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This Week In Metal (15/12/14 - 21/12/14)

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It's the last Week In Metal before Christmas, and grabbing the festive headlines has been Iron Maiden's cryptic fan club Christmas card, depicting Eddie emerging from a snow-covered studio carrying an armful of master tapes. The message inside reads: "Eddie's got a little Christmas gift for everyone who's been REALLY BAD! Must not be opened until 2015…" 'Speculation' is rife that this means Iron Maiden will at last release their sixteenth studio album in 2015, though it's hard to imagine what else it could mean; their last LP, 2010's The Final Frontier, will very soon be half a decade old, so we might reasonably expect studio activity next year from British metal's biggest band. On the back of the card is a signpost labelled 'UROTON 51', which many Countdown fans have noticed is an anagram of 'ON TOUR 15' (of course it's also an anagram of 'NO TOUR 15', but surely they wouldn't be so cruel). Far more mysterious, however, are what appear to be ninjas on the studio roof. Ninjas are not very Christmassy, so either they foretoken a concept album about mercenary warriors in feudal Japan, or it's just a bit of fun to ramp up precisely that sort of absurd speculation. Either way: bring it on boys!

Norwegian black metal royalty Immortal are the sort of band who live all year round in the bleak midwinter, but recent developments in the Blizzard Beasts' polar ice camp have been frosty even for their sub-Arctic levels. The band's founding guitarist and lyricist Demonaz and drummer since 1996 Horgh have blocked frontman Abbath's attempt to register exclusive rights to the Immortal name, arguing that the trademark should be shared by all three. According to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet's account of a letter from Abbath to the Norwegian Industrial Property Office, Demonaz and Horgh had requested a longer break before recording the next Immortal album and declined to continue paying rent on a shared rehearsal space as the band was currently 'on ice'. Abbath "perceived this move as them pulling out of the band" and replaced the long-term members with session musicians; he has now nearly completed Immortal's ninth album, their first since 2009's All Shall Fall. Demonaz insists that Abbath's letter contains "incorrect information" and is preparing a response. It is depressing to see Immortal's Doom Occulta brothers divided in such a petty fashion after 25 years of friendship and chemistry. We can only hope that the season of goodwill prevails and Immortal pull their legacy back together, because respected Norwegian black metallers sniping at each other through newspapers about trademark ownership is a Christmas present nobody wants. Unlike the new YouTube video depicting Immortal in a comparatively dignified light, as sock puppets.

Megadeth are ending the year in reduced circumstances as a humble pair of Daves, but the men who created the vacancies are entering 2015 with a band of their own. Guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover announced the new project this week on Liquid Metal's 666-Live phone-in, telling Jose Mangin "We talked about how we had all this material that was never gonna get released, all these killer, heavy riffs that we had written and stuff, and so we just decided, 'Hey, why don't we put this stuff out?' So we formed a band, we're working with a killer singer – he's awesome – and we've got record labels that have made good offers on the table, and we're really excited about where that's gonna go." The "killer singer" is Henry Bonner, who left Joey Jordison's Scar The Martyr in April citing personal, artistic and business differences, so let's hope he gets on better with this as-yet-unnamed crew.

And finally, 'tis the season to be jolly and all that, so what better way to sign off than with Steel Panther's sincere and steadfast commitment to dicking about. "With where we're at with 25 employees, trucks and buses, there's a lot riding on what comes out on our CDs," singer Michael Starr told The Tennessean this week. "They're like, 'Look, we need a serious record from Steel Panther.' From day one, we said: 'No. We're not doing that.'" And to prove it, the LA hair metal jesters just released their first Christmas single, The Stocking Song, in which the stocking is a euphemism for a lady's private parts. Merry Christmas!

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