Drummer Charlie Benante didn’t let something as serious as a 2013 carpal tunnel diagnosis slow him down. He simply dropped the sticks for a bit and picked up the guitar instead, writing many of the foundation riffs for songs that comprise Anthrax’s 2016 release, For All Kings, the band’s eleventh studio album. Benante’s gruff optimism comes through loud and clear when asked if he thinks Las Rageous, a two-day metal and hard rock fest taking place at Downtown Las Vegas Event Center, will be successful.
“Sure, why not?” he says during a brief phone chat with Vegas Seven. “Why can’t it work in Vegas? You know, we’ve played the most remote farmlands in Holland, where all you smell is cow shit, and there’s nothing around for miles—until the day of the festival, and then there are tens of thousands of people. Vegas will be easier to pack.”
Anthrax stands alone in the Las Rageous lineup (which also includes Mastodon, Godsmack and Avenged Sevenfold, among others). They’re the only thrash group and the legends. Though he claims he’s never played with any of the other slated acts before, he’s heard their music. Including, to my surprise, Vegas’ own homegrown metalcore band Escape the Fate.
“I enjoy the process: writing [the song], recording it in the studio [and] designing artwork and T-shirts and posters. Those are really my favorite parts.” – Charlie Benante
“Just because I haven’t toured with a band doesn’t mean they don’t exist to me,” he says, chuckling. “I’ve heard the Killers, Panic! at the Disco and Imagine Dragons, too.”
Benante is full of surprises, which is reflected in most of For All Kings’ tracks, especially the hard-charging cut “Breathing Lightning.” Did that one feel like an Anthrax classic when he presented the riff to bandmates Scott Ian (guitar) and bassist Frank Bello (Benante’s nephew)?
“That was the song I was most apprehensive to show the band,” Benante admits. “It was a departure, a little more accessible than what we usually aim for. But I believed in it enough to run the risk of rejection.”
He’s stoked to rock Vegas this week because “playing live onstage is about feeding off the audience reaction,” especially an exploding mosh pit. But he reveals that, at age 54, it’s become a challenge to light the same headbanging fire under songs he’s been drumming on for 30-plus years. For Benante, the creative aspect is more enjoyable than live performances.
“I enjoy the process: writing [the song], recording it in the studio [and] designing artwork and T-shirts and posters. Those are really my favorite parts.”
April 21–22, 4 p.m., $79–$499, Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, lasrageous.com
Friday, April 21 Godsmack, Coheed and Cambria, Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, Of Mice & Men, The Devil Wears Prada, We Gave It Hell, A Friend A Foe.
Saturday, April 22 Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking Benjamin, Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal, All That Remains, Escape the Fate, Nations, Code Red Riot
Watch these bands tear up the two-day Las Rageous
Brace yourself for … a grunge-spawned rock band that has returned to its nu-metal roots—i.e., pummeling groove-riffs and melodic vocals—to much acclaim.
Avoid the mosh pit when … the band tears into the title track from its most recent disc, 2014’s 1000hp.
Get pumped by spinning … stomping rave-up “Whatever,” one of the band’s earliest rock-radio hits and a signature cut.
Coheed and Cambria
Brace yourself for … blistering, lyrically ambitious, Rush-indebted prog-hardcore from the subgenre’s leading act.
Avoid the mosh pit when … C&C decide to crush eardrums with the planet-wrecking “Atlas,” a six-minute tribute to frontman Claudio Sanchez’s infant son.
Get pumped by spinning … “Blood Red Summer,” a tune (and video) that came on a free disc packaged with the old-school PSP (PlayStation Portable). Nostalgia, baby.
Escape the Fate
Brace yourself for … these Las Vegas metalcore bad boys, whose last album, Hate Me (produced by Kelly Clarkson’s producer, Howard Benson), is so polished that even the band’s critics are starting to warm up.
Avoid the mosh pit when … it’s detonated by “Remember Every Scar,” a rager disguised as a mid-tempo ballad and easily among the band’s best compositions.
Get pumped by spinning … the ultimate girlfriend-gone-Godzilla nightmare scenario, “You’re Insane.” – J.K.