Best Album And Best Band - The Graveltones: 'Love Lies Dying'
With 'Love Lies Dying' The Graveltones kicked any remaining notion of the tired cliché "difficult second album" well and truly into the long grass.
The formidable duo presented us with an album of the heaviest blues creating a heady atmosphere and showing that, like their live shows, the quality of the songwriting and performance gets better and better. The full album review is here and the review of their September live show is here.
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Best New Band - Inglorious
Believe all the hype, they really are that good. Inglorious hark back to the classic days of rock and Metal and judging by the industry showcase gig in November they deserve to be huge.
The band, fronted by former Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Nathan James infuse their original songs with energy, passion and power. I'm part way through my review of the debut self-titled album and I can't imagine ever getting tired of hearing it.
Best Single/Video - Cats In Space: 'Mr Heartache'
Somewhat of a supergroup, Cats In Space landed on the planet to offer us a blend of the finest Melodic Rock/Power Pop you could hope for this side of Betelguese.
It's co-written by Greg Hart and Mick Wilson, features the flawless vocals of Paul Manzi and harmonies and hooks that have you floating on air. And it's got a goddamn Moog! Seriously, if you don't love this, I'm coming round to check your pulse.
Best Gig - Glenn Hughes - The Electric Ballroom, Camden (November)
As always this was the hardest category, almost impossible to choose. From the dozens of gigs and bands into three figures seen this year there were several that could have made it, and I feel bad for those who I had to leave out.
But this was something else. Following the very public disintegration of California Breed in December 2014, the Voice Of Rock returned in an inspired trio with Doug Aldrich and Pontus Engborg in a show that was nothing less than outstanding on all counts. The joy that Hughes took in the gig was plain for all to see - and reciprocated by the audience.
With a career-spanning setlist of the highest quality Glenn Hughes showed that he is back and here to stay.
Things To Look Forward To In 2016
I am open to exuberant and extravagant surprises, however there are a few things that are already getting my anticipation rising such as the return of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow at The Genting Arena in June. This will certainly be memorable, no matter what the setlist or performance is like, but I think it's likely to be brilliant.
The Editor has declared that I haven't been exposed to enough Folk Metal, despite it belting out of the MetalTalk office whenever he is in, so he has promised to take me to see Ensiferum as a birthday treat.
My trusty Bose AE2 headphones have been usurped, and all my 2016 reviews will be channelled through the brand new Ed-Phon3s, designed by Onkyo and Iron Maiden's Steve Harris and specifically calibrated for Rock and Metal music. They are beauties - 2016 will be accompanied with sonic excellence.