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  IAN SUTHERLAND'S BEST OF 2017s

ian sutherland
30th December 2017




ian sutherland

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 2017s from our key people and on 31st December we'll be announcing the end result, one winner from each category. Here's Ian's Best Of 2017s...

BEST BAND: AVATARIUM

To qualify for best band I think you need to have done the business on the road and in the studio in one year. Swedish retro rockers Avatarium have clearly done that, releasing an excellent album in 'Hurricanes And Halos' and getting out on the road and confirming they are a real force on stage too. They didn't make it to the UK this time but I can tell you, keep an eye out for them doing so in 2018, it will be epic!

2. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS

ian sutherland

Twelve years of hard graft have turned Canadian Metal songstress Kobra Paige and her band into a lean mean live Metal machine. In 2017 they came up with the 'Prevail 1' album which matched their live prowess. If any old school Metal fans think they don't make them like they used to, think again! Great straight ahead Heavy Metal for the 21st Century delivered by a woman with a voice to shake your boots. What's not to like?

3. VUUR

ian sutherland

Anneke van Giersbergen is a legendary Dutch singer with a proven track record and a list of great albums to her name. She has a back catalogue to savour but her artistic side is fearless and in 2017 she formed a new band, Vuur, which is Dutch for fiery passion. The resulting album, 'In This Moment We Are Free-Cities' is a thunderous slab of progressive Metal with complex songs held together by her very special voice. The live shows have added even more thunder to those tunes and although it's early days yet, there already seems to be something special happening here.

BEST GIG: ZZ TOP, THE O2 ACADEMY, GLASGOW, 26th JULY

ian sutherland

Seeing this little ol' blues band from Texas in the comparatively intimate confines of the 2,500 capacity O2 Academy was a real treat. In a set bursting with classics, Billy, Dusty and Frank belied their age and put on a magnificent show, demonstrating how keeping it simple can often be the coolest thing in the world. A rammed venue roared them on and it was just a magical evening.

2. DAN REED, THE DREADNOUGHT, BATHGATE, 1st JULY

ian sutherland

Great gigs come in all shapes and sizes. Watching this charismatic, incredibly positive guy keep his audience spellbound with just an acoustic guitar, a voice and not even a setlist to rely on was a wonder. When someone finds it so easy to be this damn good, you just accept your good luck and take it all in. Astonishing.

3. SAMANTHA FISH, THE STRAMASH, EDINBURGH, 27th NOVEMBER

ian sutherland

Samantha Fish is an up and coming blues guitarist and singer who I hadn't paid too much attention to before. My mistake. Her performance in this large, sweaty club was a revelation. She can sing, she can play guitar with fire and control, she writes great tunes and Hell, she even looks great. Ms Fish covers a lot of ground musically but there's plenty of oomph in there and fans of loud, blues fuelLed rock are well catered for. Another artist added to my "must see when they come by" list.

BEST ALBUM: BODY COUNT - 'BLOODLUST'

ian sutherland

It's been more than twenty years since the controversy about 'Cop Killer' but despite being a rich and successful man, Ice-T retains his anger about the injustices of his upbringing which he thinks continue to this day. Over the years his Body Count Metal side project have become a much more accomplished band than when they started out and their technique matched with that deep seated fury and a flair for memorable lines makes for a powerful combination. In an album covering heated topics from Black Lives Matter to ghetto justice they’ve come up with something which has Metal songs to savour but also make you think and sometimes recoil at the pent up rage within. Essential listening.

2. EXIT EDEN - 'RHAPSODIES IN BLACK'

ian sutherland

Some may look on the inclusion of an album by a band created by a record company and taking forward a concept of recreating famous pop songs as symphonic Metal anthems as controversial. I was sceptical myself when I heard about it but you know what? It works. Four female singers, a cracking Metal band and songs by the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Madonna make for a fun, over the top and thoroughly enjoyable album. The reason this album makes it onto this list is many months on I'm still playing it and very much enjoying it. Surely that's the ultimate test of how good an album is?

3. KOBRA AND THE LOTUS - 'PREVAIL I'

ian sutherland

This is really only half an album, the first part of an originally planned double album but it packs a hell of a punch. The song writing from Kobra and her cohorts has taken a while to mature, but mature it has and there are in your face metal anthems a plenty here to enjoy. Right from opener 'Gotham' to closing statement of intent 'We Will Prevail' you know this is a band that means business – old school licks revved up with a supercharged voice for the twenty first century. Great stuff.

BEST FESTIVAL: 70,000 TONS OF METAL, FT. LAUDERDALE - LABADEE – Ft. LAUDERDALE, 2nd TO 6th FEBRUARY

ian sutherland

Of the festivals I attended this year there was no question which would be my favourite. I ticked something off my bucket list and went on the seventh Metal cruise under the 70K name and it was everything I thought it would be and more. Sixty one bands and 3,000 Metalheads having a party in the Caribbean for four days aboard one of the biggest cruise ships around, and it was every bit as amazing as it sounds.

A very successful event, the ship they used this time was 154,000 tons so the festival was Heavy Metal in every way possible. I soaked up the sunshine, made friends with fellow Metalheads from all over the world and saw bands like Testament, Therion and Avatarium play amazing sets in surreal surroundings. Everyone should do this at least once!

BEST NEW BAND: SORCERER

ian sutherland

Swedish doom Metal specialists Sorcerer have been around on and off since the nineties so it's a bit strange to put them into the new discovery column! In my defence I hadn't really paid much attention to them until this years release via Metal Blade, 'The Crowning Of The Fire King'. It's immense! Take their trademark Doom Metal style, craft the all important riffs and add melodic guitar lines and soaring vocals and you have a recipe for greatness. A sound that retains those Doom Metal roots but evokes memories of classic Rainbow and Dio is manna from heaven for this old rocker. Great songs too! The old new wave of Swedish Heavy Metal is upon us!

LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018

There's so much to look forward to in 2018 it's hard to know where to start. New albums from The Amorettes, Kobra And The Lotus, Dutch newbies Vetrar Draugurinn and many, many more I don't even know about yet. Tours from Vuur, Epica and hundreds of other bands, festivals like Stone Free and Bloodstock which look really enticing. Above them all though is it looks like I'll be making my first pilgrimage to Heavy Metal's holiest gathering, Wacken Open Air. It should be a blast!








 


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