Here it is folks 2018 all wrapped up, the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll let you work out what or who belongs where. It’s been another roller coaster ride here at Wall of Sound, both personally and professionally. On the downside, we lost a few heroes along the way, both musically and otherwise. But I did get to see a shit ton of great bands live, listened to and reviewed some incredible music. I also had the privilege of interviewing some musicians who have been a huge influence on me. Some days I have to pinch myself about how incredibly lucky I am to have landed a gig here at Wall of Sound. But then I remember the pay is shit, the hours are long and deadlines suck – honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Enough of my dribble, I wrote some words for the top 10 and none for the rest because that’s how I roll. Here are my top things for the Wall of Sound 2018 Year In Review…
The Top 20 Albums of 2018?
1. Andrew W.K. – You’re Not Alone
Trying to pick a number one album for 2018 was like trying to pick a favourite child. But what it came down to was, when I’m feeling a little down Andrew W.K. is my go-to album. It delivers a pick-me-up that helps me through the day. Oozing with positivity You’re Not Alone will be on high rotation for a long time to come.
2. Alien Weaponry – Tū
I’m ashamed to admit it, but it took me 2 years to get off my arse and give these guys a listen. Hailing from Aotearoa these 3 young Kiwis hit me like an All Blacks prop forward. Not since Sepultura‘s masterpiece Roots has an album blown me away. Sung in English and the native Maori tongue Te Reo this is a truly unique album. Throw in the fact these 3 are still just teenagers what they’ve produced is mind-blowing. Originally hailing from across the ditch myself I always found Te Reo to be a beautiful language … who knew it could also be so brutal.
3. PurEnvy – Redemption
When I was asked by Editor in Chief Browny to do him a favour and review Redemption I had no idea how fucking good PurEnvy were. I stated back in August this album would find a place in my top 10. Well here it is in all its brutal Aussie thrash goodness taking out the number 3 spot. These 4 Novocastrians should be on every metalhead’s Christmas list.
4. Saxon – Thunderbolt
These legends of NWOBHM proved once again you can’t keep a good band down. The mighty Saxon released an album as good as any that’s come before. I think you need to go back to the classic Crusader to find an album as strong. After decades in the business Biff and co are just getting stronger and stronger. Never straying too far from the metal path but still injecting something new, 21st century Saxon are proving to be as relevant today as they were in 1986.
5. Judas Priest – Firepower
Holy fuck 2018 was a great year for heavy music! The metal god himself Rob Halford delivered the goods with another dose of British steel. Firepower has a classic Priest sound with enough freshness to want you coming back for more. Like Saxon these Brits aren’t resting on their past glories but making exciting new music for new generations.
6. Dee Snider – For The Love Of Metal
For The Love Of Metal is nothing short of brilliant! Former Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider released 12 short, sharp, heavy as fuck tracks on what is surely one of the metal albums of the year. With input from members of Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and Arch Enemy, and one of metal’s iconic front-men and it’s guaranteed to be a rock n roll joyride.
7. Metal Church – Damned If You Do
Christmas came early for Metal Church fans with Damned If You Do dropping on the 7th of December. To be honest it’s perfect timing as a stocking stuffer for the metalhead in your life. Give a gift of music, a gift of love, send ‘em to Metal Church!
8. Parkway Drive – Reverence
I hate metalcore, I’m too old, it’s too shit and I don’t understand it. Thankfully the boys at Parkway Drive have, by their own admission grown out of the genre… To be honest there’s still enough metalcore in this album to keep the kiddies happy, but there’s a whole lot more as well. It’s more of a modern metal album with metalcore roots, a pretty bloody good combination if you ask me. Going by the well-deserved ARIA there’s a few others who think the same.
9. Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons – The Age Of Absurdity
From the ashes of Motorhead raises guitarist Phil Campbell and his sons (with help from vocalist Neil Starr). This is a down and dirty hard rock album in the truest sense. It’s foot stomping, and gritty as fuck. If you love straight down the line no nonsense rock n roll wrap your ears around this one. Age of Absurdity has been on high rotation at my place since its release.
10. Halestorm – Vicious
Rounding out my top 10 are Halestorm. If, as it has been mentioned elsewhere, these guys and girl are the future of hard rock then it’s in very safe hands. The Pennsylvanians get stronger with every release. Vicious is the heaviest and best album they’ve released to date. Lzzy Hale’s vocals take on a new kind of viciousness (pun intended) but still retaining the anthemic choruses and combined with Halestorm’s signature hooky riffs it’s hard not to keep this album on high rotation.
11. Sevendust – All I See is War
12. Zeal and Ardor – Stranger Fruit
13. Hyro The Hero – Flagged Channel
14. Lizzy Borden – My Midnight Things
15. Amaranthe – Helix
16. Ghost – Prequelle
17. A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant
18. Metal Allegiance – Power Drunk Majesty
19. Stryper – God Damn Evil
20. Haken – Vector
The Top 10 Songs of 2018?
1. Alien Weaponry – ‘Kai Tangata’
2. Parkway Drive – ‘Prey’
3. Andrew W.K – ‘Music Is Worth Living For’
4. Dee Snider – ‘Tomorrow’s No Concern’
5. Saxon – ‘They Played Rock n Roll’
6. PurEnvy – ‘Deception’
7. Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons – ‘Dropping The Needle’
8. A Perfect Circle – ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish’
9. Stryper – ‘Yahweh’
10. Children of Bodom – ‘Under Grass and Clover’
Top 5 Music Videos?
1. Alien Weaponry – ‘Kai Tangata’
2. Hyro The Hero – ‘Bullet’
3. Saxon – ‘Predator’
4. Andrew W.K – ‘You’re Not Alone’
5. Soen – ‘Martyrs’
Top 6 Gigs of 2018?
2. Living Colour – 15th December @ Astor Theatre, Perth (Review Here)
4. Jon Toogood – 3rd March @ Four5Nine Bar, Perth (Review Here)
Fav Band/Act You Discovered in 2018?
Who is the next Big Australian Band?
Fyre Byrd! I saw this duo opening for the legendary Living Colour at the Astor Theatre in Perth. A couple of crazy kids from Adelaide with a ton of talent and a bucketful of attitude, they smashed (literally) their way into my ears and onto my next big thing list. Although, if they trash an Epiphone at every gig they’re going to need some serious equipment sponsorship.
What Are You Looking Forward To The Most in 2019?
One word: Download!
In 2019 the powers that be have expanded the Australian leg of Download Festival by adding Sydney. And while those of us on the left coast can dream about Perth one day getting a guernsey, it’s probably never going to happen. So this metalhead is cashing in all his remaining frequent flyer points, sending Browny expenses for a business class upgrade and heading to Sydney town. This year it’s a lot of firsts for me: including Judas Priest and Alien Weaponry as well as some lasts: Ozzy and Slayer. One thing is for sure, here at Wall of Sound we will have the whole thing covered, with reviews, interviews and a ton of photos.
Aaand that’s a wrap!
Written by Gareth Williams (@notgareth)