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ANTHRAX – Anarchy In The USA
Bernard Doe
Metal Forces, Issue 10 (1985)

Anthrax (l-r): Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, Joey
Belladonna, Dan Spitz and Frank Bello
Pic: Geoffrey Thomas

European headbangers have heard very little of Anthrax since the release of their superb debut album, Fistful Of Metal, early last year. Following a successful US tour with Raven, the New York-based band were due to come over to Europe to play some gigs, and also record their second album here in England. Unfortunately, Anthrax hit problems in the vocal department and those plans never materialised.

Thankfully, those problems are now over and Anthrax have recently released a new 12” EP entitled Armed And Dangerous on Megaforce Records, that is nothing short of brilliant. The A-side contains two new numbers, the title track and ‘Raise Hell’, and prove just what a talent new vocalist Joey Belladonna is. On the B-side there are three tracks; an excellent version of the Sex Pistols classic ‘God Save The Queen’ and breathtaking live-in-the-studio versions of first album favourites ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’ and ‘Panic’.

I recently spoke to guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Spitz, and began by asking them what happened to former vocalist Neil Turbin? Dan: “Neil was great on the first album, but he just couldn’t cut it live with the Raven dates we did. There were also a lot of personal differences, so we let him go.

“After Neil we got Matt Fallon, but he was only in the band for approximately two weeks before we had to let him go too – again because of personal differences – and now we’ve got Joey Belladonna, who’s been just great. He’s got a better voice than Neil as well as a greater range. Joey sounds just like he does on record live. He’s the Steve Perry of aggressive metal.”

How did you get Joey? Dan: “Through our producer Carl Canedy (drummer with The Rods), who knew Joey was playing in a cover band from Canada. When we first heard him in the studio he just blew our heads apart and he’s been a brother ever since.”

Do you think Joey’s arrival will affect your songwriting in any way? Dan: “No, because the music is written by the musicians and Joey will just make the music sound that much better.”

Why did the band choose to record ‘God Save The Queen’ for the EP? Dan: “Well, everybody in the band has always liked that song, but Neil never wanted to do it. So when Neil departed and Joey joined, he also liked the song, so we recorded it.”

So, what’s the metal scene like at the moment in New York? Scott: “There isn’t really much of a scene. There’s a few bands like Overkill and ourselves, but there’s nothing really happening here. People outside New York get the impression that something is happening, but when it gets down to it there really isn’t. Even at weekends there’s only L’amour in New York City, who may only have one good show a month. But usually they have crap there. At this point the hardcore scene is happening more than the metal scene.”

What do you think of all the Satanical bands that are currently so popular? Scott: “My opinion is, if a band is gonna start to do something like that then they should take it seriously and not just use it as a gimmick.

“Mercyful Fate and Venom take it seriously and get away with it, but every week you get all these new bands appearing from nowhere who are just trying to jump on this Devil bandwagon, and most of the time they’re just trash.”

At the time I spoke to Scott and Dan, Anthrax were just about to finish recording their new album. Entitled Spreading The Disease, the album is expected to contain the following nine tracks: ‘Armed And Dangerous’, ‘Raise Hell’, ‘Gung-Ho’, ‘Aftershock’, ‘Madhouse’, ‘Stand Or Fall’, ‘The Enemy’, ‘Medusa’ and ‘The Gunslinger’. Expect a release date of June 1st on a major label.

Now those of you who have heard the new tracks on the EP, may have thought that Anthrax have mellowed a little, seeing as those two songs are not as thrash oriented as the material on the first album. But this is not the case. Dan: “The album has some really fast songs and one track in particular is faster than anything we’ve done before.”

Scott: “There’s some material on Spreading The Disease that makes ‘Panic’ sound like Marshall Crenshaw!”

So when can we expect to see Anthrax playing shows in Europe? Scott: “We’ve recently signed with one of the three major booking agencies, D.M.A., who are busy setting up dates for us. There’s a support slot with the Scorpions across the US, plus a headline tour of the States beginning in June. Then we’ll be coming to Europe at the end of August to play a bunch of festivals, plus a full scale tour.”

Well there can be no doubt that Anthrax are back stronger than ever before. And with a frontman as powerful as Joey Belladonna, who can turn classic songs like ‘Panic’ and ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’ into mega classics, then 1985 could be the year of Anthrax. Spread the word.

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 10 (1985)