There were certain common denominator bands we all listened to before any of us ever heard the term "The Big Four."
For example, if you dug Metallica, chances were high you were also a fan of Motorhead, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus and Anthrax.
As much as Metallica was always destined to be number one, Anthrax was cool in their prime because they were the thrashers from New York, they had their own sound, they were there when the whole thrash scene was getting started with Metallica, and they also had a healthy sense of humor and didn't take themselves too seriously.
Remember, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian also formed the hilarious joke band, S.O.D., the Stormtroopers of Death, who were like a metal version of South Park.
So Anthrax recently told Guitar World they're doing another EP of covers, which Metallica, Slayer, and many other bands have done before. It used to be bands would do a cover as a B side or an import single, but when Metallica did their Garage Days albums, it took on another dimension, not just because it was so spirited and fun, but you could also clearly hear where their music came from.
The first time Metallica ever played live thirty years ago, their set was mostly covers, and because the bands they loved were so obscure, no one was the wiser. It even got to the point where fans thought songs originally written by Diamond Head were really Metallica tunes, like Am I Evil.
Anthrax went a little obscure themselves with Anti-Social, which was first done by the French band Trust, but they also did a punk cover before a lot of metal bands did with the Sex Pistols classic God Save the Queen.
Doing covers is not only fun, and less work intensive than writing originals, but it also brings you back in touch with why you loved certain bands in the first place. For the next Anthrax collection, it appears they're going to go even more retro with a collection of 70's tunes.
Bands slated to be covered include Rush, Thin Lizzy, Boston and even Journey, who are a favorite of their singer, Joey Belladonna. Should be interesting to hear how that turns out, and maybe Metallica and Slayer will try some 70's FM Gold themselves. It's funny to imagine Metallica covering More Than a Feeling, although at one point they even wanted to try playing Eight Miles High by the Byrds.