Hey, kiddos, I have returned. Just when I thought I was out, metal pulled me back in. I missed so much — the audience, the platform, the free tickets to stuff — but I kept my finger on the pulse of the scene the whole time I was gone. Here are just a few of the metal happenings that I wanted to cover while I was off on my metal hiatus.

1. Wayne Static and Katherine Ludwig pass away before their time


Just three days before what would have been his 49th birthday, Wayne Static died in his sleep and broke my inner 12-year old’s heart. Despite the fact that Static had been drug-free for five years as well as his widow Tera Wray’s denial that his death was drug-related, a few musicians (most notably/vocally, Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach) speculated in their tributes to him that drugs may have been involved. His exact cause of death remains unclear.


On January 30, Metal Maniacs co-founder Katherine Ludwig lost her battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Ludwig, who cofounded the magazine with Mike “G” Greenblatt in 1989, encouraged political & feminist discussion on her platform and helped introduce a whole generation to extreme metal. Several artists, such as Reed Mullin (Corrosion of Conformity) and Jeremy Wagner (Broken Hope), attribute her tireless efforts as Metal Maniacs editor to their success. Nearly 400 people contributed to an online fundraiser for her medical/funeral expenses (as well as a trust for her teenage son), and over $14,000 was raised altogether. She will be dearly missed.

2. Paganfest 2015 is unceremoniously nixed


Have you already forgotten how I feel about Paganfest USA and its organizers? The short version: I’m…less than satisfied. Still, it’s uncertain how many (or how few) people were shocked when on January 7, Paganfest USA’s Facebook page dropped the “bombshell” that Paganfest 2015 wasn’t going to happen. No news is usually good news, but the update was Paganfest USA’s first in nearly 10 months so you have to wonder if the promoters simply forgot that the folk-fest even existed in the meantime.

Don’t be too glum though. Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, and Trollfest— three well-known Paganfest alums — will be touring North America together this spring. Thanks, Metal Blade!

3. Witch Mountain and GWAR announce new vocalists

After Uta Plotkin’s September departure from Witch Mountain, the reigns were handed off to Kayla Dixon of Demons Within fame. “We didn’t know if [our new singer] would be a guy or a girl or whatever,” said drummer Nate Carson in an interview with Vice. “Uta set the bar really high, and only one person surpassed that bar. And that’s the person we flew out.” Dixon took over vocals for the band in January 2015 — catch the new Witch Mountain lineup in action this spring.

While we’re on the subject of lineup changes, meet Vulvatron.

vulvatronPhoto credit: Brooklyn Vegan.

As of September 2014, Vulvatron (portrayed by musician and fashion designer Kim Dylla is the first female GWAR vocalist in over a decade, and her onstage antics (including but not limited to squirting blood out of her breasts) have earned her much acclaim. When asked in a Metal Injection interview which member of GWAR she slept with to get the gig — in a tongue-in-cheek way, I have to assume — she replied, “Vulvatron’s sexual prowess is far superior, and although I slept with the entire band and management at the same time, they were not able to keep up.” My kind of answer.

4. #MetalGate

Somebody (other than me, for once) is mad that metal can be regressive. Somebody else is mad that people actually want metal to be more progressive. We as a species need to stop using “-gate” to mean “any incident with a non-zero level of controversy.” That’s #MetalGate in a nutshell.

I tried to form a real opinion on it, I really did, but the actual details are so murky and ill-defined that I can’t. You already know how I feel about metal’s myriad social ills anyway.

5. Yonder Realm joins the Maple Metal Records family


The most painful aspect of not participating with this site anymore was not being able to update you folks about my Hailies. It feels great to report that Yonder Realm has finally gotten picked up by Maple Metal Records (Nordheim, Claim The Throne, etc.). The band recently inked a worldwide deal that will include a re-release of their EP Beyond A Long Lost World later this month.

Aaaaaaaaaahhh, it feels so good to get all that pent-up news off my chest, but as you all know, I’m happy to discuss more. Get on Facebook/Twitter already!