Following on from another Sam, Sam Savigny, kickstarting the Rock Sins End Of Year Awards for 2018, it’s now the turn of another Sam, Sam Dignon, to pick their favourites (and disappointments) for the year. We begin with Sam’s album of the year….
Album of the Year: Camp Cope – How To Socialise & Make Friends
Few albums have made as much of an impact on me as How To Socialise & Make Friends. Every song is filled with so much emotion and it all comes from a very real place. Georgia Maq’s storytelling throughout is outstanding but all three members personalities can constantly be felt. And given the current situation within the music industry, songs like The Opener and The Face Of God are so vital. Bands like Camp Cope are going be become extremely important over the next few years. Georgia Maq, Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and Sarah Thompson have kicked the door down with this album and are going to make this industry change.
The Xcerts – Hold Onto Your Heart
Architects – Holy Hell
Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
Song of the Year: Nervus – It Follows
Turning personal trauma and hardship into such a powerful and uplifting song is no easy task. But Nervus delivered the best rock song of the year with It Follows. Everything Dies was a deeply personal album for Em Foster filled with incredibly emotional songs. There are so many brilliant moments on it but every time that chorus on It Follows hits, it’s so clear what the highlight of the album is.
The Xcerts – Drive Me Wild
Ghost – Rats
Code Orange – 3 Knives
Most Disappointing Album of the Year: The Amity Affliction – Misery
The Amity Affliction have been the whipping boys for critics of that Warped Tour school of metalcore / post-hardcore for quite some time. For a long time this was undeserved as whilst they weren’t the most amazing band ever, there were far worse bands in that scene and they often showed moments of brilliance. Sadly not only is Misery a disappointment from a band who once showed promise, it is easily one of the worst albums of the year. The emotional whiplash this album causes, as it tries to tackle difficult themes such as death and depression whilst sounding like the worst bits of metalcore, dance and pop music. It genuinely sounds like Brokencyde if they were deep and emotional at points. When it’s supposed to be emotional it ends up being hilarious and nothing sums this up more than the hilariously bad dance beat drop in Feels Like I’m Dying. At this point any potential The Amity Affliction once had is now long gone.
Bullet For My Valentine – Gravity
A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse
Music Video of the Year: Behemoth – God = Dog
There really hasn’t been many music videos of note this year. Fortunately every video Behemoth have released have been brilliant shot and perfectly capture the scope and darkness of their new album. God = Dog is arguably the strongest of these, filled with provocative imagery. It really does enhance the song and shows that Behemoth’s creative vision extends far beyond the music.
Gig of the year: You Me At Six @ Brixton Academy 02.12.2018
Under normal circumstances it is highly likely that You Me At Six would never win a gig of the year award. But this show, the second of their three nights at Brixton Academy was special. Performing their debut album Take Off Your Colours in full was my favourite gig experience this year. Whilst the album hasn’t aged particularly well, it still perfectly captures everything I felt being 16 at the time of its release. This gig was just a chance to relive being a stupid angsty teenager for an hour or so. Some of these songs I’d been waiting 10 years to see and they didn’t disappoint. This might not have been the very best gig of 2018 but it was the most fun I had at a gig this year.
Alexisonfire @ Brixton Academy
The Gaslight Anthem @ Hammersmith Apollo
Architects @ Alexandra Palace
Parkway Drive @ The Underworld
Festival Performance of the Year: Fever 333 @ Download Festival
This was the single most exciting performance I saw this year. Fever 333 were a lightning bolt striking the Avalanche stage at Download. When you’re the follow up project to possibly the best band of the last decade the weight of expectations in uneal but Fever 333 did not disappoint in the slightest. Jason Aalon Butler is still one of the greatest frontmen out there as he bounces around the stage and climbs up everything he can. Musically they blend many different styles from hip hop to hardcore and with only one EP out at the time the possibility of what Fever 333 can manage is even more exciting. For a festival that often receives a lot of criticism for booking too many nostalgia bands, Fever 333 were a vital addition to that line up.
Parkway Drive @ Download Festival
Comeback Kid @ Slam Dunk Festival
Record Label of the Year: Holy Roar Records
Holy Roar Records have been such a vital part of the UK underground music scene for years, but 2019 might just be their best year yet. No other label has released such interesting and exciting heavy and Holy Roar have smashed it out the park with every release. Rolo Tomassi and Conjurer are undeniably the standouts but the likes of Svalbard, Mol and Pijn to name a few others have all received so much praise. There is just no denying that the UK underground scene would be a lesser place without the presence of Holy Roar Records.
Band of the Year: Architects
If there was any category that was an easy decision to make it was this. Few bands have defined 2018 for me quite like Architects. Beginning the year with their huge Alexandra Palace headline show which felt like such a defining moment for that band. After that it felt like we might not hear from Architects for a while as it just felt like a culmination of everything from the All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us cycle. All the pain the band went through but ending on a moment of triumph and a beautiful celebration of the life of Tom Searle.
But then in September, Architects began teasing something. Within the space of three days this turned into a new song, a new album out two months later and a huge UK tour including a date at Wembley Arena. The album, Holy Hell features Tom’s last contributions to Architects as a songwriter, making it an incredibly emotional album to experience. Of course it’s absolutely brilliant too, pulling together everything that makes Architects the best modern metal band in the UK whilst adding in a few new ideas. Vocally Sam Carter has never sounded better. He is an absolute force of nature on this album.
Special mention must go to Dan Searle not only for his amazing performance on this album, but for just being able to carry on with this despite the crushing blow of losing his brother. Finally Josh Middleton also deserves a huge shout out for being able to step into the huge void left by Tom and be able to rise up to the occasion. Architects have been a shining beacon in the UK metal scene for years now, and to come back this strong after such a tragedy just shows what a special band they are. 2019 is sure to be another amazing year for them as they carry on with this album cycle. Holy Hell is an album for Tom and there is no doubt they have done his memory justice.