Should John Bush Return to Anthrax?

In a recent interview with MetalSucks, Armored Saint/ex-Anthrax lead singer John Bush said that the possibility exists that he would provide vocals for Anthrax’s Worship Music, an album that was supposed to be released in October 2009, but was delayed when then-singer Dan Nelson left the band. Anthrax has played some live shows with Bush since then, and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Fans and critics alike have been constantly asking current members of Anthrax if Bush would return, and the response has been one of uncertainty every time. Bush’s statement that the possibility still exists will likely fuel a whole new wave of the same questions.

There’s no doubt that Bush returning to Anthrax would be an amazing turn of events, especially considering that Anthrax’s last album, 2003’s We’ve Come for You All, was Bush’s last album with the band before his departure. Ending the waiting period of Worship Music would also put Anthrax back in the spotlight of the music scene, opening doors for a variety of interesting tours, including the highly-rumored “Big 4 Tour” of Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax that has been suggested and then shut down several times in recent months. Fans would love him for returning to the band full-time after fading off the radar in 2005.

Would returning to Anthrax necessarily be a smart move for Bush? Fronting one of the biggest metal bands in history for the second time would, of course, be very beneficial for his career, but there are other factors to consider. First and foremost, Bush’s other band, Armored Saint, just released their first album in ten years, La Raza, to raving critical and fan acclaim. Bush would be remiss to not capitalize on the notice Armored Saint is receiving right now, either through touring or festival appearances. Shifting his focus to Anthrax might give Armored Saint a slight amount of extra recognition, but not nearly as much as a full US or European tour would.

More importantly, if Bush does return to Anthrax, what is the basis on which he would return? Would he be their new permanent vocalist for all future tours and albums? Or would he only be a one-album fill-in vocalist while the band continued to search for someone else to fill the vocalist position? Both choices have benefits and drawbacks.

As previously stated, if Bush returns to Anthrax as the permanent vocalist, the band’s career would take off again very quickly. Armored Saint would likely be shelved once again, though, at least for the foreseeable future. Anthrax have a lot of ground to make up after seven years of minimal activity. With Bush at the helm, Anthrax would engage in at least a year of touring, likely more, to support Worship Music. Then it would be straight back to the studio to record another album, then back on the road again. Working nonstop would be the only way Anthrax could keep up with the progress Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer have made in recent years, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the other thrash bands like Exodus, Testament, and Death Angel, who have made impressive headlines of their own since the release of We’ve Come for You All.

On the other hand, if Bush only returns as a temporary vocalist, Worship Music would likely not have as much success as it would have featuring a permanent vocalist. The album would still be a hit, but it would not reach its full potential. However, Bush would then not be tied down with Anthrax so much that Armored Saint would be out of the picture. In fact, as a temporary vocalist for Anthrax, Bush would likely still be able to do significant touring and planning with Armored Saint, if only because the band would still be searching for someone to take over the position on a long-term basis, which would mean less touring.

The bottom line, as I see it, is this: If John Bush does return to Anthrax, he needs to be doing it on the correct terms and with a full understanding of what the circumstances are. Being a permanent vocalist equals pulling away from Armored Saint and working nonstop on Anthrax for at least two years without a break. Being a temporary vocalist equals shifting priorities constantly until someone else steps in. Not taking the job at all equals making Armored Saint a permanent focus and possibly suffering some backlash from Anthrax fans who are tired of waiting for Worship Music. Regardless of what choice he makes, though, John Bush will certainly be a busy man for the rest of 2010.

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