It was tricky to choose a best band this year because there seemed to be so many different options and no definitive moment. That was until mid-December when I saw Black Sabbath for the first time and was blown away by Tony Iommi and the awesome power of the early classics like' Iron Man'. The fact that the three new tracks they played stood up to scrutiny was important and I really enjoyed hearing 'End Of The Beginning' and 'God Is Dead' played live. In addition, this gig sounded utterly fantastic. It was a great end to the year.
Best Album: Volbeat – 'Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies'
I hadn't taken much interest in Volbeat before this album hit the shelves in 2013 but it has been by far my most played record of the year and I think it will stand the test of time and become an all-time classic. Fusing Metallica-style riffs with 1950s Rock-n-Roll could be a recipe for disaster but Volbeat simply nail this sound, creating a full Metal assault, including a supersonic guest spot from King Diamond, aligned to melodies to die-for and some fist-pumping rock anthems.
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Best Gig: Volbeat – Brixton Academy, November 2013
Hearing tracks from my favourite album of the year played live was sensational. Volbeat's Rock-n-Roll/Metal fusion is addictive and the band, including Rob Caggiano, were faultless and looked like they were having a blast. It was one of those shows where you wish it wouldn't end. Brilliant.
Best Single: Black Sabbath - 'God Is Dead'
I don't tend to listen to singles much or ever watch YouTube, but I was fascinated to hear Sabbath's new track and when it was first played, it didn't disappoint. Crushingly heavy riffs, doom-laden vocals, pounding drums and bass, it was all there. Job done.
Things to look forward to in 2014:
New material from Judas Priest, Hammerfall and Primal Fear, plus the new Monument album should be good. 2014 should be an entertaining year for classic Metal fans \m/
Highlights of 2013:
Overall this year feels as though it passed me by. But I managed to catch some magic moments, including H.E.A.T. at the Borderline in March and Iron Maiden's 'Seventh Son' tour at the O2, both of which could easily have hit my best-of list. Skid Row's Islington show was a total blast, not just because the band were on great form, but because MetalTalk's Dutch Michaels got us backstage to meet the band!!
Judas Priest's on/off/on-again cinema screening of the Epitaph tour was surprisingly epic. Turns out watching a gig in a cinema can be fun, but it helps that the DVD is superb and really captures the on-stage energy and power of the band. Halestorm and Shinedown at Wembley were both fucking awesome. Halestorm covered 'Dissident Aggressor' and are on the list of bands that I really want to see again.
Avenged Sevenfold and Black Star Riders released great albums although A7X's is particularly strange, seemingly just imitations of other bands, but it's great fun and hard not to enjoy.
Reflections on 2013:
Mostly this was a good year but Megadeth helped mess it up for me. First, 'Super Collider' just totally failed in my opinion. I had high hopes for the new material but whatever magic had helped them create the awesome 'United Abominations' and 'Endgame' had disappeared for this rubbish.
But the icing on the shit-cake was the Brixton Gig where something went horribly wrong and nobody in the downstairs section could hear the guitars or vocals properly. For the entire set! That was £35 down the drain and 90 minutes of listening to just drums and bass. Plus the set-list was really predictable.
I also think Alter Bridge are highly over-rated. They are up there on everybody's best-of lists, but at Wembley, Halestorm and Shinedown completely and utterly stole the show and Alter Bridge had little to offer. It was very dull indeed.
Johnny Churchill: MetalTalk.net \m/
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