A lot of monumental things in metal this year. Some of them involved actual music. Many did not. In honor of the year's end, we gave our notebook a good shaking to help us remember the most important stuff.
-Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe was jailed for a month over the summer in the Czech Republic, and faces manslaughter charges. A fan died after a show they put on there in 2010, allegedly because Blythe shoved him offstage. Blythe was eventually released on bail, and the band triumphantly returned to stages this past fall. A court date has been set for February 4th. Blythe told L.A. Weekly that he intends on returning to face the charges. Honestly, we're not sure we would do that ourselves, but it is admirable.
See also: Lamb of God – The Palladium – 10/31/12
-Tragedy struck the metal world when Suicide Silence vocalist Mitch Lucker died November 1st after a motorcycle accident in Huntington Beach. He was 28 years old and left behind a wife and daughter. There is no word yet on the band's future, but a benefit show at Fox Theater Pomona last weekend showed the metal scene's ability to come together. Randy Blythe, Machine Head vocalist Robb Flynn and more came out to join the band in support of their fallen comrade, leading to one of the more emotional mosh pits in a long time.
-In February, Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine told L.A. Weekly that African women should “put a plug in it.” He also suggested this year that President Obama staged the Aurora movie theater massacre to influence stricter gun control laws, and publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage. Megadeth is currently without a record label. We wish the best of luck to the label that decides his controversial comments are worth the time and money it takes to release a Megadeth record. We have our fingers crossed that it will be Metallica's new imprint, Blackened Recordings.
-Adam “Nergal” Darski, leader of Polish death metal titans Behemoth, returned to touring with a vengeance after a year-long battle with leukemia. The fight with the disease seemed to inspire him to spread his death metal gospel with an even stronger passion, resulting in our favorite live metal show this year. The experience has only strengthened his anti-religious stance, as expressed earlier this year when he told L.A. Weekly that “metal and Christianity are incompatible.”
-Sludge-prog rockers Baroness put out an incredibly ambitious double-album called Yellow & Green. It took a few listens to fully digest, but the album became one of our favorites of 2012. We were all set to interview them in August and preview their planned performance at FYF Fest, but two days prior the band's tour bus plunged off a 30-foot cliff in Europe. Vocalist John Baizley suffered a broken left leg and a broken left arm. Drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni suffered fractured vertebrae. It was a stark reminder that life on the road is not easy for our favorite bands, and has many risks that go along with pursuing the rock-and-roll dream. Luckily, everyone involved is expected to fully recover, and we will be sure to let you know when the band is coming back to L.A.
-Metal Blade Records celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012. The Simi Valley-based label was the first to release recordings by bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Ratt, and have continued to remain relevant throughout changing musical landscapes. If you missed L.A. Weekly's Metal Blade oral history with label owner Brian Slagel and members of Slayer, Gwar, Armored Saint and others, be sure to check it out.
-Swedish occult-metallers Ghost signed a deal with Universal Music Group for their next album, due in 2013. The band's Los Angeles debut in February was highly anticipated, with the Roxy Theatre packed shoulder-to-shoulder before the opening bands even took the stage. We think the band's Blue Oyster Cult-filtered-through-Satan sound and sense of theatrical mystery has them poised to explode in 2013. However, we strongly suggest that when they return to America, they ditch the creepy (in a bad way) all-white outfits they debuted this past summer at European festivals.
-More than a few Los Angeles metal bands put out some awesome albums in 2012. Check out L.A. Weekly's favorites.
-The Los Angeles metal band we're most looking forward to a new album from in 2013 is Intronaut, with their blend of sludge, doom, and post-metal tied into a pretty bow. We are looking forward to seeing any influences from their tour with Tool, and from vocalist/guitarist Sacha Dunable's death/doom side project Bereft.
-Scottish pirate-metallers Alestorm complained to L.A. Weekly that “other metal bands don't get drunk anymore.” When they performed at House of Blues in Hollywood, frontman Christopher Bowes did a one-handed keytar solo while chugging a beer.
-Hells Headbangers, a small independent metal label out of Ohio, was probably our favorite label of 2012. Specializing in the some of the grimiest black, death, and thrash metal around, the imprint released many works that stayed in heavy rotation. Our favorites were At The Mercy of Satan by Bolivian blackened-death warlords Satanic Bloodspraying, the demos-and-EPs collection Complete and Total Hell by Cleveland crust-thrashers Midnight, and the reissue of the lost 1984 Danish metal classic Fit For Fight by Witch Cross.
-Queensryche became the latest '80s metal band to split into two camps, with both sides feuding over the band name. Vocalist Geoff Tate split with the rest of the group after multiple disagreements, including one that allegedly resulted in him attempting to stab drummer Scott Rockenfield. Tate has formed a hired gun band that will be touring next year under the name Queensryche. The rest of the group recruited Crimson Glory vocalist Todd La Torre to tour…under the name Queensryche as well. So far, the first musical salvo was fired by Tate, whose solo album Kings and Thieves received awful reviews, and deservedly so. His vane and vacuous attempts at radio-rock have us actively rooting for the La Torre-led Queensryche to put out an awesome album in 2013.
-We are still disappointed that in the wake of Mitt Romney's “binders full of women” comment, no enterprising grindcore or death metal band slapped together a quickie single called “Binders Full of Guts” or “Binders Full of Maggots.”
-Jazz legend Dave Brubeck passed away several weeks ago. He may not be metal, but he did impact music in a big way, and for that he deserves a shout out here. Seriously, go listen to Time Out now, motherfucker.
-And finally, the year ended with another sad note. Last Saturday Mike Scaccia, guitarist for influential '80s Texas thrashers Rigor Mortis and Ministry, collapsed on-stage during a performance in Dallas. He passed away that evening. Scaccia was performing as part of a birthday show for Rigor Mortis frontman Bruce Corbitt. He was 47 years old.
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW.