It's that time of year again and what a year it has been, and now it's time to start publishing the Best Of 2016s from our key people and on 31st December we'll be announcing the end result, one winner from each category. Here's Sara's Best Of 2016s...
I love my job at MetalTalk.net but to pick three standout bands in each category is like choosing your favourite kid, cheese or alcoholic beverage (for me it's a dry sherry). Before I reveal my big threes, I wanted to say a massive thank you to my Big 'Ed Steve Göldby, to Mark Taylor for calling me 'Arding, to Eric Duvet for the photos, Philip Welford my partner in crime and the MetalTalk team. Also, a mahoosive thanks to all the PR companies, promoters, record labels and management who keep us up to date with the incredible talent below. You all rock!
BEST BAND: MACHINE HEAD
Simply the best and most hard working band of this year. Their tour of 'An Evening With' was simply epic. Four dudes from Oakland playing Metal for their fans and loving it. Their longevity is a sign of a Metal band that deserve to be at the top of my trio.
2. IRON MAIDEN
Pilot, cancer survivor, fencer, author, singer and bloody nice bloke who drinks in my local boozer, I love Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden and their whole well oiled team. The Book Of Souls World Tour was simply as epic as their air miles and these guys make me proud to be British.
I love to see a new British band take on the rock world and own it. This band has got there with great songs, energising performances, amazing personalities and brilliant management. Nate's vocal skills are insane and these guys deserve to be on the big stages they are now playing. Inglorious are the future of British Classic Rock.
It's great to see a huge stadium band in an iconic venue but sometimes it's those sweaty, balls to the wall gigs that have you sweating like Mark Taylor when he has to get his wallet out. This was a toughie as I want to give props to bands like Hekz, Maiden United, Alice Cooper, Rick Wakeman, Metallica ca ca, but these are the dudes that gave me the gig goosebumps.
1. MACHINE HEAD: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Machine Head always smash it at their arena gigs but sometimes it's when they play a no-nonsense set in a student hall in Welsh Wales that they are at their finest. Two-and-a-half hours of Metal and every fan in that sweaty venue was in awe. The guys also took time out to meet and do selfies with all their fans.
2. BUFFALO SUMMER: OUR BLACK HEART, CAMDEN
Keeping on a Welsh vibe, it would have been rude not to check out Duff McKagan's favourite band, Buffalo Summer. These are the dudes who make the soul from the coal and this gig was rammed – a testament to their skills. They are busy recording a new album and I hope to St Duff they are on the road to tour it so you can all check them out! Plus it's all about the merch and these dudes' Cymru t-shirts are the best – been there, done it and bought the t-shirt.
3. STONEWIRE: BIG RED, LONDON
We love the Big Red at MetalTalk – this Americana style venue is run by the dudes with the best beards in the biz – Benny and Theo. They support live music by not charging entry for us poor journos plus they don't pump up the beer prices either. StoneWire were their best booking of the year. A female fronted slice of southern Blues rock – dirtier than the sliders they serve at this bloody brilliant bar - if Sky Hunter and co. are not playing at a big festival or arena next year I will want to know why.
BEST ALBUM: METALLICA: 'HARDWIRED... TO SELF-DESTRUCT'
The Tallica are back and in business and can I get a hell yeah! You all know the album so I won't bore you with deets. Just great to see the Bay Area legends back - locked in and loud.
2. THE VIRGINMARY'S: 'DIVIDES'
Honest, homegrown, from the heart and hardcore, this is one of the best British albums of 2016. This trios sound is mahoosive and if you don't download this album now – I shall come around and set Mark Taylor on you.
3. GIRAFFE TONGUE ORCHESTRA: 'BROKEN LINES'
William DuVall from Alice In Chains and members of Mastadon! Hallo? Where have you been all my life? This was one of the best playbacks I've been lucky enough to attend and this album exceeded all expectations.
There have been some incredible festivals this year both here and worldwide that I've been lucky enough to go to and film. I miss Sonisphere at the legendary Knebworth House and hope this event will, like a Phoenix, rise once again. I hate camping or paying a gazillion pounds for a local hotel so this year these three made my year by being fan friendly and not having to stay in a dodgy Asda tent in shit weather.
1. LEGENDS OF ROCK, GREAT YARMOUTH
This festival is handmade by rockers for rockers and run by the legendary Mr and Mrs Bastard (AKA Eddie and Elaine Yates). It's not just a festival, it's a non-stop party with over fifty bands all personally handpicked by our esteemed hosts like Black Star Riders, Alabama 3, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Screaming Eagles, Metal Fatigue and so many more. We all stay in luxurious caravans, there's a swimming pool, fab pub, freaky fancy dress, cracking carvery and takeaway shops on site with an endless supply of rock music in two adjacent venues performing until way into the small hours – Great Yarmouth is the place to be every March.
2. RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR
We filmed at this festie for the wondrous folk at udiscovermusic.com and it was the most well organised festival ever. Incredible line-up choice, amazing and friendly staff, easy to navigate, awesome VIP experience – my only complaint was there was no red wine! The sun shone and the rock was epic – lots of stages for all musical tastes and the highlight of this year's line-up were those Kentucky Headhunters - yeehaaaaa.
3. STONE FREE
For a debut festival, promoters Kilimanjaro smashed it! An epic indoor venue at the 02 so no worries about mud with a line-up including Alice Cooper, Rick Wakeman, The Virginmarys, Wilco Johnson, Blackberry Smoke, Cats In Space, Mike Monroe, Jackaman and a killer new band stage who attracted so much attention as we entered the arena doors. Cannot wait for 2017.
BEST VIDEO: CLUTCH: 'A QUICK DEATH IN TEXAS'
Clutch playing cowboys – a good old shoot 'em up that fits the tune perfectly. As ever with Clutch they give great quirky concepts.
2. AMON AMARTH: 'FIRST KILL'
Vikings, snow, long haired beardy dudes, blood, birds, headbanging, swords, massive drum kit and power punching – what can be better?
3. GHOST: 'SQUARE HAMMER'
Nameless Ghouls and Papa give great vintage video so epic this would not look out of place in old Skool MTV Headbangers Ball.
BEST NEW BAND: JACKAMAN
One of the shining stars of this year, Jackaman and her band have been giving us great bluesy soul on tour with the Dead Daisies and The Answer and great photos from our very own Eric Duvet.
Another female fronted blues rock combo from the Deep South (of Kent). This band have to be seen live to be believed. So popular, the Big Red was standing room only. Watch this space as Sky and her band of merry men will be bigger than ever.
Our favourite home counties Metal Band are influenced by Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Crunching guitars, gang vocals, melodic leads and bang on big hooks. Watch out for this hard rock outfit in 2017!
LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2017
Alice in Chains playing in the UK. If I write this, it will happen, won't it Mike Inez...