This Week In Metal (11/8/14 - 17/8/14)

Few people make Nikki Sixx seem the height of tact and sensitivity, but Gene Simmons has long since learned that a few colourfully blunt, contrarian rent-a-quotes can keep his profile raised between Kiss albums. Last week he was providing dangerously irresponsible clickbait about suicide in an interview with, proudly announcing "I'm the guy who says 'jump' when there's a guy on top of a building who says 'that's it, I can't take it anymore'." Evidently still taking his role of The Demon seriously, Gene added "Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the fuck up, have some dignity and jump." Enter the ex-Mötley Crüe bassist, who provided a measured rebuttal of Gene's boorish callousness on his Sixx Sense With Nikki Six radio show. "All bad things will pass, so keep that in the back of your mind if you're feeling depression," advised the recovering heroin addict, adding "don't listen to people who don't know what they're talking about."

And from one controversial figure to another… it’s Babymetal – not so much a band, more a dizzying merry-go-round of extreme opinions, a phenomenon contrived to divide, Exhibit A in the death of culture debate. Nowadays just having a ‘take’ on these Japanese teens and their gawky mash-up of kiddie-pop and tech-death counts as news; hence Thursday’s headlines generated by Jeff Walker, frontman with much-revered grindcore pioneers Carcass, ‘defending’ the group. “I’m starting to warm to the idea of what they’re doing,” Jeff cautiously admitted. “It puts a smile on people’s faces.” Undoubtedly it puts smiles on the faces of middle-aged metal bands when they end up sharing photo opportunities with a trio of svelte Asian lolitas, albeit with no idea who these wrinkly old longhairs are.

Another instance of the gift that keeps on giving for metal news feeds, Dave Lombardo has been sharing more thoughts on his ex-bandmates with the Let There Be Talk radio show. “There is a certain magic when you have those musicians and nobody could replace that,” Lombardo explains, comparing the original Slayer foursome with AC/DC’s Bon Scott line-up. “it’s like a chemistry; it’s something special. Same thing with the band: you get these four guys… they may hate each other, but onstage, there’s magic. And that’s what’s missing, I personally believe.” To some, this might seem a simple case of ‘No shit, Sherlock’. Others might argue that the chemistry of Slayer’s reunited original line-up had already been diluted in the studio. Mostly though, it summons a wave of defence for AC/DC’s Brian Johnson-fronted incarnation, whose rampant onstage chemistry hasn’t wavered for 34 years.

It’s possible, though, that a Malcolm Young-less AC/DC are only one album and tour away from retirement, and it’s hard not to read a similar conclusion from the week’s Iron Maiden news; not that there’s any new material being recorded or shows being planned, but that Bruce Dickinson has set up his own company to lease and maintain aeroplanes and train pilots. It’s rare to find any news of interest to metalheads in the Wall Street Journal, but New York City’s respected business daily reported that in the next few years Bruce’s Wales-based business Cardiff Aviation will build a new fleet of ten aircraft, as well as refurbishing and subleasing older planes. Cue a rash of headlines pointing out that aeroplanes are made of heavy metal. We wish Bruce well with this venture, but hope it doesn’t distract him too much from writing the next Maiden album… and the five Maiden albums after that…

Finally, it would seem remiss to round up the week’s news without mentioning Robin Williams, whose tragic death attracted a vast number of tributes from Slipknot, Korn, Anthrax, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Devin Townsend, Testament, Airbourne, Rage Against The Machine, Kiss (rather ironic, in light of Gene’s heartless suicide rant) and many more names from across the rock spectrum, even managing to bring to light that rarest of beasts: a heartwarming Sharon Osbourne anecdote. “When Sharon was diagnosed with colon cancer… I got my agent to contact him and ask if he’d be so kind as to come round and talk to my wife, which he did,” Ozzy told VH1 Radio. In a National Enquirer interview, Sharon recalled her surprise when Robin Williams turned up, climbed into her bed and cuddled her for two hours. She tweeted “the entire Osbourne family is grieving the loss of a kind, funny, generous and talented man.”

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.