Anthrax, RATT & Gloryhammer play Alcatraz festival in Belgium

Hard to believe but it’s been four years since ANTHRAX honoured the Alcatraz festival prison grounds with a visit. Metallica is unattainable for a festival of Alcatraz’ size and now that Slayer has called it quits only Megadeth and ANTHRAX remain to fly the flag for the Big Four.

So far organisers haven’t had the pleasure of billing Megadeth but they are stoked to host ANTHRAX for the third time. Whereas the other bands in the Big Four put out really heavy thrash records in the early days and had an image to match, their brethren in ANTHRAX take a more light-hearted approach. Scott Ian & Co like to wear fire engine red, bright blue and even yellow bermudas and before long they become ANTHRAX’ calling card.

In truth, it’s not all that surprising because punk and hardcore are also very much a part of the NY music scene. One of the progenitors of the crossover genre is undoubtedly S.O.D., a band consisting largely of (ex-) Anthrax personnel. ANTHRAX itself also ventures into uncharted territory with the rap-inspired hit single ‘I’m the Man’. ‘Among the Living’ (1987) and ‘State of Euphoria’ (1988) are thrash gems; follow-up ‘Persistence of Time’ (1990) is still one of our favourite Anthrax records, featuring their heaviest material yet. John Bush replaces Joey Belladonna in 1992 and their next offering ‘Sound of White Noise’ (1993) is still their highest-charting release to date. Unfortunately the next few records are less well received and after ‘We’ve Come for You All’ (2003) it’s curtains for Bush.

Joey Belladonna returns to the old roost only to be replaced by Dan Nelson but the switch disgruntles the fans. Joey is persuaded to man the mic once more and he relights the fire under his bandmates’ ass as Anthrax returns to its thrashing ways on the phenomenal ‘Worship Music’ (2011). ANTHRAX may have a monster of a new record on its hands but they have to restore their reputation after several less successful years. Instead of embarking on a headlining tour they decide to ride shotgun with bands like Iron Maiden, Slayer and Lamb of God. The tactical decision pays off because ‘For All Kings’ writes the next chapter in the success story of a band that’s been steering its own course for decades and still boasts a huge following of fans both old and new.

What do rock ‘n’ roll on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and the 80s have in common? Generous make-up, skin-tight spandex, tons of hairspray and guys that looked hotter than any girlfriend you ever had! But there’s more.

Let’s rewind to the early 80s: the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is taking the British Isles and the old continent by storm. Young guns Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Saxon are laying siege to the throne of veteran bands like Scorpions, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Rainbow. The older bands shift their focus to the New World because the US is the promised land: more hooks, fewer notes and a much bigger focus on image.

Bands are drawn to LA because something is fermenting there… and they’re right. Hair metal is all the rage and KISS abandon their make-up and key into the hair metal craze with ‘Lick It Up’. Like Mötley Crüe with ‘Shout at the Devil’, they are greeted with open arms by music channel MTV because in the mid-80s hair metal is on everyone’s musical menu. Amid the deluge of new releases, RATT’s full-length debut ‘Out of the Cellar’ (1984) is a smash hit, thanks in part to the popular glam anthem ‘Round and Round’. The record sells 3 million copies in the US alone and just one year later the masterpiece ‘Invasion of Your Privacy’ cements RATT’s status at the top of the hair metal pyramid with another two million units sold. RATT’s popularity soars thanks to a tour with Poison and they even steamroll New York’s Madison Square Garden. In Europe they play the 1987 edition of Monsters of Rock with Deep Purple, Dio and Metallica.

Several more records follow but in 1992 RATT folds. A few reunions and incarnations later they release their first album in a decade with ‘Infestation’ (2010) but by now their focus is on the States. Billing RATT is a first in every sense of the word because this is their first Belgian gig ever. To top it all off, the legendary rockers are planning a new release in 2020….

GLORYHAMMER is one of those bands that really know how to spin a compelling narrative. In 2012 Alestorm mastermind/vocalist/keytar lover Christopher Bowes founded a new power metal band inspired by the mysterious and misty decor of the medieval Scottish Highlands.

On their 2013 debut, the concept album ‘Tales from the Kingdom of Fife’, GLORYHAMMER tells tales of epic battles, fiery dragons, witches and wizards, but always tongue-in-cheek. Their sophomore album ‘Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards’ (2015) adds a sci-fi touch to the tales of its predecessor with such leading characters as Zargothrax, Raklathor or Angus McFife XIII. The concept clearly strikes a nerve because in less than a decade GLORYHAMMER outgrows the club circuit. They have built an impressive legion of fans whose ranks will continue to swell following the release of ‘Legends from beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex’ (2019). If you want to leave your worldly troubles behind for an hour or so and submerge yourself in an imaginary battle for the universe then answer the call and join the GLORYHAMMER ranks!