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  JOHNNY CHURCHILL'S BEST OF 2017s
25th December 2017

jonathan churchill
Words: Jonathan Churchill

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It's that time of year again and what a year it has been, and now it's time to start publishing our writers' Best Of 2017s and on 31st December we'll be publishing the end result, one winner from each category. Here's Johnny's Best Of 2017s...

BEST BAND: ACCEPT

The Teutonic Metal titans have had another mighty year. Not one, but two incredible albums, 'Restless & Live' and 'The Rise Of Chaos'; a monumentally huge world tour and, of course, the special symphonic 'Night To Remember' at Wacken.

2.INGLORIOUS

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Flying the flag for classic rock and looking like they're having a fantastic time while they're at it. Delivering the tricky second album seemed to be no problem and with a busy touring schedule well into 2018 the future looks bright. If they're playing live you know it will be a fun night and that's really what counts.

3. GUNS N' ROSES

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Continuing to confound the haters, Guns N' Roses surprised everyone simply by not melting down. The core of the original line-up have not only stayed together, and appear to be getting along, but are performing like a dream. This new uber-professional Axl Rose is a breath of fresh air and 2018 promises more of the same when they play Download.

BEST NEW BAND: THE DARK ELEMENT

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From out of nowhere came one of 2017s most accomplished and enjoyable records. The Dark Element produced a sensational, polished album of symphonic power Metal. Fronted with aplomb by former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon and with carefully crafted songwriting by Jani Liimatainen, formerly of Sonata Arctica, it's uplifting, melodic and surprisingly heavy. If you haven't heard it yet, get stuck in and enjoy. It really hits the spot and leaves me wondering what they will do next.

BEST GIG: ACCEPT, BRIXTON ACADEMY, 14th JANUARY

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I hit the jackpot this year as early as January when Accept were in town supporting Sabaton. Wolf Hoffmann and co put on a Heavy Metal masterclass. Precision and power won the battle as their one-hour set mesmerised the crowd and left us wanting more. Even better, the fantastic 'Restless & Live' album captures Accept at their very best, meaning I can revisit the moment any time I want, (minus MetalTalk's Editor-In-Chief Steve Göldby and Andy Rawll plying me with pints and shots which meant I don't remember much of Sabaton). A peerless night of Heavy Metal.

BEST ALBUM: BLACK STAR RIDERS - 'HEAVY FIRE'

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Easily my most listened to record of 2017. From the joyous 'When The Night Comes In' to the incredible guitar work on 'Testify Or Say Goodbye' and the fresh sounds of 'Ticket To Rise' and 'Fade Away', this album is a delight from start to finish. Jimmy DeGrasso's drumming adds a touch of class, while Ricky Warwick's clever lyrics bring every song to life. If you get the chance to see BSR live, don't miss it; they really pack a punch.

2. ACCEPT - 'THE RISE OF CHAOS'

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Coming off the back of the sublime 'Restless & Wild' live album & DVD, 'The Rise Of Chaos' didn't disappoint. If you dig deep, there's power Metal galore – from the opening track 'Die By The Sword' to the wacky 'Koolaid' and my favourites 'Analog Man' and 'What's Done Is Done'. There's even a topical Brexit reference on 'Carry The Weight'. Another perfectly crafted slab of pure Heavy Metal.

3. DRAGONFORCE - 'REACHING INTO INFINITY'

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This album surprises and surpasses all expectations by going in a new direction. It's unexpected, diverse, progressive and somehow still reassuringly DragonForce. It's a triumph of well considered and brave song writing. Highlights: The massive intro to 'Curse Of Darkness', the bold keyboards on 'Judgement Day' and the epic 'The Edge Of The World'. Check it out – it's one of, if not, their best albums to date.

BEST VIDEO: ACCEPT - 'KOOLAID'

A brilliantly conceived lyric video that uses aged newspaper articles for the lyrics and band information. It works perfectly for this take on the Jonestown massacre. With stunning guitar work and clever lyrics, this is definitely one of the Koolest tracks of 2017.



2. H.E.A.T. – 'REDEFINED'

I love this song because it's unexpected. H.E.A.T. in concert are a force of nature and yet this track is as subtle as they come. It surfs on a gentle rhythmic drumbeat and a low-key guitar riff that allows singer Erik Grönwall to deliver a tightly controlled vocal performance that really highlights his talent. The rest of the album's not half bad either, just missing my top three, but this is my standout track.



3. DRAGONFORCE: 'ASHES OF THE DAWN'

In a world of mostly boring lyric videos, Dragonforce unleashed the epic 'Ashes Of The Dawn' featuring futuristic sci-fi landscapes, some sort of stargate and what looks like an alien spacecraft. It's hugely entertaining and fits the music perfectly. Job done.



LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018

'Firepower'. Judas Priest. Nothing more needs to be said here. It is coming and we can't wait. Accept returning to London in February on 'The Rise Of Chaos' world tour. Playing a full headline set, this will be a magnificent night of Heavy Metal. Plus, Anvil's new release 'Pounding The Pavement' and with a European tour from February through to April to show off the new material, 2018 is shaping up to be another big year for the hard working Canadians.






 


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