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Anthrax (American band)

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Anthrax (American band)

Anthrax performing onstage
Anthrax performing at Wacken Open Air on August 3, 2013
Background information
Origin New York, New York, United States
Years active 1981–present
Associated acts
Website .com.anthraxwww
Past members List of Anthrax band members

Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The group was considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene during the 1980s. When the genre's popularity increased, Anthrax was one of its "big four" with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. As of 2014 the band has released ten studio albums, a number of singles and an EP with American hip hop group Public Enemy. According to Nielsen SoundScan Anthrax sold 2.5 million records in the United States from 1991 to 2004, with worldwide sales of over 15 million.

Noted for its live performances, Anthrax signed with the independent label Megaforce Records (which released the band's debut studio album in 1984). Lilker soon left the band to form Nuclear Assault, and was replaced by roadie Frank Bello. Vocalist Neil Turbin left shortly after and was replaced by Joey Belladonna. With a new lineup, the band recorded Spreading the Disease (distributed by Island Records) in 1985. Anthrax's third album, Among the Living, was released in 1987 to critical praise. The band experienced another lineup change in 1992, when John Bush replaced Belladonna as lead vocalist. Sound of White Noise was released the following year, peaking at number seven on the Billboard 200. Studio recordings during the 1990s saw the band, influenced by other genres, experimenting with its sound.

Anthrax's lineup has changed several times. Paul Kahn and Greg Walls were early replacements for drummer Dave Weiss and bassist Kenny Kushner; the band has had a number of vocalists, including Neil Turbin, Joey Belladonna and John Bush. Scott Ian and Charlie Benante, who joined Anthrax in 1983, are the only band members to appear on every album; bassist Frank Bello has played on every album except the band's first. Belladonna returned to Anthrax for Worship Music, his first studio album with the band since 1990's Persistence of Time.


Formation and debut album (1981–1984)

Anthrax logo

Anthrax was formed in mid-1981 by guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Lilker. The band was named for the disease Ian saw in a biology textbook because it sounded "sufficiently evil".[1] Anthrax's initial lineup was completed with drummer Dave Weiss and bassist Kenny Kushner. Kushner was soon briefly replaced by bassist Paul Kahn before Lilker took over on bass and Greg Walls joined as lead guitarist. Weiss was replaced early by Greg D'Angelo, who was recommended by Greg Walls. Roadie John Connelly briefly filled in as vocalist and Scott Ian's younger brother, Jason Rosenfeld, was a temporary vocalist until Neil Turbin joined the band in late August 1982.

The band's first performance with Turbin was at Great Gildersleeves, a New York club, in September 1982. This lineup played regularly in the New York-New Jersey area, often with Metallica. Walls left Anthrax during the summer of 1983 after not receiving a writing credit for "Panic" (from the band's first album). Bob Berry, recommended to Turbin by Rhett Forrester of Riot, temporarily replaced Walls on guitar. Berry was in turn replaced by Dan Spitz, previously of the New Jersey thrash band Overkill, for Anthrax's second demo.

Charlie Benante replaced drummer Greg D'Angelo (who left for White Lion) in September 1983. This lineup recorded "Soldiers of Metal", produced by Ross the Boss of Manowar. The B-side was "Howling Furies", from a previous demo with D'Angelo on drums (his only Anthrax recording), and the single secured the band a record deal with Megaforce Records. Anthrax recorded its debut album, Fistful of Metal, in late 1983; released in January 1984, it was followed by a US tour. Tensions between Lilker and the rest of the band arose because of his tardiness, sloppiness and unprofessional behavior. Lilker left, forming Nuclear Assault with former bandmate John Connelly, and was replaced by Charlie Benante's nephew and roadie Frank Bello.

First Joey Belladonna era (1984–1992)

Smiling, casually-dressed singer with long, black hair onstage
Joey Belladonna contributed vocals to four studio albums during his first period with Anthrax.

In August 1984 Turbin was fired from the band, and went on to form Deathriders. In his book Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, music journalist Eddie Trunk admits pressuring Johnny Zazula and Anthrax into firing Turbin.[2] Matt Fallon was hired as a temporary replacement and the four-piece band, billed as "The Diseased" with Scott Ian on vocals, performed hardcore punk covers.

Joey Belladonna was chosen as the new vocalist, and this lineup debuted in February 1985. An EP, Armed and Dangerous, was recorded and released that year featuring two live 1984 tracks and two songs from the "Soldiers of Metal" single. Later in 1985, Ian, Benante and Lilker collaborated with vocalist Billy Milano to produce the satirical album Speak English or Die as Stormtroopers of Death.

Anthrax's second album, Spreading the Disease, was released in 1985; US and European tours followed the next year. The US tour, with Black Sabbath, was cancelled after four dates due to singer Glenn Hughes' voice problems. In April 1986 Anthrax attempted its first tour of Europe, including a show near Chernobyl immediately after the Chernobyl disaster.[3] In May the band played its first European concert in Bochum, Germany, supported by Overkill and Agent Steel. Later that year, Anthrax toured Europe with Metallica. The tour began on September 10 at St David's Hall and ended on September 26 in Solnahallen, Sweden. The Swedish show was Anthrax's last performance before the bus accident the following day which killed Metallica bassist Cliff Burton.

The band's third studio album, Among the Living, was recorded in 1986 and released in March 1987; it showcased the band's humorous, experimental side. Anthrax departed from its heavy-metal look in favor of brightly-colored surfer shorts, and began a lyrical trend focusing on movies, comic books and Stephen King novels. The album was dedicated to Burton's memory. "I Am the Law" was issued as a single backed with "I'm the Man", a rap-metal hybrid. Anthrax further indulged its appreciation for rap by appearing on the title track of U.T.F.O.'s album, Lethal. The band toured Europe with Metallica and Metal Church to promote Among the Living.

Anthrax returned to its thrash formula for its 1988 album, State of Euphoria. The single "Antisocial", originally by French heavy-metal band Trust, became an MTV staple as part of the rotation on Headbangers Ball. The band expanded its horizons by touring the US with the funk metal band Living Colour and embarking on the Headbangers Ball Tour with Exodus and Helloween. In 1989, MTV sponsored a contest in which the winner (a female fan) had her home trashed by the band this inspired Anthrax's 1992 appearance on Married... with Children, in which the Bundys win a similar TV contest.[3]

In 1990 Anthrax released the more serious Persistence of Time, which surpassed State of Euphoria '​s success. The album was darker, more technical and more progressive than the band's previous work, striking a chord with metal fans wary of Anthrax's "silly" side. The most successful single from the album was a cover of Joe Jackson's "Got the Time", which Jackson said he enjoyed. In 1991, Anthrax collaborated with Public Enemy on a version of "Bring the Noise". This was a hit, and a successful tour with Public Enemy followed. The EP "Attack of the Killer B's" was recorded in 1991, with a new version of "I'm the Man" and a cover of "Bring the Noise" on which Ian did some vocals. In late 1992, Belladonna was fired from the band.

First John Bush era (1992–2005)

Bald, bearded, tattooed man playing guitar onstage
Scott Ian has played rhythm guitar on all of the band's recordings, and is the sole remaining founding member in the band.

Former Armored Saint John Bush joined Anthrax shortly after Belladonna's dismissal. The band left Island Records to sign with Elektra, releasing Sound of White Noise in 1993. A change from Anthrax's earlier work, with a dark, rockier feel, Sound of White Noise received mostly-positive reviews. The single "Only" was a hit; in the liner notes for Return of the Killer A's, Ian said that James Hetfield told him it was a "perfect song". In keeping with the band's eye for unlikely collaborations, classical composer Angelo Badalamenti provided music for "Black Lodge" (a nod to Twin Peaks). This album demonstrated that Anthrax had fully shed its cartoonish persona in favor of mature, thoughtful songwriting, which began with Persistence of Time.

After Sound of White Noise longtime guitarist Dan Spitz left the band to become a watchmaker, leaving Anthrax a quartet for two years.[4] In 1995 Anthrax released Stomp 442, on which Charlie Benante played most of the lead-guitar parts. Benante was assisted by Paul Crook, later the band's touring lead guitarist for several years, and Dimebag Darrell of Pantera. Because Elektra did not promote the album it was less commercially successful than its predecessor, and Anthrax severed its ties with the label.

The band signed with independent label Ignition Records, releasing Volume 8: The Threat Is Real in 1998. As on Stomp 442, Benante played lead guitar with Crook and Darrell; Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo also appeared. After the album's release the label went bankrupt, disrupting its distribution. Although Anthrax then signed with Beyond Records, releasing the greatest-hits album Return of the Killer A's, Beyond went out of business as well. During this period a two-vocalist tour with Belladonna and Bush was planned, but Belladonna quit at the last minute.[5]

During the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States the band changed its website, providing information about the disease after people began typing "" into search engines. Amid a potential PR nightmare, Anthrax issued a press release on October 10, 2001 joking that the band's name would be changed to "something more friendly, like 'Basket Full of Puppies'."[6] Anthrax dispelled any name-change rumors derived from the press release at the November 2001 New York Steel 9/11 benefit concert, when they took the stage in boiler suits with a different word on each one (reading "We're not changing our name"). Bello has stated that did so after receiving support from members of the NYPD and NYFD, who believed that changing the name of the band would send the wrong message. A picture of the band in the suits is on the inner tray card of We've Come for You All.[3]

Despite hardships and legal entanglements over album rights, Anthrax continued. In 2001 Rob Caggiano joined on lead guitar; two years later the band released We've Come for You All, praised by metal journalists as a return to form, on Sanctuary Records. In early 2004 Anthrax released The Greater of Two Evils, a "live in the studio" re-recording of the earlier work with the band's current lineup. Bassist Frank Bello announced shortly afterwards that he was leaving the band to join Helmet, and was replaced by Fates Warning and Armored Saint member Joey Vera.

Reunions with Belladonna and Bush (2005–2009)

Band on covered stage at outdoor venue
Anthrax at Hellfest 2009

In April 2005, Anthrax announced that the "classic" lineup of Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz, Joey Belladonna and Frank Bello would reform. At some shows on the following tour, they played Among the Living in its entirety.[7] Although the lineup was expected to record a new album after the tour, in January 2007 Ian said that Belladonna had not agreed to a reunion.[8] After that announcement it was uncertain if John Bush would return, since Bush said he was unready to re-commit to Anthrax.[9]

In May 2007 Ian said the decision of who would be singing for Anthrax would be made at the end of June, but the announcement was delayed until December. In June, Bush was asked by Rock Hard if he was bitter about the Anthrax reunion. He replied that he was asked to return to the band, but declined. Asked if he wanted to rejoin the band when Belladonna left, Bush said that he "just didn't feel right to do that."[10]

In December 2007 it was announced that the band's new vocalist would be Dan Nelson, formerly of Devilsize,[11] and Rob Caggiano would return as lead guitarist. In May 2008, Anthrax played its first show in 19 months at Double Door in Chicago. Appearing before a sold-out audience with Nelson, the band played new material which was well received (despite equipment problems).[12]

Singer and guitarist onstage
Anthrax at the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth, 2009

In his monthly Food Coma column posted on December 22, 2008, Scott Ian wrote that he had "been in the studio working on the new Anthrax album since November 4"; drums, bass and rhythm had been recorded on 19 tracks, and the addition of vocals had begun. "We should be mixing at the end of January and soon after that giving birth to a really pissed off, loud, fast and heavy child."[13] In a May 2009 Food Coma column Ian wrote that the album was being mixed by Dave Fortman, who had worked with Evanescence and Slipknot.[14] In a post on the Anthrax website, Charlie Benante said that Worship Music would probably be out in May.[15]

In early 2009, Anthrax began a brief tour opening for Iron Maiden in South America. In July, band manager Izvor Zivkovic confirmed the departure of Dan Nelson due to illness. Nelson denied this, saying that he was fired.[16] All subsequent performances were canceled except the August UK Sonisphere Festival, with John Bush on vocals. Due to fan response after his performance, a "Bring Back Bush" campaign began and was endorsed by Ian.[17]

In September 2009, it was announced that Bush would again sing with Anthrax at the October Loud Park '09 Festival in Japan.[18] Soon afterwards, Benante said that Bush had rejoined the band. In February 2010, Anthrax performed five shows as part of Soundwave in Australia. After the Australian shows, Bush said the band intended to re-record the vocals of several tracks from the upcoming album.[19]

Worship Music and upcoming album (2010–present)

In late 2009, Anthrax confirmed a "Big Four" event (with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer) as part of the 2010 Sonisphere Festival. Bush decided that he did not want to commit to the band full-time, and again left. Joey Belladonna returned to Anthrax in early 2010 for shows that summer, and committed to record a studio album with the band.[20] Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth performed on the same bill during that summer's Sonisphere Festival series, the first time all members of the thrash-metal "Big Four" played together.[21] The Sofia, Bulgaria show was broadcast in cinemas and later released on DVD and Blu-ray.[22]

In April 2011, Anthrax headlined in the Philippines for the first time at the annual Pulp Summer Slam with Death Angel and Hellyeah. The band also headlined the Jägermeister side stage at Mayhem Festival 2012, co-headlined by Slayer and Slipknot.[23] In June Anthrax released "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" (from its upcoming album) on its website as a free download, to thank fans for their patience in waiting several years for Worship Music; the album was released on September 13.[24]

In January 2013, Anthrax announced that lead guitarist Rob Caggiano had left the band.[25] A week later it was announced that Jonathan Donais of Shadows Fall would be the band's touring lead guitarist, and on August 13 it was announced that Donais had joined the band.[26] In March 2013, Anthrax released its Anthems EP featuring covers of 1970s rock songs.[27] According to Scott Ian, the band began working on its next studio album in late 2013;[28] in September, he confirmed that drummer Charlie Benante and bassist Frank Bello were "coming over to start writing for the next record."[29] The album is scheduled to be released in early 2015.[30]

Style and influences

Anthrax is one of the bands responsible for the emergence of speed and thrash metal. It exhibited a typical thrash-metal sound on its early albums and was known for humor and comic-book references in the lyrics, distinguishing the band from its contemporaries.[31] According to Rolling Stone, Anthrax was one of the few heavy-metal bands to receive critical praise and redefine the genre during the 1980s.[32] Original guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Spitz' styles were described as "aggressive and head pounding", with power chords and "chugging" pedal points providing the sonic drive.[33] Author Thomas Harrison wrote that Anthrax played metal at a faster tempo because of its punk influences, noting the group's "antimetal stage persona" with "bright clothes more fit to surf culture than to metal".[34] The band's sixth album, 1993's Sound of White Noise (its first with singer John Bush), incorporated grunge and alternative metal influences in a darker vein. Critics consider the band's studio releases from the Bush era as having a more alternative and groove metal sound.[35] The band's latest album, Worship Music, marked a return to thrash metal and the return of singer Joey Belladonna.

Anthrax was influenced by classic rock artists on its Anthems EP, which includes covers of 1970s bands Rush, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Boston and Journey.[27] The band has been influenced by punk bands Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols and Discharge and traditional heavy metal bands Black Sabbath, Kiss, Judas Priest, Anvil, Iron Maiden and Motörhead.[31][36] Anthrax is a member the "big four" of thrash metal with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.[37] The band has been credited for laying the groundwork for rap and nu metal,[38] and was one of the first bands combining rap and hard rock.[39] According to Nielsen SoundScan, Anthrax sold 2.5 million records in the United States from 1991 to 2004;[40] worldwide sales were over 15 million.[41]


Current members
Former members



Studio albums


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  2. ^  
  3. ^ a b c Hartmann, Graham (July 9, 2014). "Rob Caggiano Plays Wikipeia: Fact or Fiction?".  
  4. ^ Spitz, Daniel. "Dan Spitz Biography". Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  5. ^ Lehtinen, Arto. "Anthrax Interviews with Scott Ian and John Bush".  
  6. ^ "Anthrax: Press Release". November 8, 2004. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ "It's Official: Anthrax's 'Among The Living' Lineup To Reunite".  
  8. ^ "'"Anthrax Guitarist Scott Ian: 'The Reunion Is Over.  
  9. ^ "Singer John Bush: 'I Am Not Ready' To Commit To Anthrax Again".  
  10. ^ "Armored Saint's John Bush, Metallica 'Philosophy' Book Author Interviewed".  
  11. ^ "It's Official: Anthrax Taps Former Devilsize Singer".  
  12. ^ Geist, Brandon (May 29, 2008). "Anthrax Debut New Singer And Songs At Chicago Show".  
  13. ^ Ian, Scott (December 22, 2008). "A Festive Feast of Awesomeness".  
  14. ^ Ian, Scott (May 18, 2009). "Scott Ian's Food Coma: Uncorking Wine and Led Zep".  
  15. ^ "Metal metal everywhere!". October 19, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2008. 
  16. ^ "'"Former Anthrax Singer Dan Nelson: 'I Was Ready, Willing And Able To Do My Job.  
  17. ^ Bezer, Terry (August 7, 2009). "Scott Ian Endorses ‘Bring Back Bush’ Campaign".  
  18. ^ "Anthrax Featuring John Bush To Perform At Japan's Loud Park Festival".  
  19. ^ Ogle, Ryan (May 19, 2010). "John Bush Says 'Timing Is Right' For Anthrax's Reunion With Joey Belladonna".  
  20. ^ "It's Official: Joey Belladonna Rejoins Anthrax For Tour, Studio Album".  
  21. ^ "Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax: The First 'Big Four' Photo".  
  22. ^ Paine, Andre (June 10, 2010). "Metallica Heading To Cinemas".  
  23. ^ Ouellette, Mary (January 25, 2012). "Rockstar Mayhem Fest 2012: Slipknot, Slayer, Anthrax + More".  
  24. ^ Bezer, Terry (June 3, 2011). "Anthrax Set Release Date For ‘Worship Music’".  
  25. ^ "Guitarist Rob Caggiano Quits Anthrax".  
  26. ^ Fanelli, Damian (August 14, 2013). "Anthrax Reveal New Guitarist: Jon Donais of Shadows Fall".  
  27. ^ a b "Anthrax: 'Anthems' EP Artwork, More Details Revealed".  
  28. ^ Childers, Chad (January 26, 2013). "Anthrax’s Scott Ian Envisions Late 2013 Start for Next Studio Album".  
  29. ^ "Anthrax Begins Writing New Album".  
  30. ^ "New Anthrax Album Coming in Early 2015, Band Entering Studio This Fall".  
  31. ^ a b  
  32. ^ "Anthrax Biography".  
  33. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P., eds. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar:The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists.  
  34. ^ Harrison, Thomas (2010). Music of the 1980s.  
  35. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (September 14, 2011). "Anthrax and Joey Belladonna Keep It In the Family".  
  36. ^ "ANTHRAX Guitarist Scott Ian On Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame". March 21, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  37. ^ Chamberlain, Rick (June 21, 2010). "Thrash big four tour: The stars have their say".  
  38. ^ Peterson, Thane (September 26, 2000). "How Corrosive Is Heavy Metal?".  
  39. ^ Masuo, Sandy. "Karnival One's Hard-Charging Bands Take Fans on Wild Ride".  
  40. ^ "Top-Selling Hard Rock Artists According To Nielsen Soundscan".  
  41. ^ Reardon, John (October 29, 2010). "Interview: Meet Dan Spitz, Anthrax Guitarist Turned Master Watchmaker". Retrieved March 29, 2014. 

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