Anthrax peel through chugging guitar riffs and a narrative about the duality of martyrdom on “Evil Twin,” the first new song they’ve released from their upcoming album. The group debuted the song with a lyric video that includes imagery of religious and political leaders, juxtaposed with photos of violence and tragedy. The album, which remains untitled, will come out in early 2016.
“Let’s forget for a moment the history of radical extremism and why we live in a world where it exists and just think about now,” guitarist Scott Ian tells Rolling Stone. “That’s what ‘Evil Twin’ is about. It’s my relationship to the violence perpetrated by radical extremists. It’s my anger towards it and it’s my hatred towards the inability to stop it.”
“Musically, ‘Evil Twin’ is fast, thrashy, frantic and evil, and a real nod to our roots,” drummer Charlie Benante says. “When I wrote the guitar riff that opens the song, I remember feeling like I was possessed. I really felt like something just took over and wrote the riff.”
The guitarist explains lyrics like “The arrogance to reinvent the holy words their meanings rent/Evil twin/You’re no martyrs” by using Islamic extremism as an example. “One man believes in the most rigid extreme concepts of Sharia law, willing to inflict the most brutal Hadd punishments rarely if ever seen in history,” he says. “Another man believes in freedom of speech. The first man murders him for that freedom. And to what end? A world living under his insane concept of religion? Most of humanity feels differently than that first man. He’s the ‘Evil Twin’ and he needs to be stopped.”
Regarding the song’s theme as a whole, Ian expresses frustration. “How can someone like that be stopped?” he asks hypothetically. “Fuck if I know. That’s why I write songs and have my catharsis that way instead of picking up a gun and killing people.”
Benante says when the group made the lyric video for the tune, they made it a point not to glorify the extremists they featured in it. “We think that just paves the way for the next fanatic, but we did want to include a lot of the people who are in some way responsible for the terror and violence in the world today, whether it’s committing brutal murder in the name of religion or dealing in arms or arming our allies who then become our enemies,” he says. “In today’s world, it seems like there are those people who are working to try and save the planet, and those that are working to make it extinct. That’s pretty evil.”
Anthrax began working on the new album, their first with new lead guitarist Jon Donais, of Shadows Fall, in the fall of last year. For the project, they recorded around 20 songs, much more than usual.
In other news regarding the thrashers, the band will reissue their 1985 sophomore effort, Spreading the Disease, in a deluxe, two-disc edition next month. In addition to the original LP, the release will feature a disc’s worth of “rhythm tracks,” featuring only guitar, bass and drums, a demo of the song “Medusa” and a live set from the group’s first-ever visit to Japan. “Most heavy-metal fans didn’t know how to take this new type of music, its sound or its style, but I knew that down the road, they would get it, and that’s exactly what happened,” Benante told Rolling Stone of the album earlier this month. “Music needed a kick in the ass back then.”