The Week In Metal (23/2/15 - 1/3/15)

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This past week has been dominated by news of Iron Maiden’s forthcoming album and Pantera members’ “digust” over the desecration of Dimebag’s grave…

2015 has already become a roller-coaster year for Iron Maiden fans. After the shock announcement last week of Bruce Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis and treatment comes the giddily thrilling news that a complete new Maiden album is lying in wait while release dates, concerts and promotional duties are postponed, pending an all-clear from the singer’s medical team. “We have made an album,” Nicko McBrain confirmed this week. “It was ready to go this year - and still is. We were planning on going out and doing some work around the album. We’re all just holding on.” Nicko remains characteristically upbeat about his bandmate’s recovery: “All the treatment went exceedingly well. He was in amazing spirits, considering the brutality of the radiology – he had three chemo sessions. So it’s been pretty hard… He goes down the pub – although he can’t taste his beer. He said, ‘At least I know it’s a Trooper; I’ve got the bottle in my hand.’ I said, ‘Does it still work?’ ‘Oh yeah!’”

While we’re biting the nails of our crossed fingers, another unexpected bit of Maiden-related news seeped out this week: a bunch of old geezers who were briefly in the band nearly 40 years ago reconvened in an Islington boozer at the behest of fan group Maiden 77. Singer Dennis Willcock, guitarist Terry Wapram, keyboardist Tony Moore (who only lasted one gig) and legendarily gimp-masked drummer Thunderstick (who also worked with Bruce in the band Samson) met up at the Hope & Anchor, where Wapram’s band Buffalo Fish were playing; “The original Iron Maiden 77 members got on like a house on fire,” Wapram reported on his band page. The foursome signed copies of the book Outside Iron Maiden – a biography tracing the lives of the band’s ex-members – and even discussed the possibility of making new music together in the original 70s Maiden style…

Another group comprising ex-members of a much-loved metal institution was finally launched this week: Act Of Defiance, the pointedly-titled project featuring guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover, who resigned from Megadeth last November. Also featuring ex-Scar The Martyr singer Henry Derek Bonner and Shadows Fall bassist Matt Bachand, the hotly-touted supergroup have signed with Metal Blade and released a clip of their first song Throwback, expected to feature on the band’s nearly-completed debut. “I am really enjoying the ability to create a killer mix of thrash and modern metal,” announced Broderick on Facebook. “I’m very proud of what we have written, and I hope you all dig it.”

In way less jolly Stateside news, the person who defaced the grave of Dimebag Darrell – then boasted about it via social media – was revealed as Reece Eber, ex-vocalist with obscure black metal band Nuclear Hellfrost. “We spit on his grave, stole a pair of cowboy boots, and I wrote ‘FAG’ on his grave,” bragged the bell-end on Tumblr. Pantera released a statement declaring “We are absolutely disgusted by this! We ask that all of you please show Dime and his grave the respect he deserves. This conduct will not be tolerated and the authorities have been notified.” After receiving the angry reaction that his pseudonymous Tumblr post declared he was hoping for, the 22-year-old issued a grovelling apology on Facebook, saying “There is no reason for doing what I did” and “I owe everyone an apology for my actions because they were uncalled for, were horrible and despicable. I went way too far.”

Finally, Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack halted a show in Vancouver to have a tantrum at an audience member who allegedly upset the singer by shouting for support act Memphis May Fire. Biersack invited the culprit to come onstage and play guitar, reasoning, “When someone wants to ruin our show, I want them to show us how much better they are than us,” before throwing his microphone into the crowd and jumping in after it. Shame no-one picked the mic up to point out that one person shouting will only ruin a show if the professional headliners stop playing to petulantly bicker with them.