As is customary at this time of year, we like to put together a “year in review” from the perspective of each team member, or at least as many of the crew as we can.
This time around it’s the year from the point of view of our Senior Editor/Accreditation Editor – James Costin…
It’s been an interesting year to say the least. Continuing the theme from last year, we lost a lot more musical heroes this year with one of the most recent being the passing of Malcolm Young. On a more positive side, I personally feel that metal and heavy music in general is seeing somewhat of a resurgence. There are now a lot of superb smaller bands getting the attention they deserve and accordingly they have been growing as they gain more and more fans. In particular, Brutai have been going from strength to strength this year with their most recent run with Kobra and the Lotus going particularly well.
As is customary now for this time of year, it’s time for me to list off my various top ‘things’ but I’m doing it slightly differently this year. In the previous years I would just have a list of things in numerical order and that would be that. This year however, I’m varying things up a bit as you’ll see below.
Best album: Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
This shouldn’t really come as any surprise. Back when I first heard “Boneyard” I knew that this album was going to special. Harnessing the melodies that drove the previous two albums and injecting them with some darker themes, I truly think this is one of the best albums, if not, the best that Tuomas and the guys have made.
Best EP: Aborted – Bathos
The two track EP contains everything that is perfect about Aborted and turns it up to 11. The title track in particular is a song that you just can’t help but head-bang along to. If this is any indication of how the next album is going to sound, then we’re in for a real treat.
Most Surprising album: Origin – Unparalleled Universe
I knew that this album was going to be heavy and full of technical mastery, but holy crap those first few seconds of ”Infinitesimal to the Infinite”. It felt like a nuclear bomb had gone off in my headphones. This is an album that takes no prisoners and is a prime showcase of a band at the cutting edge of technical brutality.
Albums that grabbed my attention/Honourable mentions
I could list a lot of albums in here, but I’ll just list the ones that really grabbed my attention and impressed me enough that I listen to them on regular basis still. In no order:
- Trivium – The Sin and The Sentence
- The best album they have released in a long time. Period. Favourite track: “The Wretchedness Inside”
- Enslaved – E
- 14 albums down and they still create some truly mesmerising moments. Favourite track: “Hiindsiight”
- Shade Empire – Poetry of the Ill-Minded
- What an album. Everything just works perfectly in this album. Favourite track: “Lecter (Welcome)
- Persefone – Aathma
- Another cracking album from the Andorran’s. Criminally underrated album and band.
Something new that we’re running this year is this interviews bit. Given I was formally the interviews editor and one of the interviewers at Bloodstock this year, I’ve racked up quite the count. So as before, here’s some of my favourites from this year.
Most Interesting: Brian Slagel of Metal Blade Records
If there was ever a person I never thought I’d interview, then this one comes pretty close. In the run up to the release of his book, him and I had a Skype chat about it and a whole host of other things. What surprised me was just how open he was and how he’d built a company from his parents garage. His book that he released this year is well worth a read to get the inside story of the man behind the label that launched the careers of bands like Metallica, Slayer and a whole host of others.
Most exciting: Tuomas Saukonen of Wolfheart
Remember I said there was no-one I ever thought I’d interview? Well this one was it. The impact that Tuomas’ music has had on my life is nothing short of incredible and to be able to meet and chat with him not once, but twice in the space of less than a year was nothing short of amazing. If you want to find one of the least appreciated and hardest working musicians in the melodeath/extreme metal scene, then look no further.
Most Funny: Sven, Mendel & Stefano of Aborted
I’ve had some pretty funny interviews over the years, but I don’t think any can quite top this one. Whilst I may have had ones that were funnier, this one in particular was special because the trio played off each-other with amusing anecdotes and innuendos left, right and centre. The fact they don’t take themselves seriously shows how they’re still normal people despite playing “bulldozing punishing death metal” (Sven’s quote, not mine.)
- Sami Yli-Sirnio of Kreator and Barren Earth
- If there was ever a living version of Willie Wonka, then this would be the guy. An all-round lovely chap and a pleasure to chat with.
- James Labrie of Dream Theater
- One of those pinch yourself interviews. Super nice guy and a joy to chat with.
- Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved
- He remembered me from BOA 2015 and we again had a really awesome chat. Arguably one of my favourite people to interview/chat with.
- Mark Martins, Carlos Lozano, Moe Espinoza and Bobby Verdeguar from Persefone
- One of my favourite bands to chat with. They’re so humble and knowledgeable about a whole host of things. Again, they’re some of my favourite people to chat with.
Now this is where it gets really tricky. I’ve seen a lot of really good shows this year and I’m going to have to potentially list two bands for some of the categories.
Best light show: Meshuggah – O2 ABC, Glasgow
Holy F**k those lights! In a rammed ABC in January, I finally experienced Meshuggah in concert and it arguably was one of those moments you will never forget in a hurry. The synced lights, down tuned grooving riffs and huge wall of sound made it one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
Despite it being the Underworld, both those bands brought a seriously awesome stage-show to the place. Whilst Fleshgod’s was more props and items, and Persefone’s more lights based, they each provided an excellent show with the stage show really complementing the musical performance.
Best all-round performance: Dream Theater – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
Prior to going to see them, I was not really a Dream Theater fan. Sure, I’d heard one or two tracks but I’d never actually sat down and listened to them. Everything about this performance was perfect. The sound, the lighting, the atmosphere, the venue, the setlist, everything. I can now say that I’ve heard Images and Words in full live and that I’m also a Dream Theater fan. I eagerly look forward to seeing them more times in the future.
- Aborted / Sepultura – Manchester Academy
- Both of them were on top form that night with the crowd for Sepultura in particular being insane.
- Gojira / Code Orange – O2 ABC, Glasgow
- Holy crap, what a show. I felt as though a freight train had hit me after I left the venue that night.
- Wolfheart – Bloodstock
- I was surprised how much a crowd they drew on a Sunday afternoon. The quartet then proved they are one of the best melodeath bands currently on the touring circuit by giving one of the best performances I’ve ever seen them give.
- Enslaved – O2 Ritz, Manchester
- Every time I see Enslaved, they seem to get better and better. Despite the short set, they, in my opinion, blew Opeth off the stage. I eagerly await lucky number 7!
- Brutai – Rebellion, Manchester
- Another band that gets better every time I see them. Sporting new equipment and a slightly longer set, they delivered the best performance I’ve ever seen from them.
Best thing that happened
I’d probably have to put that down to photographing Devin Townsend and then photographing Gojira that same week. Outside of meeting a lot of awesome people, those two events are ones I’m not likely to forget in a hurry.
Worst thing that happened
Probably the whole situation with Decapitated and also some of the deaths of musicians that happened this year. Both of those situations are not exactly great.
Best picture I took
This one was much harder to choose than any of the others. In the end, I chose one of the ones I took of the Devin Townsend show. Practically everyone in the pit had huge smiles on their faces with some (myself included) singing along to the music. Truly, a spectacular evening.
View of this year & outlook to next year
It’s been quite an interesting year for metal I think. There’s been a heck of a lot of albums and I personally feel that live shows are continuing to get better as more and more bands start to use more elaborate and modern light-shows and technologies such as Kemper and IEM systems. It’s also been a sad year in that we lost yet more musicians that had a profound impact on the music scene as a whole.
As for next year? Who knows. I’m expecting some good albums to come out and there may well be even more that are yet to be announced. Off the top of my head, the ones I’m most looking forward to are: Hamferð, Misery Index and Nile. There are rumours of a new Aborted and Omnium Gatherum album on the horizon so we’ll see what happens regarding those over the course of next year.
There’s also the small matter of Gojira headlining Bloodstock that I’m looking forward to. They put on such an amazing show when I saw them headlining in Glasgow and I heartily look forward to seeing what the quartet will bring to their headlining slot. Furthermore, Persefone are doing 3 dates towards the middle of the year which I’m looking forward to. Whether I go to all three or not remains to be seen…
I did this last year and I feel as though I should do it again this year as there’s quite a few people I want to thank. So here is my thank you list for this year:
- Claire, Laura and the team at Nuclear Blast
- Andy Turner
- Kirsten and Michelle from Cosa Nostra
- Tristan Pratt & Simon Bower
- Tuomas, Mika, Joonas and Lauri from Wolfheart
- Lars from Intromental & The Persefone guys
- Lulu from Incendia & Felix from Brutai
- Mark Lloyd, Ross Green and the editorial team @ Moshville Times
- Everyone I’ve interviewed this year
- My Dad for helping me along and providing a voice of reason
And last but by no means, you the readers and fans. Without all of you, nearly 9,500 of you now, there would be no Moshville Times. So thank you and to those that read this whole article, well done. Have a cookie and pat yourself on the back.