Although we’re deep into a season of exciting new album releases – Iron Maiden’s The Book Of Souls was a number one Amazon bestseller on pre-orders alone; Slayer’s forthcoming Repentless was top five – the news this week has lacked something of a revelatory aspect. It should be no surprise to anyone that septuagenerian contrarian Keith Richards isn’t a big fan of heavy metal, but the dear old reprobate still gives good value in clickbait sound bites. So the New York Daily News discovered when the Rolling Stones guitarist told them that all rock music “sounds like a dull thud to me… It’s endless thudding away, with no bounce, no lift, no syncopation.” Similar sentiments were famously expressed by men of his age when they heard the first Rolling Stones singles, but Keith might have forgotten about that as it was a very long time ago. Setting himself up as a piratical pantomime villain to the metal community, cheeky Keef went on to casually dismiss two of our most hallowed pioneers: “Millions are in love with Metallica and Black Sabbath. I just thought they were great jokes.” Many have pointed out that he’s skating on thin ice here, dismissing other musicians in comedic terms when he’s made himself into a bit of a laughing stock over the years. But Keith Richards can reckon whatever he likes; either way, we never imagined Master Of Puppets got much airplay on the Stones’ tour jet.
It was also not terribly surprising that Bill Ward wasn’t mentioned by his three ex-bandmates when Black Sabbath launched their Beginning Of The End tour this week, effectively fixing a seal on their phenomenal 45-year career. The end of the Sabs is finally nigh, and for the most serious and poignant of reasons: “I can’t actually do this anymore,” Tony Iommi told the Birmingham Mail. “My body won’t take it much more.” The iconic guitarist will shortly be undergoing tests to make sure the lymphoma that he’s successfully battled in recent years has not returned. “I don’t want that creeping back again,” he said. “All the travelling involved in Sabbath tours increasingly takes its toll. That’s why we’re going out on one last tour, to say our farewells. And then it very definitely is the end.”
A similar reckoning might not be far off for Lemmy, another grand survivor from heavy metal’s founding era now publicly struggling with the revelation of his own mortality. After abandoning another concert with the heartbreaking words “I can’t do it,” Motörhead have cancelled more dates on their US tour, although a band statement insisted “Lemmy fully intends to resume touring duties as, and when, his doctors give him the all clear.” Nobody wants Lemmy onstage until he’s well enough, but dauntingly the Motörhead tour diary is more or less fully booked for the next six months…
And finally in this week’s ‘no shit, Sherlock’ news round-up, Fear Factory have gone on record to announce that they’re still jolly keen to do a soundtrack to a science fiction movie. “Demanufacture in 1995 was a soundtrack to a movie that was never written – and that’s the same for pretty much every record since then,” lamented Burton C Bell. “It just takes the right person, someone with money to come in and say, ‘We believe in you and we want you to do this.’ But so far that hasn’t happened.” So, if any big-time Hollywood producers planning a futuristic, dystopian big-budget sci-fi blockbuster are reading this, and are looking for a kind of crunchy, industrial cyber-death groove metal score for the soundtrack, do give Burton and/or Dino a ring.