As 2018 draws to a close, we choose our winners of the first ever Metal Report Awards
Last year The Metal Report was still a part of Blog4Geeks and The Great Discord swept up, winning Band of the Year and Album of the Year plus the unofficial Song of the Year. This year we’ve named the categories and added a few:
- Best Inspiration
- Best Artist
- Best Album
- Best Song
- Best Live Performance
- Best Album Cover
- Best Video
- Best New Artist
Best New Artist: Bad Wolves
Realistically there couldn’t be anyone else. At the end of February Bad Wolves released their cover of Zombie by The Cranberries, which has now racked up 181 million views! The band haven’t let the success get to their head with drummer Josh Broelin telling The Metal Report that he was very aware that Zombie had been a hit before and that the Bad Wolves version had received a lot of coverage due to the sudden death of The Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan. Bad Wolves went on to tour extensively, even when singer Tommy Vext was hospitalised during their UK debut. Bad Wolves’s follow up album is slated for release this year and we can’t wait!
Best Video: Hank Von Hell – Bum to Bum
Hank Von Hell‘s incredible return to form came complete with a tongue in cheek video where Steve-O kicks him in the balls as a way to awaken the old Hank. Turbonegro‘s former front man came back arguably better than ever and the video won over even his biggest critics.
2. Ghost – Rats
The campy tribute to Singing in the Rain was a huge surprise thanks to a new musical direction and new front man Cardinal Copia‘s slick dance moves.
3. Halestorm – Do Not Disturb
A perfect example of how to keep someone watching – tell a story in a video where the watcher needs to know the end.
4. Powerwolf – Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend
Powerwolf are definitely in that category of looking one way but sounding another, so the dark video coupled with the sing-a-long anthem was a winner.
5. Ghost – Dance Macabre
Rob Halford dressed as a priest gets edged off the list by Ghost’s Rocky Horror themed video which gives us the origin of Papa Nihil and his first meeting with Sister Imperator as played by Justin Andrews and Liz Fenning, respectively.
Best Album Cover: Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
As digital streaming rapidly annihilates physical media cover artwork is far less important when it comes to marketing a band. Gone are the days of eye catching album covers often being the selling point for an album and it’s really starting to show. It was genuinely difficult to even find 20 albums that had interesting artwork let alone were really good. The two albums that got noticed by the rock and metal media this year for their covers were both illustrated by Zbigniew M. Bielak. The Polish artist is hard to beat at the best of times but his work on Deicide‘s Overtures of Blasphemy is exceptional in capturing the horror that Deicide’s music represents.
2. Ultra-Violence – Operation Misdirection
Ed Repka has produced some of metal’s most iconic covers for the bands Death and Megadeth and his cover for Operation Misdirection was a beautiful addition to his portfolio of metal covers.
3. Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest
When Nergal saw artwork by Italian painter Nicola Samori, he immediately fell in love with their work and it’s easy to see why. This classical style painting is the perfect cover for one of Behemoth’s darkest offerings.
4. Ghost – Prequelle
Zbigniew M. Bielak features again with an album cover that was a departure from Ghost’s usual tribute’s to movies. A tribute to Sepultura‘s Bestial Devastation, the artwork also referenced classical paintings in Ghost’s tribute to The Black Death. Arguably, the back cover is even better with it’s portray of the four Papas in a dance macabre style of artwork and would have been this year’s winner had it been on the front of the album.
5. Rise of the Northstar – Legacy of Shi
Simple yet effective, Legacy of Shi was evocative of manga graphic novels which suited their Pokemon style card game that came with the album.
Best Live Performance: Ghost
Choreographed guitars, an old pope in a wheelchair brought out by nuns to play a saxophone solo, costume changes and more all in front of a stained glass window backdrop. Ghost’s theatrics are all designed for live performances and it’s where even their biggest critics will have to admit they are impressive. Taking their show to smaller theatres for a more intimate and play-like experience, no other band came close to providing the value for money live that Ghost did in 2018.
2. Bad Wolves
There’s high energy and then there’s Bad Wolves, who are a blur of motion live. Their lit-by-phones goosebumps inducing performance of Zombie needs to be seen to be in person.
3. Orange Goblin
25 years on and still one of the most entertaining bands in the UK live who show no sign of slowing down.
Slayer’s farewell tour was huge and impressive with more pyros than a warzone.
5. Blood Youth
One of those bands who know it’d be easy to get lost in the shuffle at a festival so give it 100% to ensure they stand out.
Best Song: Bad Wolves – Remember When
There was no bigger metal/rock/alternative song than Zombie in 2018 but it was another song by Bad Wolves that grabbed our attention. Remember When is about Bad Wolves frontman Tommy Vext being beaten to death by his twin brother during a home invasion in 2010. Vext was resuscitated and testified against his brother who is currently in prison. The emotional subject matter combined with the huge chorus makes this a great song and The Metal Report’s Best Song 2018.
2. Ghost – Rats
Ghost switched to a more radio friendly vibe in 2018 and Rats dominated the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart for seven weeks.
3. Slipknot – All Out Life
Slipknot sneaked in at the end of the year with a blinding track that bucked the trend of metal becoming more commercial.
4. Ghost – Dance Macabre
There were a lot or really good songs in 2018 but Ghost managed to have two of the catchiest songs of the year. Easy to hate but impossible to get out your head.
5. Rise of the Northstar – Here Comes The Boom
Speaking of easy to hate, Rise of the Northstar’s entrenched in the 90’s crossover act is pretty easy to write off. However they have massive songs like Here Comes The Boom which infects your brain and as much as it’d be cool to hate on them, their music is actually very very good.
Best Album: Ghost – Prequel
Yeah we know, you’re far too cool to listen to Ghost and they aren’t metal and and and. Ghost have always flirted with the mainstream as far back as Infestissumam with ballad/surf guitar track Ghuleh/Zombie Queen and covers of ABBA songs. Prequelle is lighter than previous Ghost offerings but it’s hard not to love singles Rats and Dance Macabre, while Miasma is one of the best tributes to everything bad that made the 80’s great. Faith‘s main riff is heavier than anything Ghost has done before while See The Light and Witch Image are perfect for this rock opera. As metal continues to slowly die thanks to lack of revenue from physical format sales, every band has had to shift in a more commercial direction but Ghost did it the best.
2. Hank Von Hell – Egomania
After a long hiatus, Hank Von Hell returns to prove he still has the magic he was known for in Turbonegro.
3. Bad Wolves – Disobey
Stylistically a varied album with very chart friendly songs and some very heavy material. Spawned 4 singles, 3 of which sit in the top twenty for Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart for the whole of the year.
4. All That Remains – Victim of the New Disease
Released just after the sudden death of guitar master Oli Herbert, Victim of the New Disease saw All That Remains find themselves again.
5. Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back
Breaking into the Amazon charts alongside Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and metal’s other heavyweights, Orange Goblin scored one of their biggest hits with arguably their most diverse work.
Best Artist – Ghost
It has been Ghost’s biggest year to date in terms of album sales, mainstream exposure, touring and recognition. While they have won 3 Swedish Grammis, they are now in contention for a US Grammy, have a huge tour with Metallica which includes their first ever gig in Ireland, Rats was the number 3 song of the year on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and Dance Macabre is at #4 on this week’s chart. The high profile lawsuit against the band by ex members hasn’t even put a dent in the armour of the band. Oh and Ghost’s frontman teamed with Candlemass to perform Enter Sandman for Metallica themselves.
2. Bad Wolves
From unsigned to having a certified diamond single in Europe, Bad Wolves’ debut year has been impressive to say the least.
Their global farewell tour has been a reminder as to just how important Slayer are, and how big a hole their retirement will leave in the metal scene.
4. Jonathan Davies
It’s been a horrible year for Jonathan Davies after the death of his wife and many of his gigs have seen him on stage in tears but the show has gone on.
They’ve gone from strength to strength and 2018 has been a huge year for them.
Best Inspiration: Tommy Vext of Bad Wolves
It was a close call this year as there were two big contenders for the title but Tommy Vext takes it. Vext’s personal life is like something from a horror movie and the assault on him by his twin brother is just the tip of a horrific iceberg. His whole life has been overshadowed by violence at home, two mothers leaving him, a father who turned to alcohol, being held up at gunpoint aged only 13, becoming a violent person himself then developing his own problems with substances and eventually coming close to suicide. Overcoming his own drug and drink addictions Vext went on to become a counsellor himself, helping others overcome their dependencies and has spoken at length about his experiences to help others.
2. Hank Von Hell
When Hank left Turbonegro it wasn’t a huge surprise as his addiction to heroin had once again overcome him. Finding help through Scientology, Hank released his first solo album in 2018 in a momentous return to form that referenced his failings and his successes.
3. Dee Snider
While other metal artists have done their best to hide the fact that they are using hit writers instead of writing their own material, Snider outright stated he hadn’t written a thing on his 2018 solo album. His candid manner continued when it came to how he’s sold his rights to his back catalogue of music and other subjects.
4. Cardinal Copia
The man behind the mask of Cardinal Copia has had a challenging year to say the least. Last year his real name was revealed against his wishes and this year he was taken to court by former bandmates but came out on top. Mid trial was Ghost’s huge Royal Albert Hall show which went ahead with no sign of the stress of the lawsuit. Ghost returned to finish a show that was cut short by the death of a fan and sold a t-shirt where profits went to the family of the deceased.
5. Alice Cooper
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Cooper revealed that his 90 year old mother lives with him and that he doesn’t talk about politics – “…when musicians are telling people who to vote for, I think that’s an abuse of power. You’re telling your fans not to think for themselves, just to think like you. Rock’n’roll is about freedom – and that’s not freedom.” We wish more celebrities took that attitude.
Metal Report Editor.
Ex guitarist in Zenopede, ex vocals for a goth covers band that was hailed as the future of Welsh music, former DJ, promoter and nightclub director. Writer for Gear4Geeks’ Blog4Geeks and owner of Gear4Geeks ltd. First published music critique was Kerrang letter of the Week.
Definitely has never been the future, present or past of Welsh music.