Making his Rocksins’ return after a rather eventful second half of 2013 where he’s now a national radio show presenter as part of the Metal Hammer Show team on Team Rock Radio as well as appearing at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, here’s the pick on the bunch from 2013 from the one and only Stephen Hill:
1) Album Of The Year – Letlive – The Blackest Beautiful
2013 is surely the best year for albums in living memory. With so many quality releases it’s primed to stand next to 1969, 1986 and 1991 in the list of great years in music. Ordinarily the releases by Palm Reader, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Nails, Clutch, The Defiled, Steven Wilson and Heart Of A Coward would have been shoo ins for top spot, but for my money this year has been dominated by two game changing albums that will come to define the genre of music they exist in. With Sempiternal Bring Me The Horizon proved they are surely the most important metal band to emerge since Slipknot, although they are just edged out by a whisker by Letlive’s incredible The Blackest Beautiful. Hardcore punk hasn’t heard anything this daring, original or vibrant since Refused and At The Drive In stepped on the scene, a scene that’s been crying out for this record for a long time. Not just a great album, but a hugely important one.
2) Song Of The Year – Hawk Eyes – That’s What This Is
Possibly not the best song of the year but the EP of the same name seems to have been cruelly overlooked by many, partly due to it not being a full length and partly due to some absurdly stiff competition. Nevertheless the blueprint that Hawk Eyes laid down on last years excellent Ideas album is taken to it’s logical conclusion here. It’s just bigger, just more. More powerchords, more hooks, more wonderfully inventive noodling guitars. A poke in the eye to anyone that thinks alternative rock has run out of juice. Album number two should be a killer.
BMTH – Sleepwalking
TRC – 10,000 Hours
3) Video Of The Year – Red Fang – Blood Like Cream
Just a succession of things that you should like smashed into four minutes and nineteen seconds. It’s got riffs, beard, zombies, beer, zombies drinking beer and a cameo from Fred Armisen, star of Portlandia AKA the best comedy in the last five years, getting a beer can getting taken out of his hand by a zombie that has ripped through his spine. It also helps that the song is a total banger.
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4) Gig Of The Year – Bring Me The Horizon, Brixton Academy
Some great gigs happened this year, but what BMTH did at Brixton at the start of December transcended mere good or bad gig and became a moment that defined a generation, that make the hairs of the back of your neck stand up, that make it impossible to deny that, like it or not, this band will take over the world. You can count on one hand the amount of times things like that happen in your lifetime. I believe I’ve only seen it happen three times in my lifetime. Watching The Prodigy in 1996, Slipknot at Download 2009 and now this gig. Every single person there left with their jaws hanging off and in a daze. Couple that with the fact that, in Pierce The Veil, they had the worst support act on the planet and it’s quite an achievement for BMTH to slay a venue with such ease. The production was stunning, the sound crystal clear and the audience rabid. All combined to create a perfect storm.
5) Best Festival Performance – Korn (Download 2013)
Maybe this is nostalgia talking, having seen Korn in the early days on the Life Is Peachy tour i knew what they used to be capable of but over recent years they had descended into a pale shadow of their former selves. Guitarists backstage, fat remaining members, THAT Pink Floyd cover. On this day though, with Brian ‘Head’ Welch back in the band and the sun finally coming out, Korn stepped up and gave their best festival performance on UK soil since they headlined the second stage of the Monster Of Rock at the very same venue in 1996. Kicking off with Blind was a marker and Korn followed it up with a set of crowd favourites that even Slipknot couldn’t follow. Magical stuff.
Gojira at Bloodstock
Alice In Chains at Download
Jimmy Eat World at Download
6) Most Disappointing Album – Ghost B.C. – Infestissumam
Been a few stinkers in an otherwise exceptional year. Both BFMV and A7X’s albums stand out as fine examples of an utterly destitute creative process. Both make me feel depressed at rock musics obsession with chasing it’s tail and aping ‘the classics’ rather than challenging the listener. But as I had no hopes for either of them then it would be foolish for me to call them disappointments. Instead Ghost B.C. take the prize, their first album was an intriguing collection of occult rock and pop sensibilities. The second, on a major label and surrounded by huge hype, proved to be a load of bells and whistles with no actual songs present. Quite why so many people fell in love with it I have no idea. I desperately didn’t want them to be a novelty, one trick pony. Seems that this is exactly what they are to my ears. Not scary, not original, just dull.
7) Band Of The Year – Bring Me The Horizon
Quite a few bands could have laid claim to this title this year but most, I’m looking at you Avenged Sevenfold, fluffed their lines in some way or another. BMTH are the only band to have combined a truly world class album, commercial success and some amazing live performances. For my money they are the natural heirs to Metallica’s throne. Let’s examine the facts. Early, raw stuff that repelled purists? Check. Slowly but gradually expanding sound? Check. Fifth album that cracked the mainstream and made their sound more commercially viable whilst still maintaining artistic credibility? Check. Live shows that deserve to headline festivals? Check. Anyone hating on this band now sounds so ignorant, so stupid and so narrow minded that they are too pitiful to even argue with. That is Bring Me The Horizon’s biggest achievement, no one could have seen this coming a decade ago. For that reason, as much as any other, they deserve this accolade.
You can follow Stephen in his adventures in metal, comedy and the pain of supporting Portsmouth F.C on his Twitter account – @stephen_hill_UK.