TV has soap operas, literature has Shakespeare, and metal – well, metal has ANTHRAX, that fire-breathing, thrash-spitting, multi-headed beast of a band that – 30 years since the day Scott Ian and then-bassist Danny Lilker searched a biology textbook for the disease that would become their moniker – smiles back at you with a monstrous, upturned middle finger and refuses to fucking die. But then, if you have an inkling about heavy metal, you'll have heard of their meteoric rise in the 80s alongside the likes of Slayer, Megadeth, and a little band that once crashed on ANTHRAX’s studio floor known as Metallica. You'll know all about their game-changing, crossover hit with Public Enemy on “Bring The Noise“ in 1991. You'll have listened to generations of bands that owe everything to their signature stomp and crushing riffs. And in more recent times, you'll have witnessed an almost irrational will to survive in defiance of monumental odds. And that, true believers, is the story of one of the most doggedly heroic bands in metaldom on the cusp of their greatest release to date. The road has not been easy.
Rewind to 2005. Hot on the heels of 2003's rapturously received “We've Come For You All“, a unanimously praised, end-to-end scorcher spearheaded by vocalist John Bush, ANTHRAX shocked the metal world with the announcement that singer Joey Belladonna would be re-joining the band for a classic, 80s-era reunion that would sweep them around the world on a wave of head-banging nostalgia, but more importantly, reconnecting the band as friends and as the brutal thrash machine that gave the world “Among The Living“. Once that tour finished, ANTHRAX returned to discover that John Bush had moved on, and they would need to recruit yet another singer for the recording of their follow-up to “We've Come For You All“; the album that would become “Worship Music“, their tenth studio album. The band worked with one singer for a period of time, but in 2009, they were still without the right vocalist. “There was no way I was going to let anything derail my life's work,” says Scott Ian. “We've been through more drama than most bands experience in a lifetime. Granted, we didn't have to deal with somebody dying or some tragic situation but at the same time we really did face an uncertain future. For lack of a better way to explain it, I am a tenacious prick, and if I want something to happen I will make it so. It's always been like that. It touches on the 30th anniversary. I think back to July 18, 1981. Danny Lilker and I were friends and I always said to him, 'when White Heat [Lilker’s band at the time] break up, we're forming Anthrax,' and he was like, 'we're not breaking up.' I've always been like that, and with such an amazing record to put out, there's no way I was going to let anything screw that up.”
Refusing to accept their predicament, the remaining members rallied themselves in a spine-tingling gesture of conviction and self-belief for what would become the single greatest metal event of the 21st century, the first-ever performance of The Big 4. According to Charlie Benante, getting the band's proverbial excrement together for that gig was just the motivation that ANTHRAX needed to spit out the blood and get back on their feet. “The genesis of this whole Big 4 idea – and you could say the idea of getting Joey back in the band full time - was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” Benante continues. “It was me, Lars, and Scott talking at the bar, bullshitting, and Lars just blurted it out. It was such a surreal moment, we weren't sure if he was taking the piss out of us and all of a sudden it just happened. It made us really say 'we need to step this up and get this thing going.' It was because of that that we were pushed into this direction. Metallica gave us the kick in the ass that we needed.”
Reuniting with Joey Belladonna for a whirlwind, globe-stomping tour that would see ANTHRAX playing shoulder to shoulder with Slayer, Megadeth and old pals Metallica, the explosive success of The Big 4 would suddenly beg the question of what would happen next, and more to the point: who would sing on “Worship Music“, and how would ANTHRAX approach the follow-up to “We’ve Come For You All“? It wasn’t easy, but – from the ferocious attack of “Earth on Hell” to the red-blooded might of “Fight’em ‘Til You Can’t,” the results have been nothing less than horn-conjuring. “The majority of this record was about 55% done before we even had a singer in mind,” explains Charlie. “It was me, Scott and Frankie in our rehearsal room, the same way we wrote “Spreading the Disease“ - with no singer in mind. But I'll never forget the day I first heard Joey singing, I got goosebumps, I got excited - all I could think of in my mind was 'how will he sing this song' and it was just amazing to me. Every time I heard the next song I would be like, 'this rules.'”