"Anthems", ANTHRAX's long-awaited, eight-track EP that pays tribute to the classic songs by some of the band's favorite acts from the 1970s, will be released in North America on March 19 (MRI/Megaforce), and on March 22 in Europe (Nuclear Blast).
"Anthems" track listing
01. Anthem (RUSH cover)
02. Jailbreak (THIN LIZZY cover)
03. TNT (AC/DC cover)
04. Smokin' (BOSTON cover)
05. Big Eyes (CHEAP TRICK cover)
06. Keep On Runnin' (JOURNEY cover)
07. Crawl (album version)
08. Crawl (special remix)
Said ANTHRAX vocalist Joey Belladonna, "These are all bands I grew up with and have listened to forever. It's just great music. I had fun singing these songs and I was happy recording together with ANTHRAX, doing classic rock songs. Fun stuff!"
On BOSTON's "Smokin'", ANTHRAX brought in a special guest to play keyboards — Fred Mandel, who has played with ALICE COOPER, QUEEN, ELTON JOHN, CHEAP TRICK, SUPERTRAMP and on PINK FLOYD's "The Wall". About the track, drummer Charlie Benante said, "If ever there were a perfect first album, it's BOSTON's first album. The harmony leads they did would later be heard by IRON MAIDEN, which, of course, would lead to thrash metal."
"It was a lot of fun, especially because a lot of those [songs] aren't, I guess, normal for us or like so much of our repertoire — although they are because they're songs we all knew," guitarist Scott Ian told Billboard.com. "Maybe on paper the idea of us doing something like that seems weird, until you hear them and then it makes sense. And Joey's performance on the JOURNEY song, specifically, really blows my mind. Someone mentioned that [JOURNEY guitarist] Neal Schon better not hear this or we might lose our singer." ANTHRAX also also laid down a cover version of BLACK SABBATH's "Neon Knights" for the upcoming Ronnie James Dio tribute album which is being assembled by the singer's widow and longtime manager Wendy Dio.
Asked how the band selected which songs to cover, Ian said, "Like everything else, it's kind of like someone says a song and everyone else is like, 'Yeah, that's a good one.' It's really as simple as that. It's songs that in some shape or form we've been playing or jamming on for our whole lives. Because you really don't wanna have to work too hard on these things, although the RUSH song is a bit of a bitch; I can't say that's an easy one. But it's a song we all know and we're all familiar with, so then, of course, you take on the challenge of just really trying to nail it and do it justice."
According to ANTHRAX, they paid particular attention to the cover of RUSH's "Anthem" in order to recreate the nuances of the original song.
"I have to get every little part of Geddy [Lee, RUSH bassist/vocalist] down, 'cause I'm a fanatic with that stuff, and I have to," bassist Frank Bello said. "It's great. I love it."
Added Scott: "Charlie [Benante, ANTHRAX drummer] bumped into [RUSH drummer] Neil Peart at the [Revolver] Golden Gods Awards a few months ago, and Neil actually said to Charlie, 'Yeah, we heard you guys are covering 'Anthem'. That's so cool. We put the clip of you playing drums [to the song] up on our web site.' And Charlie, I swear to God, he was like, the light, the glow that was coming off him after that was… I'd never seen anything quite like it."
The "Anthems" EP will be available on CD as well as digitally via iTunes and other online retailers. In addition to "Anthems"' cover art, Benante and artist Stephen Thompson have subtly redesigned each track's original album cover art to "Anthrax" it. The "Anthems" EP will first be housed in one of the "re-imagined" digipak covers, and then inserted inside the main CD cover sleeve. The main cover sleeve has been designed in such a way so fans will be able to see which one of the six "re-imagined" covers is inside.
"Anthems" was produced by ANTHRAX, Jay Ruston and Rob Caggiano and recorded for the most part throughout 2012 literally all over the world: at Benante's home studio, in Ruston's New York studio, on the band's tour bus while on last summer's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, in hotel rooms, and backstage at their Berlin show last December.
The Grammy-nominated ANTHRAX will hit the road in support "Anthems" on February 16 with dates in India and Australia, and then return to North America to headline the Metal Alliance Tour that kicks off March 22. For all of these dates, ANTHRAX will be joined by SHADOWS FALL guitarist Jon Donais.