ANTHRAX’s SCOTT IAN Discuss Whether Any Band Was Wrongly Excluded From ‘Big Four’ Of 1980s Thrash Metal

The Big Four

In a new interview with Ultimate GuitarANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian was asked if he thinks there was one band that was “unrightfully excluded” from the so-called “Big Four” of 1980s thrash metal, which includes METALLICAMEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX.

“Well, I don’t really understand that. Nobody was ‘unrightfully’ put out of anything,” Ian responded. “METALLICA didn’t sit around and make a decision and say, ‘These are the four bands that we’re picking.’ It’s not really how it worked. The ‘Big Four’ was a title created by the press, calling these four bands as the ‘Big Four’ bands of thrash.

He added: “When you say ‘unrightfully’ put out, I have to say that I have a problem with that, because it makes it sound like METALLICA purposefully excluded somebody, and the title ‘Big Four’ has nothing to do with METALLICA, or any of us — that was the title given to us by the press,” he added.

In a last year’s interview with “Basel Meets,” TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick was asked why his band wasn’t included in “Big Four,” to which he responded: “Interestingly, I have no problem with it, because I look at it as a seniority thing. I joined TESTAMENT in very late ’85; I think my first gig was early ’86. So, 1986 — what happened [that year]? METALLICA releases Master Of Puppets. They were already on their third record. They were on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world, which was clear…

“I mean, it wasn’t clear they would be that level, but we knew they were gonna at least be as big as IRON MAIDEN and SCORPIONS at that time. So they were already off and running.

SLAYER released Reign In Blood that year, after having several albums out. ANTHRAX had several records out. I think at that point, MEGADETH was on their second record. So all those bands, they were past their first record. They were all off and running. At the time, the classic TESTAMENT lineup was just forming. So, I’m fine with that. They were there first, and they were doing big things. And we came along a little later. But I have no problem with those groups being classified together.”

The so-called “Big Four” of 1980s thrash metal played together for the first time in history on June 16, 2010 in front of 81,000 fans at the Sonisphere festival at Bemowo Airport in Warsaw, Poland and shared a bill again for six more shows as part of the Sonisphere series that same year.

They reunited again for several dates in 2011, including the last “Big Four” concert, which was held on September 14, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Since then, METALLICASLAYER and ANTHRAX have played a number of shows together, including the 2013 Soundwave festival in Australia. They also performed at the 2014 Heavy MTL festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.