"Worship Music", the long-awaited new studio album from ANTHRAX, one of the four original architects of speed and thrash-metal, has been confirmed for a September 13 release date on Megaforce Records (one day earlier internationally via Nuclear Blast Records), it is announced today. Appropriately, "Worship Music" will street the day before the band's triumphant return to their native New York to play at Yankee Stadium as part of the "Big Four" concert extravaganza.
Not only is "Worship Music" ANTHRAX's first studio release in eight years, but the album marks the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna, whose last studio work with the band was 1990's "Persistence of Time". Belladonna is now firmly back in the ANTHRAX lineup with drummer Charlie Benante, guitarists Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano, and bassist Frank Bello.
"Getting Joey back in as our full-time, permanent singer solidified us as a unit like we hadn't been in years," said Ian. "All of us were on the same page creatively, working together, writing together, and becoming a band again."
"I get goosebumps listening to the new music," Benante admitted. "Scott and Rob's guitars are absolutely on fire, Frankie kicks butt on bass, and hearing Joey sing, well, the band sounds like ANTHRAX Joey's back and it's great."
Added Ian, "This record is filled with not just four years of our lives, but with our lifetime in the band. It encompasses it all, and when I listen to the record, I can hear all the energy and love and hate and pain and laughter that went into this."
The 11-track "Worship Music" was produced by ANTHRAX, Rob Caggiano and Jay Ruston and recorded over a four-year period at studios in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Belladonna's return to the band prompted some of the songs originally recorded to be re-crafted with fresh lyrics or tweaked to better suit his overall vibe and energy. Some of the songs were completely replaced with brand-new songs and, of course, all have Belladonna's inimitable vocal stamp on them.
"We had the unusual luxury of hindsight with this album," Ian explained. "We were able to live with the songs we originally recorded, look back on them and see what we really loved about them and what we could make better."
"I'm very happy with the record, it sounds like ANTHRAX," said Belladonna. "There are some interesting twists and turns on it, and plenty of tunes for fans to get their fingers on. I felt very comfortable working with Jay Ruston, and I think everyone brought to the table what they needed to. Now it's time for the fans to listen and get what they've been waiting for. I'll tell you, I'm really excited."
"Worship Music" is loaded with stand-out tracks. While "Judas Priest" is a nod to the huge influence that band has had on the members of ANTHRAX and metal heads everywhere. "I'm Alive" is beautiful and grand with a build that demands audience participation. "Crawl" is dark and moody, and filled with a lot of the emotion and stress the band was feeling when it was written. "Fight 'em 'til You Can't" is a song about killing zombies, and who doesn't love a good zombie song? It's the one new track that ANTHRAX has played live since they started touring with Belladonna a year ago, and has been getting tremendous audience response. The song "Earth on Hell" is classic ANTHRAX thrash. "The Devil You Know" is best-described as "an AC/DC groove filtered through an ANTHRAX lens," while "In The End" is epic-sounding and ANTHRAX's way of remembering the late Ronnie James Dio and Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott.
"'In The End' does have a melancholy feel," confessed Benante,"and when we play it live, Ronnie and Dimebag will be right there with us on stage."
And just where did the title "Worship Music" come from? "One night, many years ago, I fell asleep with the TV on," explained Benante. "About four or five in the morning, I woke up, picked up the remote and pulled up the digital program guide. There was a show on called 'Worship Music', and I thought 'what a great title for an album.' Most heavy metal fans worship their favorite bands, metal heads are so loyal to metal, going to a concert is like going to a house of worship. 'Worship Music' said it all."
When ANTHRAX first started "Worship Music", they had no idea if the music would ever see the light of day, but they carried on because making music is what they do, it's in their blood. According to Ian, "It took everything in us as people to make this record and it shows. We went back to square one and did it for the same reason we did it back then, because we worshipped music and we still do. Music is something worth worshipping."
ANTHRAX will support "Worship Music" with a massive world tour. Dates will be announced shortly.
Video footage of ANTHRAX's Scott Ian tracking guitars for the band's new song "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" with Jay Ruston can be viewed below.
ANTHRAX performed "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" with Belladonna for the first time during the October 8, 2010 concert at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York as part of the Jgermeister Music Tour with SLAYER and MEGADETH. Watch fan-filmed video footage of the performance below.