Early heavy metal fans have grown accustomed to the bands that were promoted and coined as “The BIG 4 of thrash metal”, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth and hardly anyone would question those choices, unless you’re Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante who believes that Paul Di’Anno era Iron Maiden are the true pioneers of what would be thrash metal.
- We’ll dig a little deeper into the origins of “The Big 4” and how that came to be a little later in this piece.
The Anthrax drummer made the comment to host Jimmy Kay of The Metal Voice in a recent interview that discussed Charlie Benante’s upcoming album of classic cover songs titled “Silver Linings”.
After the drummer explained how he’s turned all this pandemic bullshit around into something positive for himself and his family, Benante was asked about his cover of the Iron Maiden classic “Transylvania.” Charlie said, “First Time I saw Iron Maiden was with Paul Di’Anno it was at the Palladium in New York. They opened up for Judas Priest and I went both nights…
Iron Maiden – Transylvania (2015 Remaster)
“When Iron Maiden came on, the excitement and that feeling that I was witnessing something for the first time that I don’t know if I will ever see again, it was so amazing.
“That band for me since day one was the reason that I think we started a band to model our band like Iron Maiden. I think they single handedly created the form of music that became thrash metal.”
Find the Metal Voice interview in its entirety below.
Anthrax Charlie Benante Interview- Talks Covers Album ‘Silver Lining’ & Anthrax Studio Album Update
Exodus vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza once explained his take on “The Big 4” during an interview with Argentinian radio station Rock & Pop 95.9 FM, Souza was asked why his band rarely gets mentioned alongside the so-called “Big Four” of 1980s thrash metal era, this is what he said: “Personally, I don’t pay attention to that necessarily,” he said.
“I was in the Bay Area in the beginning, before I was even a member of Exodus, so I remember who were the forefathers of thrash. I mean, Exodus drummer Tom Hunting invented that drum beat. That picking style was from Gary Holt, — that’s where the genesis of that came from.
“I think what the media did when they came up with the ‘Big Four’ was they took the four bands who were probably the most successful in the initial period of thrash metal — from, say, ’85 or ’84 to ’90. If you were to go off popularity, if you were gonna go off record sales, you would have to say Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer.
“Now, when you ask me that question, this is what I say: it’s ‘The Big One And The Other Three.’ Sorry. Neither one of those bands — and I love every single one of them… But Metallica sits on their own. So, to say the ‘Big Four’? I don’t know if you can say that…
You have to say ‘The Big One And The Other Three.'”