For a while now, we’ve been recapping the year in metal by looking at some of the most surprising, sad, ridiculous or generally WTF moments that have taken place over the prior 12 months. With things like Tim Lambesis’ and Randy Blythe’s brushes with the law, Baroness’ near-fatal bus crash and Lostprophets Ian Watkins being one of the most reprehensible human beings ever, there’s never been any shortage of things to cover. This year is no exception, so settle in and be happy that we’ve all made it to the end of another year.
11) A year of untimely passings
Unfortunately, death is part of life. As metal and hard rock continue to age as genres, there’s really nothing too shocking about artists passing in terms of news. Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Sib Hashian (Boston), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost) are among those we lost this year, and Loudwire has a full list dedicated to the departed rockers of 2017. Aside from the devastating suicides and a deadly crash that have their own stories here, there were a few artists that passed away so suddenly that they warrant mentioning.
The night we discovered Trans-Siberian Orchestra leader Paul O’Neil died, not only did it cause a sting in our hearts, but it also broke our website. Many questioned TSO’s future, and former Megadeth guitarist Al Pitrelli revealed they had no choice but to move forward:
“I don’t want to go forward without Paul, I just don’t have a choice in the matter.”
This past spring, Long Island death metal giants Internal Bleeding were looking forward to a bright future, which included new music and supporting Vader for a summer tour. Tragedy struck on April 20th and their lives were turned upside down when drummer Bill Tolley died while on duty at his day job as a firefighter. He responded to a call and tragically ended up falling off a fifth-story roof. We didn’t think the group would continue their planned tour without him. However, the band pushed through because they knew he would want that. They ended up bringing Tolley’s favorite drum kit to the stage with them, at every show in his honor.
Lastly, Warrel Dane. Let’s face it, many of us expected (or wished) Nevermore would have a reunion, even if it was to record one last album or embark on a reunion tour. We were all waiting for that day to happen. Secondly, Sanctuary just released Inception this past February and we were looking forward to seeing them tour with Iced Earth. Third, Dane was working on his solo effort, a record that we have waited nearly a decade to see. Bottom line: death sucks.
– Zenae Zukowski
10) Ivan Moody quits Five Finger Death Punch Onstage (Well, Not Really)
Ivan Moody is no stranger to on-stage meltdowns, or spurring rumors that he was leaving Five Finger Death Punch. But Moody’s meltdown in June 2017left many concerned for his well-being, let alone whether he was actually quitting the band for good. But all ended well for Five Finger Death Punch (well, at least the year did). While Five Finger Death Punch continued its European tour with Tommy Vext filling in, Moody sought help for addiction and quickly returned to the road with the band. Whether Moody’s bad habits come back to haunt the band in 2018, at least Five Finger Death Punch can know their legal troubles with labels are behind them.
– Zach Shaw
As huge of a genre that metal is, there aren’t really that many success stories of bands that have crossed over to mainstream rock success in the past decade or so. Sweden’s Ghost are one of the few, and it would be hard to argue that their image is one of the main reasons that happened. While many in rock music are faceless (quick, what’s the singer of Imagine Dragons or Cage the Elephant look like?), Ghost stood out because their musicians literally were nameless and faceless. Led by demonic pope Papa Emeritus, their satanic hymns are campy and over the top, and over the course of three albums, they’ve become Grammy winners and topped the rock radio charts. Add in opening for Iron Maiden on a stadium tour, and you’d think this would be their year, right?
Well, not exactly. While the identity of Papa has been an open secret for a while now, the identity of him and some of the other “nameless ghouls” have come out very publicly through a series of lawsuits. First off, it shouldn’t be all that surprising to know that there have been a series of nameless ghouls. It’s that much easier to shuffle out band members when you have no idea what they look like. Secondly. Tobias Forge (yes, he’s admitted that he’s Papa) has claimed that he’s the primary songwriter and Ghost is essentially his solo project, even if he borrowed the “Papa Emeritus” character from someone else. That might paint him as kind of a dictator (or kind of a dick, if you ask the formerly anonymous Ghouls), but it’s certainly paid off for the band. The question is, with the mystique gone from the band, will they remain as popular as they were, or does the general public not care about who’s behind the mask?
– Bram Teitelman