Anthrax

Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Sarah Benzuly

NEW ALBUM BRINGS ORIGINAL VOCALIST BACK INTO THE FOLD

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Anthrax is (clockwise from top-left) Frank Bello, Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante and Rob Caggiano.

Anthrax is (clockwise from top-left) Frank Bello, Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante and Rob Caggiano.

Fans of heavy-metal pioneers Anthrax have been holding their breath, unsure of where their band would land next. Their last studio album, We’ve Come for You All, was released in 2003, followed by the shocking announcement that original vocalist Joey Belladonna was returning to the fold—albeit only in stage form—for their ‘80s-era reunion tour. Then, nothing. The tour ended. They still needed a singer.

For the members of Anthrax, the interim time proved tumultuous. When they came back from that tour, they found that their vocalist for the past 10-plus albums, John Bush, had moved on. Following a revolving door of possible replacements, the members of Anthrax—guitarists Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano, drummer Charlie Benante and bassist Frank Bello—spent the past four years tracking, scrapping some of the tunes, retracking and so on. “It put everything into a tailspin and we had to put the record on ice for a while until we figured out what we were going to do, who was going to sing,” remembers Caggiano.

Despite not having vocals to work on, the band continued laying down their own tracks, knowing that the show had to go on and eventually the right singer would come along. So for the past four years, each member tracked their instrument at recording studios in their respective hometowns: Caggiano and bass in New York, drums in Chicago, Ian’s guitar in L.A. and even some guitar parts for “Judas Priest” on a tour bus in Belgium. Caggiano has donned the producer’s hat for any Anthrax outing since he joined the band in 2002, and so he would travel to either Chicago or L.A., bringing along his portable rig, to direct the sessions.

“I think one of the biggest challenges working with Anthrax is basically the fact that each one of us lives in a different state,” Caggiano says. “We used so many studios to make this album [last count is around 15] that one of the biggest challenges was keeping everything consistent sonically. I have my own mobile rig with my own gear that I shlep around so I can record basically anywhere.” That rig is centered on MOTU Digital Performer, a platform Caggiano has been working on for years.

“The other thing is, Anthrax has been around for a really long time—these guys are pros, a really solid band,” he continues. “As a producer, it’s more about capturing the energy and the excitement for each song: making sure the tempos are right, that everybody is playing to the best of their ability. As far as making it sound good, to me that’s the easy part; I have it pretty much down to a science at this point. [Laughs]”

Worship Music brings a welcome blend of old-school Anthrax albums like Among the Living and State of Euphoria, while seeing their sound evolve. One of Caggiano’s main goals was recapturing Ian’s classic guitar, something he says had been a bit lost over the years. So Caggiano directed Ian to go into his locker and dig out his old Marshall 800 amp that was used on those classic records. “I wanted to combine the classic Ian sound with some of the newer amps like the Fiat Deliverance and Pitbull Ultra-Lead, and using a Radial ToneBone pedal to split the signal going to the two heads and out to the two different cabinets, each one isolated. I used two mics on each cab: a 57 and 421 on Ultra-Lead, and an Audio-Technica 4050 on the Deliverance cab. Everything was on a different track so it could be blended and mixed accordingly.”

For his guitars, Caggiano treated the solos and the overdubs almost like a lead vocal in terms of selecting the chain. “I like the sound of a 57 straight-up on the cone of the cabinet going through a Universal Audio 2108 mic pre that I love; I use that on a lot of stuff. I used it on Scott’s guitars, Frankie’s bass and my leads. My chain is the mic into the 2108 into a Universal Audio 1176 right into the interface. I used the Metric Halo ULN-8, which is an amazing box; great converters, it’s like an old analog workhorse.”

For bass, Caggiano placed a 421, a U47 and then a Yamaha SubKick to pick up all the sub-frequencies; bass was also taken DI. “I wanted to make it very flexible in terms of what you can do with it in terms of the mix.”

Still, no singer to speak of.






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