Share They were lost for a while, but 1980s metal megastars Anthrax are back, with old frontman Joey Belladonna, a new album and a new energy. “We sell more tickets now than in 1986,” says guitarist Scott Ian.
THERE ARE NO second acts in American life, according to F Scott Fitzgerald, but somebody forgot to tell Anthrax. In the 1980s, they were in the vanguard of thrash heavy metal riffs played at punk-rock pace, which changed heavy metal forever, and for the better.
In 2009, after more than a decade of diminishing returns, they had recorded an album of new material, but had no singer – ironic given that they have had eight since the band’s formation. They had parted ways with Dan Nelson and then his replacement John Bush, who had been in the band previously and was the longest-serving vocalist Anthrax had ever had.
The death rattle of a band in its final throes was audible. What to do? Ian now admits that he should never have fired Belladona in the first place. “People say ‘why it is so hard to keep a line-up together?’. People don’t get it. It’s worse than family,” he says.
The induction of Metallica, the undisputed kings of thrash, into the Roll and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 provided another fillip. Ever scheming and dreaming of ways to keep Metallica in the public eye, drummer Lars Ulrich came up with his most audacious plan to date, a tour involving the “Big Four” of thrash metal, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.
“I can’t really say enough about those shows. Metallica have many reasons for their success over the years, and timing certainly is one of them. Success in the entertainment business is luck and timing. It really gave us the kick in the arse to keep moving forward.