In a new interview with Metal Edge, ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian and drummer Charlie Benante spoke about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's follow-up to 2016's "For All Kings" album.
"We're getting close," Scott said. "I can tell you we have 11 musical arrangements, and there's lyrics to some of them. Obviously, I'm going to be working on more words and we're getting there. I'm hoping at some point we'll be able to get into the studio [this year] and record them."
Benante also loudly wondered if ANTHRAX could focus on releasing EPs in the foreseeable future as opposed to full-length albums, as has been the case for much of the band's four-plus-decade career.
"What if it wasn't a full album?" the drummer asked. "If we released six songs and then we released another six songs. I know from a record company's point of view that really doesn't work, but in these days…"
"Yeah. It's all so different now," Ian said, jumping in. "SLIPKNOT's saying now why even make full albums anymore. I get it. I get all sides of it. I still love a full album, but at the same time I totally understand the idea of what's the point of giving someone 11 songs. Most people don't listen to albums anymore. So, yeah — why not parse it out? I don't know. All I know is at some point in the next few months we'll probably have 14 or 15 things and then we'll have to decide when we're going to record it and how we're going to release it."
"Think about it," Benante continued. "If ANTHRAX released five songs and you have these five songs, and you absorb it in such a different way nowadays, too. I think that may be the way to go, rather than give everybody 11 songs and it's like, 'Oh — I only had a chance to listen to the first four or five.' I don't know. I just think maybe the business model is different."
"And even for us, playing songs live it's like, you put out a record with 10 or 11 songs on it with the idea that, 'Oh man, I can't wait to play this one live and I can't wait to play this one live,'" Ian added. "On 'For All Kings', we definitely didn't play all of those songs at any point. I think there's maybe six songs on the record that got played – and that's it. I almost feel like you're wasting them. I understand album tracks, but if you put out just five songs it would be easy to play all five of those on a new tour."
"And easier to digest, too," Benante agreed. "You would appreciate it more if it was just five songs and, 'These five songs are fuckin' killer. I can't wait for the next five songs,' knowing that we will release another five or six."
Earlier this month, Benante, who is also sitting behind the kit for the reformed PANTERA, told Ruben Mosqueda of We Go To 11 that ANTHRAX is planning to enter the studio sometime this spring to begin recording the new LP.
"Between the PANTERA [tour dates in 2023], we're gonna be working on this record, this ANTHRAX record," he said. "We're hoping to have it finished before PANTERA go to Europe [in late May]. I have a little window after that, before [PANTERA's stadium tour with] METALLICA starts. At least if I get my drum tracks done, then the other guys can continue to work on it.
"That's the plan," he added. "Unless something else happens, but hopefully nothing will happen."
Last November, ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello told SiriusXM that the band is "not in a rush" to record the new album. "We wanna make sure it's the right record," he explained. "We can't just throw out something that's not ready. So we're gonna really make sure it's the right record and live with it for a little bit. We have some brutal stuff and some cool stuff coming up — very heavy — we've been working on. Everybody can say that when they're working on a record. But the proof is in the pudding. I'm pretty proud of what we've come up with so far."
In August, Ian praised the production quality on some of the band's recent albums, including 2011's "Worship Music" and "For All Kings". He said: [On] 'Worship [Music]' and 'For All Kings', for me, we've really kind of found our sound. We've got this base level where we're at right now with [producer] Jay Ruston where we know it's gonna be great, and then we could push it even further. Especially with the songwriting that we have right now, going into what will eventually be a new ANTHRAX album, it just lends itself to even a more aggressive production which I think we will have no problem accomplishing."
In April 2022, Scott confirmed to Metal Injection that ANTHRAX had a few songs already written for the upcoming LP. "All I can say is we will get in the studio when we're ready," he said. "I think we're getting there. I think we have great songs. I think people will be very happy.
"Not to make a weird comparison, but it's our third record back together with [singer] Joey [Belladonna]. Actually, it's an odd comparison. I should just say it's our third album since our kind of our reboot in 2010 and our third album back in the day was 'Among The Living'. I'm not saying that this is [like that album], because it's not 'Among The Living II' in any sense, but I just think we have some great songs and there's like a fucking mountain of great riffs. I think people are going to be very happy."
Ian previously discussed ANTHRAX's upcoming LP during a July 2021 appearance on Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. At the time, he said: "We've been at it for a little while now. We actually started writing in '19 — pre-COVID — and kind of stepped away from things when COVID happened. We were all separate and apart and we would kind of revisit some of the demos, but we weren't actively working on it.
"Yeah, it's the same as it's always been," he said. "I would have to think by the time we get to the other side of the writing process and we decide we're ready to go record it, I would have to assume it's certainly going to represent this time in our lives. And the world having gone through a pandemic, I would imagine certainly that's in some way, shape or form going to come out through this next record. I can't tell you how yet, but I would have to think it's going to."
ANTHRAX celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021 with a number of special activities and events. Formed by Ian and bassist Dan Lilker in Queens, New York on July 18, 1981, ANTHRAX was one of the first thrash metal bands to emerge from the East Coast and quickly became regarded as a leader in the genre alongside METALLICA, SLAYER and MEGADETH.
Active over the past five decades, ANTHRAX has released 11 studio albums, been awarded multiple gold and platinum certifications, received six Grammy nominations, toured the world since 1984 playing thousands of shows, including headlining Madison Square Garden and playing Yankee Stadium with the "Big Four".
"For All Kings" was called by some critics ANTHRAX's strongest album to date. Its arrival followed a five-year period during which the group experienced a rebirth of sorts, beginning with ANTHRAX's inclusion on the "Big Four" tour, and continuing with the release of comeback LP "Worship Music".
Earlier this month, ANTHRAX and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY headed back on the road for a 24-date tour, making stops in all new markets, with both bands playing headline sets. Joining ANTHRAX and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY as special guest on this run is EXODUS. The trek launched on January 17 at the Revolution Concert House in Boise, Idaho and wrapping in Oakland, California at the Fox Theatre on February 18.