This Week In Metal: 5/1/15 - 11/1/15

Metal news feeds are seldom very busy in early January, but it’s just the time when we need some fun, positive, hopeful stories to shake away the post-Christmas blues and give us something to look forward to in the coming year. Fat chance this week, it seems; 2015 has begun with a series of troubling reports and downbeat assessments, such as the knife attack in the audience of a Cattle Decapitation gig at the 13th Frame Lounge in la Habra, California, when a 30-year-old man produced a pocket knife and slashed the neck of a 26-year-old man, apparently to prevent a woman being pushed around in the crowd. The injury appears not to be life-threatening, but even so the band’s subsequent Facebook update – “shit got crazy last night at our La Habra gig” – was something of an understatement. “Whatever you do,” it continues, “leave the weapons at home.”

Elsewhere, Tony Iommi has been sharing his fears that his lymphoma will return, telling The Mirror “Every day I feel around for lumps and bumps. Every time I get a pain in my stomach I think, ‘Oh God, it’s cancer.’ It’s horrible. I even dream about it. But that’s my life now. The surgeon told me he doesn’t expect the cancer to go away. There’s a 30% chance that it could but more likely it will come back and it could be any time.” Sabbath’s Riffmaster General adds that it was “a relief” to be recording the band’s latest album 13, “because it gave me something to focus on instead of sitting there waiting to die. Some days I could join in, other days I felt too ill.” He also admits that Ozzy had been a great support to him: “Ozzy was actually really helpful… He even offered to make the tea, but he’s still Ozzy. He’d disappear for three hours then come back empty-handed. You’d ask him, ‘Where’s the tea?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot.’” Black Sabbath’s final album and tour is expected this year, which will give Tony plenty to focus on, but he’s philosophical about his uncertain future. “I look at life differently now. I could be here another ten years or just one year – I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if I should try to live a more peaceful life. Then I think, ‘I don’t want the illness to take over.’ After all, I enjoy where I’m at now.”

Add to this the bittersweet news that emerged this week, that AC/DC’s founding rhythm guitar dynamo Malcolm Young was successfully treated for lung cancer before his recent dementia diagnosis, and the year does seem to have got off to a fairly gloomy start, as the metal world comes to terms with the human frailties of its founding generation. So thank Christ for Mötley Crüe bassist and former corpse Nikki Sixx, who this week took to Facebook to give us all a titter by slamming that most absurd, conservative and disrespected music institution, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. “It’s a fixed old-boy network that has lost touch with art, songwriting craft, lyrics and influential music and usually has other agendas at hand,” rants the Sixx AM frontman, after describing the Hall Of Fame gong as “the only award I look forward to getting” and “the one I will probably decline.” First-class bet-hedging there, Nikki!

But however sparse the good news this week, there’s certainly a mind-boggling amount to look forward to in 2015. Iron Maiden’s almost certainly gonna get you, Metallica look set to drop something special at some point, even Slayer should finally get round to releasing an album at last. Anthrax are working on their new one, and Megadeth are still hoping to get their new material out with a new-look line-up (“I would bet money I don’t have it’s Nick Menza on drums,” reckons ex-guitarist Glen Drover). Lamb Of God, Dream Theater, Sunn O))) and Dark Tranquillity will all be back in the studio – even Tool and System Of A Down might be on for some studio action – and there are even rumours that Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest and Motörhead might be touring together in the spring…

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.