It’s my first ever Rock Sins End of Year awards having joined the team in January 2019 and what a year it has been for the scene. New faces, older bands returning and the usual cluster absolutely slaying it with their releases and live shows. Oh, what a time to be alive in our little rock and metal bubble and 2020 looks set to be equally as good (if not even better) with the raft of tours already announced. So, without further ado, here are the bands and releases that have rocked my world this year.
Album of the Year – Blink-182 – NINE
This was a tough category to select bands for because hands down I genuinely don’t think I’ve heard an album I dislike all year. It’s just been a really, really good year for album releases from so many bands and everyone seems to have brought their A-game. Great for all of us listeners but not so great when selecting who has made the best album of the year.
After hastily blasting through some of my favourite releases of 2019 I ended up settling on the latest from Blink-182 which I’ve managed to scrobble on Last FM start to finish over 1,600 times despite it only being released in September. The next nearest rival notched up a measly a third of plays that Blink-182’s NINE got from January (!) so I had to pick it. Huge, huge apologies to the Mozart of our Age, Tobias Sammet whose album is equally as stunning in different ways and came a valiant second place.
But it wasn’t just the ridiculous amount of scrobbles I picked NINE for. Say what you will about the Matt Skiba incarnation of Blink-182 but this album absolutely slays. It has so many big banger tracks that I don’t know how they’ve managed to pick which songs make the cut for music videos and singles. They’re all outstanding. I really like that this time around that Matt Skiba has more of a role on the album and takes the lead on a fair number of songs. The album has some of the catchiest Blink songs they’ve possibly ever done but also delivers heavy-hitting lyrics – a la On Some Emo Shit and Remember To Forget Me. It’s an album that delivers a great mix of light and shade rolled into one. It sounds like a grown-up Blink, retaining the qualities that make them one of Pop-Punks IT bands whilst also moving them forward into the next decade. Surely this album cements Skiba’s place in the band as not just a “fill in guy” but a key component of Blink-182’s sound for the long haul.
Avantasia – Moonglow
Children of Bodom – Hexed
Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N
Shadow of Intent – Melancholy
Starset – Divisions
Jinjer – Macro
Sabaton – The Great War
Periphery IV: Hail Stan
Turilli/Lione Rhapsody – Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution)
Single of the Year – Five Finger Death Punch – Inside Out
An end-of-year surprise single release that just made the cut. Five Finger Death Punch unexpectedly launched Inside Out to the world in early December. There are various versions of the single floating around the internet. The initial single was killer but since then the band has followed this up with two other slightly different versions of the song. They’ve switched up the introduction on the lyric video to feature some seriously stunning strings that any symphonic metal band would kill for and then on the music video have changed things again to add clean vocals on the verses. All three versions are great in their own ways and if this is a sign of what is to come with upcoming album F8 then it sounds like we’re in for something special.
Ghost – Kiss The Go-Goat
Blink-182 – Blame In On My Youth
Dance Gavin Dance – Blood Wolf
Sabaton – The Red Baron
Westview – What It Ain’t
Gig of the Year – Blink-182 (Acoustic), Przym, 18th October
There were some absolutely incredible gigs throughout 2019 from Kamelot to the stadium shows of Metallica to ending the year with Alter Bridge and Shinedown. However, I’m not sure if anything can top (at least for me) seeing Blink-182 perform an intimate acoustic show at a teeny-tiny nightclub in Kingston. I’m all out of superlatives to describe how good this gig was that I didn’t already say in my review of the two shows they performed. It’s unlikely such an opportunity will arise to see them perform in a setting like this again which is why I’m sticking it as my Gig of the Year for 2019.
Ghost at the SSE Arena, London
Avantasia at The Forum, London
Machine Head at Brixton Academy, London
Rammstein at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes
Demonic Resurrection at The Underground, Stoke-On-Trent
Festival Performance of the Year – Trivium – Download Festival
Download Festival is practically a second home to Trivium and over the years they have crushed it no matter what stage or where in the day they’ve played. 2019 was no different but seeing them back on the mainstage was something very special indeed. What was great about this set in particular was that there was less reliance on material from Ascendancy and that newer songs from The Sin & The Sentence were warmly received. Trivium has had their share of critics over the years and surely this performance silenced each and every single one of them. The eight giant circle pits to Pull Harder On The Strings of Your Martyr was amazing to witness too. Trivium actually dubbed this performance the show of their careers – and other than the intimate show they did at The Asylum where there was a stage invasion and only 250 fans in attendance – I couldn’t agree more. What a set.
Sabaton – Bloodstock Open Air
Bad Wolves – Download Festival
Slayer – Download Festival
Scorpions – Bloodstock Open Air
Best Music Video of the Year – Ghost – Kiss The Go-Goat
I like bands who opt for something different to the standard band playing instruments format that many videos adopt and where better to look for this than Ghost of course.
I’ll be the first to admit that when I first heard Kiss The Go-Goat (and Mary On A Cross), I wasn’t that in love with either song. I actually thought my love affair with Ghost may have ended because I just wasn’t feeling it as much as their other songs. But after seeing the songs live my tune soon changed and I had my eureka moment. Now I’m slightly addicted to both songs. Phew. But there was no denying the quality of the music video for the track from the get-go.
There have been teaser videos and plots around Papa and Sister since the Cardinal first arrived on the scene with the Prequelle album cycle back in early 2018 and the Kiss The Go-Goat music video serves to further the storyline between these characters. Opening with a dialogue between Papa Nihil and Sister questioning whether Cardi C is the right man to be the successor of Papa, the video cuts back to black and white, showing Papa in his hey-day performing with a young sister as one of the crowd members. The video has fuelled the rumour mill that the Cardinal is a bastard child of Papa and Sister. Sister is portrayed in the video giving someone a death stare for smoking next to her before snatching set cigarette and putting it out on the offenders’ face. Naturally, the video ends in true Ghost style with an almighty cliff-hanger. Papa snogs a member of the audience and Sister storms out in fury with high heels clacking and so there ends the video. As yet Ghost is yet to follow up with the next instalment of the story so who knows where the storyline will go next. Perhaps our answer will also be in the form of an equally as killer music video. Here’s hoping anyway.
Sabaton – Bismarck
Starset – Manifest
Killswitch Engage – I Am Broken Too
Delain – Burning Bridges
Most Disappointing Album of the Year – Volbeat – Rewind, Replay, Rebound
I like Volbeat (a lot) and don’t get me wrong this album does have some pretty gnarly tunes on it however, it just doesn’t quite stand out as much as some of their other albums. Singles like Last Day Under The Sun pale in comparison to the likes of Lola Montez and We. It’s not bad by any means – and most disappointing album seems overly harsh – but it’s just a bit middle of the road compared to their other stuff. Sorry guys.
Band of the Year – Ghost
Is there any stopping Ghost? Having witnessed them way back doing 20-minute sets with Trivium on the Defenders of the Faith Tour and how they’ve honed their craft since then I can’t think of another band who has made quite the same impact as they have. Not just this year but through the entire decade. They’ve got the songs but have really nailed the performance element. In a sea of bands dressed like roadies in t-shirts and jeans, this is cut far above the rest. It’s the full package and no one else has quite managed to capture the art of performance quite like Tobias Forge and his band of Ghouls and Ghoulettes. The evolution of the band this year with the mini-video series and back-story of Papa Nihil, Sister and the Cardinal has taken the concept further. I can’t think of another band who has made waves quite the same waves as Ghost this year so hence why they’re my Band of the Year.
Most Balletic Rockstar – Cardinal Copia – Ghost
This may be a very random category to anyone reading this far (and congrats if you did make it this far!) but as well as writing gigs I also compete at World Championship level in Irish Dance. I once slipped in a wall of death and did a high-kick up to my face and went flying spectacularly backwards. Anyway, enough random facts. I have to confess I do love Rockstar’s who throw in the occasional spin or dance-inspired jump into their stagecraft and also cringe a bit when they don’t point their feet properly (flexed feet are big a no-no people – get your arches out!).
So why I have I picked Cardi C as the Most Balletic Rockstar? Because he’s the full package. That’s why.
Turn-out – check.
Fancy outfits – check.
Flair – check.
Light on feet – check.
Spins to die for – check.
Expressive hands – check
Performing to the back of the room – check.
Big finish – check.
Elegant Bow – check.
Star quality – check.
Jonathan Hultén – Tribulation – Ballet inspired spins and arm-o-graphy all whilst slaying on guitar like a demon.
Brian Burkheiser – I Prevail – for spinning on a broken leg at Download Festival. Hardcore.
Michael Starr – Steel Panther – leaps to rival the legendary David Lee Roth.
Mark Hoppus – Blink-182 – if high jumping with a bass was in the Olympics, he’d win the gold medal with ease.
While you’re at it, you can also check out End Of Year Awards from some of our other team members: