For the Rocksins end of year picks, rather than doing the standard top X albums, we thought we’d do something a little different. Each one of us will be picking our end of year highlights, so you can respond to us in kind if you want to. Here are my choices:
Best Album: Fozzy – Chasing The Grail
This has been a huge toss up for me between Fozzy and the magnificent AB III by Alter Bridge but Fozzy win out for me purely because the CD has been in my car ever since I got it back in April and never fails to cheer me up or make me bang my head along to the tracks. It teeters right on the border between heavy rock and pure metal and the result is some fantastic groove laden riffs and songs that are just brilliant, with the pick of these arguably being Martyr No More which has one of the best groove main riffs of anything written in the last ten years. Tracks like God Pounds His Nails and Let The Madness Begin don’t give you any choice about getting involved with the music, you’ll be nodding along and singing before you know what hits you. The epic Wormword finishes the album with Fozzy’s answer to Rime of the Ancient Mariner or Keeper of the Seven Keys and the 14 minute extravanganza brings down the curtain on what is my favourite album of 2010. Message to Chris, Rich, Billy, Frank and Sean: If you top Chasing The Grail you’ll have written a masterpiece.
Worst Album: Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns
Having been a massive Linkin Park fan since almost day one, and having loved every single previous release by the band (with the exception of Reanimation), I had high hopes for what was to be their fourth major album, A Thousand Suns. One of my friends who is also a huge Linkin Park fan got to the album before I did, and when I asked what he thought, he simply replied “it sounds like they were on pills the whole time they were making the album”.
Having been worried by this statement, after hearing it for myself I could definitely see what he meant. There were trippy songs, A lot of voiceover interludes and intro tracks, a song that halfway through broke down into an attempt at dubstep and a severe lack of notable tracks, apart from lead single The Catalyst, which I think is a good song. There are one or two other good songs on the album, Wretches and Kings has a crunching riff that sounds good live and Burning in the Sky is a softer song that works but overall the album was a huge disappointment for me. Hoping for a return to form next time.
Best Gig: Red Sparowes (Scala)
I’ve been lucky enough to see some exceptional shows this year from the likes of Fozzy (twice), Katatonia, Trivium (with Chimaira), Kamelot, Fear Factory (with Sylosis), Paramore and the whole of Ozzfest, not to mention my friends in Here Lies Affliction and their monumental effort in the Download Festival Car Park but I think my gig of the year has to be the Red Sparowes show at The Scala near Kings Cross in London. An hour and a half of absolute post-metal sonic perfection.
I don’t think there were any contenders for this, so I’m going to leave this one empty.
Best Festival Set: Rammstein (Sonisphere)
There are a lot of contenders for this but no-one truly comes close to Rammstein, not even the mighty and fantastic Iron Maiden, Megadeth, AC/DC or Rage Against The Machine who were all bloody fantastic this year. Rammstein at a festival is a live experience in a league of its own, and that does not do it any justice at all. It has to be seen to be truly understood. Sylosis have to have a mention too for their monsterous set in Bohemia at Sonisphere for the second year running, 3 in a row anyone?
Worst Festival Set: Alice Cooper (Sonisphere)
I took a bit of stick for slating Alice’s performance at Sonisphere in my reviews over on my own website, but from where we were stood the sound was bloody awful and it just didn’t cut it. Not really Mr Cooper’s fault, but from my point of view it was a gigantic letdown.
Best Festival: No Winner
In 2009 I said Download easily over Sonisphere, despite the presence at Sonisphere of practically all my favourite bands bar one or two. This year the gap closed substantially to the point where I don’t think I can pick between the two, although Donington Park turning itself into Glastonbury at the time didn’t please too many of us.
Band of the Year: Avenged Sevenfold
I’m not too sure what the criteria is for this really, but I’m going to surprise a few people and go for Avenged Sevenfold. To come back from losing a band member and friend in the way they have with a quality album that went to the top of the US charts in Nightmare, one that has really made me interested in the band whereas before I didn’t much care for them is a fantastic achievement. The fact that Mike Portnoy is currently behind the sticks for them doesn’t do them any harm from my point of view either (or he was when I wrote this, he has since moved on). I hope they can carry on their success into 2011, and I thoroughly look forward to seeing them at Download.
Runners up for band of the year: Fozzy, Sylosis, Rise To Remain