As we look back at 2015, it was a pretty batshit crazy year all around. There were tons of releases, almost as many tours, and as jaded at the metal community is, there are always a handful of things that take everyone by surprise. Given the way the year wound up, the #1 most shocking moment should come as no surprise to anyone, even if it’s not a particularly metal band that it happened to. But if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that there will be more things in 2016 that we’ll be just as shocked by.
10) Bands returning after long hiatuses actually put out good records.
A band reuniting to put out an album after a handful of years is usually a pretty dicey proposition. At it’s worst, it can seem like a cynical cash grab with the band assuming their die-hard fans will support them regardless of, you know, whether the album is actually good or not. Especially after a decade plus of inactivity, expectations tend to be pretty low. Carcass and At the Gates defied that trend in a big way in 2013 and 2014, respectively. but 2015 had a trio of really solid returns from the likes of Faith No More, Refused and Failure.
Refused might have been the biggest surprise here. After spectacularly flaming out in 1998 after releasing post hardcore’s magnum opus, The Shape of Punk to Come, the notoriously anti-capitalist band declared Refused are Fuckin’ Dead. They reunited a few years ago for some shows, and released Freedom, a nice return to form for their first album in 17 years. Faith No More’s Sol Invictus was also a great return. A slow burner that sounded very much like a band making their first album in 18 years, it got better upon repeated listens. And Failure took 19 years to release their follow-up to Fantastic Planet. The band’s sound was ahead of it’s time in the ’90s, and it still sounds like it’s from another era on this year’s album.
This is less of a shocking moment and more of a sad one. It was obvious that Scott Weiland wasn’t doing well. Famously having battled heroin addiction when he was in Stone Temple Pilots, drug issues had gotten him booted from both that band and Velvet Revolver. This year’s Blaster with his band the Wildabouts, was another attempt at a career, and almost as an omen, on the eve of the album’s release, its guitarist, Jeremy Brown, died of a drug overdose. While that might serve as a wake-up call for some, Weiland didn’t react that way. A month later, the band was filmed with the vocalist obviously out of it, slurring his way through STP’s hit “Vasoline” like it was a karaoke bar at last call. When he was found dead on his tour bus several weeks ago, it sadly felt more like an inevitable conclusion than a truly shocking moment. His ex-wife’s gripping and terribly sad open letter that she wrote described what it was like to be the wife and children of a drug addict and urged fans not to view him as a hero or martyr.
Most bands promote a forthcoming album the old fashioned way: Hiring a publicist, doing rounds of interviews, carefully planning a tour to go along with a single, playing radio station shows, and so on. Not Five Finger Death Punch. In fact, the first time we heard the title of this year’s album, Got Your Six, was when Ivan Moody casually dropped the title while apologizing for a disastrous performance the prior night. At a Memphis show back in May, Moody wound up being the only member onstage after arguing with the rest of the band. They played only six songs in that hour, and many thought they’d witnessed the band breaking up onstage. In his apology/clarification, Moody said it was the crew’s fault and stated that some of them had been fired. That was contradicted by the band’s Jason Hook, who said the singer was “shitfaced drunk.”
Things got even more bizarre when TMZ reported that Moody’s wife had filed for divorce and claimed that she’d been assaulted by him. Domestic abuse is nothing to be taken lightly, but it was quickly shut down by management, stating that Moody wasn’t even married to the woman, Holly Smith, that made the claim. That’s fine, but their manager, in denying it, also took some time to promote the fact that the band’s album would be in stores shortly. It’s definitely one of the stranger ways we’ve seen an album rollout, but let’s see if the “I”m not drunk, we’re not breaking up and I don’t beat my wife” strategy is implemented by other bands.