So everybody still got their eyes, fingers and liver? Awesome, that means that we all survived the silly season once again and are ready for a new and promising year. So hereby I wish you all the best for 2018, and hopefully we all can do and enjoy the finer things in life without being hassled by moronic politicians, the religiously insane and other lowlifes who's only goal in their feeble existence is making your and my life as miserable as theirs. Speaking about the finer things in life, within a pretty close foreseeable future Lords Of Metal will undergo quite a transition. I won’t tell you now how it’s gonna look like, but feel free to say goodbye to Lords Of Metal as you know it. By tradition my esteemed colleague Richard Verbrugge will take over the keyboard now to give - in his own special way - a preview of what's to come in 2019. But before we indulge into a bright future, we look back one more time to the faded glory of something that's called 2018…
Years from now, 2018 will be remembered because of the record heat in the northern hemisphere where in some parts it did not rain for nearly two months. Naturally, this resulted in scorching heat at summer festivals and huge turnovers at the beer and soft drinks stalls. At the end of last year, we predicted that 2018 could be the best metal and rock year since the turn of the century. Our prediction has not completely come true due to the postponement of various albums. In terms of festivals, concerts and album releases, the year was however a lot better than many other years that started with 20. Especially genres like doom, sludge, black, prog, psychedelia and stoner good thrived whereas in traditional subgenres such as AOR and thrash metal, 2018 was downright poor. Last year we reported that several famous guitar builders had a hard time. This year things got worse as Gibson went bankrupt. Much more fun was the rather ridiculous threat from Crematory to their fans. If they (the fans) would not buy the new album in massive numbers, the band would split up. Shots of laughter and a loud "Bye bye" was the result. Klassik '78 did something nobody had ever done before. In the absence of an appropriate label, we called them a parallel band. Based on the assumption that the four Kiss members did not make solo albums in 1978, they recorded an album that Kiss could have made had they chosen to make a new studio album. The result was even better than many albums that Kiss recorded themselves. At least as remarkable was the brutal ode to country music by Devildriver. These 'covers' will promptly change every line-dancing event into a wall of death.
A phenomenon that emerged prominently in 2018 was the Spoken Word tour. Several singers travel around the world to tell anecdotes, vent their political opinions or comment on the music scene. For those performances a chair, microphone and amplifier is sufficient but ticket prices for some of those performances were more expensive than a performance by that same singer with his complete band! Speaking of money, what to think of Within Temptation who were involved in a money-laundering affair that even made headlines in the national media. The band even delayed the release of their new album from December to February.
There was a lot of praise for Judas Priest who released their best album in over thirty years, although there was also the disappointing news that Glenn Tipton suffers from Parkinson. Former guitarist KK Downing turned out to be a very annoying person who did not miss an opportunity to complain about anything and everything. The news about Manowar guitarist Karl Logan, who showed a dangerous obsession with naked toddlers, was rather shocking. Former Manowar guitarist David Shankle immediately tried to reclaim his place. We are curious if Ross the Boss wants to earn a few extra dollars too. The Machine Head split turned out to be fake news, one day after the news they would break up, Robb Flynn said that two members would leave after the tour and he would look for new musicians. Maybe Robb can take lessons from Dave Mustaine who has a lot of experience in replacing band members. We would not be surprised if Cannibal Corpse will soon be looking for a new guitarist as well after Pat O'Brien attacked police officers with a knife and turned his house into an arsenal. After a week behind bars, he was released on bail, but that will surely not be the end of it.
The joint ventures of alcoholic beverage producers and metal bands were again ubiquitous in 2018. After all the big bands had their name attached to a brand, it is now time for a generation of bands that can really use the money like Death Angel and Armored Saint. These deals were however not limited to beer or stronger liquor, because various bands lent their name to things like watches, skateboards and clothing. Shipping is also popular these days as more and more bands announced their own cruise. For the first time in years, there was also a huge hype around a new band. Greta van Fleet were labelled the "saviours of the rock n 'roll" and sold out medium-sized venues even before their debut album was released. The band sounds very similar to Led Zeppelin, but lacks the originality of the English masters. We will see if they really become the huge band, some many people predict.
The number of great albums in 2018 was a lot bigger than last year. Early in the year we were pleasantly surprised by strong albums from Corrosion of Conformity, Judas Priest, Tribulation, Kamelot and we got many more. Ihsahn, Tremonti, Ghost, Amorphis, Behemoth, Night Flight Orchestra, Sleep, Alice in Chains, Slash, Mayan, Rolo Tomassi, Riverside and Metal Church are just a few names from the high-quality output this year. Even older bands like of Saxon and Loudness delivered strong albums this year. Of course, there were disappointments too. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry released a lethargic album, Ace Frehley’s effort was lacklustre at best, Joe Satriani has become even more predictable and former Journey singer Steve Perry released a record so sweet that you can probably only buy it at candy stores. In that respect, Myles Kennedy did a lot better. In terms of sales figures, however, there were few bands this year that made an impact. Judas Priest reached the top five in many countries and Ghost did well commercially, but not many more. 2018 was also the year of postponement for many artists. The new Whitesnake record was postponed for 10 months due to technical problems (or Coverdale’s new knees), Queensryche and Tesla pushed their releases to 2019, John Sykes stayed home for another year, the recordings of David Lee Roth and John5 gathered some more dust and Tool continued their snail pace although the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Dark Angel yet has to start recording.
The sheer number of concerts and festivals was once again overwhelming this year. Look at the Graspop bill that featured Guns N 'Roses, Iron Maiden, Volbeat and Ozzy Osbourne. Talking about the GnR tour, they made so much money it is now in the top five of highest grossing tours of all time. Audience favourite Iron Maiden did a retro tour and garnered praise and appreciation as usual. The Dutch festivals enjoyed plenty of sunshine and managed to come up with interesting bills without the usual big names. For those with plenty of time and money on their hands there were plenty of club concerts to choose from, especially if you lived in the south of the Netherlands. 013 in Tilburg managed to book a Gene Simmons show in between the handouts of his expensive boxset. His down to earth show proved to be a lot more entertaining than Kiss. In that same venue, Halestorm and Myrkur confirmed that they have made a big leap in popularity and Within Temptation proved they built a considerable fan base.
The heavy genre exists for fifty years now, so it only natural that the number of deceased musicians grows steadily every year. Eddie Clarke, the last member of the classic Motörhead line-up, died in 2018. A death that resulted in quite a bit of publicity was that of drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Damageplan). The man was loved in many circles and even the hateful Phil Anselmo suddenly showed sympathy. A lot less popular was old Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland because of his interests in children. There were young musicians who lost their lives such as Kyle Pavone (We Came As Romans) and those who already had a life behind them like Ed King (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Mark Shelton (Manila Road). Other names on the list are Gregg Analla, Pat Torpey, Tim Calvert, Ralph Santolla, Randy Rampage, Richard Bateman, Oli Herbert and Willy Langenhuizen to name just a few.
Do you remember the Metallica Napster case? Over the years, hundreds of artists have complained about P-2-P downloads and Torrent sites. Streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer were often the target of criticism because the revenues for the people who invented and recorded the music were so small. 2018 was the beginning of the turnaround for two reasons. Firstly, because Spotify will offer artists the opportunity to share music directly with listeners and earn royalties. Until recently, Spotify worked with licensing deals from music publishers and record labels. Soon artists can ask for an amount for their music. The second reason is that data from streaming services provides incredible insights to artists. Thanks to the data that is available, artists know exactly where their music is popular and which songs people listen to. With this info, tour schedules can be improved and set lists can be tailor-made for audiences in specific territories. Already, there are examples of artists who sell out large venues in Scandinavia in cities where they had never been or even considered to visit. Metallica is an example of a band that adjusts their set list based on local preferences. However, this is only the beginning. Data is going to revolutionize all popular music genres. Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and David Draiman (Disturbed) are just two examples of artists who look forward to the future and recognize the power of streaming services and data.
In previous year reviews, we reported that vinyl is becoming increasingly popular. Business magazine Forbes wrote an article about it and provided convincing arguments that underlined the comeback and that it is much bigger than was initially assumed. The tactile element that fosters nostalgic feelings among the older generations appeals to more and more young people. The feeling of putting a record on a turntable is very different from clicking on an mp3 or stream on a smartphone or tablet.
After a rather disappointing album by Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth is now the most popular band in the black metal genre. Although their new album did not surpass its predecessor, the thundering music was again received with great praise by fans and critics. Just like on their previous albums and many other black metal bands, the (Roman Catholic) church and the Christian faith were once again the target of critical and blasphemous texts. The church did not care as they have other concerns with all those paedophile priests who apparently offer other organs than just outstretched arms. It would be more audacious if black metal musicians direct their criticism to Islam or the polytheistic currents like Hinduism. Unfortunately, they dare not. We can imagine that, we are not the most courageous either. In Pakistan, fanatics take to the streets for a cartoon contest. Imagine that Behemoth would go sing about Mohammed as they do about Christ. Their heads would quickly roll through the Polish streets. The most likely scenario is that all that Satanism is pure theatre, as Deicide's Glenn Benton recently confessed. Satanism is nothing more than a publicity stunt, a commercial gimmick to attract attention.
This year there were several bands that announced their farewell tour. Ozzy aptly christened his tour "No More Tours" and wisely rehired Zakk Wylde. Lynyrd Skynyrd started their last round around the globe, but the most discussed farewell tour was the one announced by Slayer. The quartet has already completed a large part of their final your and played their last show in many countries including the Netherlands. Luckily, there will be some festival shows in 2019 before Tom Araya will turn to household duties and hobbies. Kerry King will start a new band and Gary Holt will finally record a new record with Exodus.
Various bands from the eighties and nineties unexpectedly returned to the front. Their children are grown up, they get bored and they pick up their instruments and start making music again. Progrock formation Heir Apparent delivered a new album after thirty years and so did Deverill and Purser, two former members of Tygers or Pan Tang. A Perfect Circle returned from the dead with a new album and world tour and Smashing Pumpkins were resurrected too. The original line-up of Kingdom Come minus singer Lenny Wolf, toured in North America. The comeback of the year, however, was that of Fifth Angel. A very strong album with powerful songs, strong riffs, flashy guitar solos and vocals reminiscent of the late Ronnie James Dio.
A glance at the list of albums that will be released in 2019 learns that we do have something to look forward to. After thirteen years, we will finally have a new Tool album in our hands. Tool is still very popular as they managed to sell out large venues in a matter of minutes. The same applies to Rammstein who managed to sell out many European stadiums within an hour. Angus Young reteamed with Brian Johnson, Phil Rudd and retired Cliff Williams to record an AC/DC album that could turn out to be a tribute to Malcolm Young. Will we get a ‘Return to Black’ or ‘Final Salute’? Whitesnake is another name from the past that will have a new album on the shelf just like Dream Theater and Queensryche. Thrash fans can expect new albums from Testament, Death Angel, Flotsam & Jetsam, Overkill, Annihilator, Exodus and Megadeth. Heavy metal fans await Armored Saint, Black Star Riders, Sabaton and Diamond Head. Rival Sons is now a big label band and will release a new album in early 2019 and three quarters of the classic Dokken line-up debuts as The End Machine. There is, however, much more. A selection from the long list names: Legions Of The Damned, Children of Bodom, Evergrey, Soen, Soilwork, Avantasia, Arch Enemy, Hammerfall, Accept, King's X, Opeth, Rob Zombie, Volbeat, Steel Panther and Watchtower. Saxon singer Biff Byford releases his solo debut in the course of the year and from the French hope Gojira, we expect another stunning album.
Swiss rockers Krokus go on tour for the last time, singer Phil Mogg will retire after more than fifty years with UFO and Manowar will finish their career with a “final battle”. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley will hit the road one more time before they hang up their high-heeled boots. On June 25, they play the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. We are curious if their new show can surpass Rammstein’s new show that can be seen on the day in Rotterdam.
Some banks say that they are "Too Big To Fail". They cannot fall over because the economy and even the whole country would be severely disrupted. In the heavy genre, there are also some bands that are too big to fail. They can release weak records and they would fill arenas and stadiums just the same. Metallica, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Rammstein are examples of such bands. A nice guarantee for booking agencies because they will always sell tickets. The organizations behind the big festivals managed to complete their program without those names. At the top of the bills are many famous names, but many bills somewhat pale compared to 2018. Often it is still the oldies who are top of the bill. The Sweden Rock Festival in 2019 looks like 1981 with Rainbow, Kiss and Def Leppard as headliners. Hellfest in France has booked so many good bands that the visitors will miss more bands than they actually see and hear. Previously, a festival visit was a shared experience, nowadays you can go to three-day festivals and have a completely different experience because three, four or five bands play at the same time.
The constant nagging about reunions of old heroes can finally stop in 2019 because for almost every classic rock band there is now a good alternative available. For the retired Black Sabbath there is Orchid, Klassik '78 for Kiss, Siena Root for Deep Purple, Airbag for Pink Floyd, Greta by Fleet for Led Zeppelin, Airbourne for AC / DC and so on.
One of our traditions is look into our crystal ball and explain briefly what we saw. Here are our predictions for 2019:
• Sammy Hagar will not win a Grammy award, but scores a world premiere as he is kidnapped for the second time by extra-terrestrials.
• Vince Neil was not pregnant after all.
• The prize for most original band name won’t be won by Rough Riot, the "brilliant" name that former band members of Rough Cutt and Quiet Riot came up with.
• The Cardinal of Ghost proves to be guilty of the same crimes as catholic priests and cardinals as he cannot control his meat dagger either.
• Former Accept bass player Peter Baltes confesses that he is the secret lover boy of Angela Merkel.
• The grey men of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame election committee are mistaken for white buffalos during a walk in the park and killed with arrows. The police are looking for a suspect with the initials T.N.
• James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett still suffer from a childhood trauma about flawed drumming at the local brass band and therefore treat their audience to a silly drum act.
• Three days after the start of his Election Battle, Joey DeMaio is removed from the republican list of candidates.
• The Cradle of Filth show on Saint Peter square is cancelled again for unclear reasons.
• Dave Mustaine enlists too late for the course "Dealing with Disappointments."
• Gene Simmons loses 95% of his assets to 19 extra-marital children who claim their portion. Immediately after the court ruling, the Kiss tour is expanded with 50 shows.
• Überlord Horst Vonberg is once again passed over during the annual ribbon ceremony on King's Day.
The Lords of Metal staff wishes you a healthy, prosperous and musically exciting 2019.
IF YOU AIN'T A METALHEAD, YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD!