For many reasons, 2019 represented a further slip down the spiral for planet earth. Politics were shit. People were divided. The environment continues to go to hell in a handbasket. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t loads to celebrate, mind. From the ridiculous to the sublime, the world threw up a host of joyful, triumphant and downright hilarious headlines. We trawled back through the last 12 months to pick out our favourite reasons to raise the horns…
The Return Of Rammstein
This one speaks for itself. Or rather, defiantly doesn’t. Dropping an untitled seventh album (brilliant, obviously) after a decade away, the German industrial overlords proceeded to romp across Europe with a stadium show – billowing flames and enough smoke to blot out the sun – the likes of which had never been seen. We knew that the Rammstein return, when it came, would be spectacular. But even in our wildest dreams, we didn’t expect this…
Lords Of Chaos Brought Black Metal Into Multiplexes
One-time Bathory drummer turned director extraordinaire Jonas Åkerlund brought the story on the ’90s Norwegian black metal murders to the silver screen with a dark humour and stomach churning luridity in his adaptation of Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind’s book of the same name. Openly “based on truth, lies and what actually happened…” it may have been, but that didn’t stop the inevitable shit-storm of controversy – or one punter vomiting all over the audience and having to be helped out during Glasgow’s Frightfest at the start of the year.
It Turned Out Necrobutcher Was On His Way To Kill Euronymous, Too
Definitely not capitalising on Lords Of Chaos’ publicity to drum up attention for Mayhem’s (actually, quite brilliant) 2019 LP Daemon, diminutive bassist Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud announced during an interview with Consequence Of Sound that he was plotting to knock-off guitarist Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth himself if Varg Vikerness hadn’t gotten there first. A million memes followed…
The Wayne’s World Reunion
The American Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences isn’t normally a major purveyor of metal moments, but this year saw Mike Myers and Dana Carvey (AKA Wayne’s World’s Wayne and Garth) reunited onstage to introduce Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Schwiiing!
Walls Of Jericho’s Drummer Was Arrested Transporting 632.5 Pounds Of Weed
Detroit metalcore madmen Walls Of Jericho have never really been known as the types for half measures. It seemed true to form, then, when their drummer Dustin Schoenhofer was pulled over with 632.5 pounds of marijuana and 36.8 pounds of butane honey oil in the back of his pickup truck. From Weedeater and Bongzilla to Electric Wizard and Cannabis Corpse, the stoner metal world were quietly impressed…
Miley Cyrus Covered Nine Inch Nails
A new season of Charlie Brooker’s sci-fi satire Black Mirror is always good news for those of a twisted disposition. In the third and final episode of Series Five, however, we were treated to something extra special. Starring hellraising pop songstress Miley Cyrus as Ashley O – er, a creatively-restricted pop starlet – the episode sees Miley/Ashley reinventing Nine Inch Nails classics Head Like A Hole and Right Where It Belongs as radio-friendly ditties before finding her way back to harder rocking roots. Miley also mischievously performed the songs during live sets later in the year.
Meanwhile, Trent Reznor Picked Up A Country Music Award
While one of his most famous compositions was being reimagined by the pop wild-child, the NIN frontman was busy getting acknowledged by the Country Music Association for the sample of 34 Ghosts IV in Billy Ray Cyrus (that’s right, Miley’s dad) and Lil Nas X’s hit Old Town Road. Reznor celebrated by Instagramming a photo of himself and collaborator Atticus Ross in country get-up and acknowledging it wasn’t even his first foray into the genre, after Johnny Cash’s iconic 2002 cover of Hurt.
…And He Soundtracked The Magnificent Watchmen With Atticus Ross
Reznor and Ross were busy, too, contributing a haunting score to HBO/Damon Lindelof’s game-changing televisual continuation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen mythos. Following the story through to the struggle against white supremacism in modern day Tulsa, Oklahoma felt like a strange move, but the result turned out to be one of the boldest, most bad-ass TV shows of all time.
Glastonbury Went More Metal Than Ever
There was a time when Glastonbury bigwig Michael Eavis wouldn’t entertain the thought of hard rock or metal bands at Britain’s biggest festival. Ever since Metallica’s 2014 headline, though, things have changed. With Gojira, BABYMETAL, Employed To Serve, Venom Prison and Bring Me The Horizon on the bill – not to mention a certain Lars Ulrich kicking around backstage – it feels like they’re now fully onboard.
Slayer: The Movie
Let’s be honest: few fans were really crying out for a Slayer movie. If the Los Angeles terrors were going to drop a film, though, long-term fans needed it to be properly representative: raining blood, characters going piece by piece, showing no narrative mercy. In that respect, the ridiculously-titled Repentless Killogy delivered on all counts. Stretching the gore drenched music videos for their 12th and final album onto the silver screen, adding in a little extra nastiness and then sticking a whole live show on the end, we couldn’t have asked for much more. SLAAAAAYEEEEUUUURRGHHH!
Matt Pike Got Married At Psycho Las Vegas
How do you celebrate a successful festival? In Las Vegas you get married, obviously. On August 16, a day after crushing the city’s Psycho Las Vegas event, High On Fire frontman (and Sleep guitarist) Matt Pike got hitched to musician and tattoo artist Alyssa Maucere at the Silver Wedding Chapel at the Mandalay Bay resort. We’re guessing it wasn’t a ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ kinda deal…
Khaal Drogo Jammed With Phil Anselmo
He might be a few years removed from his GoT days, but for us, hulking Aquaman movie-star Jason Momoa will always be Dothraki chieftain Khal Drogo. Rocking up at the Los Angeles Forum for the final ever Slayer shows he got to live out a “childhood dream” by getting onstage with Phil Anselmo & The Illegals for a riotous run-through of Pantera classic This Love. And we thought the dude couldn’t get any more rad.
Midsommar Made Folk-Horror Cool Again
Anyone who’d caught director Ari Aster’s uproarious directorial debut Hereditary last year already knew that this was not a director out to fuck about. Harnessing the full momentum of his hype train, however, he returned with something even more outrageously ambitious: a near three-hour folk horror set almost entirely in the daylight, that opens with a shocking trauma but dares to find catharsis in the ensuing carnage. Loaded with pagan imagery, ritual sacrifice and deliciously black humour, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Finland Hosted The First Ever Heavy Metal Knitting Championship
Knitting’s not metal, right? Wrong. It’s not easy to headbang and knit at the same time, but under the harsh glare of the Northern summer sun in Joensuu, Finland, 200-odd metalheads gathered to give it a damn good go. We’re not exactly clear on what the points scoring process entailed, but Japanese five-piece Giga Body Metal, whose performance included sumo wrestlers, were crowned the winners.
One Percent Of The Population Of Finland Went To See Metallica
Sticking with the Finns, as of 2017, Finland’s population was tallied at 5.503 million. When Metallica arrived to play Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto in Hämeenlinna, they drew a crowd of 55,000 on July 16, becoming the best-attended show in Finnish history and drawing the equivalent of one out of every hundred souls in the country as a whole. Even better, that wasn’t even nearly the biggest show Metallica played all tour, with the 75,000 attending Slane Castle in Ireland the month before equating to over 1 per cent of the population of the island (6.712 million) as a whole!
Post Malone Collaborated With The Prince Of Darkness
Sure, before he became a chart-topping hip-hop icon, Post Malone was a metalcore kid and has never been shy about espousing his love of heavy music. Few would have imagined that he’d be able to tempt Ozzy Osbourne out of his post-pneumonia hiatus for a collaboration. Fewer still would have imagined Take What You Want (also featuring rapper Travis Scott) would sound as good as it does. Ozzy even got onstage with Post at the Los Angeles Forum for a duet back in November.
KISS Played A Show For Great White Sharks
KISS have some pretty ferocious fans. That doesn’t mean they’re not up for getting a few more onside. In the wake of their cancelled Australian tour in the Autumn, the New York legends were able to make it to Port Lincoln to play a special show on a boat to promote Airbnb’s new Animal Experiences – a travel programme catered to animal lovers. The aim? To attract Great White sharks, who’re apparently partial to “low-frequency sounds of rock and roll”. No actual sharks turned up, sadly.
Machine Head’s Burn My Eyes Reunion
When guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain departed the Bay Area metallers in 2018, it felt like the end was nigh for Machine Head. Little did we know that upheaval actually heralded one of their most exciting moves in years. Re-conscripting classic six-stringer Logan Mader and sticksman Chris Kontos, they were to undertake an epic tour celebrating the 25 year anniversary of 1994 landmark Burn My Eyes with full-album play-throughs every night. Mainman Robb Flynn might’ve courted his fair share of controversy (including online rants about hard to please fans and New York metallers Dope) throughout the year, but this felt like an unqualified success.
Greta Thunberg Went Death Metal
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg might just have been the most divisive figure in all of 2019. When her scathing September speech at the United Nations was set to a blackened death metal soundtrack by YouTuber John Mollusk, mind, Greta took it in good humour, tweeting out, “I have moved on from this climate thing… From now on I will be doing death metal only!” The song went on to be a fundraising single for Greenpeace. Because what’s good for the planet is good for metal.
Metal Actually Proved Useful At Scaring Large Animals Rather Than Attracting Them
Awesome as they are, the reports of rangers in Yellowstone National Park blasting AC/DC to chase hulking bison off the clogged park highways was only the second best story of heavy music being used to scare away animals this year. That honour goes British Columbia woman Dee Gallant who managed to scare off a cougar that threatened to attach her and her dog on a logging trail by blasting Metallica’s Don’t Tread On Me out of her phone speaker. Frontman James Hetfield was so impressed he even gave her a call to say hello.
Rage Against The Machine Announced Their Reuinion
Amidst an excellent year for reunions, few felt as timely or urgently needed as that of Los Angeles rap-metal legends Rage Against The Machine. Details remain sparse at the moment, but we do know they’ll be undertaking a string of dates running from El Paso, Texas along the U.S./Mexican border culminating at headline shows at next year’s Coachella festivals. With a President defying impeachment proceedings and the 2020 election battle needing booted into gear, they’ve sure got their work cut out.
Batushka Became A Meme
When Eastern Orthodox-inspired black metallers Batushka experienced their very own schism at Christmas 2018, with vocalist Bartłomiej Krysiuk and guitarist Krzysztof Drabikowski splitting into two strangely similar, but separate incarnations of the band, few had hilarity in mind. The internet works in mysterious ways, however, and before long they had become the meme du jour. Even better, a whole host of parody outfits cropped up on Soundcloud, with the brilliantly-titled VVatushka and Bashutpska our picks of a ridiculous bunch.
Nascar Went Metal
Sure, with its high-octane races and spectacular wrecks, U.S. stock car organisation NASCAR was always pretty metal. This year it went the extra mile. It started with Slayer, whose collaboration with Rick Ware racing was controversially pulled for being too scary for the sport. Then Tyler Reddick sported Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead on his ride before returning with a Killswitch Engage theme for the opening race of the 2019 XfinitySeries Playoffs at Richmond Raceway. Remember: if you’re not first, you’re last.
Justin Bieber Outed Himself As A Tool Fan
While we might not have much time for Canadian pop star Justin Bieber’s own music, we can’t fault his taste. Posting lyrics from The Pot (off Tool’s 2006 epic 10,000 Days) on his Instagram and asking fans if they knew the song in the lead up to Fear Inoculum, he attracted a storm of online buzz. Tool frontman Maynard James Keenen was characteristically cutting, tweeting “#bummer” before later backtracking on Apple Music’s Beats 1 to admit, “he’s probably a good kid.”
Matt Heafy Livestreamed During A Hurricane
Proud Floridians, Orlando quartet Trivium have weathered out a fair few hurricanes in their time. Even still, when Hurricane Dorian – a mammoth Category 5 storm – hit land, things were looking hairy. Unbowed, frontman Matt Heafy refused to cancel his daily livestream of guitar practice and gaming until the power literally gave out.
Panic! At The Disco Dropped A Metal Track
Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie has been dabbling in a fair bit of music away from his main project this year. Few expected him to drop a full-blooded metal track, however. As part of a Twitch live stream in aid of his Highest Hopes Foundation charity, he dropped the untitled, hardcore-inflected track as a reward for passing the $75,000 mark. “Open this bitch up,” he grinned mischievously, before dropping what was admittedly an absolute banger. Is there any end to the man’s talents?
ESP’s Godzilla Themed Guitar
Godzilla is pretty metal, right? Well, guitar manufacturer ESP decided to celebrate the legendary movie-monster’s 65th birthday by commissioning Takamizawa Toshihiko of the Japanese rock band The Alfee to design a limited edition model based on his atomic anatomy. Priced at a cool $52,658 it’s not exactly an easy impulse buy, but we must admit it looks damn cool. Prospective purchasers just needed to debate whether their first riff is something by Gojira or Blue Öyster Cult’s 1977 classic named after the beast himself.
Scientists Proved Metal Makes You Feel More Positive
As fans of heavy music already know, listening to angry music doesn’t make you angry – it has a calming, cathartic effect. It’s always good to have some scientific confirmation, mind, and that came when a study by the University of Queensland, the Australian public research institution in Brisbane, revealed that rather than proving the hypothesis that “extreme music causes anger”, the theory that “extreme music matches and helps to process anger” was supported instead. Duh!
Wacken Open Air Turned 30
Long considered the ‘Metal Mecca’, legendary North German festival Wacken Open Air remains virtually unmatched as an utterly immersive metal experience, consuming not just the festival site but the whole village attached for the best part of a week at the start of every August. This year it celebrated three decades, still broadening its embrace with a lineup featuring everyone from Slayer and Sabaton to Body Count and Parkway Drive.
Parkway Drive’s Bassist Played Through The Pain Of A Ruptured Acl
“Europe, we’re back!” Aussie heroes Parkway Drive announced before arriving for mammoth festival shows in August. “And so is the wheelchair…” Bassist Jia ‘Pie’ O’Connor would be sitting onstage this time, having ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) two days before leaving for the shows. Of course, back in 2011, guitarist Luke ‘Pig’ Kilpatrick performed live with a broken leg – including one of the best shows of Parkway’s career at Sonisphere.
Orange Goblin’s Frontman Dislocated A Fan’s Shoulder With His Monster High-Five
Anyone who’s ever stood toe to toe with Orange Goblin frontman Ben Ward knows that he cuts a gargantuan shape. Even still, it was a bit of a shock to first time audience member ‘Daniel’ at July’s Ramblin’ Man Fair in Kent when the singer high-fived him so hard it dislocated his shoulder. Dan took it like a trooper, regardless: “The paramedics and nurse were hot, I got given a shit ton of drugs and I didn’t want to see Foreigner anyway.”
Manowar Abandoned Hellfest, Sabaton Saved The Day
There was high drama on the opening night of France’s Hellfest back in June as mainstage headliners Manowar – on their final European run – dropped out at the last minute amidst a storm of confusion, before later stating that promoters had “obstructed our efforts to put on the epic show we had promised.” Never afraid to step into the breach, however, Swedish military-metal heroes Sabaton (onsite as part of Knotfest the night before) agreed to step into the slot, delivering one of the sets of the weekend despite vocalist Joakim Brodén having blown out his voice and spending much of the set downing drinks onstage.
Slipknot Added Mysterious New Member ‘Tortilla Man’. Gilbert Gottfried Claimed To Be Behind The Mask
Following the departure of former percussionist Chris Fehn, the appearance of a mysterious new member whipped fans – who quickly dubbed him ‘Tortilla Man’ thanks to his distinctively textured mask – into a frenzy. Who was this interloper? What did it mean for the band?! Although the Iowans themselves remain defiantly tight-lipped on his identity, veteran comedian Gilbert Gottfried – yes, the parrot from Aladdin – announced that he was the mysterious new #3.
Mötley Crüe Returned To Small Screens In The Dirt
Months before they were back in the headlines for controversially reneging on the promise that 2015’s The Final Tour would be their last, legendary Los Angeles glam rockers Mötley Crüe were enjoying a different sort of revival thanks to the Netflix adaptation of their infamous biography The Dirt. Emphasising the sex and stupidity of their reign through the ’80s and ’90s, it proved to be an OTT blast destined to live on as a guilty pleasure for years to come.
A Pair Of Fans Got Freaky At A Behemoth Show
We’ve all gotten a little excited at rock shows. It’s hard to imagine many, however, have gone quite as far as the couple who were caught on camera engaging in oral sex in the middle of the pit during Behemoth’s set at Roskilde Festival in Denmark. Frontman Nergal responded in typically impish fashion, posting a clip of the video online and commenting, “I’m happy to see ANY reaction to our music really… It feels good to know that Behemoth is corrupting legions on soooo many levels! LOVE IS THE LAW, DEPRAVATION LEVEL PRO.”
One University Offered A Metal Phd
Think that heavy music is too cool for school? Think again. This year, The University of Newcastle, Australia, announced it would be offering a PhD scholarship to study the social geography of heavy metal. A real opportunity for academically-minded metalheads to be able to declare themselves the real “Dr. Rock.”
Ozzy Slammed Trump
There’s been no shortage of people berating bequiffed wotsit/current U.S. President Donald Trump over the last 12 months. Even still, it felt a little out of leftfield when Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne had to call The Donald out for his unauthorised use of Crazy Train in a video ridiculing candidates in the 2020 Democratic Primaries. Respect.
Randy Blythe Trolled The Westboro Baptist Church
When Christian hate-group the Westboro Baptist Church decided to arrange a protest against transgender metal vocalist turned politician Danica Roem, they probably didn’t count on the Lamb Of God frontman putting together a counter protest to utterly ridicule them. Bringing along 200 kazoos, a crew of bucket drummers and a $200 reward for best fancy dress, he spectacularly put the bigots in their place.
The Metal Community Rallied Around Dave Mustaine
Dave Mustaine has endured more than his fair amount of shit from the metal community over the years. From getting kicked out of Metallica and almost starting a riot at a show in Northern Ireland in the ’80s to getting ripped on with Donald Duck comparisons and for his born again Christian beliefs it’s been merciless. When the Megadeth frontman announced back in June that he was battling throat cancer, though, everyone from Chris Jericho to Ice-T rallied to his support. Because, when it really comes down to it, heavy metal is a family.
Gojira’s Guitarist Carried On Through The Fire
Don’t ever let anyone tell you French metal heavyweights Gojira aren’t tough guys. Case in point: guitarist Christian Andreu took a blast of pyro to the face during their set at Columbus, Ohio’s Sonic Temple Festival May 18 and just kept on playing. Their scaly kaiju namesake would surely be proud.
Metallica Brought Back S&M
Metallica’s first collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony at the Berkeley Community Theatre on April 21 and 22 1999 was one of the most spectacular moments in modern music. When the metal giants were offered the chance to do it all over again for the opening of the city’s new Chase Centre arena on September 6 and 8 2019, it was a no-brainer. Their effort in working in more experimentation and classical composition – Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite and Alexander Mosolov’s Iron Foundry dropping mid-set – ensured they actually managed to exceed expectations. We were there, and it was awesome.
David Hasslehoff Dabbled In The Dark Arts Of Metal
After the gleeful ’80s nostalgia of 2015 track True Survivor – indeed, after an entire career of embracing the ridiculous – we really shouldn’t have been surprised by reports that one time Baywatch heart-throb David Hasselhoff was experimenting for metal songs for his 14th album Open Your Eyes, which eventually even included a cover of Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again. “I’m doing some heavy metal songs on my new album,” Hasselhoff told German news site Zeit, casually. “Why not?” Why not, indeed.
Dropkick Murphys’ St. Patricks Day Show Descended Into A Brawl
It wouldn’t be a Dropkick Murphys show without a bunch of sunk beers and thrown fists, especially when that show is being played On St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Boston. It was with little surprise then, but no small amount of glee, that reports emerged from the House Of Blues that vocalist Ken Casey wound up in the crowd, fighting with a fan who was reportedly elbowing a woman in the face. Don’t ever change, lads.
Game Of Thrones’ Fiery Climax
Okay, so a lot of people (quite reasonably) thought that after eight seasons of epic battles and backstabbing intrigue, the finale for HBO’s George R.R. Martin fantasy epic felt rushed, irrational and ultimately unfulfilling. But, on the other hand, we got a huge night battle against ice zombies and [SPOILERS] the Shakespearian tragedy with dragons of Daenerys finally becoming the mad queen and destroying Kings landing – which was even better when sound tracked with Metallica’s For Whom The Bell Tolls…
Corey Taylor Collaborated With Tom Savini
A lot has been said about Corey Taylor’s selection of unsettling, translucent mask for Slipknot’s grand We Are Not Your Kind return. It’s hard to deny, though, that Corey’s decision to collaborate with legendary VFX specialist Tom Savini (the man responsible for the unforgettable prosthetics in Dawn Of the Dead, Friday The 13th and Creepshow) was exceptionally gnarly.
Antifascist Black Metal Reached New Highs
For too long black metal has been plagued by far-right thinking, whether through the activities of malevolent National Socialist black metal outfits or through the equally troubling passivity of the wider scene in overlooking troubling imagery and messages associated with their music. In 2019, it felt like the anti-fascist extreme metal was getting real traction for the first time with British bands like Dawn Ray’d, Underark and Gaylord (not to forget their American counterparts in Neckbeard Deathcamp) taking a stand.
Wendys Roasted A Bunch Of Bands
Amongst the deluge of bizarre social media activity this year, the point at which U.S. fast-food chain Wendy’s was dropping zingers on the likes of Miss May I, Atreyu, Beartooth, Papa Roach, Memphis May Fire, Chelsea Grin, State Champs, Knocked Loose, The Browning, and Attila frontman Chris Fronzak for their ‘National Roast Day’ was probably our favourite. Attacking cosmic overlords GWAR was a step too far, obviously, with the account tweeting, “Honestly afraid of starting intergalactic war, and not sure what’s considered an insult on your planet.” Tasty.
The Resident Evil 2 Remake Delivered Buckets Of Blood
After the hugely successful, game-changing first person reinvention of Resident Evil VII, Capcom Studios’ decision to follow up with a straight out remake of (original) Playstation classic Resident Evil 2 left plenty of fans scratching their heads. The sheer quality of execution at play, however, (pun very much intended) and the gallons of photo-realistic gore on show bloodily vindicate that decision. Just don’t get us started on that bastard Tyrant…
The Original Iron Maiden Lineup Got Back Together… For A Pint
You never know who you’ll find down your local. At the start of the year, indeed, for the first time since 1976, Iron Maiden’s originals (bassist Steve Harris, singer Paul Mario Day, and guitarists Dave Sullivan and Terry Rance – drummer Ron ‘Rebel’ Matthews notable by his absence) got together to catch up and sink a few pints. We would’ve happily picked up a round or two to sit in on that conversation…
Mercyful Fate Announced Their Long-Overdue Return
Finally, some good news for the year ahead. Two decades after they last played together, legendary Danish metallers Mercyful Fate will be reuniting for an unspecified number of shows in the new year and might even be releasing new material. The lineup consists of King Diamond (vocals), Hank Shermann (guitar), Bjarne T. Holm (drums) and Mike Wead (guitar) from the group’s last record, 9, alongside Armored Saint and Fates Warning bassist Joey Vera in place of original member Timi Hansen. Time for one more trip Into The Coven…
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