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Those nymphos from Anthrax

Anthrax and its line up: as messy as a Simpsons episode.

One evening, as we were talking about Anthrax, our mythical Fucktoy told me: « this story with Belladonna and Bush, it makes me think of a guy who leaves his wife for another woman, but who then wishes to come back to her while he’s sitting on the other one just in case. And when one of the two women dumps him, he tries to come back to the other, in vain! ». When it comes to human relationships, Scott Ian and his partners in crime are just like teenagers.

If you’ve followed the metal scene news in the last few months, you’ve most certainly heard some stories about the relationship between Anthrax and its singers: a real soap opera. The last month’s pussyfooting recently led to Joey Belladonna’s official return. For once, the use of the adjective « incredible » is not excessive. How many of you have followed this story’s developments without thinking « can’t be, it’s a joke! »?

Even if that first official confirmation seems to have put an end to these incidents in the short term, one can’t help questioning the stability of the band in the long term.

Neil Turbin

This recent case is indeed far from being isolated. It’s a fact: Anthrax’s members seem to have a strange relationship with their singers. And it has been like that since the very beginning: Neil Turbin was indeed the first victim of the band’s authoritarian vision. Turbin was the first official vocalist of the band. It is both his voice and texts that you can hear on the 1984 album Fistful Of Metal. He is then fired in August of the same year, only a few months after the album was released. In an interview given in 2006 to livingformetal.com and visible on Neil’s myspace page, he declares:  » That was actually the best day in my life…the moment that I had the opportunity to leave Anthrax. I mean these were people that were not nice…not the nicest people I could think of on the planet. […]For me I was apart of the team […] I was excluded from a lot of interviews…[…] So they basically tried to push me out of the picture and they didn’t wanna hear what I had to say. […]So at that point they just needed to get someone who was gonna take orders…and it wasn’t gonna be me. »

Neil tells our colleagues from Metal Rules that he was exasperated by Dan Spitz’s oversized ego (whom he besided calls « the Spitz Diva »), which has apparently led him to take the credit for the composition of the « Death From Above » riff, which was in fact written by Turbin. A question of authoritarianism and ego, then. But also a question of business. Neil confesses to our Metal Underground colleagues:  » I was not fully acclimated into business yet and to be honest, I was very naive about the entire process. […] I did not consult with attorneys, I was not prepared to fight with sharks, savages and bloodsuckers. […] I never saw a penny for any merchandise that was ever sold during the two years while I was in the band.[…] [Concerning royalties, I get paid some for « Fistful of Metal », but for nothing else, despite the fact that] there are albums on Island, Universal and Sanctuary that have songs I’ve written on them (Editor’s note: « Armed And Dangerous » amongst others) ».

Turbin, who has in the meantime formed Deathriders, is still on very bad terms with Anthrax.

Joey Belladonna

His successor, Joey Belladonna, has lasted seven years in the band. When people talk about Anthrax, they usually differentiate the « Belladonna Era » from the « Bush Era ». For the fans, Belladonna symbolises history and a certain sentimental dimension. He is also associated with an old school, traditional musical world, and with a multitude of great classics.

Joey is then fired and replaced by a charismatic John Bush, whose vocal rythmics corresponded better to the modern evolution of the band. The band then announces a « nostalgy tour », planned to welcome both singers on one stage. But Belladonna cancells his participation. According to John Bush, the financial requirements of his predecessor were far too high. The first of April 2005, Scott Ian announces the reformation of the old line up from the Among the Living Era, and therefore the return of Joey Belladonna. Following this, a tour is organised, during which the complete Among the Living album is to be interepreted. We then logically expect a new album, but on the 24th of January 2007, we are surprised by a new coup de théâtre. A press release, written by Scott Ian, announces:  » Finally, we’re going back to work. We’re going to Chicago to work our asses off and write a record. It’s time. We’re ready. One problem… no singer […] Joey decided he did not want to move forward. The reunion is over. We tried to make it work but I guess that’s the problem, you can’t ‘make’ something work. » . What happened?

John Bush et Joey Belladonna

Clearly, this « reunion tour » did not go very well. Arno Strobl (Maladaptive, Ex-Carnival In Coal) recalled in the Metal Pour Les Nuls of Marchthat this reformation was an absolute fiasco. He met the band during these days, and found that the atmosphere within the group was « abominable »: Dan Spitz (guitar), together with his personal manager, refused to talk to the other members of the band and to be photographed with them, and Scott Ian showed serious signs of irritation anytime Belladonna would answer an interview…

It is understandable that after having assisted to such degeneration, Arno, Anthrax fan from the early times, does not want to see them recover from these line-up problems. Belladonna does not agree with Scott Ian’s version of the facts, since he pretends he was fired without even being informed of it personally. Whom to believe, then? We obviously cannot offer any concrete evidence, apart from the corroborating testimonies from Belladonna, Turbin and Dan Nelson, who has declared a few years later that he went through the exact same scenario. So unless it is a coincidence, or a conspiracy of the singers against Anthrax, the Belladonna version remains the most plausible one.

In any case, following this failure, the Americans try to patch things up with John Bush. And it is at this very point that Fucktoy’s metaphore starts to make full sense. Just like a girlfriend to whom we would not have said everything just in case it does not work out with the other pretty brunette, John Bush was legally, at this very moment, still a member of Anthrax. ! A clever, clear-minded man, the ex/re-Armored Saint declines the offer.

Anthrax with Dan Nelson

After having considered Corey Taylor as a possible singer, it is finally Dan Nelson, with his throaty, sometimes guttural voice, who enters the game and plays many concerts with the band, including a set at the 2009 edition of the Hellfest . He’s the new official singer, the one who’ll sing on Worship Music, the next album. Or not: in July, Nelson leaves the band and the release of the album, planned for October 2009, is postponed to an undefined date. Anthrax announces that Dan’s health problems prevent him from getting on with the adventure… which is absolutely untrue, according to him :  » I don’t know why they said that – I was never sick. I was fine, and ready to do all of the gigs […] [I discovered I was fired almost by accident.] I got a phone call from a friend of mine who said « Are you sick? Are you no longer in Anthrax? ». I was like « What? ». It was just weird […] Nobody answered my emails or my calls, and it pretty much went like that for about four days. I didn’t hear anything for four days, and then it was announced that Anthrax were playing a show with John Bush.[…] I think Anthrax would’ve gone back to John even sooner if he would’ve said « Yes. » […] I just think Anthrax have a tendency to stay in their safe zone, and their safe zones have always been either a reunion of the older incarnation. I assume as soon as that [the John Bush] door opened for them again, they jumped at it. « 

Scott Ian in That Metal Show

John Bush is back and Scott Ian is happy. So much, that he declares last January in That Metal Show that Bush is a better singer for Anthrax than Belladonna. When a journalist compares Belladonna’s voice to that of a bird, Ian retorts: « We don’t need a bird, but a lion.. The proof in this video: ici. It is then very naturally that Anthrax puts their collaboration with the lion to an end and announces the return of the bird Belladonna. Complete nonsense. Following that, ours colleagues from Metal Sucks have published this excellent article , a very funny stylistic composition in which they try to analyse what has gone through Belladonna’s head when he decided to re-integrate the band.

Fuck, you’re so right Dan, I didn’t get anything at all either!

In any case, the image and credibility of the band are now seriously stained. And they have not done anything to preserve them, commenting as if nothing ever happened on the different incidents of this saga and pretending, just like a Raymond Domenech systematically satisfied with any pathetic last-minute win against Azerbaijan or Andorra, that there is no problem.

To finish with, a word on Worship Music, that is nearly finished since almost a year. Because after all, the more passionate fans amongst you don’t really give a damn about this all: what we want is an album! The return of John Bush has not happened without caution – he had indeed clarified –understandably enough – that he first wanted to secure the things legally before considering himself officially as the new Anthrax singer. A few weeks later, Bush declared that he refused to simply re-record the vocals that Dan Nelson had already written for the new album Worship Music. It is not that easy to make abstraction of the existing vocals to write new ones. So without reworking the instrumental parts to satisfy John Bush, this album, which could possibly be the Chinese Democracy of Thrash Metal, might never be released! The band was even talking about just skipping this album to start composing a new one.

The return of Belladonna changes the odds! Like his ‘colleague’ Bush, he insisted to bring his own creative touch to Worship Music: he will therefore write his own vocal lines. According to the first information , out of twelve finished compositions, 5 or 6 will be kept untouched, and the rest will be instrumentally reworked. Other songs are still at the embryonic stage. After all the time spent preparing it, if the album deceives, Anthrax won’t be able to use the haste excuse. Having said that, spending too much time on one song can be harmful, especially if one systematically changes the base to follow this or that new idea. And with these incessant vocal changes, it is likely that the artistic objectivity of Charlie Benante’s colleagues has been slightly altered.

Worship Music should be released at the beginning of 2011.

Anthrax and Belladonna, it’s this summer, in particular with the historical Big Four gigs (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) at the Sonisphere Festival[/urlb]

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