Next up in the Rock Sins End Of Year Awards is our new reviews editor Tasha Brown! Having joined the team earlier this year, Tasha has quickly risen up the ranks here at Rock Sins HQ, so we are very eager to check out her choices. Over to you Tasha!
Album Of The Year: This Place Will Become Your Tomb – Sleep Token
2021 saw Sleep Token elevate themselves to become prog metal’s enigmatic darlings. Single Alkaline slipped under the radar and seeped into the hive mind of not just fans of rock or metal, but the population en masse. Tackling themes as universal as unrequited love, all encompassing desire, and the extent we would hurt ourselves for the pleasure of our lover, This Place Will Become Your Tomb was emotionally devastating. Set against a perfect blend of metal crunch, electronic accents, and piano melodies hammering against heart strings, Vessel’s distinct voice captivated a nation. They constructed vocal hooks from things people tell themselves at the height of emotional distress. Can you get more gut punching than screaming “I’m still full of the love you want“? Not only has this become Album Of The Year for many but it may also become the album of people’s lifetimes.
Single Of The Year: Yellow Belly – H.O.U.N.D.S
This might be the only time my obvious personal opinion will come through. There are more well-known candidates of course. However, this is the song I keep coming back to.
Hoping to build upon momentum from their part in the UK Metal Merger livestream as well as quickly selling out a small run of shows, H.O.U.N.D.S released their third single this July. While brandishing themselves as a hardcore band, this offering from the Isle Of Wight five-piece bent a couple of genre definitions. Menacing riffs bordering on sludge metal launched a near three-minute visceral assault on the darker side of humanity. Uncharacteristically lower growls merging with higher screams from vocalist Ash Hoy proves this animal doesn’t belong in a single cage. Picking up almost ten thousand streams in a single week, it was no surprise this became the lead single for their recently released album VILE.
Circle With Me – Spiritbox
Shatter – Bullet For My Valentine
Plain Sight (featuring Adam Ramey, Hessian Renegade & Jot Maxi) – Crostpaths
The Devil Inside Me – Haunted By Wolves
Spectre Of Extinction – At The Gates
Gig Of The Year – Black Stone Cherry @ Rock City, Nottingham
There were a few strong candidates for this, but Black Stone Cherry just pipped the competition to the post. Not only was this the first live show for many since the beginning of the pandemic but it was also the band’s return to our shores since 2019. A good night is always on the cards with Black Stone Cherry at the helm. With southern rock riffs infused with blues soulful enough to rouse the dead inside patrons of the audience, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The first string of shows since the passing of Chris’ father Steve, Things My Father Said gained a whole new meaning. Thousands poured love into an unfairly empty stool at the side of the stage. There was an abundance of love, positivity, and strength to be shared within the four walls of Rock City… and we ate it up.
Livestream Of The Year: Vaccinated And Intoxicated – Killswitch Engage
Livestreams provided bands across the globe with ample opportunity to step up their live shows. Think outside the confines of what equipment can they afford to bring out on tour with them. Some bands provided visual spectacles for the ages. Others simply stuck to their tried and tested formula – looking at you Steel Panther. Killswitch Engage did a little of both. Unable to tour their Atonement record for obvious reasons, the metalcore stalwarts took the opportunity to celebrate their newest accomplishment as well as the 20th anniversary of their self-titled record. What a celebration it was. Opting for no thrills or spills, the band simply ran through the track lists of both records. Apart from the intermission where the ghost of Worcester’s Palladium transported the band back to the time of wrestling shirts and wearing beads. Vaccinated And Intoxicated showed Killswitch Engage at their most unleashed. Jesse Leach commanding the stage with this calm yet imposing demeanour. This livestream did something many others hadn’t; got us itching to get back into a live setting.
Most Disappointing Album Of The Year: Still Sucks – Limp Bizkit
Imagine waiting ten years for something only for it to be mediocre. That was Still Sucks. Critically it isn’t a bad album. It isn’t good either. It simply exists. Though were Limp Bizkit ever going to recreate the Chocolate Starfish and Hot Dog Flavored Water days? Yet fans held out some glimmer of hope that the starfish navigation system would guide Fred Durst and the gang away from mediocrity. As mentioned, this album isn’t bad. Out Of Style proves Limp Bizkit can still create a song to test our bounce game. Dirty Rotten Bizkit has the makings of a filthy riff under bars of boast rap the dethroned kings of nu-metal were once known for. Yet many of us took our bounce game right out the door when Limp Bizkit’s quality dropped after Don’t Change.
Band Of The Year: Florence Black
Everywhere you look there are Florence Black. The Welsh hard rock threesome exploded onto the scene and haven’t looked back since. 2021 saw this band proving themselves a force to be reckoned with. Their debut album Weight Of The World dropped to a wonderous reception. They’ve picked up supporting slots left, right and centre. Those smaller set times have been nothing short of phenomenal. Packing their dense rhythms, gruff vocals, and riffs potent enough to earn Tristan Thomas Guitarist Of The Year into 25-30 minute sets is a task these three have mastered. Their shows are effortless. The album is nothing short of a masterpiece. Florence Black go to show the British rock scene is still alive and well.
Hero Of The Year:
NHS workers. People who have raised funds so those who work in the live music industry can afford to live. People who stepped outside of themselves in this difficult time to help others. Those who felt like they weren’t going to make it through this year but are still here.
Check out awards entries from some other members of the team: