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It's hard to believe that 2019 is already drawing to a close. Given the many massive releases and announcements that have come out this year, every day felt like a week, and every week made us want to collapse. But now, as we soldier towards a new decade in rock music, we can look back on 2019 and remember those stories that most compelled us to be better fans and think about rock as a whole.
Here are the 50 moments in rock music that shook our world in 2019...
Since their massive single All Out Life came out late last year, everyone knew Slipknot would make 2019 their bitch. But the epic way in which they did so -- with new masks, a new live show, and Kerrang!’s Album Of The Year -- went above and beyond our expectations. If any band owned this year in rock, it would have to be the boys from Iowa.
It wasn’t enough for Tool to finally release their long-awaited new album after 13 years of rumor, hearsay, and fan obsession. They had to not only wow the world with the final product, but unseat pop music’s gossip queen while doing it. Not only did the band prove that the world is still hungry for rock with Fear Inoculum, they announced out loud that even the most popular artists are no match for good music.
It wasn’t just that the most massive punk rock tour of the decade seemed to herald Green Day’s new album. It was what the inclusion of these three bands said about rock. Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer are all headliners in their own right, considered by most too massive to open for anyone. That they can come together for so gigantic a tour illustrates that rock is finally uniting under one banner.
It was only a matter of time. Since the hiatus they began in 2012, My Chemical Romance have only risen in acclaim, going from guilty pleasure among “serious” rock fans to formative musical force for up-and-coming acts. Their live return on December 20 was a monumental success, proving that the former posterboys of the emo scene have since become modern legends.
Wait, what?! Stoner thrash legends High On Fire were the obvious underdogs in last year’s GRAMMY Awards, with Deafheaven, Trivium, and Underoath seeming like the obvious picks. But Matt Pike and Co. walked away with the coveted award, proving that artists who stick to their guns can often be rewarded eventually. What a time to be alive.
Sadly, not all of 2019’s most important stories were heartwarming ones. Keith Flint of The Prodigy passed away on March 4, from what was later revealed to be a suicide. The shock and sadness that the rock world showed in response was living proof of just how much The Prodigy mattered. If there was any silver lining behind this story, it was the many touching tributes that musicians and fans paid to Keith, showing their undying graittude to this genre-smashing firestarter.
With so many bands returning in 2019, one knew that the Chili Peppers were working on something. And indeed they were -- only recently, it was announced that formative guitarist John Frusciante would return to the fold. Just wait and see what 2020 holds.
In the past year, as emo and Soundcloud rappers have revealed their love for rock music, Marilyn Manson has risen as a figure of renown among many modern rap stars. But it was the god of fuck’s appearance at Travis Scott’s Elevation Fest that really cemented the understanding that today’s rap fans have a love for ultra-offensive goth metal. To a new world of gods and monsters!
2019 was an intense year for Machine Head, with Robb Flynn reuniting the line-up on the band’s debut album Burn My Eyes for its 25th anniversary. But what might have been even more crushing was the hour-plus set the groove titans played in front of some 50 people at a London dive bar. It’s hard to believe a show like this exists -- but the camera doesn’t lie.
No matter how much they’ve progressed, for some Bring Me The Horizon will forever be synonymous with the tattoo-drenched world of metalcore. But with this year’s Amo, the band not only reached the pinnacle of their pop incorporation, they helped bridge the gap between rock, EDM, and hip-hop music. Guest vocals by Dani Filth and a tour with SCARLXRD only further drove home how much these guys are setting a new standard for rock.
When Slayer began their Final Tour, many wondered if it would continue on into perpetuity. But the band made good on their promise to call it quite, ending their long run as metal’s greatest live band with epic sold-out shows at the Forum in Los Angeles. The concerts were also celebrated by the band releasing their own film, The Repentless Killogy. A fitting end to heavy metal’s demonic overlords.
The world was still reeling for the 2017 death of Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington this year. So when Lamb Of God guitarist Mark Morton dropped his solo album, featuring the track Cross Off with vocals by Chester, many fans were dumbstruck to hear the rock pioneer’s voice once more. So many, in fact, that the track earned Chester a rare distinction: a Billboard chart spot two years after his death. Beautiful proof that Chester’s legacy is timeless and powerful.
After years of rumor, conjecture, and doubt, Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt dropped on Netflix to massive acclaim. Starring a cast of up-and-coming stars (including rock-obsessed rapper Machine Gun Kelly), the film was a hit, reigniting interest in the Crue and featuring a soundtrack of the band’s hits that landed on the Billboard charts.
As though The Dirt’s runaway success wasn’t enough, it also reignited Motley Crue’s live career. After signing a contact stating they’d never return to the stage, the band then blew the legal agreement up -- literally -- and announced the Stadium Tour with Def Leppard, Poison, and Joan Jett. Heroes are always remembered, but legends never die.
The 2017 death of Chris Cornell was a massive shock to the rock community. But the tribute concert held in his name in January, called I Am The Highway, was a beautiful display of the impact that the singer had on the world. Not only that, but it showed how many artists were influenced by him, with everyone from Metallica to Taylor Momsen taking the stage to pay homage to his memory. A powerful way to kick off the year.
For years, Game Of Thrones has been every metal fan’s favorite property, steeping old-school fantasy in real-world sex and violence. 2019 saw the series meet its end in a blaze of dragonfire and off-putting coitus, keeping up the series’ trend of killing characters you love and making certain fanboys scream in rage. Now metal’s elite will have to find another explosion of darkness and magic to cameo on.
After dealing with health issues for some time, horror icon Sid Haig -- best known as Captain Spaulding, the murderous clown from Rob Zombie’s famous horror films House Of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects -- passed away at the age of 80. His last film with Zombie, 3 From Hell, also came out in 2019, giving Sid one final ride as Spaulding onscreen.
After announcing their return to the stage last year in tribute to deceased frontman Wayne Static, disco-metal heavyweights Static-X revealed their new touring frontman and a re-recorded version of their classic Bled For Days. Dubbed ‘Xer0’, the vocalist appeared in what looked like a dead skin mask of Wayne, which to some was a questionable move. But the public response to the band’s return was huge, and showed just how much Static-X meant to so many people.
Bohemian Rhapsody was one of the many rock biopics that finally came out in 2019. Perhaps even more mind-boggling, though, was that actor Rami Malek won an Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury. In his acceptance speech, Rami said, “...we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself, and the fact that I’m celebrating him, and his story with you tonight, is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”
For a while now, traditional death metal has remained below the surface, bubbling up in an underground world of its own making. But 2019 saw a new wave of young, brutal metal artists taking the forefront. Arizona’s Gatecreeper led the charge with their massive sophomore album Deserted, while up-and-coming stars like Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold, Teeth, Witch Vomit, and Vastum also released records that caught the public eye. Hopefully 2020 will be the year in which death conquers all.
While blink-182’s star seems ever-ascendant as pop-punk returns to rock’s forefront, frontman Mark Hoppus also resurrected Simple Creatures alongside All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth. The band released two EPs of hip-hop- and dance-tinged rock music in March and October respectively, and already have another piece of music along the way. The fan response was massive, proving that rock isn’t only alive in 2019, but a fertile breeding ground for new art as well.
Many punk rock fans were heartbroken in 2018 when Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman announced that the infamous traveling festival would be coming to an end. But Warped wouldn’t go out quietly, and 2019 saw three massive festivals being held to honor Warper’s 25th anniversary and send the tour off in style. We’ll always have the side of the Garden State Parkway.
The prince of darkness had what he described as “one of the most fucked-up years of my life”, suffering from both pneumonia and a nasty fall during his recovery. But Ozzy ended the year on a triumphant note, guest-appearing on the single Take What You Want with Post Malone and releasing two rollicking singles from his upcoming new album Ordinary Man. You just can’t keep a madman down.
Whether it was the advancement of misogynists like Donald Trump or the peak of the #MeToo movement, 2019 saw many of rock’s women fighting back against ages-old prejudices and pushing the genre towards progression. Figures like Lzzy Hale and Melissa Auf Der Mar stepped up this International Women’s Day, becoming some of rock’s loudest and most unapologetic voices out there. It was also the year that “female-fronted” became passe as bands grew tired of the women leading them being treated like gimmicks. It was a reminder that fans of rock and metal can come from wherever, and will always live and die by their passion.
In March, Slipknot parted ways with longtime percussionist Chris Fehn, and introduced fans to their new mystery percussionist, the mysterious Tortilla Man. An Internet arms race immediately began to see who could figure out the drummer’s identity first, with comedian Gilbert Godfried stepping up and admitting that he was behind the mask. That said, after the band leveled Download, one thing was certain: whoever was behind the tortilla, he was awesome.
In 2019, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine saw an outpouring of public support when he revealed he had been diagnosed with throat cancer in mid-June. Even more impressive, though, was that Dave was back in the studio working on Megadeth’s new album only ten days after the news went public. Apocalyptic thrash metal is bigger than any cluster of cells.
If there is one solid piece of proof that Billie Eilish was the artist of 2019, it’s the sheer number of ways in which her single Bad Guy was covered. Besides actual bands like The Interrupters performing versions of the song, there were covers done in the style of Green Day, blink-182, and even deathcore. While many rock fans angrily took to social media after Billie admitted that she didn’t know who Van Halen was, there’s no denying that there’s something about her songs that music fans everywhere find fascinating.
While Mötley Crüe's reunion brought glam back to the stage, and My Chemical Romance's reunion brought goth to the forefront, the politics of the year called for a more revolutionary force. Thankfully, Rage Against The Machine returned just in time for Trump's impeachment. Get ready to testify in the new decade.
Announcing five festival headlining slots is hardcore -- announcing two unique headlining sets per fest is something altogether different. But Metallica did just that, revealing a partnership with Danny Wimmer Presents that’ll see the world’s biggest metal band playing two totally different sets at every DWP festival in 2020. If you miss Metallica in the coming year, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Forget 2019 -- it’d be fair to say that Rammstein’s video for Deutschland is one of the most compelling music videos of the last twenty years. Cinematic and huge, full of metaphor but still accessible, the short film is a summation of Germany’ whole blood-spattered history. While the footage therein is sometimes shocking and offensive, Rammstein’s decision not to shy away from their country’s misdeeds shows their ability to take a cold, hard look in the mirror.
In June, it was revealed that a fire at a video vault building on Universal Studios destroyed countless master recordings of famous musicians. Later in the month, the full list came out, revealing that recordings by Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Nine Inch Nails had been permanently lost to the blaze. Hopefully, the accident and its monumental artistic cost will act as a lesson on how to store pieces of music history for ages to come.
When Netflix premiere their first season of The Umbrella Academy -- based off of the comic book by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way -- fans of punk and emo were excited to gobble it up. But even Gerard probably didn’t expect 45 million households to stream to series within its first four weeks. Now, The Umbrella Academy is already slated for a second season, proving that unusual outsider stories rank high with modern audiences.
When the infamous Westboro Baptist Church announced they’d protest trans politician Danica Roem the state capitol of Virginia in his hometown of Richmond, Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe played it like an absolute star. Instead of calling for reactionary violence or anger, he organized a kazoo party to drown out their bigoted shouting, and danced around in a feather boa to show them what he thought of their stuffy Christian zealotry. A true class act.
Limp Bizkit had a pretty banger year as a band, playing a five-dollar show that drew in attendees like Marilyn Manson and Billy Corgan. Unfortunately for frontman Fred Durst, his film starring John Travolta, The Fanatic, did not fare as well. In its first weekend, the move barely made $3,000 dollars at 52 theaters nationwide, making it an unmitigated bomb. Hopefully, it becomes a cult classic on demand.
In recent past, Guns N’ Roses have re-emerged as one of rock’s most exciting live acts. But perhaps even more astounding is that the band’s video for their 1987 classic Sweet Child O’ Mine became the only ‘80s music video with over a billion views on YouTube this year. The number is a reminder of G’N’R’s legendary status, and shows just how many fans still see the Great Panty Melter of ‘87 as one of rock’s most enduring classics.
Who says metal and hardcore fans have no sense of humor? When gay disco legends the Village People played this year’s Riot Fest, they whipped the audience into a frenzy. The result was a massive Wall Of Death the band’s immortal classic YMCA. Maybe the most heartwarming thing you’ll see on the Internet this year.
13 years after Rob Zombie shocked the world with The Devil’s Rejects, the monster rock king returned to his infamous criminal clan the Fireflies. 3 From Hell, Zombie’s third and presumably final film starring Baby, Otis, and Spaulding, was released to acclaim among audiences who were happy to see their old psychotic friends once more. Though Sid Haig’s passing cast a pall on some aspects of the film, its total embrace of Zombie’s core spookshow attitude provided an excellent return to form.
Woodstock 50 was meant to be a massive celebration of the festival’s legacy, honoring five decades of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Unfortunately, amid accusations of financial misplacement and corporate interference, Woodstock 2019 fell apart before it even began. A small charity festival was held in its name, but the grand-scale celebration of rock’s legacy was sadly absent.
Over the last ten years, A Day To Remember officially transitioned from underground successes to massive rock influencers. But this year, the band not only announced their upcoming new album You’re Welcome, they also revealed that they believed it to be their most positive and big-hearted yet. One can only imagine what this means for the tank-top-clad youth of 2020.
Though blink-182’s Enema Of The State still sounds like the soundtrack to dipping your buddy’s hand in warm water while he’s asleep, the album turned the ripe old age of 20 in 2019. To honor the album, the band played it in full on a huge U.S. tour, much to the delight of their classic fans. Though opener Lil Wayne didn’t always love the trek, the band still gave their most famous album the honors it deserved.
After founding co-vocalist Yuimetal left BABYMETAL in 2018, many wondered about the future of the band. But on this year’s Metal Galaxy, the band returned in terrific form, creating a catchy yet ultra-driven sound that both honored their past material and showed that they were ready to soldier onward into a bright new future. For all the haters blowing BABYMETAL off as an elaborate gimmick, the album showed just how focused the band is on making quality music.
In September, it was announced that Metallica frontman James Hetfield would re-enter rehab to continue combating issues with addiction he’s fought for some time. In response, members of bands across rock and metal expressed their support for James on his road to recovery. “My thoughts and prayers are with him,” said Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe, who credited Hetfield’s aid as helping him reach sobriety. “I love that dude. He literally helped SAVE MY LIFE.”
It’s hard to believe that Motörhead’s gene-defining album Overkill turned 40 this year. To this day, the album sounds as massive and rebellious as ever, and remains a testament as to how rock’n’roll slowly morphed into heavy metal as we know it. With the band’s three original members gone from this world -- guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke passed away in January of 2018 -- the record illustrates how even after we’re gone, the art we leave behind can stay powerful for ages to come.
After Mark Morton’s collaboration with late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington climbed up the Billboard charts, there was a sense that Chester was far from gone. Then, in December, Chester's widow Talinda announced that at the time of his death, Chester had been working on a new album with Grey Daze, his first band. The record would feature the band’s old songs rerecorded, with Bennington’s original vocal tracks included thereon. Get ready to knuckle tears from your cheeks in the coming year.
After nearly two decades of development, the film version of Lords Of Chaos, the notorious oral history of the second wave of black metal, finally saw the light of day at American movie theaters. With Rory Culkin and Jack Kilmer portraying Mayhem’s Euronymous and Dead, the movie was an accurate portrayal of the madness, sorrow, blood and fire that went into metal’s darkest cultural chapter. On top of that, it showed that though it remains couched in darkness and diabolism, black metal has become a fascinating part of rock’s history at large.
Actor Jason Momoa has played some of the most metal characters on earth, from Khal Drogo to Conan The Cimmerian. But in 2019, the dude officially revealed himself as a defender of the faith. If he wasn't chilling backstage with Slayer on their final tour, he was performing Pantera classics with Phil Anselmo in front of thousands. Thank fuck he's on our side.
For ages, black metal has been stereotyped as a hive of fascist behavior. But 2019 seemed to be the year many bands finally had enough, rallying publicly against bigotry in both the genre and the world at large. In January, the first Black Flags Over Brooklyn festival was held, bringing together extreme metal bands who stood proudly against racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. With that came a wave of bands openly pledging to fight hatred at every turn. The kids, it seems, are all right.
It seems like something that should've happened ages ago, but in 2019, Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig finally brought his erotic comic like Verotika to the big screen. The film was an anthology, telling three different tales of terror -- none of which moved critics (the movie has only has 33% on Rotten Tomatoes). That said, fans immediately embraced it as a cult classic, so get ready for a midnight showing soon.
2019 was finally the year that higher education understood that heavy metal is an art AND a science. A professor at the University Of Newcastle In Australia offered a PhD scholarship in heavy metal social geographies, giving two students a chance to focus on and understand how heavy metal fans exist within certain groups. Whether or not you skull a tallboy while blasting Slayer at graduation remains to be seen.
This year's Knotfest Meets Forcefest in Mexico didn't go exactly as planned. After fans broke a barricade during Behemoth's performance, both Slipknot and Evanescence had to cancel their sets for both the safety of themselves and their fans. As a result, attendees rushed the stage and set Evanescence drummer Will Hunt's gear on fire. Fortunately, both bands have vowed to return to Mexico despite the incident. All in the life of a rock band.
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