would not help. New singer Bush was not one to say no twice, he might have rejected Metallica's offer years earlier, but when Anthrax does the Metallica (again) he was quick to jump ship as his band Armored Saint is basically dead. Having said that, Bush tried to ride the reunions wave years later when he double-dipped live and in studio with his former band - as do the rest of Anthrax with SOD who had garnered a new deal. Rumour had it that the US president of Nuclear Blast lost his job at this point for the amount of dough he offered the fun thrashers SOD. Spitz, who had left the band and was not officially replaced, had gone on to find Christ. At this time, Anthrax was changing labels. The future of the band which was once known as one of the four Titans of Thrash Metal (with Metallica, Megadeth and Exodus) was uncertain. At the end of 1998 Ignition Records went bankrupt and left the band without a deal or new record in the stores. Still, Anthrax persisted and after several negotiations signed with Nuclear Blast in Europe and Sanctuary for North America. The band's negotiations with ArtistDirect had broken down earlier. We've Come For You All was released in January of 2003. A single called Safe Home preceded the album in America. The band cancelled an in-store appearance in Toronto in the spring of 2003. Apparently, in the battle of diseases, Anthrax was afraid of SARS. The Americans recorded a show at Metro in Chicago on Friday December 5th, 2003. The footage would be released as a video in 2004. The band's upcoming CD was announced as Metallum Maximus Aeturnus, a project in which the band was to re-record older songs originally released by previous line-ups of the band (circa 1984-1990). It was to be recorded live at the studio as part of Anthrax's twentieth anniversary celebration.
At the same time the band lost bassist Bello to the reformed Helmet! Armored Saint’s Joey Vera temporarily replaced him. Anthrax issued a DVD called Music Of Mass Destruction in the spring of 2004. The band toured with Dio and Fireball Ministry later in 2004.
The band predictably regrouped in its 1997 line-up for a reunion tour in 2005. Despite many cryptic messages emanating from the band reports had it that Anthrax has reunited in its classic guise following pressure from management, label and the band’s financial backers. At first the reunion was only for a tour and newer members were not ousted, but as things began to take shape Anthrax seemed intent on having a full-fledged and permanent regrouping. The band's Alive 2 (2005) CD and DVD, featuring behind the scenes footage and a rockumentary, were released on September 20th through Sanctuary Records. The band also had a new CD/DVD called Anthralogy: The Best Of Anthrax (1985-1991). Scott Ian appeared on a TV (VH1) series called SuperGroup in a band with Sebastian Bach, Ted Nugent and others. Also in 2006 guitarist Scott Ian teamed up with club owner Mike Diamond to open a rock venue in Chelsea, New York called Retox. Ian was slated to perform with the band Five For Fighting some time in November. Anthrax was due to issue a new album in 2007. In the meantime, a live CD called Caught In A Mosh - BBC Live In Concert was issued in the beginning of 2007. The material was culled from performances from 1987.
Joey Belladonna and Anthrax parted ways once unceremoniously again at the beginning of 2007. The promised reunion album would not happen amidst a flurry of accusations from both parties. Singer Corey Taylor of Slipknot infamy was rehearsing with the band beginning the spring of 2007. In the meanwhile, former guitarist Dan Spitz was working on a solo project. Former Devilsize and Me, My Enemy singer Dan Nelson joined Anthrax at the very end of 2007. The unknown and new singer was introduced to the band by guitarist Rob Caggiano. Scott Ian would join Pearl – a band fronted by his fiancée Pearl Aday – on tour in Europe in 2008. Ostensibly, “To celebrate” the 25th anniversary of Fistful Of Metal, Megaforce Records was awakening from slumber and releasing 2,000 vinyl copies of the album on May 12th of 2009 in a 3-record set.
The Peter Baltes (Accept) and Dan Spitz (ex-Anthrax) white metal project band found a name. Deuxmonkey featured King Diamond’s Matt Thompson on drums. In related news, One-time guitarist Dan Spitz underwent emergency open-heart surgery on June 5th. Apparently, the main artery to his heart was almost blocked. He was soon recuperating.
Anthrax’s first album with singer Dan Nelson, entitled Worship Music, was to be released on October 23rd, 2009 through Nuclear Blast Records. Former Ugly Kid Joe Dave Fortman had mixed the album. The band, however, cancelled several European shows after Nelson supposedly fell ill just prior to the tour. In fact, it was next revealed that the band was lying and Anthrax had booted the singer due to personality differences. John Bush was fronting the band again for “one show” at the Sonisphere festival in Knebworth, England. Recently fired Anthrax singer Dan Nelson had been busy writing music and singing and playing guitar in Inside Hollow. He also became involved in a new metal band with Slayer and Testament drummer Paul Bostaph. John Bush had returned to Anthrax.
After being seen together at a NYC Nightclub where Fozzy was performing singer Joey Belladonna rejoined Anthrax in May of 2010. The second return was just in time for that summer's Sonisphere Festivals European tour of the "big four of thrash" in Europe, which also included Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica. Belladonna was touring with his own band that month. Anthrax, which had an unreleased album from last year, was planning on recording a new one with Joey Belladonna. Guitarist Scott Ian claimed Joey came back into the picture once singer John Bush informed the band he did not wish to tour extensively. Belladonna had cancelled its South American dates, but claimed the action was related to then-recent earthquakes. Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax — three quarters of the '90s Clash Of The Titans - would tour together once again on the American Carnage tour. The tour began September 24th. Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser was to play eight shows with Anthrax in July of 2011 as a stand-in for Scott Ian, whose wife Pearl Aday, was giving birth. Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna had compiled and issued a tribute to Frank Sinatra called SIN-atra, Heavy Metal's Tribute To The Genius Of Frank Sinatra. Blackgates was a new band featuring former Anthrax singer Dan Nelson, guitarist Jeremy Epp (The Venting Machine), bassist Uriah Duffy (Whitesnake) and drummer Paul Bostaph (Testament, Slayer and Forbidden). The band had a demo. In the spring of 2011 the band postponed its Japanese tour. The band, which was named after a cow disease, had cancelled its Canadian shows the prior decade in response to the SARS outbreak.
Worship Music, the next album by Anthrax, was out September 12th, 2011 through Nuclear Blast and Megaforce Records. Simultaneously, more ‘Big Four’ shows were organized. Guitarist Scott Ian announced that he would appear in zombie makeup on the US cable television station AMC’s series The Walking Dead. Anthrax played a rare show under the name Satan's Lounge Band on Monday, September 12th at the Best Buy Theater in New York City. The band had both used the monicker before and issued rare singles under the name. The band`s Worship Him album has landed in the US Top 20 charts. Anthrax was being sued by former vocalist Dan Nelson as of late 2011. The vocalist was fired/fell ill/resigned/was booed/shooed/etc (which are the basis for the lawsuit) in 2009 resulting in his vocals not being used on the album that eventually became the band’s latest release, Worship Music. Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel would play US concerts in January and February of 2012 beginning in Las Vegas. The bands played the first legs of the show earlier in the autumn of 2011. Anthrax's February 2nd, 2012 concert at The Taberncale in Atlanta, Georgia featured stand-ins Joey Vera (Armored Saint and Fates Warning) and Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad, Testament, Fear Factory, Dark Angel, etc.) filling in for bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante, respectively. Benante and Bello (who is Charlie's nephew) missed several shows on Anthrax's North American tour in order to spend time with Charlie's mother who was terminally ill and indeed died. Anthrax was rumoured to be releasing an EP of cover versions in September, 2012 to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the release of the band's latest album, Worship Music. This was later denied by the band. Deathriders, featuring former Anthrax singer Neil Turbin, would embark on a July, 2012 U.S. tour, called The Metal Beast Is Back. Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante and his wife Sandra were arrested Friday July 27th for domestic battery in front of their daughter. The band recruited former Slayer and Testament drummer Jon Dette for the European tour in support of Motörhead in the autumn of 2012. Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante "is home taking care of personal stuff" according to Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian. Rob Caggiano left the band after twelve years in the autumn in order to concentrate on being a producer. He duly joined Volbeat. The band recruited Shadows Fall's Jon Donais to step in for shows in India, Australia and the North American Metal Alliance Tour. The band also recorded several cover versions of songs by Rush, Thin Lizzy, Boston and others which would be the Anthems EP, which was due on March 18th through Nuclear Blast.
ANTHRAX - PERSISTENCE OF TIME – ISLAND
The musical growth of Anthrax is quite remarkable, if you think about it. Who would think that the hotshot composers of the straight up thrash on Fistful Of Metal would evolve the way they have? They matured into the most fun thrash band on the scene — with a dollop of hardcore in the mix. Then you have their 1990 opus Persistence Of Time, the apex of their serious, political, non-Judge Dredd-fan side. Who thought that the band who wrote Deathrider would eventually write an album where the average song is over five minutes and nearly every one contains righteous political anger?
I'm gonna get it out of the way and say that although Persistence Of Time is the most complex and long-term rewarding album of Anthrax's classic era, it's not the best. Spreading The Disease kicks more ass and Among The Living is pretty untouchable. Having said that, Persistence Of Time is a must-own for thrash fans, not just because of the kickass riffs, bridges, and vocals that are standard Anthrax, but because it's easily one of the most complex, consistently interesting thrash albums around.
The first four tracks give good insight into the new Anthrax modus operandi. Time, Blood, Keep It In The Family, and In My World are four of the five best songs on the album (Got The Time being the other), and they hit you like a punch in the face. Time opens with a ticking clock before segueing into brutal thrash tune revolving around an odd riff in a weird time, a riff skittering around Charlie Benante's downbeats in a frantic, pulsing way. The chorus has a similarly paranoid feel, and the lyrics reflect this too. The whole thing sends a message: no more fun and games. No more rap parodies, no more lyrics about John Belushi and Medusa, no more joking around over brutal mosh sections. The riffs are about equal to previous Anthrax, and head and shoulders above most other thrash, but the difference is in the attitude. It ends on a pummeling speed up section before turning into Blood.
Blood is probably the best song on the album. Again, it revolves around a riff—this time, a fantastic lead from Dan. Belladonna spits out rage over another paranoid verse:
Imagine, imagine saying what can be said
Imagine, imagine each word a bullet 'til you're dead
Imagine, imagine killing something your love
Imagine, just think about living inside"
The chorus is similarly angry with that same riff, so simple, so effective. There's another great mosh section, and a great solo, and more Belladonna, especially in the unforgettable chorus.
"A wave of hatred comes like the flood
Brother on brother on, brother
Brothers in blood
Hate is so much easier to feel than love
Brother on brother on
Brothers in blood"
So far, so good. Both songs are around the seven-minute mark, as is Keep It In The Family, the next one. This one varies the tempos more, but it follows the same format as does In My World. Four great songs, four long opuses, four slices of prime Anthrax. By the time we hit Gridlock after In My World, it's sunk in that Anthrax is no longer going to be the same juvenile band they have been.
And really, how much you like Persistence Of Time depends on how you feel about that. If you disliked Anthrax previously because you found them too light and stupid, this is the Anthrax album for you. The riffs, solos, and beats are as good as pretty much any thrash out there, and there's a few absolutely sublime moments. Listen to the effortless build on Intro To Reality, how it starts slowly and continues to increase until a soaring solo denigrates down into Belly Of The Beast, a mid-tempo thrasher that is the heaviest song on the album. Listen to Benante's drum fireworks on Discharge, the closer, and Belladonna's amazing work on Keep It In The Family (maybe the best song on the album).
But the whole album is filled with rage, despair, and political warfare, and by the end, this has gotten a bit tiring. By refusing to include anything that's not ultra-serious and over five minutes, Anthrax have created a single flaw in an otherwise almost perfect album: a lack of fun. Except for one thing. After Belly Of The Beast the album is getting a bit samey and you're starting to get a headache when the bass intro to Got The Time comes in and you immediately perk up. Almost punk, this song is so immediately catchy and awesome that it provides a breath of fresh air in the album. It would fit very well on State Of Euphoria or Spreading The Disease, especially with the throwaway bass solo. Got The Time is a cover, and it is an example of a spirit that is pretty much gone on the rest of the album.
Persistence Of Time is a great album in every sense of the phrase, whether you like the spirit or not (which I do, by the way, I just liked the old spirit even more), but it does unanimously have one problem, and that is length (or time, maybe). It stands at 58 minutes, about an hour. That's not too bad, right? A lot of really great albums are longer then that. But the vast majority of those albums are not straight up thrash, and honestly, that's what Anthrax is. There simply isn't enough variety here to warrant the length. Every song on it's own is great, unbelievably great. But put it all together, and you get the feeling that this needed an edit. Couldn't One Man Stands have been trimmed down or cut? What about H8 Red or Gridlock? These are great songs, but the album sounds derivative of itself by the fifty-minute mark. This isn't that major of a problem, but it ensures that this isn't as awesome as Among The Living (which had an amazing sense of pacing and feel). Take out Gridlock and One Man Stands and this might be one of the five best thrash albums ever. As it is, it's just top fifteen, maaaaaaaybe top ten.
But this is a two-way street, because Persistence Of Time is also the most deep, complex, and mature recording of the pre-Bush years. This album keeps on giving. There's real stuff to think about here, and this album is full of it. This is definitely a thinking man's thrash album, kind of like Slayer's Seasons In The Abyss. The level of seriousness and anger hits you as hard as Master Of Puppets or Practice What You Preach. There's something to be said for an album that makes you want to go stomp on a senator's face. Unlike many other thrash classics, this takes a few listens to sink in fully. Quite a few.
Ultimately, Persistence Of Time is a superb album, and any thrash fan deserves to get this. People looking to find out who this Anthrax is who are consistently mentioned in the same breath as Megadeth and Slayer should get this album (right after Among The Living). Any flaws are not large enough to stop this from being a classic. It's a crying shame Belladonna left. If they had continued to release stuff at this caliber, they could have been the greatest thrash band ever. Oh well. Guess we just have to live with this. DISCHAAAAAAARGE!
One more thing -- the cover art is hella cool. - Max V.
ANTHRAX – ALIVE 2 (2005) – SANCTUARY
So, the classic – why are people calling them the original members? - line-up of Anthrax has managed to put aside its differences and (so far) managed to even release a live album featuring Belladonna-era songs like Among The Living, Caught In A Mosh, Antisocial and more. Whether the reincarnation will fulfil its purpose and restore some sheen to the band and bring in some dough remains to be seen, although it is a good bet that the line-up will be a bigger deal than Anthrax with singer John Bush was.
The music here is inconsequential. The band goes through renditions of said songs, along with I Am The Law, Medusa, In My World and others, in competent fashion. Nothing too thrilling, but this album is more about getting the members together and test the waters than anything else. Along with the CD there is also a DVD by the same name available here. – Anna Tergel
ANTHRAX – ALIVE 2 (2005) THE DVD – SANCTUARY/EMI
When Anthrax reunited with older singer Joey Belladonna one had little doubt that the event would be the beginning of a slew of shows, CDs, videos, merchandise, sponsorship and gimmicky attempts at revenue generation. Hot on the heels of the live album here comes the video of the event shot in New Jersey documenting the return of the vintage line-up to the live arena.
This is Anthrax playing mostly Belladonna era songs and having fun doing it. Gone are the harsh words traded between the two camps, the aborted attempts at sneak reunion of the past or any songs from the John Bush era. Part of the set list is songs like Among The Living, Caught In A Mosh, Deathrider (now this one is really old), Indians, Time and I Am The Law. Dwelling on nostalgia, the Anthraxers forget to explain several things. First, the footage is rather dark making the screen look faded. Second, the video set list is slightly different from the live album recorded on the same occasion which itself was different from the songs performed on the night. Guitarist Ian and cohorts have long been fans of Kiss, but naming product after Kiss’ albums is not the way to go. More importantly, and cause for concern, is Belladonna’s voice which does not reach the same high notes as his heyday. Comparing the songs with the Castle Donnington concert performance of 18 years ago one can hear a marked difference. This will be a challenge for Anthrax going forward. Other beef, the video features a dim-witted interview with an ugly groupie, which reveals little aside from the limited vocabulary of goth chicks, plus the cover picture is not actually from the concert at hand.
Having said that, the DVD does provide other value. A section on the band’s history does add quite a bit of detail and, interspersed with historical footage, becomes a real treat to watch. Seeing the band candidly discuss why the split occurred and what happened since is also interesting. On the other hand, filler material like a vanity interview or a hypocritical discussion on politics is rather sordid. Dan Spitz criticizing the US government? That is one born again Christian slagging his fellow idiots. Anthrax using the corporate office of a Republican donor company (with its logo all over) to criticize a US government policy? Safe to say, nothing will change given the self-defeating approach and so on.
On a musical note though, Alive 2 is fun and packed with nostalgia, and obviously best consumed for what it is. The real test will be whether the band can write new material matching the stamina of the ‘80s’ material. That is another challenge. – Ali “The Metallian”