Good grief, where do I start? At the time I’m drafting this, this year we have published 2098 articles of which 388 are album reviews and 228 are live reviews. We’ve covered stadium fillers like Guns N’ Roses and bands playing venues with a capacity not much larger than our living room. In almost every case, all we’ve witnessed and experienced is quality – recorded or live.
We’ve witnessed old bands come back, or continue their lengthy runs; we’ve encountered many new bands releasing debut albums, EPs, and videos, or playing their first live shows. Hell, we’ve hosted at least one debut show! That was another first for us and I’ll get back to that later.
So… where do I start? I’m going to try to narrow “best of” choices to ones I actually reviewed which narrows things down to 76 albums/EPs and 17 live shows, including two festivals (I’ve cut down a lot from a few years back for family reasons). So… here we go.
Best Albums of 2017
In no order, mainly due to the fact that my tastes are so eclectic that it wouldn’t make sense to directly compare them, are the following:
Annihilator – For The Demented: Mixing their old sound with a fresh take, Jeff Waters and company have produced one of the band’s best albums in recent years. Still undeniably Annihilator, still fun to hear live as we experienced at Bloodstock.
CJ Wildheart – Blood: With more than a dollop of old WIldhearts in it, CJ’s latest pledge-funded release is a slab punk rock quality. The single word that describes it above all else is “fun”.
Russkaja – Kosmopoliturbo: One of these days I’ll get to say “a band who need no introduction…” about Russkaja. They deserve to be huge, yet they’re not just cracking the UK market as I’m aware. So go out, and get this album. And the ones before. Brash, loud, varied, emotive, bouncy… brilliant.
Alice Cooper – Paranormal: An act I was due to review live last month, but sadly had to miss due to illness. At least I got dibs on the album for review earlier in the year and it was a belter, possibly Alice’s best release in years.
Alestorm – No Grave But The Sea: I confess, this was always going to be a no-brainer as they’re a band I love. Adding “Fucked With An Anchor” to the tracklist, though… utter childish nonsense and I love it.
Pulvis Et Umbra – Atmosfear: Probably the heaviest album in my list this year, Italy’s death metal collective visited our shores as the temperatures plummeted to warm up our neck muscles with a variety of superb supports.
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars: After going on hiatus a couple of years back just as I discovered them, I was as excited as many to hear that the Kataklysm-ic side project was to return. And they did it in style with what is probably their most accomplished album.
Papa Roach – Crooked Teeth: A review I didn’t get my name on, but I did do the “second opinion”, and one which highlights the variety of tastes here at Moshville Times. James wasn’t a fan, I was – and I think it’s from James viewing it in direct comparison with their first album or two. I’ve been following the band since day one and felt that Crooked Teeth flowed nicely from the changes the band have undergone since Infest‘s release in 2000 (and earlier!).
Sweet Little Machine – War and Monsters: Perhaps unusually, I’m putting Sweet Little Machine in here twice. Partly as I’m not sure if War counts as a 2017 release (I didn’t hear it until the band toured with Patent Pending in April), partly as they’re both EPs so there’s only an album’s worth of material between them… and partly because it’s my list so deal with it. You can expect to hear more from them in 2018, too!
And for my winner (as well as that as Best New Band Discovered) I’m breaking the guideline. Back in January we hosted an exclusive stream for this album which I was only too glad to OK as it was superb. Sheggs did the review and I’ve already had a sneaky listen to a track from the band’s next album which is – staggeringly – even better. My album of the year, which has weathered 12 months’ worth of competition is Jupiter Falls with Faces in the Sand Part One. It’s a brilliant hard rock album, loaded with GN’R influence, but more grit. We managed to get the band to play our stage at Wildfire in the summer, so I can tell you that they transfer that skill from studio to stage also.
Best Live Shows of 2017
Not so many to pick from and I didn’t go to a show I didn’t like in one way or another so there’s no clear winner here – just some highlights!
Jaret Reddick / The Lounge Kittens: The Kittens put on the best show I’ve seen them do, and Jaret opened both his heart and his songbook with a brilliant acoustic set at ABC2 in Glasgow.
Papa Roach get their second mention in this article after their incredible live set at the Academy. No mention for their support, Ho99o9, who were frankly awful. Yes, they deserved a chance and to be on the same bill, but they simply did nothing for me. Papa Roach, on the other hand, have never looked better. A shame I was riddled with man ‘flu and barely made it to the gig as I was supposed to interview drummer Tony Palermo, but had to cry off… partly as I didn’t want to be the guy who gave him the lurgy so he had to cancel dates! Even watching from the sides, Papa Roach exhibited as much energy as I ever remember witnessing from one of their shows.
Patent Pending / Eternal Boy / Sweet Little Machine: Patent Pending are like Bowling For Soup in that they always bring a good selection of support bands. Oh, and they themselves are one of the best headline acts I’ve ever seen. They always guarantee smiles, jumping and singing along regardless of the size of the venue. Sweet Little Machine were great and it seems like their efforts are paying off, with their recent run of appearances on the Fireball tour as well. Eternal Boy would also be welcome back here any time.
Ill Niño / Ektomorf / XtortYa / Madlife / Incite: This was a last-minute invite as Incite had been put on the bill way after all the advertising and their management wanted to ensure that people knew about them. Our own Pit Troll was in the queue outside when I arrived. He had a ticket and didn’t know that Richie Cavalera’s crew had been added, so rushed in early with myself to catch them… and they were awesome. The varied bill on the tour should have satisfied many, but headliners Ill Niño were, I confess, new to me… and blew me away.
Sabaton / Accept / Twilight Force: Sabaton have never let me down and this was the second time I’d taken my son to see them. Twilight Force were good, though couldn’t afford to sell merch due to venue fees (the things you find out while talking to bands sometimes frustrate you as a music fan), Accept rocked their section of the crowd and Sabaton rocked Glasgow once again. All the sweeter for sharing the experience with my little dude.
Galactic Empire / Sithu Aye / The Colony / Of One Blood: Quite the mix of bands including some surprisingly talented locals, but most were there for the costumed instrumental headliners who proved that they were no simple novelty act.
Lagerstein / Red Rum / Viking Galaxy / Mantis Toboggan: A hell of a line-up at G2. Mantis Toboggan were way better than when I’d seen them before, Viking Galaxy I’d never heard of but who proved to be wildly entertaining, I was reminded of how heavy Red Rum actually were as I finally caught them again after a couple of years, and Lagerstein… well, just go and see them if you get the chance. Top notch entertainers.
In addition, there was Bloodstock which once again proved that metal sure as hell isn’t anywhere close to dead – and next year it’ll be even bigger in terms of capacity. This year I worked it as a reviewer, walked in excess of 16 miles each day (according to my FitBit) and saw at least one song by almost every single band across Friday to Sunday. Bloody hard work, but absolutely worth it.
Best Thing That Happened
We got into the festival game ourselves this year with a stage at Wildfire where we got the chance to put on some simply incredible acts, including some I’d not experienced before as they were selected by other members of the Crew. Seeing and hearing Monkey Puzzle‘s ecstasy at playing their first festival; having Empyre (featuring on the main stage next year) play for us twice to help cover for an act who had to cancel; watching the crowd go mad to AC Rid; experiencing the brilliant show put on by Sunday headliners The Dead XIII and the audience lining up afterwards to have their photo taken with them… so many memories and the absolute buzz seeing our name on a huge banner behind the bands made all the hours of preparation worthwhile.
Are we involved in 2018? We don’t know yet – but please feel free to let Wildfire know that we’d like to be!
Worst Thing That Happened
I guess it’s mortality that once again is going to be the focus here. We lost friends and legends, as we always do. It doesn’t seem fair to pick out someone who was “more important”, but the one that hit me the most was Chester Bennington. I got into Linkin Park around the same time as Papa Roach – in fact I think I may have got both Infest and Hybrid Theory at the same time – and constantly followed them.
It wasn’t until Chester’s passing that I paid more attention to the lyrics he wrote and in hindsight it looks like he put a hell of a lot more of himself into them than anyone could have appreciated. As Ross has stated in his review of the year, mental health is a concern both amongst the famous and the everyday. We can’t afford to just have a little peak in interest when someone millions have heard of announced they suffer, or dies/kills themselves as a result.
Best Picture I Took This Year
My photo duties have reduced significantly since the site got bigger and we now have some incredibly capable people who know a hell of a lot more about photography than I do. Still, I jumped into the breach once or twice when people weren’t available and received some great advice from my teammates.
My favourite shot, though, is one of those random ones from my phone. Right down the front at Bloodstock while Megadeth played, I turned my back on Dave and snapped a photo of the crowd. You people make us who we are and it’s a great image with so many smiling, happy, screaming, sweaty faces!
Best Interview I Did This Year
Again, due to time constraints and other duties on the site, I don’t do as many interviews as I used to – at least not face-to-face or over the phone. Getting the chance to talk to Steel Panther‘s Lexxi Foxx about which band member he’d prefer to have sex with was definitely a highlight… especially when he told me that we had the best questions out of all the interviews he’d done. As far as I’m aware, ours was the only interview the band shared on their facebook page as well. So, yeah, part of this being my favourite is an ego thing… and the other half was that it was just fun letting my 14 year-old Viz reader out of the padded cell.
Runner up would be Joe Ragosta of Patent Pending because… well, I love the guy. There are few band members who will, over a year on, remember the last time they spoke to you and what you talked about. He’s also one of the most down-to-earth, lovely human beings you could ever wish to meet.
Overall View of 2017
Bloody hell, it was good. Twenty years ago we were running out of bands to listen to. Labels were folding or just throwing the rock bands away and focussing on chart-friendly shit. For fuck’s sake The Spice Girls were making someone rich. Musical life as we know it looked like a floundering dinosaur.
And then… the underground kept things ticking over. The classic bands refused to let the situation get to them – they kept releasing albums and touring, and we kept going to see them. So now we have a huge, active, ever-growing scene. It’s different, and in many ways it’s better and more inclusive. I’d say it’s noticeably better than even one or two years ago.
2017 has been as busy a year for rock and metal as there ever has been, and it’s been a pleasure riding that wave.
What to Look Forward to in 2018
More of the same… but bigger. Bloodstock’s shaping up nicely and we do hope to be involved with Wildfire once again, and are working on it. I’ve already got the new Machine Head album and we’ll be dropping the review as soon as we’re allowed to… then the band will be back over in May playing another of their massive “Evening With…” sets.
As ever, we’ve more plans for the site – it’s just a matter of time to get them sorted. We’ve shrunk a little as a unit due to people moving on, but those who’ve remained have been putting so much time and effort in. What I’d like to look forward to is inviting more of you folk to join us. We’re mainly after reliable writers and reviewers. Fancy joining our ranks? Contact us now!
Here’s our YouTube playlist featuring many of the acts featured across all of our roundups…