With 2018 winding down into a close, we’re about to look over the last year and determine our favourite highlights including releases, concerts, moments and we’ll even look at the biggest disappointments of the year. So without further adieu, let’s get stuck in.
Top Release: Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?
This album was truly the most anticipated for release. With Skiba working with Blink 182 on the road and in the studio, the sense that Alkaline Trio was put on the back burner seemed to get truer the more that time went on. Many times band try to revisit their early days to major disappointment, but the Illinois punk trio delivered what we had all been waiting and hoping for since 2013. Pumping out sounds similar to 2000’s Maybe I’ll Catch Fire and 2001’s From Here To Infirmary came together so well for August’s Is This Thing Cursed? It was an absolute delight to end such a scorching hot UK Summer, with title track and ‘Krystaline’ standing out and becoming anthems for 2018.
Runner Up: Architects – Holy Hell.
Since their last release in 2016 and the unfortunate passing of Tom Searle, Architects have faced some of the toughest decisions regarding the future of the band. The first release sat nicely at the end of 2017, but Holy Hell was delivered to us this year and is the best possible path that the band could have taken. Announcing their first UK arena tour beginning early 2019, Architects have pulled together with strength and passion for their music, delivering a raw emotional outburst in their latest release.
Most Disappointing: The Story So Far – Proper Dose
This was a hard one to do, mostly because we’re huge fans of the Californian band that took our hearts in 2011. Under The Soil and Dirt has been a constant in our library, so deciding that Proper Dose was our most disappointing album of 2018 was not the easiest decision. Trust us, it was not easy. We can’t help but feel like Proper Dose was ultimately rushed, with little to no thought. Of course, it does have it’s strong points and while we’re deeming it to be the most disappointing, it’s not the worst. Proper Dose lacked a sense of unity for us, missing the relevancy that The Story So Far had captured so well with their earlier releases.
Best Show: The Used – Bristol, August.
After cancelling their tour earlier in the year due to personal issues, The Used returned a few months later to continue their UK tour and from the sunny shores of Cardiff, we traveled to Bristol to party with them. Regardless of their earlier tour of fan-favourite In Love And Death in full, The Used has never disappointed when it comes to putting on live performances. Politically fueled and with a passion for drama, they lit up that stage and in turn the crowd reciprocated.
Runner Up: Bring Me The Horizon – Cardiff, November.
Now, Bring Me The Horizon has been a hit and miss when it comes to live shows for a very long time, but with their latest announcement of amo releasing in January, BMTH put on arena shows around the UK to remind us all why we started listening to them in the first place. Of course, a huge part of their show was from That’s The Spirit but it totally deserves the runner up position merely for their revisit to Count Your Blessings in a mash-up.
Second Runner Up: Enter Shikari – Tramshed, Cardiff.
We just can’t let this show slip by unnoticed. Enter Shikari have been on the rise ever since they took over the scene with Take To The Skies in 2006, and with their community expanding massively over the years, The Spark launched an entirely new phenomena that has put Enter Shikari so high on the best British alternative band list that it was downright silly to miss one of their shows. Remember in 2017, Take To The Skies turned 10 and they headlined Slam Dunk? Well, Tramshed lit up with an energy and community that has never really been experienced before. Not to mention, Rob Rolfe specifically said that Cardiff were definitely the more in tuned audience they had met. GG, Cardiff. It was one of the most fun shows we had the pleasure of experiencing, and we can only hope that Enter Shikari won’t leave it as long next time.
Most Disappointing: Bullet For My Valentine – Cardiff, November.
While we can’t argue that the line-up for BFMV’s tour was absolutely solid, the headlining act wasn’t the best of the year. Despite the warm fuzzy feeling that raged inside at the sound of The Poison tracks on their setlist, it was a concoction of disappointment throughout. A series of back-and-forth without keeping the vibe alive in the crowd, it was a roller-coaster of a show. Their latest release, Gravity hasn’t gained much appraisal since it’s release, and their show kind of proved it with more people caring about their older releases than supporting the entirety of the show. With that being said, we cannot deny how great it was to hear Hand Of Blood once again live on stage.
Best Song Release: Slipknot – All Out Life
Slipknot has been hyping up their newest material for a good while, reciting and proving that their revisiting their old school Iowa days. The album is said to be one of the darkest chapters in Slipknot’s history, and in interviews both Corey Taylor and Clown has repeatedly emphasized on the heaviness of the new album. Tracking for release in 2019, ‘All Out Life’ came as a surprise to fans while we weren’t expecting it – on Halloween. There are also rumours that this album could be their last, with Crahan reportedly saying how “I feel like this could be it for me,” when discussing the new album. All we know is that ‘All Out Life’ is one of the best tracks to come out of 2018, and with their album on track to be released next year alongside their headlining acts of Download festival, we cannot miss it for the world.
Runner Up: InFlames – I Am Above
The return of InFlames has been one of the best things to come out of 2018, alongside an announcement of the Swedish metal band returning to the shores of UK for select dates in April 2019. Their new track, ‘I Am Above’ is a concoction of heavy guitar riffs, thunderous drumming, weighted bass and vocals that take InFlames out of their 2014 hit release of A Sense Of Purpose and we are ready to hear what we consider to be the biggest album to hit shelves in 2019.
Most Disappointing: Bring Me The Horizon ft Dani Filth – Wonderful Life
We’re totally prepared for the backlash that this may cause, but ‘Wonderful Life’ came after their first release of ‘MANTRA’ which blew us away entirely in BMTH’s new direction. ‘Wonderful Life’ had big boots to fill, and it failed. Written for the purpose of being a Limp Bizkit song, BMTH swooped in to take it for it’s own and we were left with what feels like an unfinished, weak product. It holds no resemblance to what made BMTH the band we had come to follow and love over the years, especially with poetic lyrics chucked to one side to compensate for a knife-edge. amo is set for release in January, and we’re hoping it can offer more than this new radio-get-up that BMTH has adapted to in recent months.
This year has seen Milestones break-up which tore at our heart strings, a new Breaking Benjamin album (which was SO close to getting it’s own place on this list) as well as a new A Perfect Circle album. We watched Bad Wolves take over the charts with their cover of ‘Zombie’ after the tragic news of Dolores O’Riordan’s death in January. We got a Static-X reunion and a 3/4 reformation of The Smashing Pumpkins.
So, with one day left before we hit the new year, here’s a quick summary of what we’re looking forward to the most in 2019. First off, we have Download Festival with headliners such as Slipknot, Slayer and TOOL. This is going to be an absolutely insane festival, with it being Slayers official last show, TOOL who we have been waiting on for years and potentially Slipknot’s final goodbye too. Parkway Drive in January also. Architects in Cardiff in January. We have Behemoth and InFlames playing Bristol in February and April (woo, road trip!). Album wise, another two quick mentions will be Slipknot and TOOL, as well as Bring Me The Horizon, Dream Theatre, Rammstein and Alter Bridge. And, of course, we cannot skip out on the new Slam Dunk Festival get-up since dropping Midlands from their dates, and with Bullet For My Valentine and All Time Low headlining, we could be looking at what could be the last year of a day festival before it moves to a weekender!
What were your highlights of 2018, and what are you most looking forward to in 2019?