As we continue with the Distorted Sound End of Year Awards, it’s given our team the perfect platform to highlight some of the highs and lows of 2015 in metal. Jessica Howkins, our live review editor, has been with the publication since the very start and whilst Jess had a hand’s on approach to our albums of the year (available in our latest issue), she will now give her own say to 2015 in metal. Over to you Jess!
The Book of Souls – IRON MAIDEN
It’s a given that IRON MAIDEN are one of the best bands and just like many of their previous albums, they have always been on the top of their game but The Book of Souls is an album that connected with so many people, not just musically but personally. IRON MAIDEN had a very tricky time with the heath issues from front-man Bruce Dickinson but this album showcased that nothing can stop him or the rest of our favourite band in Heavy Metal.
Honourable Mentions: Bad Magic – MOTORHEAD, Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone in the Universe, Endless Forms Most Beautiful – NIGHTWISH
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
I am the Antidote – LOST SOCIETY
It might not be the most exciting video out there but LOST SOCIETY really showed us what they are capable of with their single, I am the Antidote. It showed how much the band have matured musically and as people and blimey, it blows you out of the water. Sometimes you don’t need to use all of the props and pyrotechnics to create a good video, instead you just need something that is entirely focused on the music and what the band offer, the Finnish quartet certainly did just that.
Honourable Mentions: Speed of Light – IRON MAIDEN, NWO – DISCHARGE, The Satanist – BEHEMOTH
GIG OF THE YEAR
AMON AMARTH @ The Sugarmill, Stoke-On-Trent
Without a doubt, there have been a fair amount of brilliant concerts this year but the best was from our Nordic metal Gods, AMON AMARTH at The Sugarmill in Stoke-On-Trent. What do you get when you get The Pursuit of Vikings in a tiny room though? You get absolutely broken and torn apart and that is exactly what makes a metal gig so special to the people that go. Many heads were banged, many beers consumed but it showed the strength of the band, they can go from the biggest of stages to an intimate room and they still put on a show like it’s their last.
Honourable mentions: MOTLEY CRUE – The Farewell Tour @ Manchester, MEGADETH/LAMB OF GOD @ Manchester, WOVENWAR @ Manchester
Download Festival 2015
Every year Download Festival always does its best, the line-up may not always be what you want it to be but the atmosphere is what makes it, sometimes the artists are just a bonus but this year, MUSE made it be one of the best Downloads. If seeing some of the biggest names in rock and metal wasn’t enough though, we all got to party hard finally with our favourite man, ANDREW W.K. and what’s better than that? Absolutely nothing, that’s what!
Honourable mentions: Slam Dunk @ Wolverhampton Civic, Impericon Festival @ Manchester Academy
BEST FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE:
YOU ME AT SIX @ Slam Dunk Midlands
Now I know what you’re all thinking, how un-metal of me, well after YOU ME AT SIX’s performance at Slam Dunk, I couldn’t care less. The band played their debut album, Take Off Your Colours in full and being in total love with that album since being about twelve years old, nine years later I couldn’t refuse to see it and shed a few tears. The audience participation was beautiful and it’s simply gorgeous to see a band grab everyone’s hearts and make everyone, even those who don’t like the band sing along.
Honourable mentions: MUSE @ Download Festival, SUICIDE SILENCE @ Impericon Festival, ANDREW W.K. @ Download Festival
Best Live Band
Fronted by ex-RISE TO REMAIN vocalist, Austin Dickinson, AS LIONS rose to the top of being the best live band of 2015 for me. At the time, they had no released track and nobody had heard of them until they supported WOVENWAR at Sound Control in Manchester but the band managed to get the audiences attention and keep them entertained, something very difficult if nobody knows your music. On top of that, the band had tons of energy and Austin stood out, just like his father Bruce and proved to us all that it’s not just his dad with a pair of lungs on him.
Honourable mentions: MUSE, AMON AMARTH, SAVAGE MESSIAH
MOST DISAPPOINTING ALBUM
Repentless – SLAYER
We were all aware that Repentless wasn’t going to be like the other SLAYER albums, being the first to not feature legendary guitarist and primary song-writer, Jeff Hanneman after his death in 2013. I had low expectations from day one of its announcement but I hoped that with EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt stepping in and Paul Bostaph returning to the kit, something could be salvaged. The sad reality was, Repentless sounded like everything I had expected, a band who might never find their footing again.
Dishonourable mentions: BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE – Venom, BRING ME THE HORIZON – That’s the Spirit
The band 1968 are one that should not be missed out on, at all. They are a band that take metal and rock back to the year when it all started, they do it pretty flawlessly as well. Early 2016, they are set to release their self-titled EP and if you don’t pick it up, you’ll be kicking yourself. It’s refreshing to hear a band do classic so effortlessly, whilst being so modern. The influences in their music are beyond noticeable, BLACK SABBATH, THE MELVINS and so many more, they are a band of all things great and if they carry on the way they have started, the name they will have will be up there with the best.
Honourable mentions: AS LIONS