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Review Of The Year

jonathan churchillsml

BEST METAL MEMORY: Richie Faulkner's solo 'You've Got Another Thing Coming', live at Manchester Apollo

GIG(S): Cinderella, Shepherd's Bush Empire/Sabaton, London Koko

ALBUM: Dragonland 'Under The Grey Banner'


BAND: Judas Priest

SINGLE: Anthrax 'Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't'

Article continues below...

2011. What a year! As Kurt Cobain and his tedious cardigan slowly fade from our memories via a money-grabbing twenty-year retrospective, I can happily look back on a year that proves once and for all: Metal never dies!

You don't believe me? Check this out:

ANTHRAX are resurgent. JUDAS PRIEST are electrifying. CINDERELLA played London. ALICE COOPER covered the Stones and The Beatles at The 100 Club. HAMMERFALL have evolved. MANOWAR toured the UK. STEEL PANTHER exist. DEF LEPPARD and MOTLEY CRUE co-headlined. IRON MAIDEN played The 02 Arena. BLACK SABBATH reformed (again). And METALLICA have disappointed all their fans (again).

2011. What a year... My highlights come long and fast like a Tommy Lee internet release. It started in March with Adler's appetite playing all of 'Appetite for Destruction'. That was a special evening which captured the essence of early Guns N'Roses. It was loud, chaotic and dirty and had a guest appearance from Duff McKagan!

ALICE COOPER played the 100 Club, and I was able to get a ticket more by accidental good timing than planning. Unmasked and leaving Alice at home, we got Mr Vince Furnier covering his early and late 1960s influences, from The Yardbirds to The Who, with special guest-star JOHNNY DEPP.


One of this year's most exciting nights was the visit to London of WHERE ANGELS SUFFER. The band's energy and post-show friendliness was awesome, and the MetalTalk team who were out in force got to meet and greet with the great Chris Holmes and Stet Howland!

I have two favourite gigs of the year - they were both so different and it was impossible to choose! First, without any doubt, was CINDERELLA. A band that is almost a myth in that they rarely visit the UK, don't release new material and the singer's voice teeters on oblivion. But their London show was near-perfection. Everything was just right and Tom Keifer held us spellbound for the entire set.

Second was SABATON at The Koko (below). A frustrating venue for a magnificent band. Raising the roof by playing all their best-known tracks first, they proceeded to allow the crowd to choose the setlist, and created a jubilant end of tour party which was not only musically superb but showcased their sense of fun and cemented their relationship with their fervent fanbase. With a new album due in March, this is a band to watch in 2012.


Special mention of course must go to MANOWAR for their Brixton show. I missed the Birmingham gig, which was a shame, but we got the full force of Joey De Maio's bass on a Saturday night in London, and it was triumphant. Hail!

Best album of the year is difficult to pick. The Nordic bands have come in force with HAMMERFALL leading the pack, closely followed by great debuts from CHEERLEADER and SHOTGUN REVOLUTION. MICHAEL MONROE (with a bit of help from GINGER) put out an award-winning record that came to life via a brilliant UK tour and a slot at High Voltage.

And then there's ANTHRAX. One of the surprise packages of 2011, led by my favourite single of the year, 'Fight 'Em Til You Can't'. The album has something for everyone and assures their status as one of the Big Four. I can't wait to see them live in 2012.

It wasn't all power Metal and thrash, however, and for the AOR crew, NIGHT RANGER pulled a rabbit out of the hat with 'Somewhere In California'. But my most listened-to album this year, and one which I didn't expect to like, is the debut record by THE MAGNIFICENT. It is syrupy smooth, beautifully produced and answers my complaint that 'they don't make 'em like they used to'. Turns out, they do! This is pure 1980s style melodic rock, with vocals to die for. I love it and can't think of anybody who wouldn't enjoy a moment of its unadulterated guilty pleasure. .


The Magnificent is not my best album of 2011 however. That honour is reserved for DRAGONLAND's 'Under The Grey Banner'. If you haven't heard it yet, check it out as it is superb. First impressions may be that it's a low-key release to a battle-Metal niche crowd, but it is so much more than that. Symphonic, theatrical, subtle in parts, it raises the bar for what can be achieved by Metal musicians, and I hope it will find a wider commercial audience in 2012. The glowing reviews certainly back this up. If you don't try it, you'll never know that you like it. Get out there and give it a go with an open mind. It's a great record.

My best Metal memory of the year involves the one and only JUDAS PRIEST. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they shrugged off the terrible news that KK had retired, introduced RICHIE FAULKNER and dusted off some backcatalogue rarities. I had the huge privilege of interviewing IAN HILL and got to see the band at their best in Manchester. Despite age catching up with them, their work rate is phenomenal, their global touring impressive, and ROB HALFORD, who may be slow around the stage, continues to deliver vocally in his unique way. Setlist highlights included 'Blood Red Skies', a mind-blowing 'Painkiller' and an awesome revamped version of 'You've Got Another Thing Coming' with a new solo show-off section for Richie.

2011. What a year!

Oh, and finally, a special 'Approach With Extreme Caution' award to Queensryche 'Dedicated To Chaos' and Lou Reed and Metallica 'Lulu'. Say no more...


Jonathan Churchill.
Follow me on Twitter: MetalTalk_1976



Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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