Still going strong, the 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards welcome our second special guest – Metal Hammer scribe and Stereoboard’s resident metal expert, Alec Chillingworth. With his awards coming all the way from Sweden, we wonder if his choices might have a slightly Scandinavian flavour or not. Read on to find out!
Album of the Year: Tribulation – Down Below
I knew this was going to be my album of the year as soon as I heard it. Down Below’s immediacy is undeniable, but it reveals even more on repeat listens. Like a big gothy onion. Building on The Children of the Night’s Watain-meets-The Cure blackest magick, Tribulation have streamlined everything. It still oozes vampyric sexiness, seventies classic rock swagger and blasts of death/black metal; it’s just so much more cohesive, so much catchier, so much bigger. Whether you like In Solitude or Dissection, Watain or HIM, Down Below’s got what you need.
Ghost: Prequelle – Bubonic plague, sex and sax. The makings of every great arena rock band.
A Perfect Circle: Eat the Elephant – Keane, but with Maynard James Keenan. Maynard James KEANEan.
Ihsahn: Ámr – Forward-thinking, black metal genius from a man who makes his bread touring the nostalgia circuit.
Behemoth: I Loved You at Your Darkest – The best any band could do to follow up The Satanist.
Song of the Year: Hank von Hell – Bum to Bum
This is the most fun you can have without Andrew W.K. Hank checked out of music for seven years, so to have him snarl ‘The bitch is back’ shortly followed by ‘Bum to bum, it’s the beat of my drum’ was a moment of unbridled joy. The whole album, Egomania, is great, but Bum to Bum reaches a climax of fist-pumping euphoria the rest of 2018 couldn’t match.
Tribulation: Nightbound – The best song they’ve written by a mile. A Swedish mile. They’re much longer than English ones.
Ghost: Dance Macabre – Ghost out-Night Flight Orchestra The Night Flight Orchestra.
Attan: End of. – Softboi perfection tying off an album of scathing hardcore nastiness.
Judas Priest: No Surrender – Vintage Priest. It’s so good, I’m going to see them support Ozzy in February. That good.
Gig of the Year: Tribulation at Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 08/12/2018
Tribulation in a theatre. That was always going to be special. Upon entering the auditorium, spooky show programmes were found on our seats, and it transpired the band were performing a set of two halves; Act I was Down Below in its entirety, while Act II was songs from The Children of the Night and The Formulas of Death. I usually get a bit annoyed that Tribulation don’t play anything from their pure death metal debut, The Horror, anymore. But that didn’t even cross my mind here. They’re just that captivating. And the seats were really comfy.
Hank von Hell and Skallbank at Slaktkyrkan, Stockholm, 03/11/2018: Lots of fire, plus a cover of Misfits’ Where Eagles Dare and an unexpected encore of I Got Erection.
Trivium, Power Trip and Venom Prison at Fryshuset Klubben, Stockholm, 15/03/2018: Briefly came out of mosh retirement when Trivium started doing Ascendency’s title track.
A Perfect Circle and Black Peaks at Fryshuset Arenan, Stockholm, 05/06/2018: Thoroughly enjoyed watching a gig through my own eyes rather than someone else’s screen.
Fall Out Boy at Debaser Strand, Stockholm, 10/01/2018: Saw Fall Out Boy in a club. They chose to do an acoustic rendition of Young and Menace, rather than stay faithful to the original. Wise.
Festival Performance of the Year: Tribulation at Gefle Metal Festival, Gävle
I only went to one festival this year, so my choices are somewhat limited. But yeah. It’d been something stupid like 30+ Celsius all day. Tribulation played in an old gasometer. It was well hot.
At The Gates at Gefle Metal Festival, Gävle: It was just nice seeing At The Gates pull the crowd they actually deserve.
Behemoth at Gefle Metal Festival, Gävle: A full-production headline set from Poland’s bible-bashing best. Love Nergy Nergs’ energy.
Pestilence at Gefle Metal Festival, Gävle: Only saw the last fifteen minutes because they clashed with Behemoth, but Pestilence are so tight live.
Watain at Gefle Metal Festival, Gävle: Blood, fire, smell.
Favourite New Band/Musical Discovery of 2018: Avslut
Taking cues from the melodic side of Swedish black metal by way of Marduk and Dissection, Avslut launched themselves into something grander, mixing that influence with the ambition and far-flung lunacy of Norway’s Emperor. Avsult’s debut album, Deceptis, is a grotesque display of technical proficiency, hook-writing and unrivalled heaviness. Svper kvlt. Svper brvtal. Even though their Bandcamp banner image makes them look really short and fat.
Bitch Hawk – Basically a hardcore band from Stockholm chewing up early Bathory records. Proper fun.
Møl – Like everyone else on the planet, I stumbled upon Denmark’s answer to Deafheaven.
Cosmic Church – Discovered this depressive Finnish gem via their latest album, Täyttymys. Then realised it’s a one-man project that’s since disbanded.
Most Disappointing Album of the Year: Shining – Animal
This album broke me. I liked it at first. I told Matt Mills – who also contributed a list to Rock Sins, which you can read here – and I don’t think he trusts me anymore. On multiple listens, though, Animal’s synthwave-tinged rock grew old fast. Because over almost two decades, the Norwegian band has flip-flopped from acoustic jazz to avant-garde Sleepytime Gorilla Museum apists to blackened jazz innovators to saxy industrial rockers; they’ve never followed trends, yet this album tries just that and falls short. Animal’s packed with skeletons of great songs covered in bubble-gum, saturated and stretched to death by clinical delivery and autotune shittery.
Dimmu Borgir: Eonian – 54 minutes of ‘This orchestra means we don’t have to write actual songs, right?’
Wilson: Tasty Nasty – Once a working class, dirty amalgam of Every Time I Die and Cancer Bats-ish fury, Wilson’s latest is ‘It’s just banter, mate’ in musical form. Insipid on every level.
Venom: Storm the Gates – Over the last eighteen months, I’ve fallen in love with black metal again. Even after seeing Venom’s pub rock performance at Gefle Metal Festival, I still held out hope for this. No idea why.
Skindred: Big Tings – If you took Benji out of this, it could be any old band. Not sure you can say that about any other Skindred album.
Comeback of the Year: Immortal
This should have been rubbish. Immortal without their talismanic, living meme of a frontman, Abbath? The Norwegian black metal titans have been awfully quiet since Abbath left in 2015. After all, he’d written all the music for the past fifteen-or-so years – co-founder Demonaz had to relinquish songwriting in the late nineties, suffering from acute tendonitis and unable to play guitar. But it transpires Demonaz had surgery. He’d been on the mend. In 2018, he returned to the six-string, taking up vocals for the first time and delivering an album that pays homage to Immortal’s brutal past, while embracing the grander side of things Abbath brought to the table. Northern Chaos Gods has no right being this good, and the prospect of live shows has the potential to crown Immortal as comeback of the decade, let alone the year.
Architects – Holy Hell is a superb album and a loving tribute to Tom.
Hank von Hell – In the same year his former band, Turbonegro, released their sole dud, Hank bounced back.
Judas Priest – They’re literally pension age and going harder than all of us.
A Perfect Circle – It took them fifteen years, but A Perfect Circle came back with an album I actually liked for the first time.
Band of the Year: Ghost
Ghost finally justified the hype. They’ve always been special, but people have understandably been cynical. It’s too poppy, it’s too hokey, it’s not metal enough, whatever. Having been unmasked in a legal case with former bandmates, Ghost’s leader, Tobias Forge, could’ve buckled under pressure. Instead, he wrote Prequelle. Sure, it’s not as heavy on the Satan spiel, but he’s still Trojan Horsed a prog/arena rock concept album about the Great Plague into worldwide charts. Prequelle allows Ghost to traipse across European arenas next year, before supporting Metallica on a stadium run in the summer. All that talk of a masked, occultist rock band from Sweden being the saviours of rock don’t seem so silly now.
Architects – Ally Pally, Holy Hell. One of the UK’s stand-out bands in the 21st century.
Tribulation – Released 2018’s best album, were nominated for Swedish Grammis, wiped the floor with everyone live.
Conjurer – Made the biggest of steps from their EP to that debut album. Also receive extra points for their Twitter account.
Trivium – Took Code Orange, Power Trip and Venom Prison out on tour, didn’t look silly.
Silliest Thing of the Year: Everything Muse did.
People being surprised that members of Marduk, a band with an album literally called Panzer Division Marduk, are allegedly tied to a neo-Nazi political party.
As I Lay Dying posting a cinematic, ‘will they/won’t they?’ trailer, which teased the comeback of their frontman, previously imprisoned for trying to hire a hit on his wife. This video has since been deleted. Wonder why.
Billy Corgan not being Taylor Swift’s Dad.
Weezer being asked to cover Africa by Toto, covering Rosanna by Toto instead, then actually covering Africa by Toto, then making a video for their cover of Africa by Toto starring Weird Al Yankovic.
A big thank you to Alec for his End Of Year Awards debut! While you’re here, please take the time to check out the awards from some of the other members of the team and our special guests for the year:
Sam Savigny’s 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards
Sam Dignon’s 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards
Matt Mills’ 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards
Jamie Giberti’s 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards
Simon Crampton’s 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards
Gail El-Halaby’s 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards
Connor Morris’s 2018 Rock Sins End Of Year Awards