GIG OF THE YEAR
I struggled at first to recall many of the gigs I went to last year… which, owing to my lifestyle and constant head-nudging is surprising and unsurprising in equal measure. I consulted the every reliable calendar and it reminded me that, really, I’d been to far less than usual. Seems I’m getting older…
Nevertheless, 2011 was a chance for me to catch two bands I’d longed to for a long time in the legendary Godflesh and 1349 (fortunately not at the same gig). I’ve seen, and will see again, the mighty 1349; some of Norway’s finest purveyors of flame-grilled black metal (The Camden Underworld is really quite an ideal venue for the apocalypse, I might add…) but their dark fury still cuts above many others.
Godflesh was a highlight because it’s unlikely I will catch Justin and G.C again, but in this belt-tightening climate you simply never know. The raw chugg and robotic clugg of their industrial dirt-metal stapled their position as pioneers of much we’ve seen in bands ever since and it was a night I fondly remember. Justin said very little, we were warmed with Goatsnake and I had a lot of cold beer. Impossible not to be happy…
Though I did indeed struggle to recall this as being in 2011, I had the most fun watching the uniquely smashing earthtone9 who had reformed for ‘a series of shows’ (as all do) and played at the Islington Garage. It was, incidentally, recorded for a DVD but it was the fact that I got a chance to meet the band (although ever so briefly) as part of a VIP package I purchased that I most find pleasing memories. Seems silly in hindsight… but it was great fun. And beer with great musicians is clearly not something to be scoffed at…
FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR
I am almost certain Bloodstock would’ve been top for me had I gone as it almost certainly will this year, but as I didn’t visit I have to go on what I did manage…
I’d like to initially make a honourable nod to High Voltage; a smaller two day festival in Victoria Park, London. We were treated to a number of hard rock bands including Slash, Thin Lizzy, Anathema and the mighty Judas Priest, Dream Theater and Neurosis. Every second of the two days that Jim and I enjoyed as “prestival persons” were shared with glorious sunbeams, monumental music and kindred spirits. We even got to interview some people we love…
Whilst Download had it’s undeniable highlights including the literally spastic guitar domination of Meshuggah and the leg-to-jelly-making Faith No More amongst others, the sheer spectacle and all round gigidy-gigidies of Sonisphere highlights it was not only the festival of the year, but possibly one of the best of my decade-plus career as a festival-goer. The beautifully powerful Slipknot performed for the first time without bassist Paul Gray and Megadeth ripped the countryside a new-one. Whilst I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed the crushing Metallica, I was most impressed by the sheer insanity of (the most secretly popular band of all time) Slayer who, amazingly, performed without figurehead Jeff Hannemann. To say his replacement, Gary Holt, didn’t nail it would be to declare Napalm Death pioneers of dubstep. Not only did he perform with immense Hannemann-esque precision, it still stays with me how flawlessly he slipped in for those mere minutes that Slayer thrashed the landscape with us. The fact Holt does so with the furiously glorious Exodus means it’s little surprise…
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Opeth – ‘The Devil’s Orchard’
Will you be able to stop watching once you start?
Fleshgod Apocalypse ~ ‘The Violation’
An honourable mention goes to this however. Nothing new, but there’s something about it. Or maybe I just love the song…
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Mastodon – ‘The Hunter’
I toyed for some time whether or not to pass this one to Opeth for their spine-tingling ‘Heritage’, but after picking up ‘The Hunter’, there could only be one. As it goes, there could only be about 15 but since I have to pick, then I’ll stick my guns and side with the nut-busting opus.
That said, I want to take the chance to commend the rather quality ‘Lux Mundi’ by Swiss industrialists Samael. Check that sheeet out.
Let us not forget as many of you have that domed-superlord Devin Townsend also released a beautiful pairing with the Mother-friendly ‘Ghost’ and the Dad-crushing ‘Deconstruction’… Another reminder that God really is among us.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR (/ DECADE)
BAND OF THE YEAR
Those who read my review will know I am quite a fan of Mastodon… but after yet another humdinger in ‘The Hunter’, it’s hard to see who else to give this to.
Whilst many bands tick many boxes and display their own amazing personality, there is ‘something’ that Mastodon possess which is a quality exhibited by bands like Maiden, Priest, Metallica and Slayer; an individuality and a quality that simply works. Their name. Their image. Their music. And I maintain… Mastodon’s name will go down with the greats.