2023 Crew Review: Mosh – Da Boss

I’m going to be honest, this year’s roundup is going to be a challenge for me. In the past I’ve reviewed dozens of albums and gone to a similar number of gigs each year so my biggest problem has been narrowing it down. This year, though, has been a struggle. Between real life, work, studies and so on I’ve just not had the time to do much more on the site beyond maintaining everything. I’ve breezed through loads of stuff, but not had the chance to really get to know anything new.

However, I can’t say it’s been an empty year musicwise. I’ve caught a few bands live for the first time, seen a few favourites again and published a fair bunch of Headline Acts. Slap in the middle of it all was another gem of a Bloodstock, an event I look forward to every year. It’s gone past the point where I care about the lineup, I go primarily for the buzz and the people. Though the lineup is usually pretty good!

Albums

A glance at the log shows that I reviewed 28 albums in 2023, which is more than I remember doing! I’m going to start with one of the biggest disappointments: Russkaja‘s Turbo Polka Party. The album itself is fantastic, possibly the best in the band’s history. The disspointment is that this history has come to an end, and days after they’d announced an appearance at Bloodstock. I was bouncing, as I’ve never had a chance to catch them live. Sadly, internet trolls and the legacy of Putin contrived to make their lives too difficult in the public eye, and they opted to split up. I’m all for going out on a high, which they did with this album, but I’m still pissed off that a bunch of small-minded arseholes took down one of the most fun bands on the circuit. Plaudits to Kontrust for buoying my spririts again towards the end of the year, another fun/party/crossover band who came back after a lengthy gap with a quality release in madworld.

Another which sticks out is IX by Host, the side project of two Paradise Lost members. This was a jump back to the synth-goth of the 80s and 90s, and was far better than I’d expected it to be. Tragedy also outdid themselves with I Am Woman and I’m only annoyed I couldn’t make it to their live show later year to enjoy the new material. They always put on a good show, but they are also reliable tourers so fingers crossed they’re back here in 2024. From Ashes To New tickled my nu-metal funny bone with the excellent Blackout, one that I’ve been spinning ever since review.

The undersung Skálmöld (who I did catch live) continued their perfect run with Ýdalir, another collection of Icelandic legendary tales set to multi-layered music. These guys should be playing to much bigger audiences, so please get your ears round this and previous albums. Alice Cooper also dropped yet another classic with Road. Not quite as good as Detroit Stories, which was something special, but definitely amongst his best material. Billy Idol keeps the old-timer flag flying as well with the recent release of the Live At Hoover Dam album/DVD. The DVD is worth a watch, and the setlist makes for a great album. KK’s Priest managed to release a Judas Priest album without it actually being a Judas Priest album, The Sinner Rides Again. This was backed with a great live show, too.

What of the bands that you may not have heard of? I can pluck a couple from the pile. Iron Altar crushed Bloodstock in the runup to releasing Promethean, an album as heavy as the band’s name. Ross has already told everyone how good Caustic Waves’ Full Circle EP is, so I’ll spare creator Neil from a further swollen head. Another EP which impressed was From Ruins‘ three-track Inner Demons. A brief introduction to a band that I hope continues to do well.

For sheer party fun, The Beggars dropped six great songs in Stinks Like Rock ‘n’ Roll. They sound like they were having a party when they recorded it, and I’m sure this would carry over to their live show. Finally Carol Hodge brought the mellow with her beautiful Vertiginous Drops. It’s having the likes if this alongside all these other acts in my list that makes me truly appreciate the huge variety of music we’re fortunate enough to cover.

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Live shows

Twenty five shows is a fair amount, but there were years gone by then I’d have hit this number by March. Quality over quantity, I guess, plus the side effects of having two jobs, a family, and a Krav Maga fetish (being replaced with a Masters Degree from January 2024).

Royal Republic (c) Sean Larkin

This year was a mixture of old and new, and a couple of festivals. Hats off to SOS Festival whose 14th event was certainly one that made me want to go back for number 15 next year (though I fear it’s on the same dates as I’m dog-sitting for my ex). No clashes, a great venue, a wonderful atmosphere and a fantastic lineup. This is what all small festivals should aim for. At the other end of the scale was the aforementioned Bloodstock where, off the top of my head, the highlights included Royal RepublicUgly Kid JoeSeething Akira and Waterlines. Playing Bloodstock and co-headlining our own event (credit to those who actually planned and hosted it, I just kind of went along for the ride) were Tortured Demon who it seems may grow to a 5-piece soon. Red Method buddied with them and the event as a whole was an absolute riot, spoiled only by the weather meaning that some ticket-bearers simply couldn’t make it to Ivory Blacks. Boo!

Elsewhere I got to see some great live music all over Glasgow. There are so many venues here, we are truly spoiled. At the large end of the scale we have the Hydro. Topping the bands I saw there this year were the mighty Sabaton, where we also interviewed Tommy. This video, mainly due to Eleanor’s gift of palt, is our most-watched video of the year. The show itself was an eclectic wonder with Lordi and BabyMetal opening. A superb night of metal. Black Stone Cherry and The Darkness co-headlined earlier in the year and put on an equally amazing show at the rock end of the scale. Two of the best sets I’ve seen from either band, and I’ve seen both several times.

The Almighty (c) Gary Cooper

BSC played again later in the year at smaller venues, but I opted to catch Ferocious Dog who were in town on the same night. They were predictably raucous fun, but I have to highlight openers Voodoo Radio as something special. It was also the night I got a complete stranger in on the guest list by mistake! Another gifted guest list was to the renuited Almighty show at the end of November, though this was deliberate. We were overjoyed to enable Tracey to accompany her husband (who already had a ticket) on the night of their wedding anniversary. Roll on next year when the band will play here again.

A definite highlight was getting to see Weird Al Yankovic again, alongside a bucket list tick with opener Emo Philips. Amazing music and ribs tickled to boot. I was spoiled on the pop-punk stakes with shows from Don’t Panic / The Dollyrots / Royals followed shortly after by a small venue show by Punk Rock Factory. They reappeared later in the year, but “other things” once again got in the way and I couldn’t attend. Like many bands, though, they’ve already announced 2024 dates, as have Don’t Panic.

Fear Factory (c) Watchmaker Studios

Talking of factories, Fear Factory showed why they are a genuinely legendary act when they toured for the first time in eight years. The sound wasn’t great, a shame more for the support acts, but they definitely were. Bloodywood were amazing and definitely / hopefully due to move onto bigger and better things. Possibly the best value non-festival show I went to was Wednesday 13 / South of Salem / Sick n’ Beautiful / Tarah Who? Every band shone and we interviewed everyone except the Salem boys, but I’m sure we’ll catch up with them soon!

Similar banging value for money, was the Pain gig with support from EnsiferumEleine and Ryujin (who have a new album out next month). Four bands with four different styles, but each of them was absolutely superb. I finally caught Electric Callboy around the same time, who were every bit as mental as I’d hoped they were. The last band to highlight are the wonderful Steve ‘n’ Seagulls. A proper long set, great music and a nice bunch of guys.

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Wrapping up

OK, so that’s ended up being quite the list. I can only imagine how long it would have been a decade ago when I was part time and going to a gig every other week! I look at the releases I’ve enjoyed and the shows I’ve attended. There is no doubting that music across the spectrum is flourishing. Sure, Spotify may be trying to screw everyone over (including themselves it seems), but in terms of the number of incredible acts out there, and the quality of their output… we continue to be spoiled.

I can only apologise for the number of bands we (specifically I) have missed. I know there are countless albums I’ve not had time to listen to, and shows I couldn’t attend (including some I’d arranged and then had to cancel).

2024 is already filling up. We’ve got some exciting tours lined up, we’re hoping to organise a third Moshville Times festival, and the album release dates are starting to crystalise. It’s hard to believe that rock/metal was written off a few decades ago as a dying genre. Sorry, naysayers, but you can’t keep the metal beast down!

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