It's that time of year again and what a year it has been, and now it's time to start publishing the Best Of 2016s from our key people and on 31st December we'll be announcing the end result, one winner from each category. Here's Philip's Best Of 2016s...
Where to start? 2016 has been a fantastic year for me, amazing new opportunities, new friends and being able to share things I've seen and loved with people. For this I thank Sara Harding, Steve Göldby, Mark Taylor, the Big Red and too many others to mention but you'll all be getting a massive beardy hug when I see you. So on with the nigh on impossible Best Of list.
2016 for me was about rediscovering music. I've met and reviewed so many acts but for me it's not just the staple acts...
1. THE VIRGINMARYS
From working with them at Abbey Road to getting to know the guys. Brilliant breakthrough act, looking forward to their headline tour next year.
2. MACHINE HEAD
Pure Metal class, talent and power. Nuff said!
3. BUFFALO SUMMER
I love discvoring new talent coming through and this has as much to do with the sound and attitude as me being Welsh.
BEST GIG: MACHINE HEAD, CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
I'm hitting up Machine Fucking Head again for this. The band and audience experience at Cardiff Uni was something else to behold and as amazing as Hammersmith was, the intimate nature of this gig was jaw breaking.
2. KING DIAMOND: THE FORUM, LONDON
King Diamond blew me the fuck away. My first opp to write up a serious gig and I couldn't have asked for a better one. Theatrics and Metal, what's not to love?
3. CLUTCH: THE ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON
Clutch at the Roundhouse, not only freakin' amazing venue but the headline act fucked shit up and introduced me to Lionize, who definatley funked shit up.
BEST ALBUM: THE VIRGINMARYS: 'DIVIDES'
Proper punk rock'n'roll from a band that have arrived.
2. STONEWIRE: 'WHEN THE CROW FLIES'
I mean come on, massive sound, chick with huge vocals and a new breakthrough album which although was produced on a budget by an unsigned band – this is a classic LP you need to have in your collection.
3. METALLICA: 'HARDWIRED... TO SELF-DESTRUCT'
Obviously. I'm a massive fan, have been since the 80s and this was the 'Tallica boys sounding like a proper band again. H'yeeeeeaahhhhhhhh!
BEST FESTIVAL: RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR
Hands down, Ramblin' Man. Tight, well organised and a mind blowing line-up. Most of the MetalTalk family were there and it was enlightening. Especially the story about where Steve Göldby slept that weekend! That's why MetalTalk rock hard as we are led by example from the best.
2. STONE FREE
Indoor for fuck's sake! New bands mixed with legends. Hats off to San Phillips, Stuart Galbraith, Alan Day and the whole of Kilimanjaro for pulling it off. I also got my prog on for the first time thanks to Jerry Ewing and Rik Wakeman. I may invest in a cape next year.
Cos I couldn't get there and was proper jealous!
BEST VIDEO: THE VIRGINMARYS: 'FREE TO DO WHATEVER THEY SAY'
Shit man, stripped back down to basics that bring the POWER of this band through the fourth wall into your head.
2. ROB ZOMBIE: 'WELL, EVERYBODY'S FUCKING IN A UFO'
Coming in at number 2, no pun, it's Rob Zombie and the video for 'Well, Everybody's Fucking In A UFO'. If you haven't seen it, you need it in your life. Aliens, robots, science, nerdy professors, Miss Bunny Peach Bottom and the full on Rob Zombie Stomp! Sherri Moon Zombie is also there for a quick tug. Eye and ear sex.
3. CLUTCH: 'A QUICK DEATH IN TEXAS'
Seriously awesome song, with beards, and it's Clutch being cowboys.
BEST NEW BAND
1. SCREAMING EAGLES
I'm kinda blessed with the local music scene, great venues and independent festivals. At Legends Of Rock and Ramblin' Man, thanks to the foresight of the band bookers - cheers Eddie and Elaine and the nameless others - I got to see many future headliners to be.
Belfast based Screaming Eagles blew me away at Legends Of Rock and 2017 is going to be a big year for these balls out rockers, who are already booked for Bonfest and Camden Rocks. Get their album, 'Stand Up And Be Counted', and indulge your own rock'n'roll soul.
2. CATS IN SPACE
In the same vein Cats In Space have rocked me to the core. Whilst slightly longer in the tooth, be warned, Paul Manzi and his psychedelic feline crew are a force to be reckoned with. A sell out gig at the Half Moon then a killer set at Ramblin' Man Fair have clearly stamped this band's spot on the classic rock scene.
With thanks again to the Big Red, keeping live music alive and available, my third choice but still winners are Stonewire. The Rock Goddess and her disciples continue to impress with their down and dirty blues rock experience. Get this band on a big stage promoters.
LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2017
What am I looking forward to in 2017? An album from Lionize, Virginmarys headline tour, doing more of the same and sharing it on Metaltalk.net, also beating Andy Rawll in a pun off and Mark Taylor buying me a pint ("When Hell freezes over," 'Arding says. Peace out, see you on you flipside!