Anthrax EP One Of 2013’s Best Rock Records

Anthrax has proven once again with its new EP, Anthems, why it is still one of rock’s elite bands.  This veteran rock act has crafted in its new release a work that is perfect in every way.  From the sequencing to the sound to the very packaging, everything that could have been done right was done right.  Sure, it probably is essentially a space filler between albums, but even if that is the case, it is one heck of a space filler.  It’s a musical history lesson for rockers of all ages.  Here, audiences get a band that by comparison to the bands it covers is relatively young.  Yet it shows that it knows the classics through some expert renditions of said classics.

Anthems opens with a cover of Rush’s ‘Anthem.’  This song originally appeared on Rush’s album, Fly By Night.  That Anthrax would cover Rush is a mind blower in and of itself.  Considering the style of music for which Anthrax is known, one would not instantly consider such a polar opposite sound to be any kind of influence on the band.  So that in itself is an eye opener.  That the band so expertly covered the song is even more of an eye opener.  The band paid homage to Rush and the song with its cover, but still added its own touch to the song, too.  Front man Joey Belladonna makes the song even more solid of an opener when he sings the line, “Welcome to the world.”  When Geddy Lee first sang those words, they obviously had their own meaning.  But having Belladonna sing those same words, they somehow take on a whole new meaning.  Since this is the EP’s opener, it could be argued that those words take on an introductory fashion for new listeners and a whole new introduction even for those more seasoned audiences.  Given, that probably wasn’t the intended function of that line.  But it does seem to have that impact.

The band’s new EP only gets better from the opening cover.  The EP’s second track is a cover of another legendary band’s song.  The band’s cover of AC/DC’s ‘TNT’ is without a doubt, one of this disc’s major high points.  One can’t help but focus yet again on front man Joey Belladonna. Maybe it is just this critic’s own take on the song, but Belladonna sounds eerily like the late great Bon Scott in every sense in this song.  Had one not known it was him, one might actually have thought it was the original song.  This is also thanks in part to guitarist Rob Caggiano, who earlier this year announced his departure from the band.  His take on Angus Young’s guitar work on this rock classic pays Young full honor.  And drummer Charlie Benante’s drumming is just as solid as that of Phil Rudd.  This is one that one could easily see the band performing live as it tours the country on the Metal Alliance Tour this Spring.

If Anthrax’s covers of ‘TNT’ and ‘Anthem’ aren’t enough for fans, then the cover of Boston’s ‘Smokin’’ will impress audiences.  This is yet another spot on cover that keeps the energy flowing from the EP’s first two tracks.  Older, more experienced rockers will love how the band handles this track.  And that such a young band by comparison could so expertly handle this classic will make older audiences smile, too.  Younger audiences will love it too simply because the band shines here even more.  It’s as if the band just keeps getting better and better on every track.  This is the case with the remaining trio of covers included here, too.  Those covers lead into the inclusion of two more bonuses in the form of ‘Crawl’ and its remix of sorts.

‘Crawl’ was taken from the band’s 2011 album, Worship Music.  Including both this track and its remix was actually quite smart.  Whereas so many bands in a case such as this would only include the redone track or live track, Anthrax and Megaforce Records have included both tracks, thus offering audiences the chance to compare and decide for themselves which version of the song they like better.  Regardless of which song becomes one fan’s favorite or another’s these last two tracks help the EP close just as solidly as it opened.  It goes without saying that if any one negative that could be said about Anthems, it is that the band chose to make this an EP, instead of a full length album.  Here’s to hoping one day, fans will see that happen.  Until then, fans can listen to his EP to their hearts’ content as the EP is available now both in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from the official Anthrax website here:  http://anthrax.com/2013/03/19/anthems-is-here/Worship Music can be ordered directly via the band’s official website also at  http://shop.anthrax.com/shop.cfm/pk/category/ac/detail/cid/409267/prodid/412162.

Fans can get a chance to win a copy of Anthems for free right now and the chance to see the band live at its stop in Charlotte, North Carolina next month from the Phil’s Picks blog and Facebook page when they “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.  Just “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and say you want to be entered for the chance to win an EP and to see the band live.

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Anthrax Guitarist Announces Departure From Band

Long-time Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano has left the band.  But he won’t be going very far from the music business.  While Anthrax legions the world over won’t be seeing his name on the band’s albums anymore, they may very well end up seeing his name on their albums, as he has decided to pursue his other love.  That other love is producing.  Proof of his abilities on the boards is a Grammy nod for the song, ‘I’m Alive’ from the band’s most recent full length studio release, Worship Music.  The song garnered the band a Grammy nod for “Best Rock + Metal Performance.”  While it would appear his immediate future is working behind the glass, Caggiano has hinted that he does eventually intend to get back on the road in some form or fashion.

Caggiano released a statement regarding his departure from the band.  The following is what he had to say.  “I’m extremely proud of my time in Anthrax.  Actually, that’s an understatement!  We accomplished so many great things together over the years and I shared some of the best times of my life with these guys.  As a band, we weathered quite a few storms along the way.  It’s been a wild ride (to say the least) from Day One and I wouldn’t change one single thing about the last 12 years.  This is an extremely difficult and emotional decision for me to make but my heart is just steering me in a different direction right now.  I’ve always been one to follow my heart in everything that I do and while this might have been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, it feels like the right one for me at this time.  Scott, Charlie, Joey, Frankie (and John Bush) will always be part of my family and this decision doesn’t change the way I feel about that in the slightest.  I would also like to say thank you to all the amazing fans I’ve met and hung out with worldwide over the years.  You guys always were and always will be the reason I make music!  In this day and age, being a musician isn’t always easy–also an understatement—but the fans truly make it worthwhile for me.  I hope to see each and every one of you again really soon.  The fact that Anthrax is at the top of their game right now and totally ‘out for blood’ after all these years is a testament to this band’s longevity and conviction!  I’m truly honored to have been a part of their brilliant legacy!

This isn’t all that Caggiano had to say with his statement.  He went on to discuss his future plans, including the possibility of recording and hitting the road again.  Here is what he had to say:  “I can’t wait to get back in the recording studio again!  Over the years, I’ve been blessed with the privilege of working with a wide range of great bands/artists from Anthrax and Cradle of Filth all the way to Bruce Springsteen, and I look forward to a hopeful continuation of that side of my career while I figure out my next move as an artist.  BTW in case anyone was wondering after reading all of this, I do FULLY intend to get back out there on the road very soon in some way shape or form…it’s in my blood!  Please feel free to follow me on Twitter @RobCaggiano for any and all updates on what I am up to.

“The band has also commented on Rob’s announcement in a statement.  The band responded to this announcement with its own statement saying, “Rob has been an integral part of Anthrax for so many years, as our lead guitarist, in a production capacity, but most of all as our close friend.  His contributions to the band have been enormous.  While we are sad that he is leaving, we wish him nothing but great success going forward, and hope to share the stage with him again sometime down the road.

 

With the Metal Alliance Tour on the horizon, we have been considering several lead guitarist options, and will be making an announcement on that shortly.”

ANTHRAX – Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna

 

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Anthrax Offers Thanks To Fans, Media In Open Letter

Metal Nation members, I’ve got an extra treat for you this morning before I head out for the day.  I just got in a letter from metal titans Anthrax to the band’s fans.  It’s not bad news.  Don’t worry.  If anything, it’s the band’s way of saying thank you to everyone for the success of it’s mos recent album, “Worship Music.”  You can check out the full open letter here!  What follows is right from the band.

To our Fans and everyone who has supported Anthrax and Worship Music:

It was a little more than a year ago – September 13, 2011 – that Worship Music was released, and all of us in Anthrax can’t believe how much has happened since then.

Our friends in the press gave the album great reviews, and so many writers singled it out as one of the best metal albums of the year.  Our label just told us that Worship Music has just passed the 100,000 mark on albums sold.  Since Worship Music‘s release, we’ve played 107 concerts all over the world – in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, South America, and the U.K. – we’ve gone home to New York to not only play Yankee Stadium as one of The Big Four, but had September 14 named “Anthrax Day” in The Bronx, where Charlie, Frankie and Rob grew up.

We’ve been so lucky as a band, and we know we’re able to do what we do because of you, our fans and all of our supporters in the press, at radio and retail, online, on the road, everywhere.  We’ve had one of the best years of our career, and we share it all with you.  So thank you for making the Anthrax’s “year of Worship Music” the best!  More to come!

Frank, Scott, Charlie, Rob and Joey

Courtesy: Matthew Rodgers

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Anthrax members explain stage choice at Mayhem Festival

Los Angeles, CA–Thrash kings, Anthrax were given the opportunity to play the mainstage at this year’s Mayhem Festival.  So when the band opted to play the festival’s Jagermeister tour, it left some scratching their heads.  Now, the members of the band have spoken out on why they opted out of playing the mainstage.  The band essentially chose the Jagermeister stage for the fans for than for itself.  When asked about it, drummer Charlie Benante said of the band’s choice, “We decided to pattern the Mayhem set on the kind of shows The Ramones used to do:  a high-energy, non-stop barrage of hit, hit, hit, hit, hit.  No lulls, no filler, totally in your face.  We’re going to be playing a supersonic-paced set loaded with the best of our best.”

The band’s performance on the Mayhem Festival is in support of its recent release, “Worship Music.”  Anthrax released “Worship Music” September 13, 2011.  In that time, the album has come to huge acclaim from critics and fans alike.  Speaking in regards to the fans, the band’s guitarist, Scott Ian said the fans were the main reason the band wanted to play the Jagermeister stage instead of the mainstage.  He said of the decision, “We really like the idea of not ‘playing to seats, and we want our crowd to have the freedom to move around, to go crazy with us.”  He added,  “Plus, we’ve been on the road together now for about two years, so we’re tighter as a band than we’ve ever been.  Our Mayhem set will be a fun, fast and furious 45-minutes, so they’d better have the EMTs on hand.”

This year’s Mayhem festival kicks off July 1st in San Francisco, CA.  The tour will run throughout the country.  For a full list of dates and to keep track of the festival and its artists, go online to http://www.rockstarmayhemfest.com, http://www.facebook.com/MayhemFestival2012, and http://twitter.com/Mayhemfest.