The Distorted Sound End of Year Awards continue and now it’s over to our Head of News Editor, Jack Fermor-Worrell. Over to you Jack!
Brainwashed – WHILE SHE SLEEPS
Sheffield metalcore mob WHILE SHE SLEEPS had already cemented themselves as a personal favourite of mine thanks to their 2012 debut full-length This Is The Six. Forced to take some time off due to vocalist Loz Taylor’s throat issues, it seemed as though the band had lost their momentum until Brainwashed appeared in March this year. Essentially a refinement of everything the band have done thus far, Brainwashed is everything fans could have hoped for in a sophomore release – the likes of Four Walls and New World Torture bringing not only bone-crushingly heavy riffs, but also deceptively melodic choruses. All this, combined with some incendiary performances across the UK ensured that 2015 was definitely the year of WHILE SHE SLEEPS.
Honourable Mentions: The Book Of Souls – IRON MAIDEN, Blossom – FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES, Endless Forms Most Beautiful – NIGHTWISH
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Speed Of Light – IRON MAIDEN
There haven’t been too many music videos I’ve enjoyed enormously this year. That said, one particular example stands head and shoulders above the rest in my opinion. Whilst the full album might have proved divisive to some people, it’s difficult to argue with the video game inspired clip that accompanied Speed Of Light by IRON MAIDEN – the first single from their album The Book Of Souls. Featuring homages to the likes of Mortal Kombat, the video saw band mascot Eddie traversing a variety of digital landscapes based on various eras of IRON MAIDEN history. Both creative and entertaining, it’s easily a personal highlight of 2015.
Honourable Mentions: Versus – AREA 11, Mercy – MUSE, Our Legacy – WHILE SHE SLEEPS
GIG OF THE YEAR
AREA 11 – Manchester Academy 2 (25/11/15)
A relative unknown to most rock fans, Bristol rock quartet AREA 11 have gradually been building a dedicated fanbase over the last few years. Their performance in Manchester last month was not only my favourite gig of 2015, but also one of my favourite ever concert experiences. Mixing electronic elements with huge pop-punk-esque hooks, the band are simply one of the most infectiously fun live acts around, with serious musical chops to back it up. Now on the verge of releasing their second studio album, expect to hear much more from this exciting new band over the next twelve months.
Honourable Mentions: MÖTLEY CRÜE – Manchester Arena, DEVIN TOWNSEND – Manchester Cathedral, SLIPKNOT – Liverpool Echo Arena
Download Festival 2015
Festivals for me this year consisted of lots of one-day trips, and the rock behemoth that is Download Festival took the crown in 2015. Arriving on the Sunday morning may have meant being treated to some of the worst mud in recent Donington memory, but it also meant seeing the likes of MÖTLEY CRÜE, SLASH, BILLY IDOL and THE DARKNESS play the hallowed grounds. Download has always been my favourite rock festival to attend each year, and its 2015 edition was no exception. Classic rock fans could hardly be disappointed as MÖTLEY CRÜE bid farewell to the UK festival scene, but it was rock titans KISS who capped off the weekend, in a slick, firework-packed display. Rock n’ Roll All Nite indeed.
Honourable Mentions: Slam Dunk Midlands 2015, Ghostfest North, Impericon Festival Manchester
BEST FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
WHILE SHE SLEEPS – Slam Dunk Midlands
It takes something special to make a memorable festival performance, and for me, nothing this year tops the sight of WHILE SHE SLEEPS completely decimating the Monster Energy Stage at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival. Forget your pyro and complex light shows – this was metal stripped back to its absolutely brutal basics. Opening with a one-two punch of Brainwashed and This Is The Six pretty much set the tone for the chaotic performance, but it was the sight of various band members scaling nearby trees for solos during the set that really tipped things over the edge. Truly an outstanding performance from one of British metal’s best new bands.
Honourable Mentions: MÖTLEY CRÜE – Download Festival, SUICIDE SILENCE – Impericon Festival, CROSSFAITH – Slam Dunk Midlands
BEST LIVE BAND
There are few bands in 2015 who can claim to have quite as much live energy as CROSSFAITH. The Japanese electro-metal outfit not only put on a stellar performance at this year’s Slam Dunk Festivals, but also threatened to upstage SKINDRED on their tour together in November. Now with third album XENO to their name, the band have even more pit-ready anthems – the best of which is Wildfire, a gloriously bouncy collaboration with SKINDRED main-man Benji Webbe. Miss their upcoming UK headline tour at your peril!
Honourable Mentions: MÖTLEY CRÜE, WHILE SHE SLEEPS, AREA 11
MOST DISAPPOINTING ALBUM
Repentless – SLAYER
Following on from the death of guitarist and principal songwriter Jeff Hanneman in 2013, my hopes for a new SLAYER album were admittedly at rock-bottom. Bringing in EXODUS axeman Gary Holt, and with Paul Bostaph returning to the drum stool, there was definitely a chance that something at least passable could be produced. Unfortunately, Repentless, for me, represents the sound of a band that has simply lost its way – it’s telling that the best track on the record, Piano Wire, was the last thing written for the band by Hanneman. Repetitive and lacking in memorable moments, I found Repentless to be a sadly boring and uninteresting mess of a SLAYER album.
Dishonourable Mentions: Venom – BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, Def Leppard – DEF LEPPARD, Last Of Our Kind – THE DARKNESS
THE GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY
This year has seen several new bands hit my radar with thunderous impact. Chief amongst these were THE GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY. Led by former GALLOWS axeman Steph Carter, this “British-Americana” band released their debut album earlier this year, and supported it with a series of tour dates across the UK. Featuring sublime vocal interplay between Paul Taylor and Gillian Carter, the band deliver a soulful performance that’s both beautiful and devastating in equal measure. The band’s songwriting is also top-notch – recent single The Trip is an emotional rollercoaster, bouncy and upbeat one moment, dark and brooding the next.
Honorable Mentions: MARMOZETS, ALTERED SKY, VUKOVI