The Week In Metal (16/2/15 - 22/2/15)

The news this week has more than usually resembled a medical newsletter, with an emphasis on health updates from our immortal rock heroes. Iron Maiden revealed on Thursday that Bruce Dickinson has completed a seven-week course of treatment for cancer. “Just before Christmas, Bruce visited his doctor for a routine check-up,” explained a band statement. “This led to tests and biopsies, which revealed a small cancerous tumour at the back of his tongue. A course of chemotherapy and radiology was completed yesterday. As the tumour was caught in the early stages, the prognosis is extremely good. Bruce’s medical team expect him to make a complete recovery, with the all-clear expected by late May. It will take a further few months for Bruce to get back to full fitness.” The band’s cryptic Christmas card seemed to suggest that a new album and tour were imminent, but now nobody’s sure how the schedule will pan out for Maiden’s next phase of activity. The band promise further information in May, and have asked fans for “patience, understanding and respect” on the issue.

Another stricken NWOBHM veteran who’s responded well to treatment is Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler. After collapsing on tour in December, he was diagnosed with an aneurism and needed two surgical procedures before being released from hospital in January. His latest announcement is a heartwarming thumbs-up: “The neurosurgeons have informed me that I have made a 100% recovery, and there is zero damage at all from the aneurysm – mainly due to the part of the brain it was located in. This means I am okay to get back to work, but I’m told to ease back into it in my own timeframe. To that end I’ve started to work on getting my stamina back up, and I look forward to being back full-time very soon. Thank you for your support and well-wishes.”

Meanwhile in Finland, Nightwish drummer Jukka Nevalainen - who had to pull out of all band activity last year to deal with health problems caused by his chronic insomnia - is “doing much better,” according to band mastermind Tuomas Holopainen. “We are in contact all the time, because he still takes care of the band’s business - merchandise, all that. And he’s actually still a member of the band. That’s what it says in the album booklet: ‘Drums by Jukka Nevalainen. Drums on this album performed by Kai Hahto.’ But he just needs a long breather now. So in two, three years, we’ll know about the future.” That sounds like a long time, but last August Jukka wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to go back. “There’s not much information available on why some of us suffer from sleeplessness. There is no 100% cure for it,” he explained.

The final instalment of this week’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Healthwatch comes from the USA, where Linkin Park/Stone Temple Pilots frontman Chester Bennington is making a fast recovery from the gruesome ankle injury that forced him to cancel a run of Linkin Park concerts in January. After gamely struggling through a show in Indianapolis on a pair of crutches, the frontman declared: “I need to take the proper time to assess the severity of my injury.” Nearly a month later, Bennington is in the studio recording new material with Stone Temple Pilots, whose guitarist Dean DeLeo this week announced “He’s healing pretty quickly. He’s just of that mindset and physicality where he wills his body to do that. He hurt himself badly. It was not only a break – the guy tore darn near every ligament in the ankle. They had to go in on each side. He has about a five-inch incision on each side. They had to go in an assemble a big bowl of spaghetti.” Hammer sends positive thoughts, best wishes, get well soons and massive bunches of grapes to all our ailing metal brethren.

And finally, Cradle Of Filth’s infamous Jesus Is A Cunt t-shirt was this week assaulted by a woman as it hung on display in the T-shirts Unfolding exhibition at the Canterbury Museum, New Zealand. The woman - dubbed a “freedom-of-speech defying bigot” on Cradle’s Facebook page - attempted to deface the provocative garment with black spray paint, but it was protected behind perspex, so, no harm done.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.