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Metal Run-Ins With The Law

Ten times metallers have had a brush with The Man

Two members of Flint, Michigan's King 810 have been charged with serious assault and are due in court today. But they're by no means the first metal band to have a run-in with the law, as we revisit some of our world's biggest legal cases – from GG Allin to Tim Lambesis.

WHO: Tim Lambesis (As I Lay Dying, Austrian Death Machine)

WHAT: The founding member and lead vocalist of US-based metalcore band As I Lay Dying was arrested in May 2013, accused of attempting to hire an assassin to murder his wife. Lambesis, whose six album strong career with As I Lay Dying had cemented him as a veteran of the scene, was also the sole member of the staggeringly unfunny Austrian Death Machine, an outfit that dedicated its output to the lifework of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some would have said that’s enough of a crime in itself.

VERDICT: In February 2014, Lambesis changed his plea to guilty, and in May was sentenced to six years in prison for solicitation of murder.

WHO: Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe)

WHAT: It is 1984, and Mötley Crüe are two albums into a career that would define the excess and glitz of the glam metal heyday. Tragically, frontman Vince Neil was charged with vehicular manslaughter and DUI when a motoring collision killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley. 

VERDICT: Neil was convicted of driving whilst heavily under the influence, and was sentenced to a 30-day stint in jail, five-year probation and ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the crash. Their third album, Theatre Of Pain, was dedicated to Razzle.

WHO: Varg Vikernes (Burzum/Mayhem)

WHAT: Varg Vikernes is often credited as one of the originators of the early Norwegian black metal scene, playing in the highly influential Burzum and Mayhem. Having been affiliated with the Norwegian church burnings in the early 90s, in 1993 Vikernes was arrested and charged with the murder of Mayhem guitarist, Euronymous. After serving a 15-year sentence, Vikernes was released in 2009, only to be re-arrested in July 2013 on suspicion of planning acts of terrorism.

VERDICT: Vikernes, whose heathen-influenced ideologies were the basis for his thoughts on racial purity, is still one of the most iconic extreme right figureheads in Scandinavia. He shows no sign of quieting down. 

WHO: Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)

WHAT: Legendary Nirvana frontman and grunge stalwart Kurt Cobain was hardly adverse to the odd barny. There were even times that he thought his own security could do with a whalloping. However, lesser known devious activities included graffiti, something for which he got arrested as a teenager, when he scrawled “Ain’t got no whatchamacallit” on the side of a bank.

VERDICT: The incident took place two years before the birth of Nirvana in 1987. Despite getting off with a slap on the wrist for his illicit doodles, this didn’t stop Cobain for being arrested again in 1986 for trespassing whilst intoxicated. 

WHO: GG Allin

WHAT: GG Allin, one of punk’s most outspoken, politically extreme and subversive characters was arrested over 50 times during his lifetime. Massively prolific, Allin recorded tens of albums under his own name and in various other guises, including with bands like The Scumfucs and The Carolina Shitkickers. Individualistic and often a nihilist, Allin wrote music that was heavily lyrically offensive, saturated with references to drug consumption and general savage misanthropy. His reputation for explosive live shows saw him brawling with crowd members and often consuming his own faeces.

VERDICT: Allin died in 1996 of a heroin overdose. He served many stints in jail, which he claimed on a few occasions stopped him from his wish to commit suicide on stage during Halloween. 

WHO: Randy Blythe (Lamb of God)

WHAT: One of the most high-profile metal cases in recent years, Lamb Of God’s stellar ascendency to the upper reaches of the metal world was put on pause as frontman Randy Blythe was remanded by Czech authorities for the manslaughter of a young fan, Daniel Nosek. According to the Prague High Court, moral responsibility for the LOG fan’s death lay with Blythe, who had allegedly shoved the young man off stage during a show in 2010. Blythe, however, only faced these charges when he returned to the Czech republic on tour in June 2012.

VERDICT: Having been held in Czech custody for a while, Blythe was acquitted of charges, with the responsibility for Nosek’s death being placed on concert promoter and bouncers. Over the course of the trial, the official White House petition received 27,500 signatures in favour of Blythe’s freedom. 

WHO: Gaahl (Gorgoroth/God Seed/Wardruna)

WHAT: Another Norwegian black metaller, Kristian Espedal, better known by his stage name Gaahl, has been instrumental in pushing evil music forward for the best part of 20 years. In 2005, shortly after Gorgoroth released their seventh album Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam, Gaahl spent nine months in prison, accused of assaulting and torturing a man for six hours while collecting his blood into a cup and forcing him to drink it. 

VERDICT: Gaahl served the sentence. When asked about why he did it, he argued self-defence, saying “when people cross my line... then I will be the one to decide what their punishment will be.”

WHO: Marilyn Manson

WHAT: Marilyn Manson, God Of Fuck, scourge of the PMRC. In an onstage antic to compete with the likes of GG Allin, at a gig in 2001 Manson wrapped his legs around security guard Joshua Keasler’s face before proceeding to gyrate against his head. The kicker? Manson was only wearing a thong and panty hose. 

VERDICT: Keasler filed a suit against Manson claiming sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit lasted until 2004, when the two sides settled for an undisclosed amount.

WHO: Ivan Moody (Five Finger Death Punch)

WHAT: In February of this year, Five Finger Death Punch frontman, Ivan Moody, was reported to have been arrested and charged by Australian authorities for the assault of aircrew. Moody, who was said to be under the influence of alcohol, displayed threatening behaviour to a member of the cabin staff who refused to serve him alcohol. The allegations came as the band made their way across Australia for the next leg of the Soundwave festival.

VERDICT: Moody is said to have faced the charges in a Sydney court, with official spokespeople for the Australian Federal Police saying that the “matter is now finalised.”

WHO: Nergal (Behemoth)

WHAT: The tale of Adam “Nergal” Darski, Behemoth’s frontman, is one of incredible courage and conviction, despite meaning he often was to fly in the face of authority. Back in March 2010, months before he was diagnosed with leukaemia, Nergal was held on trial in Poland for publicly denouncing religion by ripping up a Bible on stage in 2007. For Behemoth, whose occult lyrical content had previously inflamed religious authorities in their homeland, this case highlighted wider issues involving free speech and religion.

VERDICT: Despite facing two years in jail, Nergal’s charges were dropped in June 2010. The frontman continues to argue that the bible-tearing was part of his artistic license to enhance the live performance and not intended to be offensive to anyone.

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