This Week In Metal (1/6/15 - 7/6/15)

It’s by no means disrespectful to suggest that Motörhead albums are a bit like the birthdays of much-loved elderly grandparents; each one is a beautiful thing worth celebrating because you’re not sure how many more there are likely to be. 22 albums into a 40 year career, this incalculably important and cherished institution know they’re into their twilight years, but Lemmy’s work rate – maintaining a new album and tour every two years despite suffering a string of health problems and hospitalisations since 2013’s still-fresh Aftershock – shames musicians a quarter of his age. So it was fun to see Motörhead in playful mood this week, as they teased the announcement of their forthcoming record with some portentous cryptic clues: “It’s a form of alchemy…” and “Now is it good, or is it… ugly?” followed by the rather more direct “There’s only one type of magic you sons of bitches!”. Soon came the news that Bad Magic will be released on 28th August, along with some promisingly nasty song titles like Victory Or Die, The Devil, Teach Them How To Bleed, Tell Me Who To Kill and Choking On Your Screams – plus they’ve covered the satanic Stones classic Sympathy For The Devil. In addition, the three-piece play Glastonbury in 2016 and embark on the second Motorboat cruise in September – and in his latest photoshoot Lemmy looks as cool as any man ever has. That octogenarian grandma could have another 20 happy birthdays in her yet.

More than can be said, alas, for Kurt Cobain, the subject of the highly-acclaimed documentary biopic Montage Of Heck. A wide array of celebrity fans have lined up on social media to praise the film, but The Melvins’ loveably curmudgeonly guitar player Buzz Osborne – a lifelong friend of Cobain – has lived up to his contrarian reputation by declaring “People need to understand that 90% of Montage Of Heck is bullshit. Total bullshit.” Buzz has certainly got the credentials as a schoolchum and confidante of the young Kurt: “I went to high school with Kurt and was a big part of all the Nirvana guys’ lives before and after they became famous,” he tells “We were good friends when they were all flat broke, long before they could buy big houses and cars with credit cards. My band played with Nirvana at their last show. I was there for the beginning and I was there for the end, for the very good and the very bad.”

But the frizzy-headed Melvin has cast doubt on the truth of several stories told by Cobain in archive video footage. “That’s the one thing no one gets about Cobain — he was a master of jerking your chain,” insists Osborne, specifying Kurt’s unedifying insistence that he “tried to fuck a fat retard.” Buzz reckons: “In that small-town shit-hole, exciting news of that nature would have been common knowledge before the sun set. It never happened… And the trying-to-kill-himself-on-the-train-tracks story is bullshit as well. It never happened either… Kurt also told me there absolutely nothing wrong with his stomach. He made it up for sympathy and so he could use it as an excuse to stay loaded.” Perhaps a streak of darkly mischievous myth-making is an aspect of Cobain’s character that should have been flagged up in the film, but Osborne is not impressed by the filmmakers’ failure to fact-check any of Cobain and Courtney Love’s statements. “Not a lot of what’s out there about Kurt is the truth anyway. But no one seems to care. I suppose this movie will be interesting for Nirvana completists, because it certainly reinforces their already twisted view of the man. I found it to be mostly misguided fiction.”

They say “lightning never strikes in the same place twice,” but as the festival-goers at Germany’s Rock Am Ring can tell you, that’s balls. On Sunday the 90,000-strong event – hosting sets by Motörhead, Slipknot, the Foo Fighters, In Flames and many more – was struck by lightning twice, once at 1am, when a bolt hit the backstage area injuring eight production staff, followed by another at 4am, which struck a campsite injuring 25 people. Thankfully no serious injuries resulted, but the shocking incident proves the wisdom of that respected rock maxim “Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me.”

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.