What constitutes a perfect album? Can you think of one that you return to again and again, with no critique to be had from start to finish? The idea of perfection is subjective, of course, and what becomes your idea of the perfect album might even be one you were undecided about upon first listen.
For Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, that album is Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden.
“I remember when they got Bruce Dickinson in the band, the first thing I heard was ‘Run to the Hills’ and I didn’t know if I liked it or not, and then I found myself just humming that tune in my head and it became, ‘This is fuckin’ killer,'” Benante says, noting his draw to the album ended up being Dickinson’s vocals. “He totally expanded the band and their fan base, too. … That’s a perfect record for me from start to finish, although I will have one thing to say about that record: I still don’t understand why it doesn’t start with ‘Number of the Beast.’ It starts with ‘Invaders,’ which to me is like, what the fuck? I still don’t get it.”
The subject comes up as Benante discusses the new Anthrax album that’s currently in the works—the follow-up to 2011’s Worship Music, which is expected to be released later this year. He describes the songs on Worship Music as “thrashy” and faster than the the Big Four metal group’s previous releases, noting that the more frenetic tempo felt natural during live shows.
“There are songs on [the new] record that just came out like that. There’s more thrashier songs, and then there’s a song that’s almost seven minutes long and takes you on kind of a musical journey, but not in a prog-rock-type way,” he explains. “Just in these parts that kind of intertwine, and it takes you to a whole other place. When you listen to a song for the first time, sometimes you don’t get it and you’re not sure if you like it or not, and then the third or fourth time you hear it again it opens up a different world to you that you didn’t get at first. And it opens up your musical vocabulary as well.”
Worship Music—which featured the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna—was something of a watershed moment, Benante notes, that revitalized the band and resulted in top-notch material coming out again—”It wasn’t just generic, leftover riffs: it was new,” he adds. That acted as a significant inspiration for the yet-untitled new album, and though Benante can’t promise a lot of new material in Anthrax’s live set on this tour, there will be a fan-favourite set (think “I Am The Law,” “Antisocial” and “Madhouse”) and a new song called “Soror Irrumator (Lords of the Rock)” that was written for the Game of Thrones Catch the Throne Mixtape, Vol II.
Benante and guitarist Scott Ian are big fans of the show, and the band had a chance to hang out on the set in Belfast, Ireland during its last tour, which gave them better insight into the work that goes into the series.
“We sat on the throne, we went to the Wall, we held all the props and the swords and found out there’s like three or four of every sword,” says Benante, who counts Tyrion Lannister and Joffrey Baratheon among his favourite characters. “There’s the real one, which you couldn’t even fuckin’ lift because it’s so heavy, and then there’s the lighter one, and then there’s the one for CGI that they make. So I think some of the actors have to be in pretty good shape to even lift the heaviest sword, and the detail that went into all this—that was the other thing: when you look at the work and you inspect it, the craftsmanship, everything about it was just beautiful.”
Sat, May 2 (7 pm)
With Volbeat, Crobot
Rexall Place, $55.76 – $70