Rock Sins End Of Year Awards 2017 – Shaun

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As we head into the second month of 2018, Rock Sins End Of Year Awards continues to gain new entries. This time around it’s one of our newest writers, Shaun Brown. Take it away Shaun!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2017: CODE ORANGE – FOREVER

What else is left to say about Code Orange that hasn’t already been said a dozen times over? The band that was on everyone’s lips in 2017 have had a stellar year, with the icing on the ridiculously large cake coming in the shape of new record ‘Forever’ which is, quite frankly, a masterpiece. Cherry-picking all the best elements of metal and hardcore and throwing them together into one explosive concoction sounds difficult enough, but when you add in a tonne of originality as well as skyscraper-high standards, it seems as if Code Orange have pulled off the impossible.

This record is a wildly disjointed yet always cohesive thrill ride, battering you with brutal beatdowns one moment only to present you with a massive, hook-laden chorus the next. It’s no wonder that the Grammy’s and Rolling Stone have picked up on just how good this band are, as tracks like the anthemic ‘Bleeding In the Blur’ and the destructive ‘Real’ are simply undeniable. This may not just be the best record of 2017, but possibly the best record of the decade so far, and for a band whose best years should still be ahead of them, we’re going to be in for one hell of a ride…

Honourable Mentions:
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
Myrkur – Mareridt
The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers
Converge – The Dusk in Us

SONG OF THE YEAR: ARCHITECTS – DOOMSDAY

Following the death of guitarist, songwriter and founding member Tom Searle in August 2016, the future for Architects was understandably difficult to predict. Upon Tom’s passing, his brother (and drummer for the band) Dan noted that Architects would only release new music if it was ‘something that Tom would have been proud of’. On the evidence of ‘Doomsday’, it’s safe to say that Tom’s legacy will live on through the jaw dropping work of his bandmates.

Kicking off with a crushing riff and some beautifully melodic vocals, you can feel from the opening notes that this track is gearing up for something huge. That moment arrives as soon as vocalist Sam Carter roars into a screamed chorus that could go toe to toe with the very best metalcore songs ever written, slamming through your speakers with an intensity and unrestrained potency that was as powerful as anything released in 2017.

Some haunting, stripped back passages follow before another battering rendition of the chorus, delivered with even more power and bite than before, brings the track to an almighty crescendo. If Architects can make a whole album of this sort of stuff moving forward, their upcoming performance at Alexandra Palace will be more of a stepping stone than a crowning achievement…

Honourable Mentions:
Milk Teeth – Owning Your Okayness
Code Orange – Forever
Creeper – Down Below
Stray from the Path – Goodnight Alt-right
Grave Pleasures – Infatuation Overkill

GIG OF THE YEAR: CREEPER – TRAMSHED, CARDIFF

Despite going onto grander things with December’s ‘Theatre of Fear’ tour, Creeper were at their very best earlier on in the year as they toured the country fresh off the back of releasing stunning debut record ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’. Supported by two of the best up and coming bands that the UK has to offer in Milk Teeth and Puppy, Creeper were on fire as their horror punk ensemble rolled into Cardiff’s Tramshed and made short work of tearing the house down.

The fact that Creeper were even the best band of the evening was an achievement in itself, as Puppy and especially Milk Teeth both sounded absolutely huge while bringing an exuberant and infectious energy to the Welsh Capital. Ultimately it was simply the strength of songs that won out for the night’s headliners. ‘Black Rain’ was as anthemic as they come, ‘Down Below’ as grandiose, but it was slower tracks ‘Misery’ and the life affirming ‘I Choose to Live’ that truly stole the show. The Creeper cult has being growing at an incredible rate over the last few years, and on this evidence it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon…

Honourable Mentions:
Lenmania – Tufnell Park Dome, London
The Interrupters – Tufnell Park Dome, London
Bury Tomorrow – Anvil, Bournemouth
Black Peaks – West End Centre, Aldershot

FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN – DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL

If you have to say goodbye and close the curtain on a stunning legacy of ground breaking music, what better way to go out than to pack the following year full of shows to give everyone the chance to say a sweaty, heartfelt farewell. That’s exactly what The Dillinger Escape Plan did in 2017, and their triumphant set at Download Festival, their last ever UK show for that matter, was a riotous celebration of one of the most creative and pioneering bands to ever grace the stage.

Songs like the ‘Prancer’, ‘Sugar Coated Sour’ and ‘Limerent Death’ went down an absolute storm, with bodies flying around the tent with a reckless abandon that was totally in keeping with the madness on stage. Breaking out ‘Black Bubblegum’ and ‘Milk Lizard’ back to back less than halfway through the set gives you an idea as to the supreme confidence of Dillinger on this farewell run, and ending with a ridiculous encore of ‘Sunshine the Werewolf’ and ‘43% Burnt’ was the perfect way to cap off the festival and secure Dillinger’s place as one of the greatest bands to ever perform at Donington Park. Come to think of it, they’re quite simply one of the best bands to ever perform in the UK. God bless The Dillinger Escape Plan.

Honourable Mentions:
Code Orange – Download Festival
Venom Prison – Download Festival
Creeper – Download Festival
Biffy Clyro – Download Festival

 

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR: CANNIBAL CORPSE – CODE OF THE SLASHERS

How much you like or dislike Cannibal Corpse will have a rather big impact on whether you love or hate this video, yet funnily enough it has nothing to do with the music. Essentially a gory 80’s horror movie condensed into a 4 minute highlight reel, the video for ‘Code of the Slashers’ is so in keeping with the band’s aesthetic that it’s practically the living embodiment of what Corpse are.

It’s schlocky, it’s gruesome and it’s frightening in the most camp of ways, with two members of the ‘Cannibal Corp’ hunting down a handful of incredibly unlucky guys and girls. Murder and mutilation swiftly occur, and while the video is undoubtedly horrible, its nod to the blood and guts horror films of the past is a brilliant touch that just edges it above its video competition for the year. It goes without saying, but please don’t let your kids watch this. Come to think of it, it’s probably best not showing this to anyone with a vague hint of a weak stomach…

Honourable Mentions:
Chelsea Wolfe – 16 Psyche
Enter Shikari – The Sights
Jamie Lenman – Hell In a Fast Car
Thy Art Is Murder – Puppet Master
Biffy Clyro – Flammable

MOST DISAPPOINTING ALBUM OF THE YEAR: WEEZER – PACIFIC DAYDREAM

After the resounding return to form that was 2016’s ‘White Album’, Weezer once again veered in decidedly dodgier terrain with ‘Pacific Daydream’. More in keeping with the band’s questionable output towards the start of the decade, this record is not necessarily a monstrosity – it simply pales in comparison to the stellar album that proceeded it. ‘Mexican Fender’ has its fair share of catchy hooks, and ‘Get Right’ has some moments of solid indie rock, but for the most part this collection is filled with tracks that are either ill-advised attempts at pop songs or, perhaps even more disappointingly, dull as dishwater.

‘Feels Like Summer’ and ‘Happy Hour’ are both straight out of the Fall Out Boy playbook of terrible pop numbers, while ‘Sweet Mary’ is as forgettable a song as Weezer have ever written. It’s such a shame to rip into a band who have had such incredible high points over the course of their career, but when they proved last time out that they still had it in them to make a home run of an album, that really raises the bar and the expectations for the follow up. Sadly, ‘Pacific Daydream’ just isn’t up to the challenge.

Dishonourable Mentions:
At the Drive In – in·ter a·li·a
Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold
Arch Enemy – Will to Power

FAVOURITE NEW BAND OF THE YEAR: CURSED EARTH

Barely a month or even a week seemed to go by in 2017 without another new band stepping up to the plate and delivering slabs of top quality rock music. The best of the bunch? Australian mob Cursed Earth. There’s nothing particularly original about this Perth quintet, but when you’ve got songs as viciously decimating as ‘War March’, ‘Broken’ and ‘Rage (The Cost)’, you don’t really need to be pushing boundaries.

Cursed Earth are heaviness personified, plain and simple. They arrive, knock the teeth clean out of your mouth, then leave. Even with the tidal wave of fantastic metallic hardcore bands starting to make real names for themselves, this band are right up there with the very best of them. The heavy music scene in Australian has some real talent in its ranks as we move into 2018, and Cursed Earth are fast becoming one of its most scintillating heavy hitters…

Honourable Mentions:
Vein
Pijn
Sunlight’s Bane
Can’t Swim

BAND OF THE YEAR: EMPLOYED TO SERVE

Any number of bands could have clinched victory for this one, but the band of the year award has to go to a group of musicians who have enjoyed a meteoric rise without compromising their sound in the slightest – Employed to Serve. A dynamic, confrontational and ultimately sensational band, ETS have gone from being one of the underground’s top prospects at the end of 2016, to having a cover feature and album of the year award from Kerrang! magazine just 12 months later.

The album in question, ‘A Warmth of a Dying Sun’, has rightly received universal praise from fans and critics alike, and its success has helped to propel its creators to a whole new level of popularity and recognition up and down the country. When you add on an incendiary set of live shows on tour supporting Milk Teeth, as well as a festival-stealing performance at Lenmania, the past year has been a truly massive one for Employed to Serve. Their continued success is one of the most refreshing highlights of a rock scene packed full of inventive, boundary-pushing young bands, and if they’re now the default leaders of the new wave of heavy bands, then that new wave are in very safe hands indeed.

Honourable Mentions:
Code Orange
Heck
Creeper
The Dillinger Escape Plan

MOST HEARTBREAKING BREAK UP OF THE YEAR: LETLIVE.

This has proven to be the hardest category of all, due in no small part to the sheer number of great acts that called it a day in 2017. Veterans like The Dillinger Escape Plan and HIM bowed out after years of great records and phenomenal live shows, and artists who were already well on their way to being exceptional bands, namely Heck and Zoax, were forced to call time way too early in their careers.

But at least with these there are obvious reasons for the split. Older bands wanting a new challenge, younger bands not getting the breaks they needed… it all makes sense. In the case of letlive however, their split came as a complete and utter surprise. In the prime of their career with a legion of fans and a back catalogue adored by critics, letlive seemingly had everything, and they were perfectly poised to take the next step on the road to success. For whatever reason however it clearly wasn’t meant to be, and the world of rock was left to mourn the loss of one of the most creative, talented and explosive bands of the past decade.

Jason Butler has already move onto a new project in the form of The Fever, but while their first few tracks sound like perfectly decent hardcore songs, they don’t hold a candle to the  brilliance of letlive. We’ll never know just how far they could have gone…

Honourable Mentions:
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Heck
Zoax
HIM

You can also check out End of Year Awards from other members of the Rock Sins team, including:

Jack Fermor-Worrell’s 2017 End Of Year Awards
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