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 Liz's Best Of 2016s...
BEST BAND: INGLORIOUS
Inglorious have won 2016 with over eighty gigs and a stonking debut album that still gets better with every play. Hard rock par excellence, amazing musicians and with Nathan James, a thrilling frontman and vocalist who is a legend in the making.
2. THE DEAD DAISIES
With their third album, 'Make Some Noise', and a stabilised line-up, the guys really put the super into group and kicked arse on the live scene too.
3. ORPHANED LAND
Celebrating twenty-five years, the Israeli Metal band are world leaders on showing exactly how to promote peace rather than just talking about it, and their music is excellent. Kobi Fahri is authentic and inspirational and long may they continue.
We are so fortunate to have such an excellent live scene with passionate bands that deliver, and once again this was the hardest category.
1. LAST IN LINE/INGLORIOUS: O2 ACADEMY, ISLINGTON
A co-headliner of some of the best original hard rock in the business from two awesome bands. A dream pairing that delivered in every way.
2. HEART/JOAN JETT/CHEAP TRICK: GEXA ENERGY PAVILION, DALLAS
An absolute belter in Dallas, with three huge names who rarely visit the UK showcasing the reasons for their Hall Of Fame inductions. And there were frozen margaritas on tap.
3. STONEWIRE: THE BIG RED, LONDON
A completely stunning performance by StoneWire with their blend of southern, dirty blues, stirring melodies and some of the best vocals in the business. Awesome venue, even greater band.
BEST ALBUM: INGLORIOUS: 'INGLORIOUS'
I know I'm in danger of getting repetitive, but honestly these songs are brilliant, it's so well put together and the live tracking ensures that the whole piece is imbued with the atmosphere and spirit of hard rock.
2. PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER: 'IF THE DEVIL CAST HIS NET'
Heavy psychedelic blues doesn't get much better than this. Prepare to have mind and body moved by this multi-layered sensory delight.
3. THE ANSWER: 'SOLAS'
Always a strong band, The Answer turned in a completely new direction with this career defining and striking offering borne out of personal trauma. The result is a mature, stunning sound and a timeless classic.
BEST FESTIVAL: RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR
Maidstone's finest has clinched the top spot by a whisker. So many delights to be had across the Main, Prog, Blues and Rising stages and with the bonus of hot sunshine. It was also notable for the final ever appearance of my favourite festival hat, which unfortunately had be counted in the collateral damage.
Three days in a tent in the pissing down rain and knee deep mud, but with headline sets by Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, out of this world performances by Amon Amarth and Nightwish and the many Lemmy tributes it was all worth it.
3. STONE FREE
A very successful first outing for this event at the O2. The smaller stages were stuffed with as much quality as the main arena and no danger of either trench foot or heatstroke.
BEST VIDEO: OPETH: 'WILL O'THE WISP'
I am completely enamoured of this year’s album from Opeth, ‘The Sorceress’ which is dark, mystical and bloody brilliant. This acoustic loveliness shows one end of the spectrum that takes you on a wild ride before the album is through.
2. THE WINERY DOGS: 'CAPTAIN LOVE'
The track is taken from 'Hot Streak' and shows this classy trio simply doing what they do best – playing great rock'n'roll.
3. HOSTILE: 'FREEDOM ACT'
In which we see KK Downing in performance – rarer than hen's teeth since his departure from Judas Priest in 2011.
BEST NEW BAND: CATS IN SPACE
Instant happiness with the best of the 70s sound of glam rock and harmonies, and we don't have to suffer the rest of the dreary decade – there was a lot about life back then that was pretty shit. The music lives on though... and how.
2. CELLAR DARLING
Ex-Eluveitie members Anna Murphy, Merlin Sutter and Ivo Henzi formed Cellar Darling in the summer and are continuing their musical journey together. The first two released songs, 'Challenge' and 'Fire, Wind And Earth', were intriguing and Folk Metal has some new rising stars.
3. JOAN OV ARC
A gutsy, energetic band and I have liked everything I have heard to date. One to watch for 2017 and on the must-see live list.
LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2017
It was such a disappointment when Glenn Hughes had to cancel his UK tour, but fortunately it has been rescheduled for January. 'Resonate' is up there among his best work and I can't wait to hear it live.
Other than that, the festivals are starting to shape up with strong line-ups, we have the second album from Inglorious and the launch of MetalTalk Radio. Rock and Metal all the way in 2017.