My new band of 2012 are Glasgow based Metal band Beckon. The band consist of vocalist Paul Kelly, guitarists Mark Chorley and Marc Coyle, Lee Hutchinson on bass guitar and Michael Brogan on drums) are making a name for themselves not only within the Glasgow area but also in the North of England. With the prospect of their first two-track demo being recorded soon, and the promise of a full album after that, 2013 could be the year that breaks Beckon out into the mainstream.
The overall band of the year for me in 2012, are without a doubt, Estrella. The Aberdeen based quartet just ooze professionalism in their live shows with vocalist Paul Gunn playing the front-man with consummate ease whilst guitarist Luke Gunn puts his Jackson guitar through its paces with exquisite solo after exquisite solo. Of course, the band wouldn't be complete without the engine room in the shape of final Gunn brother Nathan on bass guitar and Leo McPherson pounding away on the drums at the back. An excellent band which have taken their live show all over the UK and even into Europe during 2012 and no doubt they will have an equally relentless touring schedule in 2013!
Estrella released their award winning debut album, '“Come Out To Play', in May 2012, and what a formidable record it is. Fourteen original rock solid tracks including 'Shout (I Wanna Hear You)', 'Chance Of A Lifetime' and the fantastic 'Do It 'Til We Drop' - which itself is pretty much guaranteed to get a live audience clapping and singing along. The band are currently writing material for their second album, which will again be produced by John T Sinclair (of Heavy Metal Kids/Ozzy Osbourne/The Cult fame), but I have no doubt that the band's second album will build on the success that was created on the back of their debut album.
Sarah Jezebel Deva is probably familiar to readers as the ex-backing vocalist from Cradle of Filth, but Sarah has a successful solo career which is certainly worth checking out. Following on from 2011s excellent 'The Corruption Of Mercy' album, she released a brand new three track EP – 'Malediction', which proves that she has a talent for writing great gothic Metal tunes. Specifically the final track on this EP, 'When 'It' Catches Up With You', is surely one of her best songs yet, as she produces a truly stunning vocal performance, and I certainly look forward to having the chance to see Sarah and her band perform live in 2013, and I hope too, that a new album isn't too far away either.
Rammstein's gig at the Metro Arena in Newcastle on 29th February was memorable for several different reasons, but after careful consideration, I've chosen it as my personal gig of the year. So why does it stick in the mind? Well, after the disappointment of them not playing in Glasgow (due to the low hung ceiling at the SECC was the official party line) I was expecting something spectacular from their stage show – and I wasn't disappointed. Their set lasted over two hours (based around their greatest hits album, 'Made In Germany') and was a pyrotechnic extravaganza from the first notes to the last ringing decibel. A truly mind-blowing performance of the highest quality – watch out for the band on their return to the UK at Donington Park in June 2013.
My video of the year is the excellent 'Hero On Video' from Freedom Call. The track comes from the German rockers seventh studio album, 'Land Of The Crimson Dawn' which was released in February 2012. The video itself is one that doesn't take itself too seriously - along with the ubiquitous band performance footage the simple enough video is enhanced by some pyrotechnics, a smattering of comedy and some appearances from some super heroes including Batman, Spiderman and Superman. It's nice to see a band that doesn't take themselves too seriously, and you can watch the video for yourself here...
Valley International Park outside Lesmahagow was home to the inaugural (and award winning) Les-Fest from 29th-30th June this year, and is my festival of the year. Over 20 bands including Praying Mantis, Kyrbgrinder, Attica Rage and The Amorettes along with a host of newer bands to the scene including Estrella, Dana O'Hara, Massive Wagons and 15 Times Dead. Over 300 people packed into the festival site over the two days and this was one expertly organized and thoroughly enjoyable festival for all concerned. It's back in 2013 and it's going to be bigger and better than ever, so get your tickets now as they're selling out fast!
Most annoying moment of 2012
For me the most annoying thing about 2012 was the cancelation of the Sonisphere Festival. Originally slated for July, the headliners were to have been Queen with Adam Lambert, Faith No More and KISS. I like all three bands, and was disappointed when it was cancelled due to local Police in Stevenage advising against it as there wasn't enough security staff due the knock-on effects of the Olympics. It was rumoured that Sonipshere would return to Knebworth in 2013, but an official announcement has just been made saying that this isn't the case.
Things to look forward to in 2013
2013 for me is looking good already with a few gigs planned – the most important one for me will be the Status Quo reformation gigs in March which will once again see Alan Lancaster on bass guitar and John Coghlan back behind the drum kit. With the departure of current Quo drummer, Matt Letley, announced only last week, one can only wonder if the reunion gigs will go beyond the nine gigs already announced.
Beckon – www.facebook.com/beckonmetal
Estrella – http://estrellarocks.com/
Les-Fest – www.les-fest.co.uk/
Sarah Jezebel Deva – www.sarahjezebeldeva.co.uk/
Rammstein – www.rammstein.de/en/
Freedom Call – www.freedom-call.net/
Soniphere Festival – http://sonisphere.co.uk/
Status Quo - http://www.statusquo.co.uk/