In a new interview with Radioactive MikeZ, host of the 96.7 KCAL-FM program “Wired In The Empire”, ANTHRAX singer Joey Belladonna was asked if he has had an chance to begin laying down any vocals on the band’s long-awaited follow-up to 2016’s “For All Kings” album. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “No, I haven’t done anything yet. I kind of clear the air until everything is about getting closer to that point where you need to start gearing up to go in to sing stuff. It’s an exciting time to be able to take on song from song, song to song and really just find the best path to a great, great version of something that may or may not be what you’re expecting, for me and for the fans and the band just as well. So, yeah, it’s a really interesting time. I love the studio.”
During an August 2 appearance on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”, ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian said that he and his bandmates had not gotten very far in the tracking process for their next LP. “We had a session here in L.A.,” he said. “Charlie (Benante, ANTHRAX drummer), Frankie (Bello, ANTHRAX bassist) and I tracked nine songs. I finished the guitars on those right before we went to New York, so I don’t know — sometime end of June; something like that. Frankie is currently in L.A. tracking bass on those nine songs… Since I’ve had time, like a month, to live with my guitar tracks, I’ve heard like lots of things that I think are very cool to kind of add. So I’m going in and spending a day doing some overdubs. (Jonathan) Donais (ANTHRAX guitarist) is already working on solos back east at his home studio. And I am working on lyrics. So I think we’re well into it, let’s put it that way. There’s gonna be another recording session October, maybe November. Charlie‘s got these two windows to get in, ’cause we have another four or five (songs) we want to track. We’re hoping, if things just stay on the very loose schedule we have, I’d like to think by Christmas, New Year’s, we’ll have most of this wrapped up. Maybe not mixed, but certainly all recorded by then.”
Scott continued: “My goal is to have three songs ready for (Belladonna) to start on next month. Joey, it doesn’t take him very long. Once he kind of wraps his head around it and kind of runs it through his filter, he’s a fast worker. So once he starts, it doesn’t take long. It’s more, I think, the onus on me of being happy with the lyrics I’m writing. ‘Cause I actually had, like, three or four songs written months ago, and then I revisited them like a month ago and I threw ’em all in the garbage; I was, like, ‘This is crap.’ But I’m in a much better place with that now.”
Regarding the musical direction of the new ANTHRAX material. Scott said: “Certainly of the nine (songs) we’ve tracked so far, and, of course, the rough kind of demos we have of some of the stuff we haven’t tracked with drums yet, from a riff point of view, it’s definitely — I mean it’s riffs with all capital letters. Like if you were going to write, you would write ‘riffs’ in all capitals with an exclamation point. The riffs are killer. It’s very riff-centric. There’s a lot of faster uptempo material, certainly.”
Ian added: “I will say there is a song — I won’t say any titles yet, ’cause it’s still probably a working title — there’s definitely one song, it’s the fastest thing we’ve ever done. There’s another song that we haven’t recorded yet that’s also in the vein, more of a ‘Gung-Ho’ or a ‘Caught In A Mosh’. Because Charlie and I talk all the time. I said, ‘We still need something that’s like a three-and-a-half-minute just ripper. You know, something like that.’ And then we come up with something like that and I’m, like, ‘Hey, I forgot I’m 60 now, and now I have to play this song for the next three years.’ Just make my life harder.”
This past May, it was announced that Ian, Benante and Bello had been in the studio with producer Jay Ruston, laying down basic tracks in preparation for Belladonna to record his vocals and for lead guitarist Donais to add his leads and solos.
At the time, Scott wrote on social media: “We started recording the new album last week and the first session was a blast! The songs are killer, challenging and a lot of fun to play – Riff-O-Rama. Tones are 1986 great. Can’t wait for all of you to hear what we’re doing.”
Charlie added: “We entered the studio and have begun recording our new record. I feel that the songs are next level for us. The first batch that I recorded were a bit challenging as far as my drumming goes. The next batch will be recorded in between my @panteraofficial schedule. I can’t wait to record the next batch… some great stuff coming! The persistence to spread the euphoric Music we worship among all you Kings ( and Queens) has always been our mission @anthrax”.
A month earlier, Benante was asked by Robert Cavuoto of Metal Rules if his packed 2023 touring schedule with PANTERA will delay the release of ANTHRAX‘s new LP. He responded: “We’re actually going in two weeks to start recording the record. But it probably wouldn’t come out till ’24 anyway. But the good part about it is we are going in to start recording it. So that’s awesome.”
Elaborating on why it has taken so long for ANTHRAX to complete the writing process for a new LP, Charlie said: “If we didn’t get hit with this whole global pandemic thing, it would have been out probably two years ago, three years ago. But we all know what happened. But now, being that some of the songs were (written) before the pandemic hit, they’re old to me. So now there’s a bunch of new songs that kind of came in the mix. So that’s a good thing. You can never have enough… We’re still working on the older ones because we really like a lot of those.”
This past January, Ian told Metal Edge that he and his bandmates had “11 musical arrangements”, as well as “some” lyrics, that they were working on for their next album. “Obviously, I’m going to be working on more words and we’re getting there,” he said. “I’m hoping at some point we’ll be able to get into the studio (this year) and record them.”
Benante also loudly wondered if ANTHRAX could focus on releasing EPs in the foreseeable future as opposed to full-length albums, as has been the case for much of the band’s four-plus-decade career.
“What if it wasn’t a full album?” the drummer asked. “If we released six songs and then we released another six songs. I know from a record company’s point of view that really doesn’t work, but in these days…”
“Yeah. It’s all so different now,” Ian said, jumping in. “SLIPKNOT‘s saying now why even make full albums anymore. I get it. I get all sides of it. I still love a full album, but at the same time I totally understand the idea of what’s the point of giving someone 11 songs. Most people don’t listen to albums anymore. So, yeah — why not parse it out? I don’t know. All I know is at some point in the next few months we’ll probably have 14 or 15 things and then we’ll have to decide when we’re going to record it and how we’re going to release it.”
“Think about it,” Benante continued. “If ANTHRAX released five songs and you have these five songs, and you absorb it in such a different way nowadays, too. I think that may be the way to go, rather than give everybody 11 songs and it’s like, ‘Oh — I only had a chance to listen to the first four or five.’ I don’t know. I just think maybe the business model is different.”
“And even for us, playing songs live it’s like, you put out a record with 10 or 11 songs on it with the idea that, ‘Oh man, I can’t wait to play this one live and I can’t wait to play this one live,'” Ian added. “On ‘For All Kings’, we definitely didn’t play all of those songs at any point. I think there’s maybe six songs on the record that got played – and that’s it. I almost feel like you’re wasting them. I understand album tracks, but if you put out just five songs it would be easy to play all five of those on a new tour.”
“And easier to digest, too,” Benante agreed. “You would appreciate it more if it was just five songs and, ‘These five songs are fuckin’ killer. I can’t wait for the next five songs,’ knowing that we will release another five or six.”
Earlier in January, Benante told Ruben Mosqueda of We Go To 11 that ANTHRAX was planning to enter the studio sometime this spring to begin recording the new LP.
“Between the PANTERA (tour dates in 2023), we’re gonna be working on this record, this ANTHRAX record,” he said. “We’re hoping to have it finished before PANTERA go to Europe (in late May). I have a little window after that, before (PANTERA‘s stadium tour with) METALLICA starts. At least if I get my drum tracks done, then the other guys can continue to work on it. That’s the plan. Unless something else happens, but hopefully nothing will happen.”
Last November, Bello told SiriusXM that the band is “not in a rush” to record the new album. “We wanna make sure it’s the right record,” he explained. “We can’t just throw out something that’s not ready. So we’re gonna really make sure it’s the right record and live with it for a little bit. We have some brutal stuff and some cool stuff coming up — very heavy — we’ve been working on. Everybody can say that when they’re working on a record. But the proof is in the pudding. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve come up with so far.”
In August 2022, Ian praised the production quality on some of the band’s recent albums, including 2011’s “Worship Music” and “For All Kings”. He said: (On) ‘Worship (Music)’ and ‘For All Kings’, for me, we’ve really kind of found our sound. We’ve got this base level where we’re at right now with (producer) Jay Ruston where we know it’s gonna be great, and then we could push it even further. Especially with the songwriting that we have right now, going into what will eventually be a new ANTHRAX album, it just lends itself to even a more aggressive production which I think we will have no problem accomplishing.”
In April 2022, Scott confirmed to Metal Injection that ANTHRAX had a few songs already written for the upcoming LP. “All I can say is we will get in the studio when we’re ready,” he said. “I think we’re getting there. I think we have great songs. I think people will be very happy.
“Not to make a weird comparison, but it’s our third record back together with Joey. Actually, it’s an odd comparison. I should just say it’s our third album since our kind of our reboot in 2010 and our third album back in the day was ‘Among The Living’. I’m not saying that this is (like that album), because it’s not ‘Among The Living II’ in any sense, but I just think we have some great songs and there’s like a fucking mountain of great riffs. I think people are going to be very happy.”
Ian previously discussed ANTHRAX‘s upcoming LP during a July 2021 appearance on Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show. At the time, he said: “We’ve been at it for a little while now. We actually started writing in ’19 — pre-COVID — and kind of stepped away from things when COVID happened. We were all separate and apart and we would kind of revisit some of the demos, but we weren’t actively working on it.
“Yeah, it’s the same as it’s always been,” he said. “I would have to think by the time we get to the other side of the writing process and we decide we’re ready to go record it, I would have to assume it’s certainly going to represent this time in our lives. And the world having gone through a pandemic, I would imagine certainly that’s in some way, shape or form going to come out through this next record. I can’t tell you how yet, but I would have to think it’s going to.”
ANTHRAX celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021 with a number of special activities and events. Formed by Ian and bassist Dan Lilker in Queens, New York on July 18, 1981, ANTHRAX was one of the first thrash metal bands to emerge from the East Coast and quickly became regarded as a leader in the genre alongside METALLICA, SLAYER and MEGADETH.
Active over the past five decades, ANTHRAX has released 11 studio albums, been awarded multiple gold and platinum certifications, received six Grammy nominations, toured the world since 1984 playing thousands of shows, including headlining Madison Square Garden and playing Yankee Stadium with the “Big Four”.
“For All Kings” was called by some critics ANTHRAX‘s strongest album to date. Its arrival followed a five-year period during which the group experienced a rebirth of sorts, beginning with ANTHRAX‘s inclusion on the “Big Four” tour, and continuing with the release of comeback LP “Worship Music”.