It's unlikely that anyone missed the biggest news of the week: the return of AC/DC, who on Wednesday announced the impending release of 17th studio album Rock Or Bust. Ordinarily this would be an occasion for unalloyed joy; after all, a band of genuine legends with a combined age of 310 who take at least six years between records can't have many more left in them. But this is why the story has such bittersweet ambivalence, making incongruous notions of frailty and mortality uncomfortably real; Malcolm Young, the band's founding member and driving force for over 41 years, has retired permanently from the band with a still-unspecified illness (hence the album's working title, Man Down). Helpfully the band are keeping it in the family with their go-to replacement, Angus and Malcolm's nephew Stevie Young (who deputised for the resting Malcolm on tour in the late 80s). Truly for the DC it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.
The same can be said for Paul Di’Anno, except the bit about the best of times. The raucous livewire whose charismatic voice lit up the first two Iron Maiden albums has released another clip from his forthcoming live DVD, The Beast Arises, to universal derision. Arrhythmically slurring his way through an illegible rendition of Running Free, his performance provoked a storm of comments like “shockingly bad,” “awful,” “terrible,” “deluded,” “embarrassing,” “desperately sad” and “complete shite”, the reaction perhaps exacerbated by Di’Anno’s recent declaration that “My voice is actually getting better – I’m hitting notes Rob Halford can’t hit anymore.” Di’Anno announced he was quitting last year, then changed his mind explaining that his wife wouldn’t let him. He’s formed a new band named Architects Of Chaoz. Hopefully with some talented collaborators, a brilliant, no-nonsense producer and new material that Di’Anno doesn’t resent having to sing, this wayward frontman can deliver a record to floor his critics - although there are an awful lot of them…
Another seasoned singer removed at an early stage from a band who then became huge was in the news this week: Neil Turbin, who helmed Anthrax on their 1984 debut Fistful Of Metal, will be fronting UK thrash punk veterans Onslaught on their upcoming Thrash Invasion Tour of North America with Artillery. Sy Keeler, who joined Onslaught in 1986, has had to relinquish the microphone temporarily due to his son’s illness. “He is still on a downward path with no sign of any recovery on the horizon,” Sy explained on Friday. “To be away for two months will put a lot of pressure on the family and increased anxiety on my son.” Founding Onslaught guitarist Nige Rockett admitted he was “gutted,” but adds “We’re positive things will improve in the near future.” Although it has happened under such grave circumstances, the idea of New Yorker Turbin fronting Bristolians Onslaught is an exciting one: “For me, he’s always been one of the best thrash vocalists out there,” reckons Rockett. “I believe he’s one of the only guys who could step into Sy’s shoes.”
Meanwhile, Cannibal Corpse’s tour of Russia hangs in the balance this week after the radical Russian Orthodox sect God’s Will accused the band of ‘blasphemy’. The movement’s leader Dimitry Tsorionov announced “Their songs describe in detail the rape and murder of children. We will try to resolve this issue with the help of law enforcement. If it does not work there may be a mass protest in various forms.” It’s not yet clear how lyrics about man’s inhumanity to man can be deemed ‘blasphemous’, but so far this year new Russian anti-blasphemy laws have seen Marilyn Manson shows cancelled and Behemoth jailed. Far more blatantly sacrilegious are the lyrics and imagery of Slayer (despite Tom Araya’s laid-back Catholicism), but the LA thrash titans aren’t being accused, banned or jailed for their art, rather they’re being celebrated with the launch of their own car, the special edition Toyota Scion x Slayer Mobile Amp tC. Yes, you read that right, THERE IS A SLAYER CAR IN PRODUCTION. We know bands have to rely on merch now that record sales are falling, but this is ridiculous. And awesome.