Bassist Danny Lilker and guitarist Scott Ian were the original founders of the band, but singer Neil Turbin fired Lilker shortly after the release of the album, without Ian's permission. As his replacement, the band hired drummer Charlie Benante's nephew, Frank Bello, who has played on every Anthrax album since. Turbin had contributed song ideas, lyrics, titles and arrangements to the majority of songs on the album, as well as three songs from the second album Spreading the Disease, but Ian and Benante, who played guitar in addition to drums, felt they needed tighter control on the songwriting. Due to a songwriting partnership between Ian and Benante, with Ian writing all the lyrics and Benante writing the music, Turbin was released from the band. Music journalist Eddie Trunk stated: "Early on, I told Johnny Z that what I didn't like about Anthrax was singer Neil Turbin's vocals." He admits in his writing to pressuring Johnny Zazula and Anthrax into firing Turbin from the band.
Fistful of Metal was released as a double album by Music for Nations in the UK, featuring extra mixes of the tracks "Soldiers of Metal" and "Howling Furies", which were not included on the US edition. In 2000, Megaforce repackaged and re-release a compilation of Fistful of Metal and the 1985 Anthrax EP Armed and Dangerous which featured some liner notes, but excluded any new mixes and bonus tracks and features a different artwork instead of the controversial "Metal-wrapped fist" artwork. The term "thrash metal" was used for the first time in the music press by UK's Kerrang! journalist Malcolm Dome, while making a reference to the song "Metal Thrashing Mad".