Back from the Belly of the Beast

Former Anthrax lead guitarist Daniel Spitz is now a Messianic Jew

BY: Andy Butcher

 

Daniel Spitz turned his back on music after more than a decade of success with one of the world's fiercest rock bands. But now the former lead guitarist with Anthrax, one of the pioneers of "thrash metal," is back witha new song-as a Messianic Jew.

After a hiatus of more than four years, he is recording an album that marries his familiar sound with a new-found faith. He plans to go back on the road to reach young people who connect with the raw power of his style of music but find little to appeal to them in the typical church.

"The new stuff is a testimony to coming from where I was to where I am now,"says the 36-year-old musician who helped Anthrax sell more than 12 million albums as they hit the charts and toured the world.

Founded in 1982, the group led the new "thrash metal" scene-which mixes heavy metal and punk in fast, high-energy music-along with the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. Anthrax's recordings included "Spreading the Disease" and "Sound of White Noise," with songs like "Deathrider," "Belly of the Beast," "Discharge" and "Parasite." One leading music magazine acclaimed their "remorseless metallic drive without peer."

"We were known for the energy, how fast and furious it was," Spitz says."When we saw what was coming out of the kids who would be slam dancing at a show we would say, 'Thank God. If we didn't give them this outlet I would hate to see what this planet would be like, because they are [so] pent-up.'"

But success went stale, and he left the band in 1995. "Something wasn't right in my spirit," he recalls. "I just lost the love of playing that typeof music. I can't even explain it. I didn't even want to touch my guitar-when I did it was like a burning sensation. Wacky stuff. I didn'tplay for almost four years."

Spitz turned to the quieter world of watchmaking, studying in Switzerland and opening stores in New York and Florida. Having continued to observe his Jewish faith while in the band, he began to discuss Christianity with someof his Christian relatives and friends. He attended a Bible study and eventually came to accept Jesus as the Messiah. "From then on the Holy Spirit began to work on me, and it has just been more and more," he says.

His recent return to music came unexpectedly. He felt God giving him lyrics and music "almost prophetically." He linked up with Anthrax's former lead singer, Joey BellaDonna-who is not a Christian-to work on the new material. "I'm ready to do whatever His call on me is," he says. "I'm just a vessel being used for God's purposes."

Spitz still has contacts with friends in music and says that others are coming to Christ. "There are people you would not believe that God has put me in touch with in the mysterious ways He does. I'm talking about bands that are some of the most out-there in the secular market, who are completely and radically saved."

Spitz is part of Beth Chosesh, a Messianic Congregation in Wyckoff, N.J.,whose Messianic Rabbi Felix Halpern says: "The Lord has really had a profound effect on his life; God has really grabbed a hold of him and has purposes for him and his life."

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