Hard to believe but it’s been four years since Anthrax honoured our prison grounds with a visit. Metallica is unattainable for a festival of Alcatraz’ size and now that Slayer has called it quits only Megadeth and Anthrax remain to fly the flag for the Big Four.
So far we haven’t had the pleasure of billing Megadeth but we’re stoked to host Anthrax for the third time. Whereas the other bands in the Big Four put out really heavy thrash records in the early days and had an image to match, their brethren in Anthrax take a more light-hearted approach. Scott Ian & Co like to wear fire engine red, bright blue and even yellow bermudas and before long they become Anthrax’ calling card. In truth, it’s not all that surprising because punk and hardcore are also very much a part of the NY music scene. One of the progenitors of the crossover genre is undoubtedly S.O.D., a band consisting largely of (ex-)Anthrax personnel. Anthrax itself also ventures into uncharted territory with the rap-inspired hit single ‘I’m the Man’. ‘Among the Living’ (1987) and ‘State of Euphoria’ (1988) are thrash gems; follow-up ‘Persistence of Time’ (1990) is still one of our favourite Anthrax records, featuring their heaviest material yet. John Bush replaces Joey Belladonna in 1992 and their next offering ‘Sound of White Noise’ (1993) is still their highest-charting release to date. Unfortunately the next few records are less well received and after ‘We’ve Come for You All’ (2003) it’s curtains for Bush. Joey Belladonna returns to the old roost only to be replaced by Dan Nelson but the switch disgruntles the fans. Joey is persuaded to man the mic once more and he relights the fire under his bandmates’ ass as Anthrax returns to its thrashing ways on the phenomenal ‘Worship Music’ (2011). Anthrax may have a monster of a new record on its hands but they have to restore their reputation after several less successful years. Instead of embarking on a headlining tour they decide to ride shotgun with bands like Iron Maiden, Slayer and Lamb of God. The tactical decision pays off because ‘For All Kings’ writes the next chapter in the success story of a band that’s been steering its own course for decades and still boasts a huge following of fans both old and new.