Thursday, 17 May 2012

Exams! - Two down, one to go!

 I return once more unharmed from the treacherous world of school exams. Once again, I've missed out on some incredible music news, whither it's the sad passing away of the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, the official announcement that Bill Ward is rejecting the Black Sabbath reunion shows or Tenacious D hitting Number 1 in the album charts with Rize of the Fenix. Instead, I've been studying for today's juggernaut Advanced Higher English exam. And right now, I'm incredibly positive. Maybe you're in a similar position to me. Maybe you've taken Advanced Higher English this year and studied the work of Evelyn Waugh. Hopefully you'll agree with me then, when I say, writing about the importance of Brenda and Julia was a piece of piss.

 Something pretty exciting happened this week. I won't lie. MY T IN THE PARK TICKET ARRIVED!!! Pretty sweet huh? I have all kinds of plans for the festival. It turns out my friends don't like Twin Atlantic which is a little off-putting. It seems like the spot that Mastodon tragically pulled out of has now been filled in by none other than Merthyr Tydfil's finest The Blackout, which is actually a pretty exciting prospect. Not Mastodon exciting, but cool nonetheless. I look forward to chanting along to S.T.F.Uppercut. While drunk.

Other than that, once again, I've spent my time away listening to too many good albums which I will tell you all about some time next week once this has all blown over. In the meantime, I have been making some kind of contribution to the world of rock and metal music promotion. By voting in both the Kerrang! Awards and The Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards 2012! Me and tonnes of other people across the country will have voted in these, I can only hope.

So, while I'll probably do a reaction post to these awards when announced. Did the Golden Gods Awards already get announced? So confusing. Anyway, both magazines are still to have their award shows, so voting is still going on. And I have cast my votes for both. So I'll tell you now what I voted for in both awards. As if you actually care:

The Kerrang! Awards 2012 Fuelled by Relentless Energy Drink

Best British Newcomer: Hawk Eyes - There's no other band it could possibly be. Ever since Leeds mob Chickenhawk changed their name to Hawk Eyes, the sheer fiery aggression with which they've been associated seems only to have doubled. Their debut album Ideas is an album that displays the ethics of rock and roll in it's purest form, bringing together the relentlessly heavy melodies of Queens of the Stone Age, schizophrenic punk belters and moments of music that are just far out in their atmospheric and simultaneously brutal wonder. They're a band that have brought together elements of rock, punk and metal perfectly. Of course they get my vote for Best British Newcomer.

Best International Newcomer: Motionless in White - It took a while for me to warm to the sound of this Scranton sextet. My first listening to Immaculate Misconception certainly left me pining for some Eighteen Visions but after a few more plays and listens to other songs, there actually is more to Motionless In White than first thought. They're soon to release their second album, which frontman Chris Motionless promises will blow their already awesome debut album Creatures to the ground. I'm eagerly awaiting this release, so until then, you guys can get my vote for Best International Newcomer.

Best Single: You Me at Six feat. Oli Sykes - Bite My Tongue - Are my metalhead friends looking? No? Good. There's no denying that last years Sinners Never Sleep was by far the most ambitious, bold and ultimately satisfying album from Reading's You Me at Six. It saw them take the glossy pop rock that they had become so loved for and take it in new directions giving it a darker, more atmospheric, more emotionally hard hitting and most importantly a grittier twist. And Bite My Tongue is without a doubt the grittiest song on offer. Written about Josh Franceschi's growing tensions towards his bandmates and featuring such consolatory words from Bring Me the Horizon's Oli Sykes as "I can't bear the sight of you anymore" and "Fuck you", this is clearly evidence that You Me at Six are no longer that pop rock band for all the teen girls to drool over. Yes, this gets my vote.

Best Video: Mastodon - Curl of the Burl - The music video for Mastodon's Curl of the Burl, the best song of 2011 is without any question of a doubt the greatest thing that has ever been filmed in the history of the world. Watch it. Watch it. Watch it right now if you haven't already.

Best Album: Mastodon - The Hunter - Yes, to continue my theme of Mastodon doing the greatest of things, their fifth album The Hunter gets my vote for the best album, in the same way that I decided it was my top album of 2011. It's musical sound is that which propels listeners into a dramatic, enthralling universe of brooding and mercilessly heavy metal with a fair lashing of doom. While bringing together stoner elements that one could lose themselves in and thrashier elements which pack a serious punch, Mastodon made a metal masterpiece. God help Kerrang! if this award goes to You Me at Six or Black Veil Brides. And that's coming from someone who likes You Me at Six and Black Veil Brides.

Best Live Band: Bit of a problem here - I've not seen any of these bands live yet. Had Trivium been on the list then we'd have no problem, but no. You're no help to me. I was very close to going to see Enter Shikari, it must be said, but all the people I invited decided it would be a good idea to not reply to my invites. So I really have nothing to go on here. Think I'll go with Shikari anyway.

Best British Band: Iron Maiden - Seemed a bit odd throwing in a band as well known and as established among the likes of You Me At Six and Asking Alexandria. It just made Maiden stand out more. Can you blame me for voting for them? They're still touring and making music together after 30 years, they've released some of the greatest metal anthems of all time. My favourite song by them basically changes bi-weekly. One moment, it's Aces High, the next it's The Evil That Men Do, the next it's Out of the Silent Planet. No competition really.

Best International Band: My Chemical Romance - I was really swaying between My Chemical Romance and A Day to Remember for this one. But ultimately, My Chemical Romance are a band that has had a more significant impact on my life as a rock fan as a whole. That seems weird, but it's hard to tell if any of the taste I have today would exist if I hadn't listened to I'm Not Okay in my youth. Yes, being a band that have always played with an electric energy and immense passion, I couldn't not vote for My Chemical Romance when the chance comes up. I feel like I should really like letlive.. But I don't. I just can't get into them at all and I've tried several times now. Maybe they're too above my intelligence or something.

After this, came the topics of Best TV Show, Best Video Game, Best Film and Best Comedian, which is a bit of a problem because I'm a bit of a sad kid and don't watch much TV, movies or stand up comedy or play many video games. So this voting was a collaborative effort and my good friend Mark (Cant - I know too many Marks) came up with what I would vote for, meaning Best TV Show goes to Game of Thrones, Best Video Game goes to Skyrim, Best Film goes to The Hunger Games and Best Comedian goes to Russell Howard. Make what you will of that.

Tweeter of the Year: Sean Smith, The Blackout - Actually I don't really care all that much for this award, but Sean has made me titter on Twitter every now and then, while the likes of Mark Hoppus and Hayley Williams have caused me to emit a groan a few times. Actually a more interesting Twitter story just happened not that long ago. Basically, charming emo rockers Framing Hanley in a snap Q&A session informed me personally that their favourite collective album was probably Wasting Light by Foo Fighters. An awesome choice Nixon and co. Awesome indeed.

Hottest Female: Lzzy Hale, Halestorm - Not really wanting to elaborate on this for fear of sounding like a leary pervert but damn, Lzzy Hale is hot. Such a striking face. Her levels of prettiness are actually intense, I'd take her any day. Yeah... anyways...

Hottest Male: Well kids, there's a bit of a problem here in that I don't really find any of these fine gentlemen to be really attractive at all. Now if Robb Flynn of Machine Head had been one of the choices, there would have been a different response. That beard. The commanding demeanor - it's quite something. You just can't see that kind of thing in Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low. Sorry - can't cast a vote here.

Villain of the Year: Lou Reed - Lou Reed, I love your solo work and The Velvet Underground released The Velvet Underground & Nico and White Light/White Heat which are both incredible albums. They're probably my two favorite albums of the 1960s. But your creation of Lulu with Metallica last year was unforgivable. That album left me mentally scarred. You win villain of the year. (Bursts into tears from flashback of listening to Little Dog.)

Hero of the Year: Rou Reynolds, Enter Shikari - If you've heard Enter Shikari's A Flash Flood of Colour yet, you'll know that 2012 has seen Rou Reynolds' political and social ideas taking a higher flight than ever before. "Fuck all borders and fuck all boundaries/ Fuck all flags and fuck nationalities/ You've gotta give us a chance before we reach our/ System meltdown" he calls out on ...Meltdown. His demands for the people to come together and create a sense of unity through music is pretty commendable and managing to do it and be so effortlessly funny and entertaining at the same time makes him a pretty classy guy. Definitely the hero of rock in recent times.

Best Festival: Um... T in the Park??? Okay, I know that wouldn't apply, so I have to go with Download. It's lineup is undeniably stellar. Here's 10 reasons: 1. Kyuss Lives! 2. Kyuss Lives! 3. Kyuss Lives! 4. Kyuss Lives! 5. Kyuss Lives! 6. Kyuss Lives! 7. Kyuss Lives 8. Kyuss Lives! 9. Kyuss Lives! 10. BLACK FUCKIN' SABBATH - Nah there are other reasons. Kyuss and Sabbath would just be my main reasons for going. But I'm not. And the friends I have that are going are probably unlikely to care for both bands.

Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards 2012

Best New Band: Heights - I had some time trying to choose between Welwyn Garden City's Heights and London's The Defiled, but ultimately, there's something about Heights that just makes their effort so much more real that really pushes at the boundaries of current metalcore. Perhaps it's in the overall tone of the music, that's it's so much more earthly - who knows. They're epic. They can happily receive the award of Best New Band

Best Breakthrough Artist: Cancer Bats - I'm not sure if one would describe Cancer Bats as having only broken through now, but they're certainly the finest band on offer here. With their roughest release Dead Set On Living just out and filled with an array of emotionally charged hardcore bruisers, there's no denying that right now, the Bats are on top of their game and winning new fans everywhere they go, whither it was on their six-venues in one day Pentagram tour of London or on pretty much every UK festival coming up. I may try and go to the Scottish leg of the Slam Dunk Tour just to see them.

Best Underground Band: Black Breath - Black Breath are probably the best band that have mixed elements of black metal, death metal and thrash metal since Skeletonwitch, if not better as heard on their latest effort Sentenced to Life. But surprisingly, this amalgamation of styles has not seen them get all that much mainstream coverage, so they've held quite a prominent underground title. Some bands were just made for  the underground metal scene I guess. Black Breath have just that sound.

Best British Band: Black Spiders - Sons of the North was just one of the greatest sound of British hard rock with an extra metallic crunch added for good measure. Yes, Black Spiders are undoubtedly one of the best bands in recent years that have come from Britain for the purpose just to shred. And as they deliver music with the kind of hook filled hard rock that AC/DC would look on proudly and the spaced out stoner rock that would have members of Greenleaf looking on impressed, it's obvious that we have a band that know how to do one thing: Rock!

Best International Band: Lamb of God - I've had a long-time love for Lamb of God, probably as any well meaning metalhead would. Though I wouldn't be shocked if more people went and voted for Meshuggah in this category, I will have to stay with the Virginia bruisers. See, after the release of 2009s Wrath Lamb of God basically proved themselves to be legends in the realms of modern metal. And the fact that they actually managed to better themselves on January's Resolution is a mark of major significance. Y'see Lamb of God may just be the greatest band I've ever heard. So, I'm voting for them. If only I could vote for Randy Blythe as President of the USA.

Best Event: The Big 4 shows - This category really confused me at first because if you go on the website The Big 4 Shows option is just represented by a picture of Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, which at first caused me to think "Is Dave Mustaine's comment that African women should 'put a plug in it' up for best event?" But no, it is of course in reference to the Big 4 shows which have seen Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax touring together and always ending the shows by performing onstage together. It's pretty legendary stuff you have to admit. Seeing Dave Mustaine playing the tracks he played on when he was in Metallica for the first time in many fans lifetimes was something quite extraordinary.

Best Live Band: Ha ha ha... once again here's the tragic problem. I've never seen these bands live. Which is really sad indeed. I guess I'll just have to take my metalheads friends advice for this one. They were pretty much in the front row of the crowd when Metallica played Sonisphere last year and they had the time of their lives. It's worth believing them.

Dimebag Darrell Shredder: Wow, I had a difficult time picking this one. With the choice of Killswitch Engage's Adam Dutkiewicz, Devin Townsend, Fear Factory's Dino Cazares, Evile's Ol Drake and Steel Panther's Satchel, there were all kinds of things to consider. Maybe to a lesser extent with Steel Panther although they are damn good. But if you've ever taken the time to listen to the works of Strapping Young Lad and The Devin Townsend Project, you'll know just how insane the Canadian loon can be with six strings. Hevy Devy can have this award.

Metal as Fuck: Anthrax - You have to admit that while they've always been at the lowest int he pecking order of the Big 4, there's always some spirit of Anthrax which has never been able to let the world of metal down. Through all the constant changes in lead singers and the controversies outside of the metal world, they've always been triumphant delivering some of the classiest thrash riffs ever which have always been able venture to step into their more hardcore roots. Yes, with music always abrasive but never any sign of big-headed-ness or ideas to collaborate with Avant-Garde musicians, Anthrax are here to shred away. They are Metal as Fuck.

 All the other votes are decided by the professionals at Metal Hammer leaving me clueless of what they could do. But these are my votes in The 2012 Kerrang! Awards and Metal Hammer Golden Gods awards. Hey voting for these things and taking the time to talk about them is a pretty good way of diverting me from studying and we all need a break from time to time.

 Well soon enough, I'll be back again, blogging to the fullest as possible. Until then, I have to study for Advanced Higher History and I'll admit, I'm pretty terrified. After that - FREEDOM FROM EDUCATION!! It's pretty sweet. Did you know that on the day I finish my last exam, Guns N' Roses are performing in Glasgow? I didn't, so I missed out there...

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