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Anthrax

Anthrax is an American, New York City-based Heavy metal band, who released their first full-length album in 1984. Anthrax was one of the most popular bands of the 1980s thrash metal scene and are notable for combining metal with rap and hardcore music early on. They are generally classified as one of the "big four" of thrash metal alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer.

They have made several appearances on television including: Married... with Children, WWE Raw, NewsRadio and Ask Dr. Ruth along with their mothers. The band has also appeared in movies such as Run Ronnie Run (performing as the fictional band Titannica) and Calendar Girls. Their song Madhouse was used in the videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in-game radio station V-Rock and in Guitar Hero II. In 2006, guitarist Scott Ian was a cast member of VH1's reality show SuperGroup.

History

Early career (1981–1986)

Anthrax was formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker, who, after a few early changes, were joined by drummer Charlie Benante, guitarist Dan Spitz, and vocalist Neil Turbin. In the earliest days Lilker played guitar, but switched instrument as they were having difficulty finding a bass player. The band signed with Megaforce Records and released its first full-length album, Fistful Of Metal, in 1984. This was an inauspicious debut for a band that would soon rise to the forefront of the thrash metal scene. Anthrax went through a significant lineup change in 1985 prior to recording their second album, Spreading the Disease. After Dan Lilker left to form Nuclear Assault, he was replaced by Frank Bello, Charlie Benante's nephew and a former roadie for the band. It was a vocalist change that would have the greatest impact on the band's overall sound. Joey Belladonna brought a much wider vocal range and style and the band altered its writing style to include a more melodic sound it hadn't explored in the past.

Breakthrough and rising to success (1987–1992)

Anthrax were, almost from the start, noticeable among their peers for their willingness to experiment with genre and image. During the late 1980s, the band radically departed from the "traditional" heavy metal look in favour of a brightly coloured "surfer" style of appearance. They were known for introducing a humorous side to their music, in contrast to the serious mindedness of fellow metal bands such as Slayer, and Metallica.

In 1987, Anthrax released their third album, Among the Living. To this day, the album remains a fan favorite and is considered by some to be their best. Lyrically, Anthrax began to write about movies, comic books and Stephen King novels. All elements that would for years become typical lyrical themes Anthrax fans would come to expect. "I Am the Law" is a tribute to comic book hero Judge Dredd. "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" is about comedian John Belushi's drug addiction and death. "Indians" and the mosh pit anthem "Caught in a Mosh" are both considered Anthrax classics today. The album was dedicated to the memory of Cliff Burton. The band continued its success, sticking to the thrash metal genre of Among ... on the album State of Euphoria. The single "Anti-Social"—originally by French heavy metal band Trust—was a staple on MTV in regular rotation as well as "Headbangers Ball".

In 1989, MTV held a contest to have the band come and trash the winner's home. The contest was won by a female fan, and the band subsequently came to her home and caused havoc. This was the inspiration for the band's 1992 appearance on Married... with Children, where the main characters of the show win a television contest to have Anthrax come to their home.

In 1990, Anthrax released the more serious Persistence of Time to even greater success than State of Euphoria. Joe Jackson himself even claimed that he enjoyed Anthrax's cover of his song "Got The Time". Other notable singles included "In My World" and "Belly of the Beast".

Anthrax was always a band prone to experimentation; in 1987, they appeared on the title track of rap group U.T.F.O.'s album Lethal. In 1991, they collaborated with pioneering rap artists Public Enemy on a joint version of PE's "Bring the Noise", although Anthrax already did a fusion of rap and heavy metal in the form of "I'm the Man" in 1987, a comedic song originally slated to be played with the Beastie Boys (although they did not actually get to play this song with Anthrax until a 1991 remake). "Bring the Noise" was a hit, and the band had a successful joint tour with Public Enemy.

John Bush Era (1992–2004)

In 1992, Anthrax parted ways with vocalist Joey Belladonna and replaced him with ex-Armored Saint vocalist John Bush. The band left Island Records and signed with Elektra Records to release Sound of White Noise in 1993.

Though it was quite a change from their earlier work (it was more a "heavy grunge" oriented, especially because of the vocals) , White Noise received mostly positive reviews and "Only" was a major hit (which led James Hetfield to claim "that is a perfect song" in some interviews). Bush's voice lent a gravitas and weight to a collection of well-thought-out and technically excellent tracks. In keeping with the band's now-trademark eye for unlikely collaborations, classical composer Angelo Badalamenti provided music for the track "Black Lodge," a tribute to the TV show "Twin Peaks". Importantly, the album demonstrated that the band had shed its sometimes cartoonish outlook in favor of mature, thoughtful songwriting, a trend which had begun on their previous studio album Persistence of Time.

In 1995, the band released Stomp 442, an album for which Elektra refused to provide real promotion—it quickly disappeared without a trace. Obviously upset at what they felt was an attempt by the label to kill the album, Anthrax attempted to sever ties with Elektra. During the hiatus between Sound of White Noise and Stomp 442, longtime guitarist Dan Spitz left the band, leaving Anthrax as a quartet for years.

Anthrax signed with independent label Ignition Records, and in 1998 managed to release Volume 8: The Threat Is Real, a punishing album that had the potential to return Anthrax to the top of the metal heap. Unfortunately, almost immediately after "Volume 8"'s release, the label they were signed to went bankrupt and disappeared, making the album difficult to find. Regrouping, the band signed with another label, Beyond Records and released a greatest-hits album Return of The Killer A's, although Beyond soon went out of business as well. During this period, a two-vocalist tour featuring both Joey Belladonna and John Bush was proposed and set to go, until Belladonna decided to pull out at the last minute.

During the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, the band altered its website to provide information about the disease because many people had come there simply by entering anthrax.com in their Web browsers. Amid what could have become a PR nightmare for the band, Anthrax issued a press release on October 10, 2001, that jokingly mentioned that they were going to change the name of the band to "something more friendly, like 'Basket Full of Puppies.'" The band later put a nail in the coffin of all of the name-change rumors that erupted from the press release at the New York Steel 9/11 benefit concert in November 2001, when they took the stage wearing boiler suits with a different word on each one that, when they stood single-file in a specific order, spelled out the sentence "WE'RE NOT CHANGING OUR NAME". A picture of the band wearing the suits can be seen on the inner tray card of We've Come for You All.

Despite the hardships and various legal entanglements regarding who had the rights to certain albums, Anthrax managed to soldier on. In 2002, new guitarist Rob Caggiano joined the band, and the following year the band released We've Come for You All, through Nuclear Blast Records - an album hailed by the metal press as a long-awaited return to form.

In early 2004, the band returned to the studio to record The Greater of Two Evils—a re-recording of the band's early work with the then-current lineup. Around the same time, bassist Frank Bello announced he was leaving the band to join Helmet and was replaced on tour by former Armored Saint and Fates Warning bassist Joey Vera.

"Among The Living" Reunion (2005-2007)

On April 1, 2005, the Anthrax website announced that the "Among the Living" lineup of Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz, Joey Belladonna, and Frank Bello would be re-forming. On solo-dates of the tours, for the first time ever, they perform the entire 1987 classic album Among the Living.

On January 24th 2007, Scott Ian posted a message to Blabbermouth.net. "Finally, we're going back to work. We're going to Chicago to work our asses off and write a record. It's time. We're ready. One problem... no singer.

"We were offered a direct support slot on a major tour this spring and Joey decided he did not want to move forward. The reunion is over. We tried to make it work but I guess that's the problem, you can't 'make' something work. It's gotta be natural and at least becoming a band again and playing live was.

"Over the course of around 140 shows we became a better band than we ever were before from 1984 - 92. The shows we played from April 2005 through October 2006 were incredible and some of the best gigs we've ever played. Doing Donington again was mind-blowing, Graspop was insane, the insanity in Finland, Chicago, Milwaukee, three times in L.A., three times across Western Canada, Glasgow, London, the Nokia show in NY, the Starland show in NJ, Gigantour, Australia, Japan, really, there's not a bummer in 19 months.

"Thank you from the very depths of my soul for being the best fans in the world. We got to relive something that I never thought we could and it turned out better than I ever thought it would. We didn't have to force it, it just happened and it was great.

"My curiosity was piqued by the idea of what ANTHRAX would sound like now with Joey singing. Over the last few months we've discussed this endlessly to no avail. The problems that were there could not be fixed no matter how hard we tried and in the end Joey made the decision.

"I know a lot of you out there are disappointed by this and that's the last thing we ever want. None of us want to disappoint. If we were meant to make a reunion record we would've. Some things look easy on paper but the reality is that they are impossible and what works for one band doesn't work for others. Maybe we could've forced something and cashed in on a new record but that's not the way we operate. My reality is I feel we have some unfinished business with the 'We've Come for You All' lineup and I will do my best to finish it.

"I hope you can find it in your hearts to support all of us in whatever happens going forward.

"Charlie , Frankie and I are excited about creating new music and for now we will focus on that and write another killer ANTHRAX record."

Miscellany

Several members have launched affiliated side projects, such as Scott Ian's project with Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, original Anthrax bassist Danny Lilker and Billy Milano called Stormtroopers of Death. After leaving Anthrax, Joey Belladonna began a series of solo albums, Belladonna, Spells of Fear, and 03, and John Bush is involved with his former band Armored Saint.

A number of Anthrax albums have featured guests, most notably Dimebag Darrell, who appeared on "King Size" and "Riding Shotgun" from Stomp 442; "Inside Out" and "Born Again Idiot" from Vol.-8 The Threat Is Real; and "Strap It On" and "Cadillac Rock Box" from We've Come for You All. Vocalist Roger Daltrey of The Who has also appeared on the band's We've Come for You All disc, providing backing vocals for "Taking the Music Back." Phil Anselmo of Pantera appears on Volume 8 in the song "Killing Box."