The Big Four—Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax—are pretty much as iconic as heavy metal bands can get. When they got together to perform a number of shows in 2010 and 2011, it was a historic milestone for thrash metal. It wasn’t every day that the four largest pioneers of the genre shared the stage together and, at the time, it felt like few larger concerts had occurred. Now, in a recent interview a decade-plus after the fact, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian is looking back on 2011, a year he says was vital to the future of his band.

As Ian recalls, at the same time that the band prepared for said shows, former vocalist Joey Belladonna was about to re-enter the fold for what would become Anthrax’s Worship Music. Speaking to Metal Hammer, the guitarist said:

“We were incredibly excited. Strictly speaking about Anthrax, we were in the weirdest part of our career in that period. At the time we didn’t officially have a singer because Joey hadn’t signed back on but here we were writing the record that became Worship Music. A lot of things were in flux for Anthrax at that time, so when we got that phone call, it kicked things back into gear for us in so many ways.

“We knew then we had to get Joey back in the band – he was the guy who was there when all these things were happening for us in the first place. We then pushed ourselves to finish writing and recording Worship Music, which became our comeback album. It put us in front of audiences that either hadn’t heard of us, or hadn’t seen us in a long time. Without those shows – and the record we put out – I honestly don’t think Anthrax would still be here ten years later.”

Fortunately, Anthrax thrived following the Big Four shows and Belladonna’s return to the band, celebrating their fortieth anniversary in 2021. The livestream concert celebrating that milestone will be released digitally and as a video album titled *XL *on July 15.