Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in Queens, New York in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The band was named after the disease of the same name which Ian saw in a biology textbook. The name was chosen because it sounded “sufficiently evil”. The group was considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene during the 1980s. Of the “Big Four” thrash metal bands (the others being Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer), Anthrax were the only band from the East Coast. As of 2016, the band has released eleven studio albums, a number of singles and an EP with American hip hop group Public Enemy.
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 was replaced after two years by Matt Fallon who was then subsequently replaced in 1985 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 BBC has described the album as “arguably their big breakthrough”, and “often cited by fans as their favorite Anthrax album”. Drummer and principal songwriter Charlie Benante has referred to Among the Living as Anthrax’s “signature album”. 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 over their career. The band has had a number of vocalists including Neil Turbin, Joey Belladonna, Dan Nelson and John Bush. Founding member Scott Ian and early arrival 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. In 2010, Joey Belladonna returned to Anthrax and has since recorded two more studio albums with the band, Worship Music, released in 2011, and For All Kings released in 2016.
Style and Influences
Anthrax is one of the bands responsible for the emergence of speed metal 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. According to Rolling Stone, Anthrax was one of the few heavy-metal bands to receive critical praise and redefine the genre during the 1980s. 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. 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”.
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. The album Worship Music, marked a return to thrash metal and the return of singer Joey Belladonna. Although the songs are credited to the whole band, since Spreading the Disease the music has been written almost entirely by Charlie Benante and the lyrics by Scott Ian. Although John Bush made some lyrical contributions during his tenure in the band.
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. 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. Anthrax is a member of the “big four” of thrash metal with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. The band has been credited for laying the groundwork for rap metal and nu metal. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Anthrax sold 2.5 million records in the United States from 1991 to 2004, and 10 million worldwide.
Nominated 6 times for Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance –
1991 : Persistence of Time
1992 : Attack of the Killer B’s
1995 : Bring the Noise (nominated with Public Enemy)
2013 : I’m Alive
2014 : T.N.T.
2015 : Neon Knights