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New EP shows Anthrax's taste for 70s rock classics

For Journal Register Newspapers

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Anthrax's latest release is a classic -- but not necessarily classic Anthrax.

The eight-song "Anthems" EP, which came out last month, features the veteran thrash metal group's take on 70s rock fare such as Rush's "Anthem," Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak," AC/DC's "TNT," Boston's "Smokin'," Cheap Trick's "Big Eyes" and Journey's "Keep on Runnin'." It's not the formal follow-up to 2011's Grammy Award-nominated "Worship Music," but guitarist and co-founder Scott Ian says it lets the band show another side of itself.

"It was a lot of fun, especially because a lot of those (songs) aren't, I guess, normal for us or like so much of our repertoire -- although they are because they're songs we all knew," Ian, 49, explains. "Maybe on paper the idea of us doing something like that seems weird, until you hear them and then it makes sense.

"And Joey (Belladonna)'s performance on the Journey song, specifically, really blows my mind. Someone mentioned that (Journey guitarist) Neal Schon better not hear this or we might lose our singer."

Ian says Anthrax's next album is in "just real infancy states," especially with the group between lead guitarists after Rob Caggiano's amicable departure (he subsequently joined Norway's Volbeat). Jonathan Donais from Shadows Fall is filling in for the current Metal Alliance Tour.

Meanwhile, Ian is prepping for a Speaking Words Tour during May and June in the U.K., an outgrowth of a memoir he's working on that will find him telling stories and answering audience questions. Ian did a similar show during November in London and "had so much fun doing it, just getting up on stage and telling stories for two hours and interacting with people who came. It was like a weird high and a vibe I hadn't felt for a long time from a performance. As soon as I was done, I said to my agent, 'How do I do more of this?' I'm totally into it."

Ian plans to film during the entire U.K. tour and is "absolutely" planning to bring the spoken word show to North America in the near future.

The Metal Alliance Tour featuring Anthrax, Exodus, High On Fire, Municipal Waste and Holy Grail plays Saturday, April 6, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20-$35 with a $40 four-pack. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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