Anthrax was one of my favorite bands growing up. Spreading The Disease, Among The Living, State Of Euphoria and Persistence Of Time are all classic metal albums in my humble opinion. One of my funnier memories from high school is going to see Anthrax opening for Iron Maiden right when Persistence Of Time had come out. My friends and I all bought Anthrax baseball hats at the show that had the band logo, a skull and crossbones type of design and the acronym "P.O.T." on them. The acronym was of course for Persistence Of Time, but the teachers at our Catholic high school all took it to have a different meaning haha. There was about a dozen of us that wore those hats constantly. I even have a picture taken in '92 of myself wearing mine and a Pearl Jam t-shirt that is hanging up in my apartment. Hilarious stuff. Anyway, when lead vocalist Joey Belladonna was fired after Persistence Of Time, Armored Saint vocalist John Bush was brought on and Anthrax released The Sound Of White Noise, which I also consider to be a classic. After that, they pretty much lost me. Some good songs here and there on overall fairly bland albums. After 2003's We've Come For You All, things in the Anthrax camp have been turbulent to say the least. Members fired, members leaving, members rejoining, etc. at a dizzying pace. For the purposes of this post, I'll just stick with the lead vocalist drama: They did a reunion tour with Joey Belladonna from 2005-2007, but Joey quit the band again at the end of that tour cycle. John Bush was never confirmed as being completely out of the band during that time, but then he was officially replaced in 2007 by a guy named Dan Nelson who was the singer for some metal band from Long Island. Nelson recorded an album with them called Worship Music, left for a European tour to promote the upcoming release and was subsequently fired or quit. No one knows. Or cares. John Bush then returned to the fold for a few European festival dates and speculation ran rampant (among Anthrax fans at least) about what would happen to the album recorded with Dan Nelson. Was Bush rejoining and would he re-record the vocals for Worship Music or would they go back and rewrite the songs or scrap the album all together and start fresh? Then last week, drummer Charlie Benante and bassist Frank Bello were spotted at a show in NYC with Joey Belladonna and rumors began that Belladonna was coming back to the fold. Today those rumors were confirmed. He is apparently going to do a couple European festival shows with the band this summer and then they are coming back to the U.S. to record a new album that is expected to be released in 2011. Got all that? Yeesh.
I'd be lying if I said I am not curious to hear this album (that is assuming they even actually make the album), but at this point I have no high hopes for it whatsoever. I saw the reunion tour with Belladonna a few years ago and his voice is not what it used to be. Besides that important factor, he is also a bit hard to take seriously as it appeared that he had a pretty terrible wig on and had obviously stuffed his pants with a pair of socks ala the cucumber gag in Spinal Tap, but minus the comedic value or intent (and don't think it is bizarre that I noticed....everyone in attendance noticed because his pants were so ridiculously tight...maybe he needed the help hitting the high notes?). He looked like a guy that was frozen in the glory days of the 80's and it was kind of sad really.
It is a shame that Anthrax wasn't able to maintain the kind of career that their peers in Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Testament have been able to. Those bands are still putting out relevant and most importantly GOOD records and enjoying the fruits of their labor (well, maybe not Testament so much, but the other three most definitely). Perhaps a better peer comparison would be Exodus who have had similar vocalist and member change issues, but have managed to keep cranking out albums, actually gotten faster and heavier in their sound and even developed a newer, younger fanbase for themselves. Maybe Scott Ian should sit down with Gary Holt and get some 101 lessons in how to not let your band turn into a joke after multiple line-up changes.
Fingers crossed I'm proven completely wrong when the album comes out, but I'm fairly confident that it will be a stinker.