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This Week In Metal (29/9/14 - 5/9/14)

The "rock is dead" debate stirred up in recent weeks by clickbaiting motormouth Gene Simmons was given a new lease of life this week, as Slash stepped in to refute the allegation, telling the Irish Times: "All the real heavy metal bands, they've been doing the same thing for years and years on the same level, and they keep putting out music and doing what they do. I like that." Slash added that independent record labels were still signing great bands - which we all know to be perfectly correct, but none of this conflicts with Gene's original point, that rock is dead as a professional endeavour. Indeed Slash concedes: "In terms of record sales… rock 'n' roll is probably at its lowest ebb of all time," and "I know a lot of it does have to do with the fact that everybody is streaming online." The vast majority of these great new bands will continue to struggle as glorified hobbyists, fitting tours and studio sessions around their day jobs, denied the chance that young musicians in previous decades had to make a good living from their music, allowing them to immerse themselves in their art and truly fulfil their potential. After all, it is telling that we are more interested in what grizzled veterans like Slash and Gene Simmons have to say on this subject than the flourishing pioneers of the new millennium.

Mastodon are more deserving of that accolade than most; however, the standard-bearers of a self-consciously brainy strand of forward-thinking metal have found themselves in hot water this week over the new video to their song The Motherload, filled with slow-motion twerking. Hammer’s own Dom Lawson spearheaded the outrage with a piece in The Guardian (where else?) about how offensive it is to see so many women’s bums in a metal video. “It’s what those of us who lean to the left on such matters generally regard as ‘a bit sexist,’” he insists, dubbing it “extremely confusing, particularly for those of us who regard ourselves as politically enlightened.” Those of us drooling troglodytes who are happy not to regard ourselves as “politically enlightened”, however, might not find the sequences of jiggling arse-flesh all that confusing or upsetting. “This was really a fun thing that doesn’t really mean too much,” Mastodon’s Brann Dailor told Pitchfork in response to the controversy, which has usefully heightened awareness of the song and the band, as well as the ladies’ bottoms. “I just don’t see the sexism in it. For some people it’s titillating, but for me it just looked amazing. I thought the girls were awesome and talented and I thought it was amazing to watch.”

Speaking of arses, a strange and unseemly ‘war of words’ flared up this week via social media between Tom Morello and a restaurant in Seattle. The ex-Rage Against The Machine guitarist was refused entry to the 5 Point Cafe with a group of friends (including his Kenyan brother) after a minimum wage benefit show, so the outraged 50-year-old took to Twitter to fume: “Five Point restaurant in Seattle is the worst. Super rude and anti-worker. Shittiest doorman in the Northwest. Prick. Spread the word.” The cafe owner responded on Facebook: “Sorry if you had an issue with our staff but typically our staff is awesome, and when they are not, it’s usually a reflection of the customer. Act like a prick = get treated like a prick. Rock stars don’t get special treatment as the 5 Point,” later adding “Tom and his crew didn’t get let in as the place was at capacity and there was a line.” Morello then issued a statement questioning the doorman’s “underlying motives,” suggesting he may be “Anti-Kenyan,” provoking the Cafe’s response “Stop trying to portray the doorperson as a racist. That really sucks and is crazy abusive.” In the old days when someone threw a wobbler, they’d shout and swear for a while, then calm down and forget about it; nowadays, when an aggrieved party hastily commits his gripe to social media, it snowballs into undignified newsfeed fodder for weeks.

In happier news, Black Sabbath are planning to record one more studio album with Rick Rubin. Work will begin on new material early next year – which is also when Motorhead have announced they’ll be going back into the studio. We’ll warrant both these bands must have been barred from a few restaurants in their time…

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.