• Axl Rosenberg

We haven’t had any real Anthrax drama in a few months, so I guess we were due. This might be the most ridiculous round yet, though, ’cause it’s really all just about Scott Ian having a lousy memory.

So here’s what happened. As you should be aware, after Anthrax re-fired Joey Belladonna and found themselves unable to re-hire John Bush, they brought on an entirely new singer, Dan Nelson. They even recorded an album with the guy, called Worship Music. One of the songs on Worship Music was called “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t.” Here’s Anthrax with Dan Nelson performing the song in Chicago in May of 2008:

Then for whatever reason Dan Nelson was either fired from or quit Anthrax, and Worship Music sat on the shelf. And then John Bush was back in the band, and then he wasn’t, at least in part, it seems, because he didn’t just wanna re-record Nelson’s parts from Worship Music.

And so Anthrax re-re-hired Joey Belladonna, who made it clear that he was amenable to re-recording Nelson’s Worship Music performance. And while we’re still waiting for Worship Music (or whatever the hell it ends up being called) to be released, this latest incarnation of Anthrax is currently touring with Slayer and Megadeth, and have even started playing “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” with Belladonna on vocals. Here’s a video of that happening  in Uniondale this past Friday night:

And then the next morning, Scott Ian Tweeted the following message:

DAN NELSON HATES JOEY BELLADONNAOkay, so far, so good, so what, right? Nuh-uh. Remember up above, when Anthrax performed this very same song with Dan Nelson in Chicago? That means that this wasn’t the first time the band played the song in the U.S., as Ian claims in his tweet.

Now, I’m sure that it was an honest mistake. Scott Ian is a busy dude — he’s in two bands, he’s writing comic book, he’s performing with his wife, he’s opening clubs, and Anthrax has had three singers just since July of 2009. So, I mean, he can’t be expected to keep all this shit straight in his dome, right? Whatever. Not that big a deal.

Unless you’re Dan Nelson, who took offense not once, not twice, but three times over Twitter, and once over Facebook, too:

DAN NELSON HATES JOEY BELLADONNADAN NELSON HATES JOEY BELLADONNADAN NELSON HATES JOEY BELLADONNADAN NELSON HATES JOEY BELLADONNASo, on the one hand, I think Nelson is overreacting; or, rather, his rage is a little misdirected — he’s clearly pissed about how things ended with Anthrax, and Ian’s memory slip just happens to be the thing that set him off.

On the other hand, Nelson makes two legitimate points:

  • The song definitely sounds pussier with Joey Belladonna. That’s not surprising, because everything he does sounds pretty pussy (you’ve heard his version of “Only,” right?), but still.
  • There is something totally weird about releasing a new Belladonna-fronted Anthrax album, the creation of which in no way involved Joey Belladonna and, in fact, features lyrics and melodies that were written or co-written by a different singer.

Now, surely, someone will argue, “Gee, Dan Nelson was singing ‘Caught in a Mosh’ on a nightly basis, should Joey Belladonna have been pissed at Dan Nelson?” There’s some validity to that assertion. But that material wasn’t new. Everyone knows that Dan Nelson wasn’t present for the writing of Among the Living, but not everyone is cool and reads MetalSucks (or whatever site), and so there will be people who hear Worship Music and will have no idea that Belladonna is doing some other dude’s parts.

The weirdness doubles when you consider that, presumably, Belladonna is capable of writing lyrics and/or melodies; but now he is, in effect, a session player on his own band’s reunion record. It draws into stark relief why John Bush didn’t just wanna re-record Dan Nelson’s parts: It’s like Anthrax is saying to one singer, “We love your work but hate you,” and telling another singer “We hate your work but love you.” It’s a vote of no-confidence all-around.

Unless I’m way off base, and the various Anthrax vocalists never had anything to do with the writing of their vocal lines. I know there are bands, like Motley Crue, where the singer is just a hired mouth piece, and that would be something else altogether. But given all the songwriting credits Bush got during his tenure with the band, I’d assume he was actually doing something besides just singing what he was told. (Harder to say with Belladonna, as Anthrax albums from that era just say “All songs written by Anthrax” or some variation thereof.)

If you’re like me and you’ve now wasted entirely too much time thinking about this insignificant nonsense, weigh in with your thoughts below. If you really don’t give a shit about Anthrax any more, well, I can’t exactly say I blame you.



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