ANTHRAX‘s longtime producer Jay Ruston is working on a Dolby Atmos mix of the band’s classic third album, 1987’s “Among The Living”.
The LP, originally produced by Eddie Kramer and ANTHRAXfeatured the lineup of singer Joey Belladonnalead guitarist Dan Spitzrhythm guitarist Scott Ianbassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante.
Building on an underground following with signature tracks such as “I Am The Law”, “Caught In A Mosh” and “Indians”, “Among The Living” catapulted ANTHRAX to widespread recognition and earned the group’s first gold award. It also marked the height of the band’s use of horror and comic book inspirations, with the title track and album cover image based on the Stephen King novel “The Stand”, “A Skeleton In The Closet” on King‘s novella “Apt Pupil”and “I Am The Law” on the comic book character Judge Dredd.
ANTHRAX discussed plans for Dolby Atmos mix of “Among The Living” during an appearance earlier today (Thursday, July 28) on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”. “We have the master tapes, which we didn’t even know if they survived that fire or not, but apparently they did,” Benante said, referencing the 2008 blaze at a Universal Studios backlot in Hollywood, California in which the master recordings of an estimated 500,000 songs by many of the past century’s marquee musicians were destroyed. “And Jay has been remixing it and I heard some of it and I was just blown away. Like, ‘Wow!’ Jay played some [of it for me]and I was just, like, ‘Dude, this sounds amazing’ — as if we did it yesterday.”
According to Benantethe idea to do a Dolby Atmos mix of “Among The Living” came from the record company, Universal. “[They] approached us to do it because they’ve been doing these,” he said. “And, of course, they picked that first record. It’s gonna be awesome, though.”
Ian added: “They had a list, apparently, of the albums that hadn’t been done yet in Dolby Atmos and we were high up on that list; they really were interested in doing that with us.”
Charlie went on to say that what he has heard so far of Dolby Atmos mix is impressive. “The tunes are so awesome, and it’s so heavy,” he explained.
“[Jay] sent me some guitar tracks when he first got the tapes,” Scott added. “He said, ‘I’m putting these masters up.’ And he sent me guitar tracks from some of the songs. He sent me just my ‘Caught In A Mosh’just the guitar, and I was, like, ‘Wow!’ [Laughs]”
Dolby Atmos lets you precisely place and move sounds in three-dimensional space with the introduction of audio objects — and with much more precision compared to traditional surround. And with the addition of overhead speakers, you can create a fully encompassing soundstage to make listeners feel like they’re inside the experience.
Dolby Atmos automatically optimizes content based on the number of speakers in the environment or device, so your mix delivers the best experience it can for mobile devices enabled with Dolby Atmos, home theaters, soundbars and even headphones.
Despite the fact that “Among The Living” was ANTHRAX‘s third album (following 1984’s “Fistful Of Metal” and 1985’s Spreading The Disease),Ian told Metal Hammer in a 2017 interview that the band wasn’t being forced by the record company at the time to make any big commercial breakthrough. “We were under no pressure at all,” he said. “We had no time limit for writing or recording. The way we worked back then, when there were enough songs for an album, then we’d go in and do it. We never wrote more than was necessary. Now regret that situation. We were on such a roll that perhaps someone should have persuaded us to carry on writing. Who knows what else may have come out? I’m not criticizing what’s on ‘Among The Living’but we may have benefited from being a little less hasty in finishing up the writing side.”
Regarding the recording process for “Among The Living”, Scott said: “We had just come off the METALICA tour in the fall of ’86 when [METALLICA bassist] Cliff Burton He was killed, and we had come off that tour obviously early because of the tragedy. And that’s when we started recording that record, pretty much right after that. I feel like the energy just really jumps off that record; you fucking hear how pissed off we are playing our instruments on that record. There’s a brutality on that album that you don’t hear on the two records before ‘Among The Living’. It was just the record of its time; it really was.”
When ANTHRAX‘s “Among The Living” full-album performance at the 2014 edition of the Sonisphere festival was first announced, Ian said: “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (1986, New York City) we wrote a record that at the time, we had no idea would become our ‘signature’ record. We had a song about the plight of the American Indian, we had songs about Stephen King characters (Randall Flag from ‘The Stand’ and Todd Bowden from ‘Apt Pupil’), we had a song dedicated to Cliff Burton and another about John Belushi‘s cliched death. We had a song about Judge fucking Dredd and we had a song called ‘Caught In A Mosh’. We had songs.’
He continued: “When ‘Among The Living’ punched the world in the face in 1987, it launched ANTHRAX into a high-speed trajectory that we could barely keep up with. Like going from 0-200 kph in 5 seconds flat. Our heads were spinning as fast as they were banging, and  years later, nothing has changed.”
last december, Bello was asked during an appearance on Mitch Jewel‘s “Groove – The No Treble Podcast” if he and his bandmates knew they had something special when they were working on the music for “Among The Living”. He responded: “At that time, this music was on the rise. We just had come out with ‘Spreading The Disease’. Joey Belladonna is in the band. We had a great singer, we had great music — things were working. We knew while writing those songs and knowing the singer we had and knowing what we can do, the next step, I think it all came to play. So as we were writing those songs, we knew it was special. I do think we knew it. But you know what? You can never tell the outside world — you don’t know the atmosphere of the outside world, how that’s gonna be taken. You know there is a movement going on, but you don’t know if this record that you have is gonna match what they’re looking for. That is up to chance — for everybody, to be honest. And we had momentum going in for sure, but you don’t know actually how it’s gonna work. And to be honest, all you can do is do your best — put out your best music — you go out there and you tour your fucking ass off. And that’s the program.”