ANTHRAX, one of heavy metal's all-time great acts who, along with Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth, are credited with co-founding the thrash genre, will be returning with "Worship Music," the band's first new studio album in six years and a full-on supporting world tour.
"Worship Music" is set for a June release on Megaforce Records. The album marks the studio debut of new singer Dan Nelson who joins long-time members Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), Frank Bello (bass), Charlie Benante (drums), and Rob Caggiano (lead guitar). According to early reports, "Worship Music" is Anthrax's heaviest album to date.
In addition, 2009 marks the 25-year anniversary of the release of Anthrax' debut album, 1984's "Fistful of Metal."
"I can't even process that it's been 25 years," said co-founding member Ian. "It's insane to me, because when you think about it, who does anything for that long, let alone in the same band? Start making a list of bands that are still around 25 years after their first album, and it's going to be a pretty short list."
About Anthrax's new "Worship Music," Benante explains, "This album has been in the making for two and half, maybe three years. After the reunion tour ended, we all went our separate ways. I started to write songs again, but I had no voice for them in mind, I didn't know who would be the singer. So Scott, Frankie and I got together and just started putting some songs together. This was pretty much the way 'Spreading the Disease' was done, too - we wrote those songs without a definite singer in mind. Then, in October of 2007, I was talking to Rob Caggiano who said he found this guy in Long Island who he thought would be really good - Dan Nelson. So I did some research, called him up, and few him out to Chicago."
According to Bello, it didn't take much time to realize that they had found their man. "Dan brought in the obligatory 'breath of fresh air,' but it really WAS. He has a killer voice and he's a good guy, and really fits Anthrax. The guy sings like nobody I've heard - I'm really proud of what he's done. This is the new Anthrax - yes, it does sound different, but it's in the same heavy/melodic vein. I don't compare it, I just see it as, 'I love the challenge of having a new Anthrax.'"
"While making this album," added Nelson, "I found that if I just tried to approach my vocals from the heart, to not over think anything, I could bring a fresh, heavier yet still melodic approach to an already brutal style of music. Being the singer of Anthrax has already proven to be a great opportunity to play with great musicians."
Shortly after the line-up was solidified, Nelson was welcomed into the Anthrax fold via a true baptism by fire - opening up a pair of sold out shows for the mighty Iron Maiden in California.
"The second night, we're backstage," recalls Ian, "[Iron Maiden singer] Bruce Dickinson came over to our dressing room to say hi, and he says to me, 'Your new singer, Dan, is amazing. I was watching you guys from the side of the stage last night - he totally fits you guys, he's perfect. His voice is incredible and strong. I loved it!' And I was like, 'Would you come inside and tell Dan? He'd love to hear it from you.' We walk in the dressing room and I'm like, 'Where's Dan?' And I hear from the bathroom, 'I'm in here, taking a crap!' It was so great - not that we're looking for validation, but when Bruce Dickinson comes up and is congratulating you on your new singer, it's a pretty cool moment."
With sessions just about to wrap for "Worship Music," Benante already has a few favorite songs that he can't wait for the band's fans to sink their teeth into. "This one song called 'Down Goes the Sun,' is probably, for me, the most epic song that I've come up with, it has a lot of life in it. There's a song called 'Earth on Hell,' which is a play on the words 'hell on earth.' That could have been on our 'Among the Living' record. There's another song called 'Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't,' which is about zombies - who doesn't love a good zombie song?"
Other standout tracks include "Vampires" (Bello: "It's a dark, heavy groove with some serious, amazing vocals and a great, big chorus"), "Crawl" (Bello: "Another dark song, it's going to throw people for a loop"), "The Devil You Know" (Ian: "It's an almost AC/DC groove filtered through an Anthrax lens"), and "The Giant" (Ian: "It's so brutally in-your-face").
The release of "Worship Music" also sees Anthrax's "return home" to their original label, Megaforce Records. "I just had a nice conversation with Missi Callazzo [Vice President of Megaforce] about how terrific it is to be home again. It's come around full circle. Missi has done above and beyond for this band - including getting us on 'Married...With Children'! Missi absolutely knows how to work a record, she is someone who believes in and lives Anthrax, and we haven't had that in a long time. She knows the band inside and out. She's like a sister of ours."
Callazzo herself voices the same sentiment. "It is a thrill and an honor to be releasing the new album by such a pioneering artist. Anthrax and Megaforce always defined one another and it will be great fun to do it again in 2009."