Charlie Benante – “Silver Linings” Album Review 5/23/21
by Josh Buchignani
Charlie Benante, drummer of famed thrash metal group, Anthrax, has pushed the envelope of creativity and collaboration in a way that has brought a plethora of talented artists together for the making of this 14-track album entitled aptly “Silver Linings” culled from his collection of 2020 “Quarantine Jam” videos produced virtually, released on Megaforce Records.
“Silver Linings”, an album of covers from the late 60’s to present day, is a diverse collection of songs ranging from classic and hard rock, hip hop, to present day pop and does a spectacular job showcasing a wide variety of musicians and singers who have made their name in the thrash, metal, rock and even the rap scenes.
Charlie explains that when the pandemic shut down the world, and the live music industry, like all of us he was feeling down and he needed something to spark his creativity. He started messaging his musician pals, first it was Alex Skolnick lead guitarist from Testament and Ra Diaz bassist of Suicidal Tendencies. This new virtual trio put out a rip-roaring video cover of YYZ from Rush (Charlie is putting out a Rush Covers LP on record store day in November – stay tuned on that). Advertisement
Then he started thinking of other songs to cover and contacted more of his musician pals and vocalists and the rest is now history in “Silver Linings”. For all the tracks on the album Charlie laid down the drum tracks first on his Roland V-Drums Acoustic Design electronic kit with a TD50 sound module, and then would send the track (and the video in most cases) to each musician, bass, guitar, keys, and then to the vocalists. These awesome YouTube videos laid the foundation for “Silver Linings”.
Benante’s version of “City of Blinding Lights” by U2, features Frank Bello on bass and backing vocals (fellow Anthrax Bandmate) as well as Mark Osegueda (Death Angel) on vocals. Charlie plays Drums of course but he also performs as Edge on the track playing Guitars Keys & Piano and is spot on. Benante explains that he has always loved U2’s music, “they are rock music industry innovators”, originally being blown away from Joshua Tree, but he wanted to cover City of Blinding Lights as it is one of his favorite newer U2 tracks, according to Charlie “a song that stirs the spirit and gives you goosebumps” and he felt that it was a poignant song to include on Silver Linings.
Charlie also selected “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac, another nostalgic classic that tips the hat to the British-American rock band. The track features Benante on drums, Mark Menghi on bass (Metal Masters & Metal Allegiance), Alex Skolnick on lead guitar (Testament), Jennifer Cella on lead vocals (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), and Randy McStine on keys and backing vocals (Lo-Fi Resistance). Marc Menghi’s mother had recently passed and he approached Charlie about doing the track in her honor. They took a straightforward approach to the song but they also infused bringing the original sound of Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green into the mix. The result, a wonderful homage to a great band and track. Advertisement
Switching from classic rock to old school rap Benante also arranged an awesome medley of three Run DMC songs and got Darryl McDaniels aka DMC to rap his great vocals on the track. Charlie selected Rob Cagganio for his tasty guitar playing (Anthrax, Volbeat), and the versatile Ra Diaz for bass (Suicidal Tendencies). Charlie 1st arranged the song laying down the drums again on his Roland V-Drum kit along with beats & samples he triggers during his live performance on the track, then off to Ra, Rob and finally DMC. Benante has always been a fan of RUN DMC and this new Silver Linings “Run-DMC Medley” track brings a fresh metal perspective to the Kings of old school rap.
“Teardrop” by the British electronic band Massive Attack, was included on the album due to the significant influence it had on Charlie when he had first listened to Massive Attack’s album “Mezzanine” in ‘98’. Benante’s “stay at home” broody mood was a catalyst to paying tribute to the group with one of his favorite Massive Attack songs. The track features Benante on drums guitars & keys, Ra Diaz on bass (Suicidal Tendencies), and Carla Harvey on lead vocals (Butcher Babies). This slick and sultry version of “Teardrop” infuses a slow groove Bonhamish backbeat and takes the song in a more rocker direction.
Last but not least is the Kiss deep cut song “All the Way” from the Hotter than Hell Album featuring Charlie on drums, PJ Farley on bass and lead vocals (Trixter, Ra, Fozzy), Joe McGinness on lead guitar (Kuarantine), and John 5 on guitar (Rob Zombie). Charlie has a deep affinity for KISS which started when he listened to KISS’s 1st live album ALIVE! Then when he went to his 1st KISS concert on the Alive Tour he knew right then and there that he wanted to be a professional drummer. This is a fun straightforward version of the track and they took it the KISS level with the video too (see below). Advertisement
Overall, “Silver Linings” is an album that reminds every artist that anything is possible when you put your mind and energy towards creating music no matter what circumstances you are in. During the time of a global pandemic, it is especially telling of what can be achieved by musicians when they have adapted to the world of virtual collaboration. Check out the awesome videos of the tracks discussed in the review!
You can download or stream the “Silver Linings” album here: https://linktr.ee/CharlieBenante
Silver Linings Full Track List:
1. “City Of Blinding Lights” (U2 cover)
2. “Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns” (Mother Love Bone cover)
3. “Teardrop” (Massive Attack cover)
4. “Run-DMC Medley” (feat. Run-DMC’s Darryl “DMC” McDaniels)
5. “Rhiannon” (Fleetwood Mac cover)
6. “Yer So Bad” (Tom Petty cover)
7. “Transylvania” (Iron Maiden cover)
8. “Presto Vivace” (U.K. cover)
9. “Bad Guy” (Billie Eilish cover)
10. “Jimmy James” (Beastie Boys cover)
11. “All The Way” (KISS cover)
12. “Mr. Speed“ (KISS cover)
13. “Public Image” (Public Image cover)
14. “Funny Vibe” (Living Colour cover)
Charlie is also hosting a Modern Drummer Instagram Live Show starting this Wed May 26th ay 6pm PST | 9pm EST, each episode will focus on 1 track from Silver Linings with Charlie and the musicians from each track talking about the song, the band’s influence on them, and more. The first show on Wed will feature Alex Skolnick guitarist of Testament and Ra Diaz bassist of Suicidal Tendencies, they will be talking about the YYZ Rush cover that started it all back in early 2020. Advertisement