Anthrax and Metallica

Anthrax and Metallica have influenced each other. Metallica wrote a song about evangelism (Leper Messiah) before Anthrax did (Make Me Laugh). In 1986, Lars Ulrich told a friend that Metallica were going to write a song about Blue Velvet. This foreshadows Anthrax’s Now It’s Dark (which was on a 1988 album titled State of Euphoria). Furthermore, Anthrax’s idea of writing a song which is a sequel to another song (the Hymn duology) had come from Metallica (the Unforgiven trilogy).

Anthrax’s King Size foreshadowed Metallica’s King Nothing. Metallica’s Fuel was modelled after Anthrax’s Fueled. After listening to Anthrax’s Who Cares Wins, I realized that the main riff of Metallica’s I Disappear was inspired by one of the riffs heard in the beginning and end. Additionally, the bridge riff to Anthrax’s Discharge was used as the verse riff to Metallica’s Where the Wild Things Are. Furthermore, Anthrax’s misanthropic In My World (where guitars emulate the sound of vinyl scratching) foreshadowed Metallica’s My World (a metalized emulation of rap which is more abrasive than Limp Bizkit). Anthrax are better at it, as can be heard in Blood and Discharge.

For Persistence of Time, they had a concept album (à la Metallica’s …and Justice for All) where time is mentioned in 7/11 tracks (Time, Gridlock, Intro to RealityBelly of the BeastGot the Time, One Man Stands and Discharge). They even hired the same mixers who worked on …and Justice for All (the most influential Metallica album because of how it vastly encouraged metal bands to denigrate the bass). Both albums have no special thanks lists because of the long lyrics. The only difference was that Anthrax were disallowed to be present during the mixing process because of the pressure that Metallica’s leaders had placed on Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero.

Ironically yet fittingly, Scott Ian said they were the first mixers to do justice to Anthrax (they were also the last). Even with more music videos, Anthrax’s album was less profitable. It would’ve been more profitable had they done what Metallica did – divide the album across 2 vinyls so that the sound quality isn’t compressed (thus compromised). Metallica did this again for the black album. Anthrax didn’t do it for Sound of White Noise, hence why Black Lodge couldn’t fit onto the vinyl.

When timed correctly, a live album can be seen as the most ideal kind of greatest hits album (since greatest hits albums are usually pointless). Scott admits that Anthrax’s The Island Years was no match for Metallica’s Binge and Purge. He thinks that Metallica’s Live in Seattle video makes Anthrax’s Live Noize video seem lamer than it already is. The irony about Anthrax is that their bass lines have more presence (especially on the Spreading the Disease album). Even though Cliff Burton is a better bassist than Frank Bello, Charlie Benante is better than Lars as a drummer.

Scott Ian and James Hetfield are equally great rhythm guitarists (as well as being equally very good lyricists during their prime), but Dan Spitz is a better lead guitarist than Kirk Hammett. Additionally, the J.B. singers (i.e. Joey Belladonna and John Bush) are better than James (who originally wanted John to be the vocalist for Metallica). While Metallica were the first to record an album, they weren’t the first to do thrash (neither was Anthrax). However, Anthrax were the first to do rap metal.

The classic line-up of Anthrax had a better sense of dynamics in their songs because each member has a radically different favourite band. Charlie’s favourite was The Cure, Dan’s favourite was Aerosmith, Frank’s favourite was Iron Maiden, Joey’s favourite is Journey, whereas Scott’s favourite changed from 1986 – 1996. After 1985, it was Slayer. After 1990, it was AC/DC. You can detect this in the rhythm guitar parts. Like Anthrax, the quintet in Ratt had radically different favourite bands (although the difference tastes in Ratt were far more obvious and foreshadowed their demise). Like Ratt, Anthrax had multiple singers before settling on the main one.

As for the personalities, it was just as diverse as Ratt but not as combative besides the fights between Charlie and Frank (who is Charlie’s nephew). Their interest in Kiss cements the bond. I will go into detail about the various characteristics of each member. Scott thinks Charlie is thoughtful and grumpy, whereas Frank thinks he’s a shy yet lovable grouch. Dan thinks he’s incredibly artistic to the point of being endlessly creative. Proving that great minds think alike, Joey thinks he’s an all-round great musician.

Charlie didn’t explain the others other than extremely basic visual descriptions. He joked that Joey is a hick. Scott thinks Joey is an alien because he’s from upstate New York (upstate = uptight). Despite the interpretation that Joey is uptight, Frank thinks he can be crazy as well as surprisingly mellow. Dan thinks Joey is such a miser that he still has the first coin that he ever earned. He also describes him as his best friend in Anthrax.

Scott thinks Frank is the ball-buster, whereas Dan thinks he’s a relentless tardy clean-freak. Proving that synchronicity of feelings leads to serendipity of friendship, Joey thinks he’s Mr. Clean, Mr. Late and very Italian. As for what everyone has to say about Dan, Joey describes him as a guitar-loving car lover. Frank thinks he’s happy, whereas Scott just sees him as a normal guy.

Which leads us to Scott. Frank thinks he seems to be a stone because he looks like he could either have no emotion or be very cold. However, Frank realizes he’s not so much affectless as different. Dan thinks he’s a worrier who is extremely smart and dead-set in his ways. Joey thinks he’s witty and smart. He also thinks he has a superb memory because he can remember every date of every situation.

As for high school – Charlie was described as quiet, Joey was described as a soulful hockey goalie, Frank was described as annoying, Dan was described as ready to hit the next party, whereas Scott was described as a friend. As children – Charlie was musical ever since the age of 5, Joey was shy, Frank was hyper, Scott was a scholar, whereas Dan was subjected to music ever since he was born. A moment without music was weird for him.

I found it surprising that Anthrax never became bigger than Metallica. There came a point when Anthrax were going to be bigger. I’m the Man was a mainstream success story, as was Bring the Noise. Anthrax had a singer who was more melodic and attractive, while the band as a whole were more TV-friendly. Hell, they even appeared on an episode of Married…with Children (whereas Metallica only appeared on MTV’s Headbangers Ball and the 1989 Grammy Awards ceremony).

Regardless of the rivalry, there’s always been friendship between Anthrax and Metallica. In 1983, Anthrax helped Metallica after they arrived in New York with not much to gain in terms of food and showering. 30 years later, Scott and Kirk still share a dislike of Morrissey’s voice. Scott, in particular, would rather listen to nails being scraped on a chalkboard. Henry Rollins also doesn’t like Morrissey.

I assumed that Anthrax’s style of creating music is similar to Metallica, Van Halen and Pantera in that the core of each song begins with the rhythm guitarist feeding off the drummer or vice-versa (Scott is second-in-command behind Charlie). As it turns out, Charlie composes many of the riffs. With that in mind, he claims to have been inspired by how Eddie’s riffs had a percussive quality. Van Halen and Pantera have the same dynamic where the drummer assumes the role of leader alongside his guitaring brother. Although they are not brothers, Lars and James have the same hierarchy.

As for why Metallica had the upper hand over Anthrax, being in a quartet means that there’s less locking of horns about the mixing. The same thing could be said about Mötley Crüe’s quartet versus Ratt’s quintet, which is only contradicted by the fact that John Corabi became a temporary rhythm guitarist – a role which should’ve been maintained when the original singer returned because of the declining health of Mick Mars due to his multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, only some of the fans (myself included) figured that one out.

On a final note, Anthrax and Metallica have been let down by Guns ‘n’ Roses. In the former’s case, it was because a rejective venue was concerned that someone might die. In the latter’s case, it was because they were let down by the headliner. In fairness, the headliner didn’t realize that they would have to go on early; so they were probably indulging in heavy hedonism.

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