"There's no better catharsis than being at a thrash-metal show, screaming along with the band and banging your head": Scott Ian on why you should still go and watch Anthrax

Scott Ian onstage
(Image credit: Dave Simpson/WireImage via Getty Images)

As Anthrax put the finishing touches on a twelfth studio album that’s expected later this year, Scott Ian, the guitarist and last remaining co-founder of the New York thrashers, sets the scene for a European in November with fellow metallic progenitors Kreator from Germany and Bay Arena bangers Testament.


Having Kreator and Testament on this bill should make for a great tour

Yeah. We had an amazing UK run last fall, so to come back again with something even bigger is very exciting. We’re pumped, man! 

What is the essence of a good thrash-metal gig? 

It’s the excitement it brings. I just love the anticipation of standing in the pit and waiting for a show to start. I still remember being down on the floor at The Ritz [in New York] in 1987, a minute from Slayer coming on stage, and the energy in the air was palpable. What would the first song be? There’s no better catharsis than being at a thrash-metal show, screaming along with the band and banging your head. 

After the decades the genre has spent in the mainstream, is it now almost comical to remember the way purists turned up their noses at thrash? 

Some insisted it was “just a noise”, and that it would go away. That question makes me think of our manager Jonny Z [Zazula, who died in 2022]. Jonny also managed Metallica, and he took No Life ’Til Leather [Metallica’s demo] to every A&R man in New York City. They’d have fingers in their ears and tell him to turn it off. So Jonny put it out himself [via his label Megaforce]. It didn’t take too long before those same people realised whether or not that music was for them, it was for somebody. Thrash bands sold record and tickets, and that’s when the feeding frenzy started. 

Should the Big Four of thrash – Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer – have been the Big Five, or even the Big Six? 

To me, Exodus should have been mentioned in that same bracket. They started back in 1979 as a covers band, two years even before us, Metallica and Slayer [Megadeth formed in 1983]. Whoever coined that phrase should have included Exodus. They were there at the beginning, and I still think that in Bonded By Blood they made the best debut record of the five of us.

And then there’s Testament. 

Sure. But though Testament formed as Legacy [in 1983], they weren’t in the first wave. [Laughs] I don’t make the rules, man. You’ll have to take it up with the guy that came up with the phrase. 

Were you as astonished as everyone else when Slayer recently came out of retirement? 

I wrote to Kerry [King, guitarist] and said: “Thanks for making me look like a liar.” We were on Slayer’s goodbye tour for over a hundred shows. During that year and a half together I got the sense that if they said were ending, then that’s what was happening. Personally I felt it was too soon – the world needs Slayer – but I took them at their word on that. I really felt that they would be the one band that when they said they were retiring, they’d be done for good. 

How did Kerry respond to your email? He wrote back saying: “Hahaha. Hey, it’s just three shows.” 

I replied: “Yeah, we’ll see.” 

Before Anthrax’s set at Wembley Arena with Slayer on that tour back in 2018, your son Revel appeared on stage in a Freddie Mercury outfit and mimed to a Queen song. Given his family heritage (his mum is Pearl Aday, and his grandad Meat Loaf) it was probably inevitable that he would form his own band. 

Revel was in a full-on Queen thing at that point. I think that show was around Halloween, that’s why he wore that outfit.

How old is Revel now? 

He’s twelve. He has a new band called X-Comm. A three-piece punk thing, very brutal and fast. 

How does it make you feel for him to be following your path? 

Seeing it through his eyes is just the best. I’m so excited and happy for him. 

It’s been reported that on this tour Anthrax might preview a song from a forthcoming studio album. 

‘Might’ is the important word. November is a long time off. As a band we haven’t played any of those songs. Three of us did in the studio. But with solos and vocals… that’s yet to happen. There are still four songs for Joey [Belladonna] left to sing, and John [Donais] is still working on lead-guitar solos. Then we’ve got to get in a room together and learn how to play them. 

What’s the time frame for the album’s release? 

We don’t have one yet, though of course it would be great if it could come out before the tour starts, but I can’t promise that will be the case. 

Can you tell us anything about what’s on it? 

Safe to say it’s a metal record [laughs]. It’s the most aggressive one we’ve made since maybe Persistence Of Time [1990].

Anthrax's European tour with Kreator and Testament kicks off onNovember 21 in Manchester. Tickets are on sale now.  

Anthrax tour poster

(Image credit: Anthrax)
Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.