BEST METAL MEMORY:
Sitting on the rooftop of The Sanctum with Nikki Sixx
Motley Crue/Steel Panther, Wembley Arena, 14th December (below)
Ghost 'Opus Eponymous'
Download. Twisted Sister and Rob Zombie were killer.
Evil Scarecrow 'Robototron'. It wasn't released this year, but it was the first time I saw it
Austrian Death Machine 'Jingle All The Way'
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I'm going to start with my best Metal memory of 2011, as it's probably the easiest and that's a hard thing to say, given there have been so many! Being one of only a couple of people to interview CHEAP TRICK at Download Festival was close, but it got pipped to the post. Even though I'm finally growing up and MOTLEY CRUE aren't the be-all and end-all like they used to be, I still have a sweet spot for them. After all, if I hadn't seen their videos back in 1988 on MTV in San Diego, I might still be living in Birmingham, wishing for a life somewhere else.
So, on that note, I'd say sitting on the rooftop of The Sanctum for forty minutes alone with NIKKI SIXX, interviewing him about the launch of his book and Sixx A.M. album, 'This Is Gonna Hurt', definitely trumps everything else.
When you look back at 2011 and gigs, you can do nothing more than smile at the choice we had to pick from, what a year! Ones that stood out for me are ROB ZOMBIE at Brixton Academy, TWISTED SISTER at Download Festival (below), WHERE ANGELS SUFFER at London's Underworld and JUDAS PRIEST in Las Vegas.
Even those four alone are truly amazing gigs, but I can honestly say that my favourite of the whole year was MOTLEY CRUE at Wembley. You can read my review
to find out why. Here's hoping that the Las Vegas residency isn't the last time we get to see them with Vince.
Album of the year is very difficult, as 2011 proved that rock and Metal are far from dead. So many bands released albums for the first time in years, so many reformed with amazing new line-ups and so many surprised me. As I look back, 'Unto The Locust' by MACHINE HEAD and MEGADETH's 'TH1RT3EN' are the obvious ones that jump out, but after seeing their set on Metal Hammer's Defenders Of The Faith tour, and subsequently revisiting their album, then the Album of the Year is GHOST's 'Opus Eponymous'. Yes, I know this was technically a 2010 release, but I only caught wind of it this year, so it gets my vote for 2011 - how could it not? I can't take it off repeat.
It's not the kind of album I'd normally seek out and I think that's why it's made it to my number one spot. Although the lyrics are steeped in satanism, it simply makes me smile for how well crafted it is. Album closer 'Genesis' is a beautifully hypnotic piece of music, and 'Ritual' pulls strongly from two of my all-time favourite tracks: Megadeth's 'Symphony Of Destruction' and Killing Joke's 'Love Like Blood'. As for the rest of the album, it simply takes direction from the best of the last forty years in music. I don't believe in 'knowledge of the hidden', so will just take this album as one that I will enjoy listening to for years to come.
2012, you have a lot to live up to.