Anthrax members Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna, and Rob Caggiano enjoy the moment onstage in front of a sea of thousands at a Big Four show in Warsaw, Poland.
As Hurricane Irene pummeled away at New York City, the PR team for Anthrax contacted me at 2 a.m. that Sunday to begin the process of scheduling my interview with the band. Even with the hurricane essentially bringing the city to a halt by forcing the first-ever shutdown of its mass transit system, it’s clear that nothing gets in the way of Anthrax. And there’s no greater proof of the band’s tenacity than the story of Worship Music
, Anthrax’s first studio album in eight years. Worship Music’s
path to fruition was plagued with so many setbacks that its release is nothing short of a miracle.
To fully appreciate just how monumental this album’s release is, you have to understand a bit about Anthrax’s history. As one of the pioneers of thrash metal, Anthrax came into prominence in the mid- to late ’80s with Joey Belladonna as the voice behind classic albums like Spreading the Disease
and Among the Living
. In 1992, shortly after crossing-over into the mainstream with the thrash meets rap “Bring the Noise” collaboration with Public Enemy, Belladonna was fired and replaced by John Bush, who had just disbanded Armored Saint. In 2005, Belladonna was asked to perform with the band again for a one-off reunion tour. Bush, who was still officially the vocalist at the time, was also asked to take part on the tour and share the vocal duties, but declined. Although Belladonna sang on that tour, he was not asked to rejoin the band. The slot was saved for Bush, but he had quit the band by the time the tour was over. Anthrax then recruited vocalist Dan Nelson in 2007 and began work on what would become Worship Music
. After recording most of the album, Nelson unexpectedly quit the band (or was fired, depending on who you ask) in 2009, leaving Anthrax with a mostly-finished album and no vocalist.
Metallica’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame turned out to be the catalyst for change. Founding members Scott Ian and Charlie Benante were having a drink with Lars Ulrich when Ulrich brought up the possibility of a Big 4 tour featuring Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. The tour materialized and in 2010, Belladonna was brought back onboard since he was the voice of Anthrax from 1985 to 1992, the years the Big 4 came to prominence. The third time proved to be the charm for Belladonna—he ended up re-recording the vocals forWorship Music
and is now officially back in the band. The album, co-produced by guitarist Rob Caggiano and producer Jay Ruston, marks Anthrax’s 30th anniversary and is Belladonna’s first studio album with the band since 1990’s Persistence of Time
Many feel that Worship Music
blows virtually every metal release this year out of the water. Songs like “In the End,” an homage to the late Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell, the knock-your-head-off thrash of “Earth on Hell,” and the Anthrax-meets-AC/DC riffage of “The Devil You Know” (streamed above) will quench the thirst of fans that consider Belladonna to be the
Anthrax vocalist and who have waited more than two decades to hear his voice on a new Anthrax album. A few days before their Big 4 hometown gig at Yankee Stadium, Premier Guitar
caught up with guitarists Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano, and drummer/principal songwriter Charlie Benante.