Well I guess it’s my turn to rattle off some thoughts on 2018. On a personal note, it’s been a tricky year and also a very busy one for many reasons. “Real work” has picked up, meaning I’ve had to juggle / pass off Moshville Times duties to Ross for significant periods of time. So first and foremost I’d like to thank him for taking the reins big-style for a couple of months.
But on to the music. It’s actually quite tricky for me to pinpoint releases as I was so buried all year that I lost track of the 7-8000 or so albums and EPs that came in for review, not even taking into consideration the many others that we didn’t get sent (or send begging letters for). And, no, that’s not a mistake. Over seven thousand releases were pinged at us in 2018 going by a quick count in our email box.
My musical tastes are rather varied so the albums below are in no particular order. They’re simply the handful that, for me at least, stood out above the many, many others of 2018.
Right in at the tail end of the year is the one RBF album I love from beginning to end. As far as their older material goes, I’ve always cherry-picked songs but this is their strongest and most enjoyable release to date.
Blending hip-hop with metal isn’t easy, yet Hyro the Hero has done it superbly well. A brilliant album full of rhythm, massive beats and some sections that Rage Against The Machine would be proud of. Hugely enjoyable.
Where Hyro the Hero, mentioned elsewhere, have fused hip-hop with metal, Seething Akira have done the same with massive dance beats. A band which blew me the hell away at Bloodstock 2017, they have dropped one of the heaviest albums of 2018 with Sleepy Skeletor.
From right back at the start of the year, this release went onto my phone and has stayed there through the remaining months. Regularly played, it’s a great collection of songs from a lovely bunch of (slightly deranged) guys. They also put on a hell of a live show.
With a nice collection of “post-sleaze” tracks, Cumbria’s Falling Red have a sound all of their own. They also have a nice sense of humour and mix up the album with tracks like the anthemic “My Town, My City”.
A contentious release for so many reasons and a focal point in the year for a band who underwent a massive tour, then lost two members. While Catharsis isn’t their strongest release, it’s not short of incredible tracks – not least of which is “Bastards” which really got people talking…
A fantastic pop-punk debut from a trio of very young girls who have what it takes to go much further. Gutted I missed them play in Edinburgh (I was sick, so couldn’t go), but I’m hoping I get a second chance sometime!
While I still hold that Divided Kingdom is better (it’s just heavier), the fact that Ravenface have returned is good news indeed and Breathe Again is a wonderful comeback piece.
Another great release from Powerwolf. Nothing new, as such (other than the ballad), but it certainly maintains their high standards and unique sound. Better yet, they’re playing the UK next year other than just bloody London. See you in Glasgow!
Bubbling under, we have so many other names. Judas Priest’s Firepower is one of their best releases in recent years, Torqued impressed with Resurgence, Serrabulho dropped the utterly nutty Porntugal… Far, far too many to mention them all.
Not that many to pick from but there were two releases this year which both blew me away. Anthrax brought their Among the Living tour to Glasgow Barrowlands in 2017, and the whole show was recorded and released as Kings Among Scotland this year. A great DVD of a great performance.
Closer to the end of the year, Volbeat release Let’s Boogie! Live from Telia Parken which covered their sell-out show of Denmark’s largest stadium. Again, a superbly-edited piece of work and a great memento of a quality show.
Third, and a little different from the others, was the home release of Scream For Me, Sarajevo. This documentary detailed Bruce Dickinson and Skunkworks (as they were) being invited to war-torn Yugoslavia to play an underground metal gig. Incredibly emotional in places, it’s a testament to all those who were involved in this borderline insane venture.
I attended fewer live shows than I would have liked to this year, partly down to workload and partly down to ill health. What I did see, though, only filled me with confidence for the dedication and talent of bands big and small. This is only a small sampling…
Machine Head once again brought an “evening of” to Glasgow and it was utter, mental, metal chaos. I was drained afterwards. This band simply cannot be beaten as far as live performances go.
Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax and Obituary pulled into town for the headliner’s farewell tour and it went about as well as you would have expected.
The Bootleg Beatles rounded off my year well, with a hugely enjoyable evening of classic rock n’ roll at the Glasgow Concert Hall.
Alestorm brought The Dread Crew of Oddwood and Rumahoy to the ABC before it was burned down for one of the best pirate-fests ever. Three great bands all at the top of their game made for one of the best value nights out of 2018.
The Idol Dead, PowderKeg and Rocketflaire made my first ever visit to Nice N Sleazy an enjoyable one – and one of the frustratingly few “smaller” gigs I made it to in 2018. On the strength of this one, I really should have put more effort in.
As well as my now-annual trip to Bloodstock (where Sean and I worked out bollocks off interviewing all and sundry), I took in two new events – and I have nothing but praise for them both.
Sabaton Open Air absolutely set the gold standard for “family friendly”. No, wait. It pisses on “friendly” and escalates it to “welcome”, which is a big difference. I took my 10 year old son all the way to Sweden to see his favourite band and the whole event was as much fun for him as it was for me. Quite small – ideal for those with children – there was an activity tent for the kids to play in where they also got free hot dogs, fruit and drinks. The bands were also superb with a brilliant line-up and the facilities… seriously, if this is how Sweden does festivals then everyone else should just give up.
Only… if you’ve not got smaller ones, or you’re OK looking after them a bit more then Metal Days just has to be on your list of “festivals to try out”. Nestled in the stunning scenery of the Slovenian mountains, it’s unique in terms of location (it has a frickin’ beach) and has an absolutely amazing vibe. The townsfolk are lovely, the line-up top notch, location unbeatable and, to top it all off, it’s bloody cheap.
Phew. OK. Well, what else has there been? Glasgow’s O2 ABC was damaged / destroyed (we await official word, but let’s be honest it ain’t looking good) in a large fire which wasn’t at all dodgy, guv’nor, honest. Allegedly.
We lost, as always happens, many rock and metal brothers and sisters. Jill Janus, Kyle Pavone, Oli Herbert, Pete Shelley, Ben Graves, Vinnie Abbott, Bret Hoffman, Nathan Thomas Gunn, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, George Christie, Jeremy Inkel, Greg Analla, Chris Tsangarides, Jon Schnepp… Each and every one has a legacy that will live on.
Several major and minor bands announced their final runs. The most high profile probably being Slayer with KISS kicking off their farewell tour next year. And that’s where I feel all the more guilty for not attending more small gigs this year. AC/DC are all but over, Iron Maiden have a few years left (let’s be honest), if Slayer are retiring then the rest of the Big 4 can’t be that far behind. Who’s going to replace them?
The answer is already out there. We see a wealth of talent almost every time we check out a small gig, or spin an EP that drops into our email. Competitions like Metal 2 the Masses are helping to give these bands a bigger stage (literally). But they’ll only get there with your support. The music industry is an industry and therefore needs funding, so keep paying a couple of quid for those cheap gigs, keep buying the CDs and t-shirts and keep music alive. Metal’s never likely to reach the heights it has with stadium-fillers again, not in this economic climate, but there are so many bands out there who could tear the arse out of an Academy-sized venue given the backing.
And that’s why you lot are the most important people out there. We just try to tell you what’s available (with what limited time and resources we have). It’s up to you to support it, nurture it and help it grow.
All the best for 2019. It’s going to be incredible.