Anthrax Biography

This New York, USA-based thrash metal outfit was formed in 1981 by Scott ‘Not’ Ian (Scott Rosenfeld, 31 December 1963, Queens, New York City, New York, USA; rhythm guitar) and Dan Lilker (b. 18 October 1964, USA; bass). After a series of personnel changes, Ian and Lilker were joined by Neil Turbin (vocals), Dan Spitz (b. 28 January 1963, USA; guitar) and Charlie Benante (b. 26 November 1962, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA; drums). Managed by Johnny Zazula, head of the independent Megaforce Records, the quintet released Fistful Of Metal in 1984. Despite its tasteless sleeve, the album garnered fair reviews and was a small but steady seller.

Lilker subsequently left Anthrax to pursue a hardcore direction with Nuclear Assault and was replaced by Frank Bello (b. 9 July 1965, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA). Turbin also departed, with his initial replacement, Matt Fallon, being quickly succeeded by Joey Belladonna (b. Joseph Bellardini, 30 October 1960, Oswego, New York, USA). This line-up released the Armed And Dangerous EP in 1985, and their increasing popularity led to a contract with Island Records. The same year’s Spreading The Disease was deservedly well received, and the band’s European profile was raised considerably by their support slot on Metallica’s Damage Inc tour.

In summer 1985, Ian and Benante formed S.O.D. (Stormtroopers Of Death, who were revived sporadically throughout the 90s), a hardcore band with a satirical outlook. They were joined in this venture by former bandmate Lilker and Billy Milano. Among The Living, co-produced by the band with Eddie Kramer, established Anthrax as a major force in the speed metal scene, producing UK hits in ‘I Am The Law’ and ‘Indians’, and their riotously entertaining live shows made them many friends among press and public alike. A humorous rap song, ‘I’m The Man’, became both a hit and a favourite encore. However, State Of Euphoria was a disappointing, patchy affair, with the band suffering an undeserved media backlash over their image.

Sterling live work restored their reputation, with Anthrax’s commitment to expanding their audiences’ musical tastes demonstrated by their choice of UK support acts, Living Colour and King’s X. 1990’s Persistence Of Time showed a return to form, and was a dark and relentless work that produced another hit in the shape of a cover version of Joe Jackson’s ‘Got The Time’. Classed by the band as an EP, Attack Of The Killer B’s was essentially a collection of b-sides for the curious fan, but became one of Anthrax’s most popular albums, with the hit collaboration with Public Enemy, ‘Bring The Noise’, leading to the two bands touring together in a co-headlining package. Shortly after the band signed a new contract with Elektra Records, Belladonna was fired, with ex-Armored Saint frontman John Bush (b. 24 August 1963, Los Angeles, California, USA) stepping in. Sound Of White Noise was hailed as the band’s finest hour, a post-thrash tour de force of power metal with bursts of hardcore speed. Bush’s creative input helped Ian and Benante to write some of their best work, while Dave Jerden’s production updated and re-energized the Anthrax sound.

In 1994, Bush established his own R&B offshoot, Ho Cake, which included former Armored Saint personnel Joey Vera (bass) and Jeff Duncan (guitar), as well as Shawn Duncan (drums), Tony Silbert (keyboards) and Bruce Fernandez (ex-Dread Zeppelin). The following year Anthrax began work on Stomp 442, an unremittingly brutal collection of hardcore and metal produced by the Butcher Brothers (best known for their work with Urge Overkill). However, Spitz was ejected from the band just before recording, and his guitar parts played instead by his former guitar technician, Paul Crook, Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell, and the band’s drummer, Charlie Benante.

In 1998, Ian guested on Tricky’s Angels With Dirty Faces, shortly before Anthrax broke a three-year silence with Volume 8: The Threat Is Real. Second guitarist Rob Caggiano joined up in time for the 2003 follow-up, We’ve Come For You All. The following year long-serving bass player Bello announced he was leaving Anthrax. Further changes involved John Bush and Caggiano being replaced by former members Belladonna and Dan Spitz, thereby reuniting the classic Among The Living era line-up.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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