Drama Of The Year - Metal Storm Awards 2017

Every year, a bunch of stuff happens, and some of that stuff isn't even your favorite bands releasing the most kickass, brutal-mind-slaying-est albums of their careers. Sometimes, other things occur. Metal musicians get into scrapes, make poor decisions, suffer tragedy or indignity, or turn out to be horrendous individuals just like any normal folks, and we now look back at those stories from the last year that captured the attention of the metal press and fan base. Why? Perhaps to feel better about ourselves, as if to say, "Hey, at least when my parents kicked me out of the family, I didn't have to sue them for the rights to use my name." Perhaps to stay informed about the Real Housewives of Oslo-style antics that go on behind the scenes. Perhaps to stave off boredom. Whatever the reason, here's a bunch of controversial stuff that took place in the year 2017.

Decapitated found themselves embroiled in quite the scandal at the end of last year; what began as an arrest on suspicion of kidnapping soon evolved into formal charges of rape for each of the four members, the aftermath of an encounter with a female fan following a show in Spokane, Washington. Further details emerged, with the fan alleging that the band had forcibly detained and then raped her, and Decapitated settled in for a long stay in Spokane jail as the situation continued to complicate itself. Press coverage mounted while onlookers took sides, with some jumping immediately to the defense of the band and others stepping back cautiously to await objective examinations of the facts, and a Polish MP even wrote to the judge to negotiate bail for the band. Eventually, in January of this year, the charges were dropped and Decapitated were allowed to return to Poland after four months' detention, having maintained their innocence for the duration. The plain legal truth is that the charges were dropped without prejudice, meaning the band can be charged again in the future, and without the definitive legal decision that would have come from a full trial, we must accept that we will never possess all the facts. Fortunately, for the purposes of Drama of the Year, all we have to do is agree that the whole thing was quite controversial, and that it certainly was.
The last few years have seen a handful of high-profile stars return to the stage from beyond the grave in the form of holographic reconstructions, images projected onstage to perform for crowds of fans wishing for the concert experience they missed during the artists' lifetimes. Last summer, this technology arrived in the metal world with the announcement of the "Dio Returns" tour, a series of dates featuring Ronnie James Holo backed by the Dio Band, members of the similar Dio Disciples group. Having already begun with a select series of European dates at the end of 2017, the tour is set to hit the US and elsewhere in spring and summer 2018. Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea; most of the complaints likely stem from the fact that this form of illusion is actually a Pepper's ghost rather than a true hologram, so "hologram tour" is a misnomer, but the remaining reservations probably have to do with the indignity of turning one of heavy metal's most beloved icons into an undead Hatsune Miku. This form of haphazard resurrection is permeating the stage, film, and likely other fields as well, but for now, it's a controversial practice.
It's always disheartening to watch a band at its height tumble into the world of legal squabbles, but when the band in question is as predicated on spectacle, facade, and ghoulish gimmickry as Ghost, the courtroom really takes away a lot of the mystique. Of course, we don't know the identities of any of the former members or the scope of their involvement with Ghost (it's hard to tell when the members change if they're all draped in black and wear masks), so maybe that aura of carnival mystery survives after all. What we do know is that Tobias Forge, a.k.a. Papa Emeritus [II/III/IV/etc.], has been accused by certain former bandmates of withholding financial information and compensation. Given the nature of these sorts of cases, it seems likely that things will be settled behind the scenes without us to stand around and watch, but for now, we'll settle for the surreal image of Papa Emeritus showing up to Swedish court with a tie and briefcase.
In the very beginning of 2017, Ne Obliviscaris announced their split with longtime bassist Brendan "Cygnus" Brown by way of a succinct statement mentioning "irreconcilable personal differences," a statement sufficiently vague to leave anyone wondering. The news came as a shock to many fans; as it transpired, Ne Obliviscaris let Brown go due to alleged instances of domestic violence, but because of the lack of immediate detail, a number of rumors and accusations sprang up around all the parties, with some accusing the band of attempting to cover up Brown's crimes and condoning domestic violence. In a lengthy Facebook post from both Brown and NeO that you can read here, the members explain both some background for Brown's behavior and the circumstances under which the band parted ways with him. That post more or less speaks for itself and in much greater detail than we'd care to summarize here, so you may wish to point your attention in that direction, but we can collectively hope that those individuals victimized by Brown's actions find healing and that Brown himself experiences successful rehabilitation.
Yeah, yeah, we know this is some low-hanging fruit, and it's not like Wintersun doesn't get nominated for something dumb like this every year - it's pretty tiring, to be frank - but in 2017, Wintersun actually stirred up some genuine controversy, and not just by way of the polarizing nature of The Forest Seasons. After years of delay and endless screeds about his inadequate funding and equipment, Jari Mäenpää finally finagled a crowdfunding scheme out of Nuclear Blast, with 100% of the proceeds going towards his personal dream studio and, ultimately, we hope, towards the recording of Time II. While plenty of fans were happy to see Jari back to work on something tangible, with the offer of a third album in the near future inspiring a lot of generosity, others balked at the 50-euro, single-reward-level strategy. Ultimately, the campaign proved to be ridiculously successful, becoming the second most successful music-related campaign ever. Evidently, this proves that die hard Wintersun fans are more patient than we thought... but Time II ain't here just yet.