The Week In Metal (19/1/15 - 25/1/15)

News this week has been dominated by metal veterans from the USA, and God among them is the immortal Ronnie James Dio.

May 2015 marks the fifth year since his death from gastric cancer, and his widow Wendy has organised a three-day celebration of Dio’s life in aid of the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, commencing on May 15th with a Celebrity Rock N’Bowl tournament and auction (to which signed bowling pins have been donated by Metallica, Aerosmith, Anthrax, Fleetwood Mac and Yes), followed by a free public memorial service at Forest Lawn in Hollywood.

Guests and former bandmates are expected to play tunes spanning Ronnie’s career, and then on the 17th there’s a motorcycle ride and barbecue. Hollywood might seem an awfully long way away, but this is bound to be an absolute blast for the worthiest of causes. In further exciting Dio news you might have missed, the world premier has been announced of _The Legend Of Dio: A Metal Musical _- billed as “the world’s first heavy metal musical” - in Richmond, Australia of all places. Let’s hope a West End run follows asap.

A press release was circulated on Wednesday announcing new project Art Of Anarchy, a collaboration between frontman Scott Weiland, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal and Disturbed bassist John Moyer, alongside twins Jon and Vince Votta, long-time friends of Thal. Feverishly described by the PR as “redefining the rock supergroup” (presumably by ignoring the stipulation that to qualify as such all band members need to be well-known), the debut album sees Weiland “returning to his hard rock roots with a harder-edged sound than any of his previous efforts.”

All very exciting you might think, but within 48 hours, Weiland - who has previously been sacked from both Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots - seemed to suggest that his involvement with the fledgling “megagroup” was already over. “I just saw some press about a side-project called Art Of Anarchy that I worked on last year,” he commented. “I wrote and put my vocals down for these guys, and had fun doing a couple of videos too. We had a lot of fun. When they find their frontman to hit the road and play some dates, check them out.” So, is he in the band or not? Bumblefoot says yes, and he’s got paperwork to prove it: “Scott is currently the singer of the band. It’s in writing; no confusion,” the guitarist told Rolling Stone. “But we’re all on the same page about getting another vocalist if Art Of Anarchy hits the road. But we don’t need to cross that bridge yet - where it goes from here, and who with, is yet to be seen.

Motley Crue’s wizened wizard Mick Mars has also surfaced this week - fresh from announcing the Crue’s final run of shows culminating in a New Year’s Eve LA hometown concert - with his take on where rock’s at. “There’s a lot of bands that kind of forget what rock’n’roll really is - the show part and the raw, in-your-face kind of thing,” he told UCR. “I think the newer rock’n’roll lacks something. There’s that element that’s a little bit light or lacking the heaviness, punch and vigour.”

Fair enough, ‘Man in his 60s reckons things were better in his day’ isn’t much of a headline, but some of us can remember when similar things were being said about Motley Crue in the 80s, when their overbearing obsession with chicks, money, image and lifestyle significantly overshadowed their music, which was frequently criticised for being vacuous commercial pap. Yet if Girls Girls Girls can stand the test of time, maybe so can the (noticeably unnamed) acts that Mick is lambasting. He’s got a point about one thing though: “I feel bad for the younger bands,” he confesses. “I guess they don’t really know what it feels like to have several million album sales.” Although if Mick’s experience is anything to go by, that kind of success fucks you right up.

Finally, many congratulations to Phil Anselmo on being declared Music Artist Of The Year at Louisiana’s tenth annual President’s Arts Awards, a ceremony honouring cultural achievement in the St Tammany Parish of New Orleans. Phil told “To be recognised within the community I’m a part of is perhaps one of the greatest accolades ever.”

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.