2011 marked the 30th Anniversary of the formation of one of the most popular and brutal thrash metal bands ever, Slayer. While the violent and sometimes disturbing subject matter of their music has been strongly criticized by religious and conservative groups, Slayer has found mainstream success with hit albums and coveted tour dates. In recent years, Slayer guitarist Kerry King and Megadeth guitarist Dave Mustaine have ended their longstanding feud, allowing fans to witness the live spectacular that is the "Big Four" (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Metallica).
Slayer began in Huntington Park in 1981, when Kerry King met Jeff Hanneman while auditioning as guitarists for the same band. They recruited King's former bandmate Tom Araya as their bassist and singer, and asked drummer Dave Lombardo to join when he delivered a pizza to King. Slayer self-financed their debut album, Show No Mercy, which was released in late 1983. The album brought Slayer a small cult following, which grew after subsequent club tour dates in 1984 increased album sales drastically. Shortly after, Slayer joined Venom and Exodus for tour dates on the 1984 Combat Tour, which helped record sales of Show No Mercy to double by 1985.
The members of Slayer were soon approached by Rick Rubin to join Def Jam Records. After recording Reign in Blood, Def Jam's distributor - Columbia Records - refused to release the album, citing the Josef Mengele inspired track "Angel of Death" as the reason for their refusal. Despite the controversy surrounding the album, it was a huge success, eventually went gold, and sparked massive headlining tour dates. After following Rick Rubin to his Def American label, Slayer released their fifth studio album, Seasons in the Abyss, in 1990. The album retained the melodic aspects of South of Heaven, while returning to their fast paced thrash style. Christ Illusion was released in August of 2006 -- five years after their previous album -- and debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200. The single "Eyes of the Insane" won Slayer their first Grammy for Best Metal Performance. To celebrate, Slayer took tour dates to their fans around the world on The Unholy Alliance Tour
Lamb of God:
The roots of Lamb of God were planted in 1990 when Mark Morton, Chris Adler and John Campbell were floor mates at Virginia Commonwealth University. The trio began playing at Adler's house in Richmond weathering chilly conditions. "There was no heat at the house," recalls Campbell. "We would freeze our asses off, get really drunk and hang around the kerosene heaters trying to write metal songs. Kerosene fumes and Black Label beer were definitely what fueled our early days."
After graduation, Morton moved to Chicago to pursue a master's degree, but the band continued. A new guitarist, Abe Spear, replaced Morton as the band retired its instrumental sound and added Blythe on vocals.
The quartet, known then as Burn the Priest, became a fixture in the tightly-knit Richmond music scene. To compete with the high-level of musicianship displayed by their contemporaries, the band adopted a rigid practice schedule. "To this day, we practice five days a week out of necessity," says Campbell. "The bands in Richmond can flat outplay you and if you don't practice, they will blow you off the stage. Bands like Breadwinner and Sliang Laos - two local math-metal bands - could play insanely complicated music note perfect. They inspired us to raise the bar musically and taught us the work ethic we needed to be a success."
Anthrax was one of the pioneering groups of thrash metal in the 80s and has continued to bringing heavy metal to audiences around the world. Considered one of the "Big Four," Anthrax's signature sound and blistering tour dates have earned them a position as metal icons. While Anthrax has experienced an ever-changing lineup since its formation, its current setup harkens back to the "classic" lineup of Joey Belladonna on vocals, Scott Ian on rhythm guitar, Rob Caggiano on lead guitar, Frank Bello on bass, and Charlie Benante on drums. This Anthrax lineup will be performing concert dates in 2011 with the "Big Four" and one-off tour dates throughout Europe, Japan, and Canada.
Scott Ian and Danny Lilker formed Anthrax in 1981 and began their rise to fame with vocalist Neil Turban. Turban was replaced by Joey Belladonna in 1984 and Anthrax began to take off with the release of Spreading the Disease in 1985. The album afforded Anthrax a number of huge tour dates in the US and Europe, and was followed up by Among the Living in 1986. It was this album that launched Anthrax into the mainstream and began to develop their signature sound.
State of Euphoria experienced similar success in 1988 and was followed by hugely popular US tour dates with Living Colour. While 1990's Persistance of Time featured a more somber style, it became a huge hit and even received a Grammy nomination.
In 1992, Joey Belladonna was fired from the band and replaced by John Bush. Under Bush's tenure, Anthrax released the hugely popular albums Sound of White Noise (1993) and We've Come For You All (2003), while playing sold-out tour dates around the world. In 2005, Anthrax went on concert dates with the much beloved lineup of Ian Scott, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz, and Frank Bello. While the tour was successful and delighted fans, neither John Bush nor Joey Belladonna returned to the band after the tour dates were over. While fans enjoyed Dan Nelson's few tour dates with the band, Anthrax welcomed back Joey Belladonna in 2010, shortly before the first "Big Four" concert date at the Sonisphere festival.
Anthrax continues to play tour dates while fans eagerly anticipate the release of Worship Music on September 12 (even though production began in 2008) and 2011 concert dates this summer. Next up for Anthrax are tour dates in Europe beginning on July 2; some of which will include the other members of the "Big Four." Due to the expectation of Scott Ian's new child, he will be replaced by Andreas Kisser until July 16. Anthrax with Scott Ian will head to Canada for two concert dates on July 23 and make an appearance with the "Big Four" at Yankee Stadium on September 14. Beginning on December 12, Anthrax will play four tour dates in Japan, thus rounding out their concert dates for 2011. Anthrax might add more tour dates once Worship Music releases, so check Eventful for updates.