Step inside the studio with Anthrax

“Going into this new record, I just can’t wait for people to hear it. People who ever had any question as to why Anthrax is still a band in 2016, this will answer that question. It’s just fucking blazing. It’s going to tear people’s heads off.”

Scott Ian’s hardly selling new album For All Kings short. He’s obviously proud of Anthrax’s new album, the first written entirely with Joey Belladonna back in the band since Persistence Of Time in 1990, and the follow-up to 2011’s warmly received Worship Music. But Scott’s also been doing this long enough not to need to bullshit and bluster about new music.

Anything I say just sounds like a cliché and cheesy, so I’d prefer people to listen to the record and make up their own minds,” he says. “What am I going to say? ‘It sounds terrible’, or ‘It’s the greatest record we’ve ever made!’ because that’s what you’re supposed to say when you do an interview and get asked how it sounds. I’m super proud of the record, I think the songwriting is amazing, I think it sounds great, and I’m super excited for people to hear it. It sounds like an Anthrax record. We didn’t make a jazz record – let’s put it that way!”

Anthrax in the studio

Anthrax in the studio (Image credit: Joe Lester)

Fears of badly ill-judged change of stylistic direction put aside, then. But Anthrax are too savvy (and good) to do daft things musically. Their problems have, historically, been more to do with changes of singers – something that has blessedly not blighted For All Kings. While Worship Music had to be rescued after Dan Nelson’s short-lived tenure in the vocal both, Joey Belladonna (who originally joined Anthrax with Spreading The Disease in a similar, partially complete state) has been there from the outset this time.

Joey Belladonna giving it both barrels

Joey Belladonna giving it both barrels (Image credit: Justin Cruse)

“We were not just redoing the vocals, a lot of songs got rerecorded from the ground up on Worship Music because we changed things,” Scott tells Hammer. “So yeah, this time it was a lot smoother! Joey’s back in the band, very much in place as the singer of Anthrax, and it definitely helps when you know who your singer is. When you’re writing songs, and you’re writing songs with that person in mind, knowing he’s going to be singing them, that definitely makes things go a lot easier. And I think that has a lot to do with why I think the songwriting is so great on this record.”

The new member of the band this time is guitarist Jon Donais, once of Shadows Fall, and successor to Rob Caggiano. When you’re the new guy in a band that’s been making killer records for 30-plus years, the obvious question is: What can he contribute to the album?

“He could play all the old stuff because he’s an insane guitar player, but we had the same question: what is he going to bring to the table when it comes to new material?” Scott says. “As we were sending him the new songs, we were basically just saying, ‘Here! Go for it! What have you got for this?’ He started sending us back demos of his solo ideas and lead ideas and melody ideas and harmony ideas, and he was so on point as far as our idea of what a solo should be – basically a song within a song. He really understood the music and the songwriting, and his lead breaks add to it. I think there’s some songs where we may even have extended the solo sections because we were so happy with the way he was playing. It was everything we were hoping for with Jon’s addition to the band. Once we heard what he was writing, we had no worries what he was going to bring to the table.”

No chance of keeping expectations modest, then.

(All photos by Joe Lester and Justin Cruse)

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