Black Sabbath have decided to continue without drummer Bill Ward after he threatened to leave unless he was offered a better deal.
"We were saddened to hear yesterday via Facebook that Bill declined publicly to participate in our current Black Sabbath plans," the band said on their Facebook page last Friday. "We have no choice but to continue recording without him although our door is always open."
The statement adds that the remaining members are "on a roll" while writing and recording their new album in the UK. The reaction from fans appears to be weighted with disappointment that the band won't be touring or recording in its full original lineup.
The following day, Bill responded with a post thanking fans for their support following his difficult negotiations, while still hinting that he hopes for a happy ending to the episode:
"I just wanted to humbly thank you all," it read. "Your support from across the world has given me further strength and hope for a positive resolve. I have been moved and overwhelmed by the thousands of messages. I love you all."
Following the fallout, Thrash Hits posted a cynical analysis which highlights the financial nature of the dispute and the legal history between Sabbath members.
"It's Iommi who decided to fire Ozzy back in 1979, and indeed Iommi who shirked on telling Ozzy and instead got Bill Ward to break the news to him," it claimed. "It's Iommi that made sure he had sole ownership of the trademarks attached to the Black Sabbath name, and his monopolisation of the profit-making off the back of the band's legacy that resulting in Ozzy suing him over it in 2009."
Thrash Hits continues to suggest that the reunion is all about the vast amounts of money that it will make, then states: "From a business perspective, Bill Ward is the least-important of the original members to have on board for the Black Sabbath 2012 reunion to go ahead and make a f--k-ton of cash."
While few observers will doubt the financial incentives behind such a reunion, it's becoming a tragedy to see the band fall out in public like this.
Sabbath have left the ball firmly in Ward's court, saying "the door is always open", but without a renegotiation it seems Ward will stand firm by his ideals and sit out on what could become the final era of Black Sabbath.