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2017: Metal Hammer's big review

From extreme metal at Glasto to HIM splitting up, we relive the last 12 months in metal

The break-ups. The reunions. The losses. The victories. Welcome to Metal Hammer’s ultimate guide to the last 365 days of heavy...

January: Metal got political

Bands railed against Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric

On January 20, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, following one of the most divisive campaigns in history. At his inauguration ceremony, Trump expanded on his campaign slogan to ‘Make America Great Again’, promising to end the “American carnage” and put “America First”.

“It confirmed the fact that racism is alive and well in America, and in the world for the most part,” says Prophets Of Rage’s Tim Commerford today. “He had the racist vote. He’s ignited a racist contingent and they have more of a voice than they have ever had before because of it.”

Across the country at Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom, Prophets Of Rage protested by playing their own Anti-Inaugural Ball. The night began with Chuck D reciting part of Public Enemy’s Fight The Power, featured the first set from Audioslave in 12 years – which would sadly be their last – and ended with a defiant Killing In The Name.

“Well, the highlight of that was playing our final show with Chris Cornell,” says Tim. “Outside of the fact that the show went down without a hitch, I’m really proud. I’m really proud of everything we do and the stance we take and I’m excited to do more of that and go up against the system.”

The Ball was part of Prophets’ mission to ‘Make America Rage Again’ in the face of fresh injustice.

“Chuck D has five levels of being in a band,” explains Tim. “Level one, you write your song. Level two, you record your song. Level three, you perform your song. Most bands live at level three, and that’s where audiences live. Then there’s those few that believe the song and want to strive to believe in what you play, what you say and what the audience is feeling. I believe that level four is where we live… And level five is this area where you’re bleeding this music, which is what we’re trying to do.”

Metal protested elsewhere – Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Tweeted: “Trump’s Inaugural Address and his asking us to put America first sounds, to me, familiar to what was said in speeches going around Germany in the 1930s… and later Russia in the 1940s.”

Meanwhile, grindcore band Anal Trump pledged to donate proceeds from their To All The Broads I’ve Nailed Before EP to Planned Parenthood, and Body Count released a teaser for No Lives Matter, a taste of their politicised album Bloodlust. After Trump barred immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, Bandcamp announced they’d donate proceeds from sales on February 3 to the American Civil Liberties Union. Metal was sending a clear message: persecution will not be tolerated.

“I have an obligation to write songs that are political – it’s not a choice,” says Tim. “It feels fearless to me, and there’s going to be more.”

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