Celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2016, Polish warhorses Behemoth have enjoyed a gradual ascent from the ugly ducklings of the East European black metal scene to 21st century extreme metal royalty.
A quarter-century since the 14-year-old Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski presided over the band’s first faltering rehearsal, the frontman was this week trumpeting the release of a third Behemoth-branded beer, a Russian Imperial Stout named Bafomet (following previous brews Sacrum and Heretyk). He also slipped out two video teasers from the recording of his upcoming “blues, country and folk” side-project album, due in September. But it was Behemoth bassist Tomasz ‘Orion’ Wróblewski who has been tackling the bigger issues in the news this week, taking aim at the “bad trend” of venues taking a cut of bands’ merchandise sales via so-called ‘hall fees’.
“It’s important to bring out merchandise to the people. They know they can buy some unique stuff at the shows which is much appreciated, because this goes directly to us,” the bassist told Freqs TV, adding that like most bands, the majority of Behemoth’s income comes from touring. “But some venues have started charging bands for selling their merchandise, which causes bands rising prices of the merchandise. Three nights ago, I was counting everything that we need to leave in the venue – it was 42% altogether. This is becoming a bad trend. It’s becoming like a Mafia. People should be able to get what they want for the prices that are fair.“
In a completely unrelated segue, tickets for the Guns N’Roses concerts in Las Vegas - featuring Axl reunited with Slash and Duff McKagan - cost around $375, and this week Izzy Stradlin confirmed he won’t be there. Recent rumours had been suggesting otherwise - and even that the original guitarist was recording new material with the band - but last month Stradlin opened a Twitter account solely to dispel any such misinformation. In an interview with Rolling Stone this week, Stradlin confirmed that the account is his, and insisted “I wanted to clarify that I’m not in the studio recording with any of the Guns N’ Roses guys. At this point in time, I’m not involved in the actual shows… A lot of stuff fans are reading isn’t true.”
Elsewhere in the GNR camp this week, keyboardist Chris Pitman took to Twitter to denounce the reunion. “This is a nostalgia tour,” declared Pitman, who joined the band in 1998, making him the longest-serving GNR member after Axl and Dizzy Reed. “Please don’t mention those who are there the last 20 years, oh God no. A money grab. FU.” However, it didn’t take long for the tweet to disappear, followed by an apology making light of the earlier message: “I sincerely apologise to GNR, especially the band and crew, for stupid comments about the upcoming tour. Remember kids, don’t drink and text!”
In news terms, ‘silly season’ is generally around late summer, but there was a premature silly-seasonal doozy this week, when the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB) came to the rescue of Brighton-based vegan metalcore quintet Architects. The ARB issued an official ruling that the band can continue calling themselves Architects, even though they are not technically architects. Retired architect Ray Bryant had amusingly reported the band to the UK’s regulatory body of architects, insisting that none of the band members were on the ARB register, and asking “Is it permitted to call yourself an architect if you are clearly working in another profession? Or is the plural not covered by the act?”
ARB administrator Sarah Loukes kept a straight face, replying that the ARB “accepts that the word ‘architect’ is being increasingly used in other contexts” and “accepts that the use of the word causes no concern when used in a context which is clearly not related to the design and construction of buildings.” So, as long as Architects resist the urge to design and build their own studio, they should be all right. By lucky chance, this ruling emerged just days before the band dropped their new song A Match Made In Heaven, and announced the release of their seventh album All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us in May. Hopefully they’ve thanked Ray Bryant for this quirky PR opportunity.