As we continue through a rather wet and windy January, it’s time for the latest entry in our End Of Year Awards, this time courtesy of one of our senior writers, Jack Fermor-Worrell. Over to you Jack!
Album of the Year: Eternity, In Your Arms – Creeper
This year was rather unique for me in terms of albums in that this award could have realistically gone to any of my top 3, such was the quality present in each one. Enter Shikari crafted yet another near-perfect collection of arena-ready politically-charged anthems on The Spark, whilst metalcore heavyweights While She Sleeps struck back with some of their best ever work on their titanic crowdfunding-aided third album You Are We. My final pick for 2017’s pinnacle however, goes to Southampton goth-punks Creeper, who managed to release an album so spectacular that I believe I ended up listening to the entire thing at least once almost every day of the year following its release back in March. Taking a base template of AFI and Misfits inspired gothic punk rock and melding it with a theatrical element more akin to Meat Loaf or Alice Cooper at times, and even managing to incorporate such elements as an acoustic country-inspired ballad (‘Crickets’) on a record that’s also filled with mosh pit-ready punk riffing (‘Poison Pens’, ‘Room 309’), without anything sounding anywhere near to filler is no easy task, but one that the members of Creeper seem to have accomplished with ease on Eternity, In Your Arms. Most remarkable though, is that this is a band on their debut full-length album, and really that can only mean that the sky is the limit.
Modern Ruin – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
The Spark – Enter Shikari
You Are We – While She Sleeps
Song of the Year: Fozzy – Judas
It’s often said that the best songs are those that worm their way into your head to the point where their lyrics and melodies become embedded in your consciousness, and 2017 was a standout year for that happening in the world of rock and metal music. It’s also what happened to myself almost immediately when US hard rockers Fozzy released their world-conquering single Judas back in May. Featured prominently (as you’d expect) on WWE programming for what felt like months after release, the track showcased perhaps the best example of a big US radio rock single from a band that’d already displayed a talent in creating them during their career, only this time with everything dialled up to eleven. And whilst critical opinion on the album it’s named after may have later proven divisive, few can deny that the actual track Judas was a quality release that few might have expected. Chris Jericho gives one of his most impressive vocal performances on a Fozzy album to date, bellowing easily the best chorus he and his band have crafted in years, whilst the rest of the band underpin everything with a fantastically grooving riff and pounding beat.
Creeper – Crickets
Milk Teeth – Owning Your Okayness
Enter Shikari – Live Outside
The Menzingers – Tellin’ Lies
Gig of the Year: Black Sabbath: The End of The End – Genting Arena, Birmingham
The date of February 4th 2017 will likely stick in the minds of most metalheads forever for one simple reason – the end of Black Sabbath. The band who arguably created the entire genre of heavy metal all the way back in 1970 with their self-titled debut finally laid an almost 50 year career to rest with two nights in their home city of Birmingham. Put simply, the second of these two shows was not only the best show I saw in 2017, but my favourite experience I’ve ever had at a gig. Over the course of a couple of hours Ozzy, Tony and Geezer were joined by some 16,000 rabid heavy metal fans to celebrate the legacy of the greatest band in heavy metal history. That of course meant a 16 or so track set comprised of a frankly ridiculous amount of legendary anthems. From the iconic rain storm opening of the eponymous ‘Black Sabbath’, to the very final notes of ‘Paranoid’, the entire band were on excellent form, and whilst it’s a shame that bridges were unable to be repaired with founding drummer Bill Ward in time, this truly was a near-perfect send-off for the greatest band in the history of heavy metal, and a show I’ll never forget.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – O2 Ritz, Manchester
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Genting Arena, Birmingham
Iron Maiden – Festhalle, Frankfurt
Alice Cooper – First Direct Arena, Leeds
Festival Performance of the Year: Creeper – Download Festival 2017
You’ll probably have realised by now that Creeper have cropped up in these awards rather a lot, but their set at 2017’s edition of Download Festival is arguably not only one of the best they’ve ever played as a band to date, but possibly one of the greatest main stage debuts in the history of the festival. Having been given one of the earliest slots in the day on the second day of the festival, there was potential for Creeper to face the typically sparse crowds, but Will Gould and co. instead emerged to a sea of both Callous Heart diehards and curious onlookers, before giving a performance that felt every inch future-headliner level. Packing an all-too-brief set with the very best from their catalogue of anthemic songs, the Southampton collective not only showed those in attendance the kind of brilliance they’re capable of, but also in essence laid down the gauntlet for any future acts making their step up into the big leagues.
Aerosmith – Download Festival 2017
Prophets Of Rage – Download Festival 2017
Enter Shikari – Slam Dunk Festival Midlands
Reel Big Fish – Slam Dunk Festival Midlands
Area 11 – Slam Dunk Festival Midlands
Best Music Video of the Year: Creeper – Black Rain
Truth be told, there weren’t actually an awful lot of music videos that caught my attention this year, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. It’s hardly as though there was a lack of inventive and brilliant stuff this year, I simply didn’t end up watching all that many. Perhaps my favourite though involves giving yet another nod to Creeper. For a couple of years now, the band have been weaving a narrative into their music videos that would take an entire feature for me to properly explain. Black Rain is another continuation of this, however it also features a ton of some of the best live performance visuals I’ve seen in a music video in a long time, as the band perform in a beautiful neon purple-lit church setting, whilst footage of characters from the album’s mythos lay out the continuing story of James Scythe, The Stranger and the Callous Heart.
While She Sleeps – Silence Speaks
The Dollyrots – Just Because I’m Blonde
David Bowie – No Plan
Favourite New Band of the Year: Energy
I’ve decided to interpret this particular award to mean my favourite band whom I discovered for the first time in 2017, rather than the best brand new band band of last year, which is helpful when you consider my pick for winner first formed all the way back in 2006 in Stoughton, Massachusetts. A horror-punk band with a sound that shares kinship with the likes of AFI and the Misfits, most rock fans in the UK will have likely first discovered Energy in the same way I did – as one of the opening acts on Creeper’s UK headline tour back in March. There, they impressed me greatly with their delightfully macabre songs like ‘I Killed Your Boyfriend’ and ‘Dead In Dreamland’, and their most recent EP ‘Under The Mask’ would go on to become a mainstay pick in most of my playlists for the remainder of the year after it released in July. Further UK shows (this time on their own headline tour) in July and August to accompany said release gave the band another chance to prove their live prowess, and I left their Liverpool show with little doubt that Energy now have potential to become one of the next big success stories in punk if they can maintain such a strong output.
Prophets of Rage
Zeal & Ardor
Most Disappointing Album of the Year: Suicide Silence – Suicide Silence
In terms of actual musical disappointments, 2017 was a bit lacking for me. Sure there were some bad albums, but none that I didn’t really already expect to be underwhelming. Suicide Silence however, managed to buck that trend slightly with their self-titled album released back in February, which saw them depart from the straight-up deathcore sound they’d made their name with over the length of their career, and instead head toward a more nu-metal influenced style. Lead single ‘Doris” instantly caused uproar with the band’s fans (insert overdone “tee-hee” joke here), and overall US sales for the record were said to have dropped almost 70% from the band’s previous album. Honestly, on a personal level, I simply found the record to be more bland than offensive – its experimentation proving an interesting twist on the standard deathcore I’d expected going in, but the overall quality of songwriting failed to leave any lasting impression, to the point where I’d genuinely forgotten about the album coming out in 2017 until scanning back through my iTunes album list for the year. Whether the band actually continue to explore the sound they went for on this record in their next release is certainly a thought on every fan’s mind, however given the utter backlash this time around, it’s hard to imagine a world in which they possibly could.
As Lions – Selfish Age
PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
Band of the Year: Code Orange
There’s almost nothing that can be said about the meteoric rise of Code Orange by now that hasn’t already been done to death. From billboard appearances in New York City’s Times Square at the tail end of the year, to performing at WWE’s NXT Takeover Brooklyn III event in August, to the massive praise they’ve been receiving all year from the press, it really seems as though the Pittsburgh five-piece had the best 2017 in all of heavy music. All of this came off of the back of what many are calling Album of the Year too, in their third studio release Forever – a hard hitting fusion of punk, hardcore, industrial and sludgy electronics that completely blew the metal world at large apart when it released right in the middle of January. Admittedly, it actually took until virtually the end of the year for me to finally start to understand the appeal of the record on a personal level, but looking in a broader sense, there really is no other band on the planet for whom 2017 went better for than Code Orange.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
You can also check out End of Year Awards from other members of the Rock Sins team, including:
Fran Dignon’s 2017 End Of Year Awards
Jamie Giberti’s 2017 End Of Year Awards
Simon Crampton’s 2017 End Of Year Awards
Sam Savigny’s 2017 End Of Year Awards
Sam Dignon’s 2017 End Of Year Awards
Philip Whitehead’s 2017 End Of Year Awards