Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Joey Belladonna talks Anthrax, moshing and the Big Four

David Glessner

Before thrash-metal band Anthrax pushed "moshing" into the mainstream, the word rarely was uttered outside the early 1980s East Coast hardcore scene. Derived from the word "mash" and flavored with a Jamaican accent (hello, Bad Brains), the noun and its verb form were used to describe the slam dancing that erupted among audiences at underground punk-rock concerts. In 1987, Anthrax unwittingly brought the word to the heavy metal masses with the song "Caught in a Mosh" from breakthrough album, "Among the Living."

"We've had moshing at our shows since the beginning," says singer Joey Belladonna, phoning from his home in New York. "We've got a song called `Caught in a Mosh,' but I can't make any claims to (popularizing) the word."

Modesty aside, Anthrax will stir up some good-spirited moshing Saturday at Emo's East when the seminal, New York thrash band arrives to promote its critically praised new album, "Worship Music." Eight years in the making and the first Anthrax album since 1990 to feature Belladonna, "Worship Music" is a triumph over turmoil following the unspecified, blink-of-an-eye departure of singer Dan Nelson whose vocals were recorded but scrapped upon Belladonna's return.

"I just went in and worked on one song a day," Belladonna says of his "Worship" sessions. "Whatever ideas they had, I just rolled with them and added my own feel."

Specifically, "they" would be guitarist Scott Ian and drummer Charlie Benante, leaders and primary songwriters for Anthrax since uniting forces in 1983. Rounded out by guitarist Rob Caggiano and bassist Frank Bello, Anthrax has had four singers over the years, including Belladonna who "left" in 1992, returned in 2005 and again was bounced in 2007. Why the yo-yo status?

"It's almost like if you're gonna go on a trip and someone says, `Yeah, we've got room for you in the back,' " Belladonna jokes. "And if not this time, you just say, `OK, maybe I'll catch the next ride."

Pressed further, Belladonna confesses, "I didn't leave the band, but I don't really get discouraged over it."

Ranked among the defining bands of the thrash/speed-metal genre, Anthrax along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth recently toured together for the first time ever as The Big Four. The fearsome alliance is a head-banger's euphoria, but so far has played only select dates in Europe and the U.S. Belladonna agrees an expanded Big Four tour would be a hit.

"We'll be ready if there's any talk," he says. "I agree with you; there are a lot of places to bring (The Big Four tour). We'll see down the road what there is to offer."

For now, Belladonna hopes "Worship Music" can rebuild the brotherhood of Anthrax.

"My wish would be that we tour a lot and write another record, and just be a band," he says. "There's nothing like having a band with the strength and the ability and the originality to just keep rolling. After it's all come full circle, I think we see that."

Anthrax

With Testament and Death Angel

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Emo's East, 2015 E. Riverside Drive.

Cost: $28 to $144.50

Information: www.emosaustin.com