Creation and destruction. They’re fundamental building blocks of life, shaping all we have and determining all we know. You can sugarcoat it all you want, but the results are all the same—Life is created, life is destroyed, and the world goes on. In between? We live, we love, we laugh, we cry, we mourn. Life takes us on flights of uninhibited fancy, and life sends us down roads of unrelenting turmoil. Through the creation, through the destruction, and through the bittersweet ironies that consume us in the process… In the midst of it all, there is heavy metal.
And in the midst of the metal, there is Anthrax.
When their peers zigged, Anthrax zagged. Not to be contrary, but to be honest. What is life, if it can’t be lived with honesty, integrity, and a fundamental appreciation for where we came from, and where we’re going? And what is metal, if it isn’t honest?
“Anthrax? The cover of “Fistful of Metal” says it all. I bought that fucker when it came out in 84, without hearing even so much as a note. They haven’t disappointed me since. Unmistakable riffs, mindfuck drumming and classic songs – they’ve opened too many doors to mention. Badasses. They are better than your band.” — Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters
Anthrax are pioneers of the American metal scene, and patriots in music’s new world order. They fought for liberation before the music industry even knew it was shackled, breaking down barriers that, at the time, few of us even knew existed. In the ‘80s, Anthrax were amongst the leaders of the heavy metal insurgence. In the ‘90’s, they were among the few survivors of heavy metal’s apocalypse. And with the dawning of a new millennium, they’ve remained as unabashedly potent as they’d ever been.
“In the pantheon of modern metal, Anthrax are certainly a cornerstone, and if one listens, one can hear their influence on any number of up-and-coming bands of the new generation.” — Kirk Hammett, Metallica
In the summer of 2005, for the first time in over twenty years, that very cornerstone will once again tremble the very foundation of heavy metal as we know it. The evolution of metal’s revolution has been televised, but now it’s time to experience the resurgence in real time. Anthrax may have never gone away, but they’re about to reunite in a way many never thought possible — the classic lineup. The classic songs. Timeless metal, from a timeless band.
Joey Belladonna, Frank Bello, Charlie Benante, Scott Ian and Daniel Spitz… Among the living once again. Metal thrashing mad and spreading the disease.
“It’s time to go out onstage and stand with Charlie, Scott, Joey and Dan and create that vibe again,” says Frank Bello, who left Anthrax little more than a year ago, and in the short time since has been leaving his indelible mark as bassist in the seminal aggro-outfit Helmet. “This is gut-check time, and something in my gut tells me the time is right. There’s a magic with the five of us, an energy that can’t be touched. It’s a powerful, powerful buzz. We have something to finish, and a younger generation needs to see it… This is about completing unfinished business.”
“Anthrax is one of the most kick-ass American metal bands of all time. They have outlasted every trend to come along in the last twenty years, and are still relevant today.” — Vinnie Paul, Pantera/Damageplan
“I see a wah-wah pedal, and I’m like a kid again. I’m on fire,” says guitarist Daniel Spitz, who has spent the last decade in self-imposed isolation since his departure from Anthrax more than ten years ago. Not only did Spitz leave the band, but he left music in his past and didn’t turn back, tearing the stereos out of his cars, removing the music from his house, giving his guitars away, and going back to school, where he went from shredding through “Got The Time,” to mending time, becoming one of the world’s most coveted master watch makers. “The same passion that I used to have in Anthrax, I had about watch making. Now again, I have the same passion about getting onstage and pummeling people. It’s time to fire up the Spitz arsenal and destroy people once again — Anthrax is back.”
That’s not to say that Anthrax ever went anywhere.
Through the mid-‘80s to early-‘90s, Anthrax reigned as heavy metal hierarchy, their thrash metal tendencies crashing head-on with an uncanny ability to fuse molten rhythms, infectious melodies, and unbridled metal into damn-near perfect songs. After parting ways with frontman Joey Belladonna in 1992, they returned with Armored Saint frontman John Bush at the helm for the epic Sound Of White Noise in 1993. It was a new twist in a story that had no intention of ending.
“We’re still making records, we’re still touring, and we’re still relevant after twenty years,” says guitarist Scott Ian, the only founding member of Anthrax to be with the band throughout their entire career. “Even this reunion, though, is organic — We just celebrated our 20th Anniversary as a band, we’re all alive, and we can do this. What better reason is there?”
How many reasons do you need? Anthrax have sold more than 10 million records worldwide, been nominated for three Grammy Awards, crossed the globe on more than fifty tours spanning 32 countries on five continents, released ten studio albums, and have left an indelible mark on the music industry. They said rap and metal could never mix, but Anthrax made it happen first, their 1991 collaboration with Public Enemy on the rappers’ “Bring The Noise” toppling social barriers between styles that few thought could co-exist. By the end of the decade, Anthrax could be credited with breaking ground on a whole new genre in the world of hard rock and heavy metal.
Yet, through it all, they never took themselves too seriously.
While their contemporaries seemed to be in competition amongst themselves to be the baddest band in the land, Anthrax defied the trends by stepping onstage in the same clothes they walked the streets in.
“It was never an idea of wanting to be different, it was just what we looked like,” says Ian of the band’s onstage fashion. “We’re the same as our audience, regular guys. It wasn’t about leather, bullet belts and spikes, it was about shorts, sneakers and t-shirts. That’s who we were, and that’s what we wore—Why should we look any different onstage? It was never about putting on a band face, it was just about being ourselves.”
“The world of music, to me, is about pioneers and groundbreakers doing bold and daring things in the face of critics and nay-sayers, only to have everybody snatch credit when that innovation is overstood as the fabric of the terrain. There is no question in my mind regarding my friends Anthrax in this regard, dragging me along in the process of making history. They pushed the envelope, and they set a high bar on killer shows and max-throttled songs that have not only entertained, but inspired, as well.” — Chuck D, Public Enemy
It was 1987, and Anthrax were fresh off the success of their Among The Living breakthrough when they blew the roof off metal convention with their Rodney Dangerfield-inspired rap send-off “I’m The Man.” It was a far cry from “Madhouse” and “Indians,” and Joey Belladonna remembers it well.
“I remember thinking, ‘What are you guys doing?!? Did I walk into the wrong room?” Raised on a diet of classic rock — Belladonna auditioned for Anthrax with an a capella rendition of Journey, and was hired on the spot — the frontman admittedly didn’t share the band’s love for the sounds of the inner cities (he was, after all, upstate New York, to their Big Apple roots), but the magic of the moment was hardly lost in the translation. “Everybody talks about it as the big rap thing, but the fact of the matter is, they pulled it off, and it gave us a bit of a sense of humor, and I think that was very important. We were just enjoying ourselves, and I like that. I can only hope that continues to come through today.”
“We were one of the first, if not the first, to come out wearing shorts, playing aggressive music, and smiling while we were doing it,” says drummer Charlie Benante, whose tenure in the band is second only to Ian.
Without hesitation, Benante credits his decision to reunite, in a large part, to the recent murder of longtime friend and Anthrax fan and Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell. “When Dime was killed, that really changed the way I thought about things. Dealing with that, having to face mortality, it was a very emotional time… They always say that with the bad, comes good — Is it just how life goes, and you’re supposed to meet up with these people again? Does it take a tragedy to bring people back together? I don’t know, but who knows when we’ll have the chance to do this again…”
“Anthrax is, to me, one of the most influential bands of my generation, albeit one of the most underrated, with no real reason to be—They are concise, they are fast, they’re just all-around fuckin’ bad-ass. Whether they had Belladonna or Bush, they remain one of the best bands out there, bar none.” — Corey Taylor, Slipknot
“We started this band as kids, and that’s all I knew,” says Spitz. “A band is the sum of the parts, and every part has its own magic that makes it memorable. Everyone offers something that makes it what it is in the end, and if you substitute any one person, that changes the results. There was a magic with us in Anthrax, and while that collaboration was a mystery at times, it worked… And I just can’t wait to do it again.”
For the past two decades, heavy metal has been the soundtrack to vast creation and mass destruction. And through it all, some things have never changed — Anthrax are still armed, Anthrax are still dangerous, and the war dance is brewing…
What is it? Caught in a mosh.
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