We asked some of the bands to name their favourite album of 2018, the year’s highlight, and what they’re most looking forwards to next year.
First up comes bassist Clive Pearson: “My favourite album of 2018 would be Judas Priest’s ‘Firepower’. I’ve always loved Priest and this is one of their better releases recently. My highlight of 2018 was our European tour and the British Steel Festival in France, and what I’m most looking forward to next year is the release of a new album and a tour to follow in Europe, and hopefully across the Atlantic as well.”
For his album of the year, drummer Chris Takka nominates High On Fire’s ‘Electric Messiah’. “Matt Pike is god! Playing the Underworld where I’ve seen so many epic bands was a highlight, and the British Steel Festival in France was a blast.” As for next year, Chris suggested “more recording, beer, touring, and more beer!” God bless drummers!
“It’s Dave Steen here, and I’ve been nominated to answer your questions,” says Eliminator’s drummer. “My favourite album of 2018? No competition: ‘The Cauldron And The Cross’ by Seven Sisters. The Sisters absolutely nailed it with this wrecker. It delivers on the promise the first album made to us and then some. The cracking ‘Once And Future King’ and ‘Oathbreaker’ are particular personal highlights but it has to be the double whammy of the title track parts one and two which show a maturity in songwriting and direction which even veers close prog in parts. Superb stuff.
“Seeing the release of ‘Last Horizon’ is easily the highlight of the year. We put a lot of hard work into it and are very proud of the outcome. Being able to walk into a record shop and see the album for sale, alongside albums of bands we’ve loved for years, will never get old. Plus the launch party in Manchester was fantastic!
“As for the future, 2019 will see Eliminator writing new material for the next album which we hope to record later on in the year. More gigs with another UK tour, and a lot more shows in Europe are very much on the cards.
Heretic’s guitarist and founder Brian Korban also lists Judas Priest’s ‘Firepower’ as his album of the year. “I was very intrigued by the teasers the band put out prior to the release. Once I got a copy of the CD I was more impressed by how well written it is. I love seeing Rob Halford still be able to kill it.
“My highlight,” he continues, “has to be a show we played in Santa Ana, California in March. The band caught lightning in a bottle and had an impromptu Heretic family reunion. Friends new and old came from all over the States to help us celebrate the release of ‘A Game You Cannot Win’.” As for the future, “I’m looking forward to working on and recording new material for our next CD. Also, I would love to play in Europe should the opportunity arise.”
“Mindwars have the following to share!” announces Mike Alvord, cheerfully. “Roby [Vitari] and I both agree on our favourite album of the year, while Danny [Pizzi] chose a little more unique band. Danny’s choice was Voivod’s ‘The Wake’ – ‘the songs are awesome and very challenging,’ he says. We both went for ‘Firepower’ by Judas Priest. Roby’s comment was that the album has ‘great songs and amazing production’ while for me, although this album is not your typical Priest, it sounds amazing and is heavier than I expected.
“We differed quite a lot with our highlight of the year. Danny came up with Dee Snider’s solo album, saying that ‘he deserves more recognition for his vocal talent and powerful approach’. Roby’s said ‘my highlight has to be the band Fireburn. I love Bad Brains and Fireburn is the best reincarnation yet.’ As for me, seeing Slayer one last time was my highlight of 2018. While Slayer calling it quits is not a highlight, I completely understand. Gary has his own thing going with Exodus and, without Dave and the loss of Jeff, puts a hole in Slayer’s future. Seeing this show along with seeing Anthrax and Testament again was a treat.
“And the three of us agree that writing and recording the fourth Mindwars album is what we look forward to the most. Getting through three albums behind material I mostly had in my vault gives us a new opportunity and approach to a new sound and direction.
“My favourite album?” reflects guitarist Serj. “This will be quite a popular and obvious choice but I’d have to give this to Judas Priest’s ‘Firepower’. It’s the first time they’ve done themselves 100% justice since ‘Painkiller’, and they’ve gone back to raising the bar for the competition like they used to with every album back in the Seventies and Eighties. The songwriting is great overall and they’ve made sure every aspect of it is as good as it can be – the music, the individual performances as well as the integration of the rhythm section, vocals and guitars, and the production.
“Our highlight of the year would be releasing ‘The Calling’ as it was the moment we crossed the finish line after a year of hard work. Even though the music was finished, mixed and mastered months before the release there were still many other things that kept us on our toes such as getting a good video, album cover and promo material ready and making sure everything was perfectly aligned for the launch. The day after we released the album we did a launch show at the Underworld, so the release of ‘The Calling’ coincided with the milestone of topping the bill at that venue for the first time. We could finally let the music itself do the work, smash out the new tunes live and bask in some positive feedback, and have a great party with all our friends, fans and other bands down at the Underworld.
“As for 2019, we’re already looking forward to next year’s shows. ‘The Calling’ is a big step up for us and we’re sure it’s going to take us to new countries and festivals for the first time.”
Guitarist/vocalist Kyle McNeill’s album of 2018 “has to be Eliminator’s debut ‘Last Horizon’. I’ve been a huge fan of the band ever since I first saw them (years ago!) and the album is everything I hoped it would be. ‘Spoils of an Empire’ is a masterpiece!
“Releasing our second album is my highlight of the year. We’ve taken some big steps forward this year, as a band, but nothing compares to seeing all the hard work you put in pay off and people enjoying it as much as we do.”
As for 2019, “playing as many shows as we possibly can. We have some really cool things in the works and if it all comes through, we’re going to be on the road a lot next year. Also, now we’ve had some time away from writing and the second album is starting to digest, I’m getting excited about come up with some new material.”
Vocalist Rich Rutter steps up for Toledo Steel. “My choice for album of the year would have to be ‘Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough’ by The Night Flight Orchestra. It’s got the perfect blend, in my opinion, of classic rock influence and Eighties’ commercial catchiness but yet it retains their own identity.
“My personal highlight of 2018 was no doubt being able to release our first full length album. Being able to cement that release so soon after signing our record deal with Dissonance Productions really felt like a big achievement for us as a band and something that we could have never imagined when we started.”
And 2019 offers “gigs, gigs and more gigs! We’ve got plenty of shows lined up and being planned already, in and out of the UK, of course. Leaving all the home comforts behind doesn’t bother us. We’re just excited to get out there more so than ever and play as many new stages as possible!” adds the effervescent frontman.