To be brutally honest, 2013 was not a very good year overall for metal. As you’ll read below, many of the top news stories of the year are sad, even heart-rending. The metal community lost some of its most important, most vital members. Not all of these deaths were unexpected exactly, but that didn’t make them any less tragic. In addition, several bands experienced shakeups of cataclysmic proportions in 2013, casting their futures in doubt. Even if they do decide to soldier on, will their fans continue to support them? It wasn’t all doom and gloom though: there were a lot of major triumphs in 2013 as well, some of which will serve as inspirations to many for years to come. One final note: this list below is a little different – instead a straightforward top ten, I listed the top news story of each month of the year.
January: Rob Caggiano quits Anthrax
Almost at the very beginning of the year – January 4 to be exact, it was announced that the guitarist/producer had left the band in order to focus solely on producing albums. He was quoted as saying “This is an extremely difficult and emotional decision for me to make but my heart is just steering me in a different direction right now. I've always been one to follow my heart in everything that I do and while this might be one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, it feels like the right one for me at this time.” Exactly one month later, however, he joined Volbeat as their new lead guitarist, and recorded 'Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies' with the popular Danish band. Read my review of the album here.
February: Dave Lombardo quits Slayer
Seemingly at the eleventh hour before an Australian tour, the drummer decided to sit the trek out because of a contract dispute. Instead of working it out with Lombardo, Slayer recruited Jon Dette for the tour and then ultimately replaced him with Paul Bostaph, who is no stranger to the band. All signs indicate that Bostaph is once again an official member of Slayer, making this the second time he has succeeded Lombardo.
March: Clive Burr dies
The former Iron Maiden drummer – he appeared on the band’s first three albums ('Iron Maiden,' 'Killers' and 'The Number of the Beast'), had been battling multiple sclerosis for many years, and succumbed on March 12, just days after his 56th birthday.
April: Chi Cheng dies
The Deftones bassist had been in a coma since an automobile accident in 2008, but had shown some signs of finally getting better. Many were optimistic about a recovery, but those hopes were crushed on April 13, when his heart gave out and stopped beating.
May: Jeff Hanneman dies
While the deaths of Burr and Cheng were tragic, they didn’t come out of the blue; Hanneman’s did. It’s true he had been out of the band due to a case of necrotizing fasciitis caused by a spider bite, but no one expected him to die. His official cause of death was liver failure, but it could also possibly be attributed to a broken heart at the potential prospect of not being able to perform on stage again.
June: Black Sabbath release '13'
Finally, some good news! The founding fathers of metal announced in November, 2011, that the original lineup was reuniting for a new album and tour. Alas, mere months later, drummer Bill Ward was out of the picture, but the remaining three-fourths of the band entered the studio with replacement drummer Brad Wilk as well as uber-producer Rick Rubin. Finally, on June 11, the first Sabbath album to feature Ozzy Osbourne on vocals since 1978’s 'Never Say Die!' was unleased upon the world. It reached #1 on the UK Albums Chart (their last #1 album on that chart was 1970’s 'Paranoid'!) and it also became the band’s first-ever #1 album in America. Now if only they would perform in Columbus!!! The last time the band played here was when the 2004 edition of Ozzfest made a stop at the now defunct Germaine Amphitheater. Read my review of the album here.
July: Phil Anselmo releases solo album
July was a bit of a slow month, but at least nothing terrible occurred in the world of metal. It was the month that Phil Anselmo finally released the solo album, titled 'Walk Through Exits Only,' he’d been promising us forever seemingly. It lived up to the hype too. Not only does it not sound anything like Pantera or Down, it tops both bands in intensity. Now if he’d only stop following Sabbath’s lead and perform in Columbus! Read my review of the album here.
August: Danzig 25th Anniversary tour
The best metal tour of the summer of 2013 was undeniably Danzig’s. Not only did Glenn Danzig and gang celebrate the 25th anniversary of their phenomenal 1988 debut album (they performed half of the album on this tour), but guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein came along for the ride and joined the band on stage for a mini-set of seven Misfits songs. Read my review of the concert here.
September: Metallica’s concert movie is released
What does the biggest band in the history of heavy metal do when they’ve done pretty much everything already? They release a concert movie, probably the most high-profile one of its kind since U2’s 'Rattle and Hum,' which came out a quarter of a century ago. 'Metallica Through the Never' was released to IMAX screens on September 27th, and regular theaters a week after. While it wasn’t exactly a box office success, it kept the band in the spotlight for the latter half of the year. The film will be released on DVD later this month and will likely be much more successful on that platform. Read my review of the soundtrack here.
October: Kiss is nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
And they finally got in this time too! The hall’s committee finally listened to the public, apparently, as Kiss got more votes than anyone, even Nirvana, in the hall’s public poll.
November: Ian Watkins of Lostprophets pleads guilty to child sex crimes
The singer was convicted of some truly shocking and sickening crimes, and on November 26th he pleaded guilty to eleven charges, including attempted rape of children. One of those children was less than one year old. Needless to say, the band folded soon after the news.
December: Joey Jordinson quits Slipknot
Just when the band was finally starting to get over the untimely passing of founder and bassist Paul Gray, Slipknot dropped this bomb. On December 12th, the band made the following announcement on their website: “It is with great pain but quiet respect that, for personal reasons, Joey Jordison and Slipknot are parting ways. We all wish Joey the best in whatever his future holds.” Despite this, the band has pledged to continue work on their fifth studio album, which should still see the light of day in 2014.
Other notable stories in 2013
• On March 5th, Randy Blythe was found not guilty of manslaughter. The Lamb of God vocalist, showing incredible bravery, actually travelled back to the Czech Republic to stand trial for the death of a fan who fell off the stage at a Lamb of God show in that country. The decision was appealed but fortunately upheld in June by the Prague High Court.
• Bassist Adam Duce was fired from Machine Head in February. This makes guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn the sole remaining member of the band now.
• On May 7th As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis was arrested on charges of attempting to hire a hitman to murder his wife. There is no trial date set at present, but it will likely take place early in 2014.
• Rush was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.