Anthrax

Members: Dan Spitz, Charlie Benante, Joey Belladonna, Scott Ian, Frank Bello

Active: 1981-present

HISTORY

Anthrax is a New York City-based thrash metal band, who released their first full-length album in 1984. Anthrax was one of the most popular bands of the 1980s thrash metal scene and are notable for combining metal with rap, hardcore, and alternative music early on. They are generally classified as one of the "big four" of thrash metal alongside Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth.

They have made several appearances on television including: Married... with Children, WWE RAW, and NewsRadio The band has also appeared in movies such as Run Ronnie Run (performing as the fictional band Titannica) and Calendar Girls. Their song "Madhouse" was used in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the radio station V-Rock. Guitarist Scott Ian is presently a cast member of VH1's reality show SuperGroup.

EARLY CAREER

Anthrax was formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker, who, after a few early changes, were joined by drummer Charlie Benante, guitarist Dan Spitz, and vocalist Neil Turbin. The band signed with Megaforce Records and released its first full-length album, Fistful Of Metal, in 1984. This was an inauspicious debut for a band that would soon rise to the forefront of the thrash metal scene. Anthrax went through a significant lineup change in 1985 prior to recording their second album, Spreading the Disease. After Dan Lilker left to join Nuclear Assault, he was replaced by Frank Bello, Charlie Benante's nephew and a former roadie for the band. It was a vocalist change that would have the greatest impact on the band's overall sound. Joey Belladonna brought a much wider vocal range and style and the band altered its writing style to include a more melodic sound it hadn't explored in the past.

BREAKTROUGH 1987-1991

Anthrax were, almost from the start, noticeable among their peers for their willingness to experiment with genre and image. During the late 1980s, the band radically departed from the "traditional" heavy metal look in favour of a brightly coloured "surfer" style of appearance. They were known for introducing a humorous side to their music, in contrast to the serious mindededness of fellow metal bands such as Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica.

In 1987, Anthrax released their third album, Among the Living. To this day, the album remains a fan favorite and is considered by some to be their best. Lyrically, Anthrax began to write about movies, comic books and Stephen King novels. All elements that would for years become typical lyrical themes Anthrax fans would come to expect. "I Am the Law" is a tribute to comic book hero Judge Dredd. "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" is about comedian John Belushi's drug addiction and death. The politically correct "Indians" and the mosh pit anthem "Caught in a Mosh" are both considered Anthrax classics today. The band continued its success, sticking to the thrash metal genre of Among ... on the album State of Euphoria. The single "Anti-Social" originally by French heavy metal band Trust?was a staple on MTV in regular rotation as well as "Headbangers Ball".

In 1989, MTV held a contest to have the band come and trash the winner's home. The contest was won by a female fan, and the band subsquently came to her home and caused havoc. This was the inspiration for the band's 1992 appearance on Married... with Children, where the main characters of the show win a television contest to have Anthrax come to their home.

In 1990, Anthrax released the more serious Persistence of Time to even greater success than State of Euphoria. Joe Jackson himself even claimed that he enjoyed Anthrax's cover of his song "Got The Time". Other notable singles included "In My World" and "Belly of the Beast".

Anthrax was always a band prone to experimentation;in 1987, they appeared on the title track of rap group U.T.F.O.'s album Lethal. In 1991, they collaborated with pioneering rap artists Public Enemy on a joint version of PE's "Bring The Noise". While Run-DMC had worked with Aerosmith back in 1986, "Bring the Noise" is regarded by some as the first rap rock hybrid. (However, this was not the first time a rock band had fully incorporated rap into a song. Faith No More may have been the first band with We Care a Lot in 1985.) Anthrax already did a fusion of rap and heavy metal in the form of "I'm the Man" in 1987, a comedic song originally slated to be played with the Beastie Boys (although they did not actually get to play this song with Anthrax until a 1991 remake). "Bring The Noise" was a hit, and the band had a successful joint tour with Public Enemy. Within a few years, bands such as Rage Against the Machine, KoЯn, Limp Bizkit, and a host of others had picked up the rap/rock or rap/metal mantle and went on to various degrees of success.

JOHN BUSH ERA

In 1992, Anthrax parted ways with vocalist Joey Belladonna and replaced him with ex-Armored Saint vocalist John Bush. The band left Island Records and signed with Elektra Records to release Sound of White Noise in 1993.

Though it was quite a change from their earlier work, White Noise received mostly positive reviews. Bush's voice lent a gravitas and weight to a collection of well-thought-out and technically excellent tracks. In keeping with the band's now-trademark eye for unlikely collaborations, classical composer Angelo Badalamenti provided music for the track "Black Lodge," a tribute to the TV show "Twin Peaks". Importantly, the album demonstrated that the band had shed its sometimes cartoonish outlook in favor of mature, thoughtful songwriting. A trend which had begun on their previous studio album Persistence of Time.

In 1995, the band released Stomp 442, an album for which Elektra refused to provide real promotion?it quickly disappeared without a trace. Obviously upset at what they felt was an attempt by the label to kill the album, Anthrax attempted to sever ties with Elektra. During the hiatus between Sound of White Noise and Stomp 442, longtime guitarist Dan Spitz left the band, leaving Anthrax as a quartet for years.

Anthrax signed with independent label Ignition Records, and in 1998 managed to release Volume 8: The Threat Is Real, a punishing album that had the potential to return Anthrax to the top of the metal heap. Unfortunately, almost immediately after "Volume 8"'s release, the label they were signed to went bankrupt and disappeared, making the album difficult to find. Regrouping, the band signed with another label, Beyond Records and released a greatest-hits album Return of The Killer A's , although Beyond soon went out of business as well. During this period, a two-vocalist tour featuring both Joey Belladonna and John Bush was proposed and set to go, until Belladonna decided to pull out at the last minute.

During the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, the band altered its website to provide information about the disease because many people had come there simply by entering anthrax.com in their Web browsers. Amid what could have become a PR nightmare for the band, Anthrax issued a press release on October 10, 2001, that jokingly mentioned that they were going to change the name of the band to "something more friendly, like 'Basket Full of Puppies.'" The band later put a nail in the coffin of all of the name-change rumors that erupted from the press release at a November 2001 9/11 benefit concert, when they took the stage wearing boiler suits with a different word on each one that, when they stood single-file in a specific order, spelled out the sentence "WE'RE NOT CHANGING OUR NAME". A picture of the band wearing the suits can be seen on the inner tray card of We've Come for You All.

Despite the hardships and various legal entanglements regarding who had the rights to certain albums, Anthrax managed to soldier on. In 2002, new guitarist Rob Caggiano joined the band, and the following year the band released We've Come for You All?an album hailed by the metal press as a long-awaited return to form.

In early 2004, the band returned to the studio to record The Greater of Two Evils?a re-recording of the band's early work with the then-current lineup. Around the same time, bassist Frank Bello announced he was leaving the band to join Helmet and was replaced on tour by former Armored Saint and Fates Warning bassist Joey Vera.

REUNION 2005-

On April 1, 2005, the Anthrax website announced that the "Among the Living" lineup of Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz, Joey Belladonna, and Frank Bello would be re-forming. Frank Bello has permanently rejoined, but it is unclear whether John Bush and Rob Caggiano have left the band and whether the "classic" lineup is permanent or just a touring opportunity at this time. Scott Ian released a statement, saying that John and Rob are not officially gone; but the press release announcing the reunion of the "classic" lineup seems to provide evidence to the contrary. As of the summer of 2006, the band's original lineup is still together and is currently on a tour called "American Witch Across America Tour" with headliner Rob Zombie. At solo-dates, for the first time ever, they perform the entire 1987 classic album Among the Living.

It is still unknown when a new album is going to be released and whether the "classic" lineup or the one with Bush and Caggiano will record it. In a recent interview with Joey Belladonna when asked about a new album he said: "We haven't really gotten that far. Everything is happening step by step. Obviously the next thing to do is possibly do a new record, but we haven't rehearsed anything, we haven't discussed anything. There's no way to say what's going on. There's a good chance for it to make it happen, I think we all have the means to do it and obviously we wanna do it well so it takes a little bit of time to get it right, and even if we do finish something soon it takes time to get it out. We could have a record done in, let's say in August for instance, hypothetically, then it might not come out 'till the first month of next year, so it's hard to say..." In the second part of this interview when asked if he is the singer or John Bush he replied: "That I don't know either, I'm not the one to make those decisions. I haven't been formerly asked to do anything in particular. I mean we could write and something may not work for somebody or the conditions aren't correct..."

ALBUMS

1984 - Fistful of Metal

1985 - Spreading the Disease

1987 - Among the Living

1988 - State of Euphoria

1990 - Persistence of Time

1993 - Sound of White Noise

1995 - Stomp 442

1998 - Volume 8: The Threat Is Real

2003 - We've Come for You All

2006/2007 - Untitled tenth studio album

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