Red Handed – Denial Redeemer
Released 29th March 2019
For a metalcore fan Redeemer has everything. Whether you’re looking for insane headbanging juggernauts or beautiful melodic moments of perfection, Reedemer has it all. Combined with amazing vocals, great instrumentation and a great tale to tell, Reedemer has been THE standout album of 2019 for me.
Slam Dunk North 2019 – Temple Newsam
The first Slam Dunk North to take place away from the city centre was a triumph. The choice of bands was great, Bullet For My Valentine blew the house down and even a secret set from Busted. If you can think of a better way to spend a bank holiday weekend, i’d love to hear it.
Gatecreeper – Deserted
Released 4th October 2019 via Relapse Records
Arizona’s Gatecreeper are rapidly growing in popularity and with good reason, their unique, desert blasted brand of rough death metal is as accessible as it is heavy and Deserted has raised the lofty bar already set on their debut effort.
An album with absolutely no filler tracks, Deserted crushes from the opening second to last note struck. The overall winner in a tightly contested Death Metal category stuffed with fantastic releases this year.
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Truth and Lies!
Released 28th June 2019 via Spinefarm Records
Truth and Lies has been my go-to album for most of the 2019! They first peaked my interest at Download Festival a few years back and they have a realness about them that keeps me always venturing back to them. My first article about them dubbed them “Slick, Captivating, Rock N Roll!” and I still stand by that statement.
Dream State – Primrose Path
Primrose Path covers everything I need in an album. Great vocals, melodies, screaming, a female lead singer, punchy lyrics and straight to the point. They delayed the release to get the sound they wanted and it truly paid off!
Funeral For A Friend
Hands Off Gretel – I Want The World
Released 29th March 2019 via Puke Pop
I could have chose a huge name like Slipknot or BMTH, but as much as I like them- they get enough press. I Want The World is a self-released LP which explores a lot of influences and themes. HOG’s blend of female angst, 90s alt rock, and modern sensibility is what we are missing this decade.
KISS – Newcastle Arena
Just reading the name of this band you know why. Although the KISS Army in the UK isn’t as big as our American cousins – KISS fans know they’re in for a great time. Fire, glitter bombs, motorized platforms, and a giant Gene Simmons eating members of the band. Plus some amazing tunes to (platform) boot.
Divided By Darkness – Spirit Adrift
Here’s the down-tuned buzz, frequently flaming flusters of guitar, bombinating zizzes of percussion and sweet & purposeful trips into the ‘Heaven and Hell’ of vintage Black Sabbath that we have been searching for all these years… delivered with the production values and conceptual greatness of something like: ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’. Songs such as ‘Angel and Abyss’ have dagger-like guitars that dig deep into the bark of folk-rock. Of course, any lightness of touch and tenderness of viewpoint soon explodes into a whirlwind of full-blown anguish. Like Ozzy, at his best, these Phoenix rockers take the heavy-metal mantle and run with it into enemy trenches… head down to avoid the sniping bullets from detractors who suggest it’s somehow anachronistic. Clever as a lava lamp and darkly effective as a battle cry on a remote wasteland, this album brings cold comfort and stark redemption.
Matt Pearce and the Mutiny – Gotta Get Home
So many to choose from… Sayer, Chantel Mcgregor, Joe Bonamassa, Dirty Rats etc etc.. but Matt Pearce wins through sheer originality, fire and downright brilliant blues and blues rock. An album full of powerful and memorable songs that may be very different from his Voodoo day job, but are exemplary in their composition and execution. this deserves space an every mp3 player or CD collection it really is that good.
Venom Prison – Samsara
When Venom Prison appeared on my radar with Animus, they genuinely blew my face off! Aggressive, volatile, and current. It was the holy hand grenade of what a band of the extreme could be in a world where there are few and far between that truly stand out. Just as I finished picking up the pieces, they followed up with Samsara. They continue the Juxtaposition of extreme style and strong lyrical themes on the misogyny, metal health and then some, but the visceral attack in which in comes at you makes Animus sounding more like a barking pup! It isn’t for everyone, which makes it just that much better. These are a band on the up and up, and with tracks like Uterine Industrialisation, Asura’s Realm and Self Inflicted Violence, these deserve all the praise and attention they get, no album has even come close to Samsara this year.
Phil Anselmo and the Illegals – Camden Underworld
It would be difficult to pick a gig of the year if it wasn’t for one in particular, On the hottest day of the year, I find myself heading towards The Underworld, Camden. The bad news? One of my favourite bands Raging Speedhorn in support have pulled out of the show with one being rushed to hospital, the good news? The show was still on. Phil Anselmo and the Illegals delivered a monster of a show, neither the killer heat or my broken rib at the time would stop this from being special! A set of insanity and brutal pits with solid Illegals tracks, soon followed by Pantera classics, all happening on the big man Phil’s birthday and in a tiny venue too. It is rare to attend a gig without working for me, but that show truly was the pinnacle of what being a fan is all about!
Hexvessel – All Tree
Released 5th February 2019 via Secret Trees/Century Media/Prophecy Productions
As warm, heartfelt and moving as All Tree by the psychedelic folk rock outfit Hexvessel is, one could argue that the record’s restlessly inventive spirit and its ability to transport the listener to otherworldly realms is where its true beauty lies. In the humble opinion of yours truly, this is the year’s most unique and richly textured piece of work. One could throw such terms and phrases as “compelling”, “captivating”, and “utterly spellbinding” around when trying to sum up its many qualities and what immersing oneself in it feels like, but the bottom line is that we are dealing with a hauntingly introspective album that defies time and place. There is a strong sense of nostalgia and longing to its thirteen compositions and yet it feels strangely current too. How did they manage to pull that off? Your guess is as good as mine. Simply put, this is a must-have!
Last in Line – Concert Hall in Troon, Scotland
The phenomenal Last in Line at this year’s rendition of the Winter Storm Festival at the Concert Hall in Troon, Scotland turned out to be a marvelous experience. These seasoned veterans were spectacular and without doubt the heaviest outfit to grace the main stage this year. How to describe or sum up into words just how wicked their renditions of the timeless DIO classics ala ‘Holy Diver’, ‘Stand Up and Shout’, ‘Straight Through the Heart‘, and ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ were? It was thunderous and determined, but above all, it was extraordinary to witness the unique chemistry between the four of them. With a line-up consisting of Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, DIO), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO), Andrew Freeman (Lynch Mob, Devil’s Hand) and Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne), Last in Line is a headbanger’s dream come true, so make sure you catch these guys live on the road somewhere in the future.
Declan Welsh and The Decadent West – Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold
Declan Welsh and The Decadent West’s debut LP, Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold is a standout album of 2019 because it is an auditory microcosm of what it was like to live through it. With thoughtful, well-crafted lyrics that range from discussing global conflict, the evolving nature of interpersonal relationships, and financial imposition (to name a few), Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold holds a mirror up to corners of the human condition as they manifest in the present day. This, combined with the fact that the record musically offers a melting pot of style (and thereby throwing the coolest of curveballs into what can be housed under the blanket definition of “rock” – something The Clash had also mastered on ‘London Calling’), gives the album a notable feel of comprehensiveness. When we later look back on 2019, Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold will serve as an enduring time capsule – one that embodies grit, critical analysis and (particularly on the closer “Times”) moments of acute lightness.
Iron Maiden – Legacy of The Beast Tour
Imminence – Turn the light
Released 26th April 2019 via Ward Records
Imminence are my album of the year as they brought metalcore into 2019 and did it well!
Lindsey Stirling at the Hammersmith Apollo
Lindsey Stirling was my best gig of 2019 as shes been a goal of mine to see and photograph for years, it was a magical experience to see her live.
Mike and Dan from The Mike James Rock Show and The Rel Life Rockstars Podcast tell us their top 10 albums and single of the year!