SO 2011 has passed in all but a blur...and the good folks at Rock Radio NI have been calling for a 2011 Review of the Year..
All of which may cause you constant reader to wonder why my posts disappeared for a few weeks. Truth is I was concentrating on a lot of things, including finally getting my short stories published as e-books (should you care to read them head over here where you can read samples on yer PC, Kindle, IPad etc etc).
But with 2012 here and Guinness in hand here's a very personal review of 2011.
It was a year that rocked!
Oh you want more, okay it really, really rocked!
More? Okay, you asked for it!
In no particular order: Stiff Little Fingers. They slayed the Ulster Hall on March 12th. In my review I applauded the guys, but bemoaned the fact that SLF regularly sold out venues, yet were ignored by the 'mainstream' in the Norn Iron media. Then, whatcha know but SLF were accorded 'Legend' status at the Northern Ireland Music Awards in November.
At the awards I couldn't help despair at the below average shallow shoe gazing wannabes being promoted. SLF gave a 22 minute set that blew the hell off these young pretenders, while Duff McKagan was warming up the Spring and Airbrake with proof that you can't buy greatness no matter how many times you're plugged on radio.
Of course, throughout the year I ranted away on various issues associated with rock and metal...you kept on emailing for me to rant more, but even I get fed up with giving off about the vacuous state of the wankers who populate the reality TV schtick circus; however, seeing the MTV awards come to Belfast and Rhianna manufacturing controversy I just gave up...but I do still believe that if you watch X-Factor and have an IQ above 75 you should hang your head in shame!
Of course 2011 was a year when true greatness graced the Odyssey: Iron Maiden proved that there is no finer spectacle than heavy metal at its mightiest.
Even the band that once declaimed the shoddiness of 'False Metal' eventually got back to Belfast after two decades when Manowar produced an almost immaculate set in the Mandella Hall.
With so much metal, it was also a real delight to see Bristolian old guard thrashers Onslaught not only produce a peerless set, but turn out to be such knowledgeable guys and really nice bunch when I interviewed them.
That interview opp came my way by way of Rock Radio NI, and it deserves much kudos for its continuing growth and success.
It was also a year that saw many greats leave us: perhaps the one that resonated beyond rock's cliques to the mainstream was the passing of Gary Moore. In mourning his death, perhaps it should have been time to acknowledge the truly magnificent output from this island in terms rock and metal.
2011 saw many awesome releasesm, with Machine Head, etc etc all churning out great metal records, but there was not one to match the surprise and return to form of Anthrax. Worship Music? Indeed we do!
As a wee side track here, and given Anthrax's songs about zombies, search out "Aye, Dead On" on youtube or here on this blog for a wee giggle about Norn Iron metallers meeting the living dead...
It was also a year that saw some releases that surprised even jaded old me. Having become discenchanted by the UK and Ireland's grindcore and black metal output I was surprised by the releases of Zombifed, Neuroma amongst others. Not for the faint hearted, or those seeking uplifting tunes, still I got it.
And in an output one step removed from that, with a dark vision, Honey for Christ released "Cruelty of Great Expectations" a rather fine dark vision of the inner soul.
And what vision was it that saw Norn Iron produce such great hard rock in 2011. We saw The Answer return with a stonkingly wonderful new platter, and so many, many others issue great CDS, demos and gigs.
There are quite literally too many to mention, but kudos and congrats go to Last Known Addiction. While they're line up has been changed slightly (Hi Matt!) the album was a solid start, and Fight one of the best acoustic tracks released in the noughties.
2011 also saw the continuing rise of Trucker Diablo! As I sit here waffling at 01.45 on the first day of 2012 I glance towards the Guinness and think..."Drink Beer, Destroy"
Happy New Year to all my readers, friends, collaborators in rock and mates in metal. Keep 'er lit, keep 'er loud!