2022 was an exciting Heavy Metal year for MetalTalk – Steve Ritchie

So that’s a wrap for 2022. It has been an exciting Heavy Metal year at MetalTalk and editor Steve Ritchie looks back at some of the many highlights.

Given the mess of the Covid-19 induced lockdowns and all the worldwide mess that followed, it was great to get back to being able to attend gigs in 2022. The MetalTalk team covered seventeen live performances in December alone.

We expanded the team further this year, and it has been a joy to see what people have been engrossed in and how they share those experiences with the world. It is always a warm feeling to see how supportive and welcoming everyone is. MetalTalk has such a wonderful team of writers and photographers that I am sure it is a roster which others envy.

Within Temptation and Evanescence - O2 Arena, London - 14 November 2022
Within Temptation and Evanescence – O2 Arena, London – 14 November 2022. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

We worked a lot on our style and presentation during the last couple of years, and I am very proud of how our team presents their stories. We don’t do clickbait, as our recent interview with Wolfgang Van Halen and the subsequent re-publishing by several other publications show. As Sara Harding, who has spent her whole career in music and entertainment said, MetalTalk is seen as “aspirational.”

Accept - Too Mean To Die - Phoenix Concert Hall - 16 October 2022
Accept – Too Mean To Die – Toronto. Photo: Taylor Cameron/MetalTalk

MetalTalk covered the Accept show in Toronto, where Mark Tornillo was first absent through illness. Taylor Cameron’s coverage received a warm message of thanks from the band’s management for the spin Taylor put on the evening. In total, MetalTalk’s team filed just shy of 200 live reports in 2022.

Steve Vai - College Street Music Hall, New Haven, Connecticut - 1 November 2022.
Steve Vai, Connecticut. Photo: Shannon Wilk/MetalTalk

This year, we covered Steve Vai in Dublin, Connecticut and Hellfest. Alice In Chains were exceptional in Bristow. The Smashing Pumpkins brought their revolution and evolution to Toronto, while Anthrax proved they still hold the crown of Thrash Metal in Bristol and Worcester, MA.

Anthrax. O2 Academy, Bristol.
Anthrax. O2 Academy, Bristol. Photo: Georgia Brittain/MetalTalk

Thunderstick and Uriah Heep celebrated anniversaries, while the newer bands like Florence Black, Scarlet Rebels, Cardinal Black, Troy Redfern and Dirty Honey shone. We even got to cover Whitesnake before their tour was curtailed.

I’m very proud of the achievements of Jools Green, who, with her column From The Abyss, continues to champion Extreme Metal, often at the underground level, for MetalTalk. The UK underground scene is thriving in many genres, and I would love to have someone champion the more ‘mainstream’ areas.

Festival coverage included Stonedead, Bloodstock, Download, Hellfest, Welcome To Rockville, Orange Loop, M3, Legends Of Rock and Tattoo The Earth.

Black Label Society, Electric Ballroom. 7 June 2022
Zakk Wylde. Electric Ballroom. 7 June 2022. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

Personal highlights included Zakk Wylde, Joe Bonamassa, and Ricky Warwick. Mammoth WVH, Halestorm and Alter Bridge in London was a special day, as MetalTalk were the only publication to cover the UK dates along with interviews from a member of each band. Also special was Tremonti’s Sinatra performance.

Alter Bridge - Pawns And Kings Tour - O2 Arena - 12 December 2022
Alter Bridge – Pawns And Kings Tour – O2 Arena – 12 December 2022. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

MTTV Interviews have been an important part of this year’s coverage. Clutch, Hillbilly Vegas, Tony Iommi, Iron Allies and Keith Wallen were great to watch. I loved my chats with David Reece about Bangalore Choir, their superb albums and their frustrating but interesting backstory.

My MTTV interviews with Leader Of Down’s Tim Atkinson, the guys from Die Ego and Adam Norsworthy were noteworthy as they all have excellent albums which are still on my playlist some months later.

The Darkness, ready for Arena Tour with Black Stone Cherry
The Darkness, ready for Arena Tour with Black Stone Cherry. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

In other interviews, Joe Lynn Turner, Wendy Dio, Erik Mårtensson, Massive Wagons, The Darkness, Black Stone Cherry, Marc LaBelle, Mike Dyer, Kris Barras and Plush were all super reads. The Mik Gaffney interview about his time with Bernie Tormé was emotional.

Ukraine band Star Crystal
Star Crystal: “We love our country, we love our cause, and we love you.”

Hyper Planet talking about the troubles in Iran, and Nonsun, Star Crystal and United Musicians For Ukraine spoke about the terror Putin has brought to bear, show that there is much in the world we have not experienced.

And the landscape for musicians is still as difficult as ever. The war in Ukraine saw fuel costs sharply rise, causing massive problems on band’s tour balance sheets. The roll-on effect means it is difficult for fans to find the cash to attend gigs while the cost of living spirals.

Bands have to play live to make ends meet, along with the chance to sell CDs and merch. The paltry compensation from streaming has been discussed in Parliament Committee this year, but we are still far from a recommendation or working solution.

Brexit, and the 30 days in 90 allowance, is still a massive headache. “The UK refused to include a chapter on mobility in the TCA,” Carry On Touring said, “despite the European Union offering to do so and despite both parties’ agreement – ahead of the negotiations.”

Tremonti Sings Sinatra - O2 Indigo - 15 December 2022
Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra – O2 Indigo – 15 December 2022. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

Despite these issues, it has been a great year for MetalTalk and music coverage. Once again, I send my love to the MetalTalk team, and I hope you have enjoyed their coverage throughout 2022. It is a privilege to share their work. This, and the magical moments like shooting Tony Iommi, Troy Redfern and Alter Bridge up close, make it all worthwhile.

I’m always happy to take comments and thoughts. You can contact me with these, or if you want to join our team, at steveritchie@MetalTalk.net.

Wendy Dio, DIO: Dreamers Never Die
Wendy Dio. DIO: Dreamers Never Die. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

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