Chile On Hell Is A Hard Rocking Music History Lesson From Anthrax

Courtesy:  Megaforce Records

Courtesy: Megaforce Records

2014 is almost over.  But even as the year’s last months start to wind down, things haven’t cooled down in terms of the year’s new live recordings. As the year’s final months wind by, critics everywhere will begin firming up their annual “Best Of” lists for publication later in December.  Most critics will focus mainly on the year’s best overall movies and music.  And then there will be those critics and writers that will focus on specific lists such as the year’s best new pop albums, rock albums, hard rock albums, etc. It would seem that among all of the lists that are compiled, one category that doesn’t necessarily receive the attention that it deserves is that of the year’s best new live recordings in terms of DVDs and Blu-rays.  This critic’s personal list of the year’s best new live recordings is already firming up quite well.  There are still at least a couple of spots left open on that list, though.  And one of those spots will most definitely be taken up by veteran hard rock/metal band Anthrax’s new live DVD Chile on Hell.  This new live recording is one that any long-time Anthrax fan will appreciate and enjoy first and foremost for its set list.  While this concert is not necessarily what one would call a “career-spanning” show, it is one that both the band’s original fans and its newest fans alike will appreciate.  The next aspect of the DVD that audiences will appreciate is the band’s stage presence.  Some might consider this something minor.  But in reality, it is just as important in keeping audiences at home fully engaged.  And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the concert’s collective audio and video mix.  The two together present a certain raw look and sound that are just as impressive as any more spit shined and perfected recordings that are currently available to audiences.    Each of the factors noted here play their own important role in the overall enjoyment of Chile on Hell.  Altogether, they make this DVD a dark horse candidate for a spot on at least this critic’s list of the year’s best new live recordings.

Far too often, the term career-spanning is tossed around when it comes to live recordings.  Sadly, very far too few of those recordings live up to such hype.  That isn’t to say that no recording lives up to that label.  Rather, far too few live recordings live up to said label.  Thankfully, neither Anthrax nor Megaforce Records make any attempt to call Chile on Hell one of that mass of overly hyped recordings.  Rather, they let the recording speak for itself.  And the statement made is loud and crystal clear as audiences will see in the show’s set list.  The nearly two-hour show includes some of the material included on Worship Music and the band’s recently released EP Anthems.  But by and large, the set list presented in Chile on Hell takes audiences back to the band’s earlier days.  To be more exact, the band largely reaches back to its 1985 and 1987 albums Spreading The Disease and Among The Living for this concert.  1990’s Persistence of Time of also represented here courtesy of the song ‘In My World.’  Such a mix of classics and more recent songs will bring in both the band’s original fan base and its newer and possibly younger fan base at the same time.  One could argue that in presenting such a set list, the band is paying respect to its original fan base while teaching a valuable music history lesson to those younger and newer fans.  Even if this was not the original intent on the part of the band or of Megaforce Records, it is one of the results.  It makes the set list even more solid as the DVD’s center.

The set list and the potentially latent function of said list are together a solid starting point in the success and enjoyment of Chile on Hell.  Just as important as the set list and its effects is the band’s stage presence.  It goes without saying that the band’s stage presence in this stage is full-on.  Front man Joey Belladonna and founding guitarist Scott Ian exude so much energy; so much in fact that even audiences at home will find themselves wanting to sing along and head bang with them.  Such a powerful translation even on-screen is quite a statement.  Belladonna’s band mates add their own energy through their performances.  Whether through Charlie Benante’s pounding drumming, the spot on shredding of Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais (who replaced Rob Caggiano) or even bassist Frank Bello, the band collectively keeps the audience in attendance at the recording fully engaged from start to finish.  And home viewing audiences will feel that energy themselves, leading them to be fully engaged throughout, too.  That the band’s stage presence could translate so well and have such impact even on home viewers is a tribute to the band itself.  And coupled with the show’s set list, the overall effect of the show is made even stronger, thus making the recording in whole all the more enjoyable for all of the band’s legions of fans.

The set list arranged for Anthrax’s show in Chile and the band’s stage presence combine to make Chile on Hell an impressive addition to any Anthrax fan’s personal collection.  The recording’s collective audio and video mix is the final touch to the whole presentation.  The video doesn’t have the spit shined look of so many other live recordings before it.  Rather, it has a grainier, more raw look.  Yet that look actually plays into the overall presentation.  That is because it actually serves to help heighten the energy exuded by both the band and the audience.  Staying on that topic, audiences will enjoy the camera attached to the end of guitarist Scott Ian’s guitar.  That angle and the others used throughout the concert are used at just the right moments to make for a wonderful impact.  And despite being recorded at an indoor venue, the concert’s audio mix turned out impressive in its own right, too.  Balancing audio levels at indoor venues always has and always will present its own challenges.  In the case of this concert, those charged with balancing the concert’s audio levels both at the show and in post-production are to be commended for their efforts.  The end result of their work is a concert recording in which neither the vocals nor the music overpowered the other.  And together with the equally professional work on the concert’s video mix, it proves to be a concert experience that any of Anthrax’s legions of fans will enjoy no less with each watch.

Those charged with handling the audio and video mix for Chile on Hell are to be highly commended for their high quality of work in this concert.  The band and its label are to be commended, too.  The set list serves a dual purpose.  And the band’s stage presence will keep audiences fully engaged from start to finish.  All three of these factors come together to make Chile on Hell a concert that while bare bones, is one that any hard rock fan and any Anthrax fan will appreciate and enjoy.  The DVD will be available Tuesday, September 16th via Megaforce Records.  Fans can find out more about this upcoming live recording and keep up with all of the latest updates from Anthrax online at http://anthrax.com, http://anthraxarmy.com, http://twitter.com/anthrax, and http://www.facebook.com/anthrax.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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.