Volume 50: The End is Nigh!

As I sit and write this, my 50th post for MayoNoise, the metallic corners of the internet are all a-buzz with the announcement that Black Sabbath will embark on their final world tour. This final trek has been officially dubbed ‘The End’, and it was announced via a striking advert that reads “THE FINAL TOUR BY THE GREATEST HEAVY METAL BAND OF ALL TIME”. Listed just under that pronouncement are the names OZZY OSBOURNE, TONY IOMMI, and GEEZER BUTLER. Bill Ward’s name is conspicuous in its absence.

If you read my blog, you know this already. You also know why Ward’s name isn’t on the poster. It’s early yet; maybe they will wrap the tour in Birmingham and have Ward play that set, or a short set at the end of the show(s)… Hopefully they will do the right thing; I sincerely hope everyone involved can find a way to do end Black Sabbath that will include Bill Ward. But regardless; Black Sabbath have announced ‘The End’, and after The End, for me, Metal is over.

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Two days previous to announcing ‘The End’, Lemmy ended a Motorhead set in Austin, Texas after just three songs, saying “I can’t do it” and walking off the stage. Cancelled gigs and postponed tours have become commonplace for Motorhead since 2013, when a plethora of health issues began to plague their fearless leader. Lemmy has stated that he’ll probably die on stage, and, looking back over the last 7 days, it looks like Lem meant what he said and said what he meant. As ever. “I don’t wanna live forever!” indeed. Still, how sad was it to see Lemmy, who turns 70 in December, hobble off stage, with the aid of a cane, after apologizing to the Texas crowd. Lemmy: We love you. Go home and take it easy. Job done.

Bruce Dickinson and Tony Iommi have had recent cancer scares; Malcom Young succumbed to dementia. Bun E. Carlos and Bill Ward have both had to watch their bands carry on without them due to diminished physical capabilities brought on by aging (and, in the case of Ward, likely compounded by years of substance abuse). Craig Gruber, AJ Pero, Allen Lanier, Trevor Bolder, and RJD… It’s as if the Grim Reaper stepped out of one of the gazillion album covers he adorns and began stalking our heroes, ending their lives and/or careers. Who will be the Figure in Black’s next Chosen One? Motorhead resumed the tour in St. Louis a few days after the Texas walk-off… but how much longer can he soldier on?

Ronnie James Dio’s death was a wake up call for me. I have been listening to Heavy Metal seriously since 1976. After forty years of music from these guys, you kind of get used to having them around. These bands and the people in them become part of your life. My favorite bands: AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Motorhead, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Rush… these bands have been with me for 4 decades. Like good friends, they have always been there when I needed them, during good times and bad. It’s a unique relationship; Metal fans are more passionate about their music and the musicians that make it than fans of any other genre of music. And with Dio’s passing, I realized that if The Man on the Silver Mountain could die, then all of my heroes were really just men; men who will grow old. Men who will eventually die. My Favorite Bands of All Time are dancing perilously close to the edge…

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Some of them are growing old gracefully: Rush are acknowledging that playing such physically demanding music gets tougher with the passage of each year, and are tailoring their final years to accommodate this reality. If ‘Clockwork Angels’ is the last Rush album, I’m ok with that. And how long can Iron Maiden continue to perform at their standard level of intensity? Their current strategy of staging shorter tours with longer breaks will buy them a few years, but cancer has already intervened once… As far as their current music, I don’t know what to make of IM’s latest 92-minute opus; it will probably take me the next five years to absorb it. Motorhead may now have no choice in the matter, but if they are in fact all done, they’ve left us with a real scorcher of an album in ‘Bad Magic’, with music full of piss and vinegar, and lyrics filled with thinly veiled goodbyes.

Now would be an excellent time to end it. I mean right now. Deep Purple’s ‘Now What?!’ album is one of their very best records, but the band are planning to do another. Don’t! End your 40+ year career on a high note! Don’t wind the band up with another ‘Bananas’! And I really don’t want to live in a world where a Cheap Trick album exists that does NOT include Bun E. Carlos on the drums. Their last record, ‘The Latest’, was strong; in fact, all of their albums since ‘going indie’ in 1996 have been strong… But a Bun-less CT album will be unwelcome in my home. AC/DC may have hung around for one album too many; ‘Black Ice’ broke records across the globe, but ‘Rock or Bust’ wasn’t quite the global phenomenon expected, and, while I like the album a lot, an AC/DC album without any contributions from Malcom Young needs to be considered carefully… Also, Angus Young, everybody’s favorite naughty schoolboy, is now 60 years old… Class Dismissed!

Lo, ‘The End’ will surely be the end. When the Pantheon of Old Gods is gone, who will be the New Gods? Slayer released a new album this week; just after a much-publicized spat between guitarist Kerry King and Mayhem Festival organizer Kevin Lyman. Lyman was bitching about low attendance during this year’s tour. While Lyman blamed the ‘metal scene’ in general, his issue was clearly with his aging headliners:

“The bands at the top all demand a certain level of fee to be on a tour. Unlike punk rock, metal never knows how to take a step back to move the whole scene forward…What happened was metal chased girls away because what happened was metal aged. Metal got gray, bald and fat.”

King came back with a statement calling Lyman’s remarks ‘business suicide’, and he was right: The 2015 Mayhem run was the last. But Lyman failed to acknowledge the lack of young bands developing into headliners over the past 20 years. During the eight year existence of his festival, which launched in 2008, the festival organizer soon found himself resorting to adding ‘older’ bands to key positions on the bill. Lyman wouldn’t have to resort to costly ‘grey, bald and fat’ bands if there were younger bands capable of filling arenas. When the old guard is gone, who’s gonna sell tickets?

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It saddens me to think that, in our lifetimes, we will live in a world with no Lemmy, no Alice Cooper or Ozzy, no Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Rob Halford… No Schenkers, no Youngs… No larger-than-life characters, no living legends, no more heroes. Of course we’ll still have Dave Grohl, but he’ll have no one to jam with! Slash, maybe? Kiss will still be around though. I’m willing to bet that Gene Simmons has been grooming his son Nick for years to take over as Bat Lizard 2.0. The inevitable reality TV show to find the next Starchild will surprise no one.

Most of my favorite bands originated in the 1970s. That they survived the MTV ’80s and the alternative ’90s is nothing short of a miracle. I am grateful that they’ve been able to continue their careers so far beyond their original expiration dates. Back in 1978, no one would have guessed that any of these bands would still be touring and releasing viable music in 2015. I value everything they have given us over the last three or four decades, both good and bad, and I truly wish it could go on forever, that all of my heroes were immortal. But when Sabbath reaches the end of ‘The End’, it will likely be 2017. By then, my friends, the glory days will be well and truly over. How perfect that the band that started it all will be the band that presides over the funeral services.

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5 thoughts on “Volume 50: The End is Nigh!

  1. Mayo, you’ve done it again.
    Taken a subject i’ve long pondered, articulated it better than i could and flung in a whole load of different angles that i hadn’t previously considered.
    Brilliant article.
    It’ll take a few days of tumbling round my brain before i feel like i’ve properly absorbed all that you’ve give me to think about, and maybe a few weeks more before i can manage to concoct a positive way of looking at your conclusions & convince myself that maybe things aren’t quite as bleak as you paint them.
    But, (whisper it), at the moment i fear you’re absolutely right
    Give yourself a round of applause and enjoy a well deserved beer/coffee/yak’s milk (delete to taste) for a job well done & a point well made, no matter how depressing your conclusions may be.

  2. Hey Mayo, recent reader, first time commenting 🙂
    Came across your blog in june through a post on Richie Faulkners fb page, and i have to say, normally i don’t really read blogs, but your style of writing and the content here got me hooked right away and i spent the following weeks reading through all you previous (and newer) posts. I think you summed it up right in your other september post in that this blog is about “backstory”….wich i find absolutely interesting and love finding out about.
    I hail from 1982 and only really got into the metal around 2000, i went to my first big festival in 2001 and saw legends like Motorhead, Alice Cooper and the headlining Judas Priest on their demolition tour with The ripper…actually, that performance got me really hooked! go figure 😀 At the time, i knew nothing about Judas Priest, but i was lucky that that particular setlist included many of the pre ripper era songs…. Imagine what i felt when i discovered the judas priest fronted by Halford ! 😀
    I’m not sure when Halford came back, but i know that the following time i saw them, Rob was back and i was really done for haha, by now i’ve seen them like 8 times in total, last time was in June and they were amazing as ever ! Next show i’ll see them is this coming December ! I was a real fan of K.K., but have been super impressed with how Richie Faulkner has integrated with the band and seems to have really lit the fire among the rest of the band. I was blown away by the redeemer of souls album !!
    Would love to read a write up of the history of the band by you and your memories of them !!

    Over the years i have been lucky to see alot of great bands that i thought i would never ever get to see when i first got into metal, we have been so extremely blessed that this music and bands we love so much have somehow managed to span 3 to 4 decade and stay as powerfull as ever. So i guess this post really struck something…
    Last year, i finally got to see Black sabbath, Ozzy, Tommy and Geezer line up, i couldn’t believe i was actually standing there watching them play so many decades after they formed! Also last year, i finally got to see Europe aswell, and you know what? it was awesome…the crowd went nuts wich fueled the band even more! I mean..it’s 30 years on, and they guys can get still get a crowd in such a frenzy…amazing…
    Hey, i’m from ’82 lol, so i have no ill feeling towards glam metal lol, if anything it made it so that my first years on this planet was to the soundtrackof shredding guitars (i have 3 older borthers :D) so i’d like to think all that guitar work did have an influence 😀 Hey, i think Turbo is a great 80s album :p
    Saw Scorpions this summer, and again, they got a whole festival field going! Their gig was a close tie to Judas Priests gig in terms of best performance of 3 festival days!
    Saw Saxon this summer to, eating the setlist 3 songs in because the crowd was singing along so enthousiasticly, they tock requests from the crowd for the rest of the gig….never seen that before !! lol
    Summer of 2016 is shaping up to be epic aswell, i’ll see Sabbath again (last time, but glad i’ll have seen them twice!), I’ll see Iron Maiden for the second aswell, And just today i learned i’ll finally be able to see Twisted Sister aswell !! but they are also doing their farewell tour it seems 😦

    But yeah, the outlook is certainly grim :s Just who the hell is going to be capable of stepping up and “replacing” these Iconic bands after they have played their last note??
    Allthough, i would argue that metal is not dead as long as Judas Priest is still playing…in my humble opinion, Zeppelin, Sabbath and Priest are the fathers of metal…so when Sabbath does lay down the guitars, we’ll still have 1 metal bullet in the chamber !

    This turned out rather longer then intended :s
    Looking forward to the next insightfull post !

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