21 August 2018

Heavy Music Awards 2018 Picks And Predictions

Following another great year for heavy music, it only makes sense that someone recognise the very best bands, artist and others working around the music we love so much. Thankfully the Heavy Music Awards has stepped up to the plate to put together an award show that celebrates those that are truly pushing boundaries in modern music. Ahead of this review attending the awards this Thursday, I will be presenting my picks- the nominees that I think should win based on my own opinion- and my predictions- who I think will have won the public vote. This will be incredibly difficult as usually I look at award show nominations and can discard certain bands as good but not on the same level as others. Here I can’t. That just speaks volumes as to how good the last twelve months have been for heavy music. (shortlist of nominations can be found here)

Best Album


Code Orange – Forever (Roadrunner Records – Produced by Kurt Ballou & Will Yip)
Converge – The Dusk In Us (Epitaph Records / Deathwish Inc – Produced by Kurt Ballou)
Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms (Roadrunner Records – Produced by Neil D. Kennedy)
Enter Shikari – The Spark (Ambush Reality – Produced by David Kosten & Rou Reynolds)
Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand (Reprise Records – Produced by Brendan O’Brien)
The Menzingers – After The Party (Epitaph Records – Produced by Will Yip)
While She Sleeps – You Are We (Independent – Produced by While She Sleeps & Carl Bown)

Let’s start with the big one.  I’m sure anyone looking at this right now is having a nervous breakdown just thinking about having to make a choice. Every record here deserves all the praise it receives and more. But for me, as a hardcore kid, my choice comes down to the album that has caused a seismic shift and perhaps one of the most consistent bands in the world putting out another unbelievable album. Code Orange vs Converge is a brutal choice to make, ultimately though I like The Dusk In Us more than Forever. That said I would not be disappointed if any of these albums won.

Pick: The Dusk In Us by Converge

If you asked me who I think will win, I feel The Menzingers have been cruely overlooked on this side of the pond. While She Sleeps have a massive amount of support, as does every band here. I think some people may see this as the opportunity to undo the “injustice” of the Grammys and give Code Orange the win. So that’s my prediction, Code Orange to win.

Prediction: Forever by Code Orange

Best UK Band


Arcane Roots (Easy Life)
Architects (Epitaph Records)
Creeper (Roadrunner Records)
Enter Shikari (Ambush Reality)
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (International Death Cult)
Marmozets (Roadrunner Records)
While She Sleeps (Independent)

Another brutal category, Architects obviously deserve all the attention and praise they get, but I’d prefer them to get more international attention now. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are making massive strides and may well go on to even bigger and better things in future, I wouldn’t award them yet as the best is still to come. The same goes for Creeper and Marmozets. While She Sleeps have achieved a significant accomplishment this year, going independent and building their own studio, as well as releasing an absolute blinder of an album. That true DIY ethos really speaks to me, and as such I’m going to pick WSS to win this category.

Pick: While She Sleeps

Any of these bands has a good chance to win, Frank Carter has been doing really well commercially which puts him in good stead to win but having seen how adored Marmozets are by their fans in January I’d be surprised to not see them win.

Prediction: Marmozets

Best International Band


Code Orange (Roadrunner Records)
Converge (Epitaph Records)
Mastodon (Reprise Records)
The Menzingers (Epitaph Records)
Metallica (Blackened Recordings)
Parkway Drive (Epitaph Records)
Trivium (Roadrunner Records)

This is the first category where there is a band I’d be upset if they won. That’s Metallica. They are undoubtedly one of the greatest bands in the history of heavy music but there are so many more exciting bands in the modern age that could really benefit from a boost to profile from an award win. And many of those bands are part of this category. While I’d be happy with any other band to win this award, I really want The Menzingers to get the attention they deserve over here, and hence they are my pick for this award. If you’ve never bothered with them before, stop reading this and go and check them out.

Pick: The Menzingers

I think it’s between Trivium and Parkway to win this in the public vote, unless the Grammy effect hits Code Orange again. With Parkway’s album being more recent I’d normally expect it to edge Trivium out, but there seemed to be a bit of a mixed response to it (even though I think it’s great), so I’m predicting Trivium to win, especially following that ridiculous tour line up here in the UK in April.

Prediction: Trivium

Best Live Band


Architects (Epitaph Records)
Enter Shikari (Ambush Reality)
Every Time I Die (Epitaph Records)
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (International Death Cult)
Ghost (Loma Vista Recordings)
Gojira (Roadrunner Records)
While She Sleeps (Independent)

This is a category that will be hard to compare. Holding the campy spectacle of a Ghost show up against the sheer chaos of an Every Time I Die gig is impossible. It comes down to sheer personal preference. Each of these bands is at the top of their game at what they do, and it probably comes down to who I’ve seen most recently when I make my pick. Frank Carter is probably the greatest living frontman so it really pains me to give my nod to the band with the second best frontman performing today, but let’s be real: Every Time I Die are the best live band on the planet and I’d be lying to everyone if I didn’t pick them.

Pick: Every Time I Die

However, Every Time I Die haven’t ever risen above the level of beloved cult band, making them unlikely to win. Ghost are possibly one of the most successful buzz bands around, with a reputation for a great live show. Frank Carter, of course, has been growing in notoriety, and The Rattlesnakes are the perfect complement to his wild antics. Gojira are also in with a good shout here, but I think Frank Carter may just run away with this.

Prediction: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Best UK Breakthrough Band


Bad Sign (Basick Records)
Conjurer (Holy Roar Records)
Employed To Serve (Holy Roar Records)
Holding Absence (Sharptone Records)
Loathe (Sharptone Records)
Milk Teeth (Roadrunner Records)
Venom Prison (Prosthetic Records)

Not to knock the other three bands on this list but four of these bands really stand out. Conjurer, Employed To Serve, Milk Teeth and Venom Prison. The other bands are solid but need a little more development for me to really get behind. Milk Teeth bring those huge 90s vibes that are very popular right now. Venom Prison absolutely slam and deserve all the accolades they can possibly get. Conjurer’s debut, The Mire, is like a list of the things I love about heavy music all done to an incredibly high standard. But there’s only one choice for my pick. When I first looked at the nominations I was genuinely enraged to see that Employed To Serve’s incredible The Warmth Of A Dying Sun wasn’t nominated for best album. I’d probably have a harder time picking between that and The Dusk In Us than I did with Forever. For Me it’s the only choice.

Pick: Employed To Serve

While I love all these band, I think most of them are far too abrasive for mass appeal. The one exception to this Milk Teeth, those grunge influence will do wonderful things for their appeal. As such it makes most sense that they’ll win.

Prediction: Milk Teeth

Best International Breakthrough Band


Brutus (Hassle Records)
Can’t Swim (Pure Noise Records)
Knocked Loose (Pure Noise Records)
Palaye Royale (Sumerian Records)
Sløtface (Propeller Recordings)
Stand Atlantic (Rude Records)
Waterparks (Easy Life)

This category is the one I struggle with the most. 5/7 of these bands are pop-punk/alt. rock bands, a genre which I don’t get on with very well. Though I have heard good things about those bands from people who know their stuff about that world. From my previous picks you may assume I’d pick Knocked Loose, as they’re a heavy hardcore band. However, they’ve never done much for me either. That sounds as though I’m picking Brutus because I don’t like the other bands, that’s not the case. I love Brutus’ music and I probably would have picked them up against a lot of other bands that could be in this category.

Pick: Brutus

Not really being aware of the world most of these bands makes it hard to choose which one I think will win, but Knocked Loose have a lot of hype behind them in the world of hardcore so in my most educated guess I’d go for Knocked Loose.

Prediction: Knocked Loose

Best Album Artwork


Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore Records – Artwork by Mariusz Lewandowski)
Converge – The Dusk In Us (Epitaph Records / Deathwish Inc – Artwork by Jacob Bannon)
Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms (Roadrunner Records – Artwork by Nicky Barkla)
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Modern Ruin (International Death Cult – Artwork by Dean Richardson / Studio Yuck)
Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (Reprise Records – Artwork by Alan Brown / Medusawolf)
Northlane – Mesmer (UNFD – Artwork by Jacques Duquette / Fvckrender)
Sikth – The Future In Whose Eyes? (Millennium Night – Artwork by Meats Meier)

Another great list of nominations for album artwork. Even Bell Witch, who I wasn’t aware of before looking into this category, blew me away with the beauty and distinct styles of their artwork. This is another category where it’s very difficult to compare the nominees, as they have distinct style each their own. Personally, I have a massive bias in favour of Jacob Bannon’s artwork at all times, so based solely on that I’m picking The Dusk In Us but all of these albums have beautiful artwork.

Pick: The Dusk In Us, artwork by Jacob Bannon

I personally have no idea which artwork is the going to win this vote, but I do feel like the aesthetic of Creeper’s cover for Eternity In Your Arms is very striking and a lot of people will gravitate towards it.

Prediction: Eternity In Your Arms, artwork by Nicky Barkla

Best Festival



2000trees Festival (United Kingdom)
Arc Tan Gent (United Kingdom)
Bloodstock Open Air (United Kingdom)
Download Festival (United Kingdom)
Hellfest Open Air (France)
Slam Dunk Festival (United Kingdom)
UK Tech Fest (United Kingdom)

The line-up for all these festivals was incredible this year, and each and everyone deserves recognition. Hellfest is always incredible in scope. Download had a little too much retro oriented stuff on the main stage this year for me, with a lot more of the interesting stuff on smaller stages, that said it’s always a good time at download. I’ve always preferred smaller festivals, however, and for me the best line up and atmosphere always lines up at Bloodstock. I think a single look at that line up should satisfy any dissenting opinions.

Pick: Blookstock Open Air

I think the lure of Guns ‘n’ Roses may well win over the general public here. Download is a beloved festival for good reason, and while the line-up wasn’t really my cup of tea, it genuinely deserves the recognition it gets.

Prediction: Download Festival

Best Photographer


Corinne Cumming
Ben Gibson
Joshua Halling
Paul Harries
Tina Korhonen
Jennifer McCord
Ed Mason

Best Photographer has been a stumbling block for me. I’m not a hugely visual person and I have no understanding of photography, so I’ve asked Midlands Metalheads photographer Damian John (who’s fantastic work can be found here) to weigh in on who he would pick to win.

“The Heavy Music Awards Best Photographer category has a lot of heavy hitters and big names with each photographer being a master at what they do. Each of the seven finalists deserves to take home that prestigious award but there can only be one winner and this year I think that Ben Gibson has a very good chance. Browsing though his website it’s clear that Ben has a natural ability to portray emotion in his imagery, it’s difficult to tell a story using a single frame yet somehow Ben manages it time and time again. More so than that capturing the image is just half the battle, he also has a very natural yet distinctive style of editing. He doesn’t fall into the trap of over editing and instead keeps his images very true to real life He may be up against some of the world’s finest but Ben has more than enough style and ability to come out on top.”

Pick: Ben Gibson

Best Producer


Kurt Ballou
Romesh Dodangoda
Neil D Kennedy
Dan Lancaster
Brendan O’Brien
Will Putney
Will Yip

Again, this is a fantastic list of nominees. I think it’s pretty obvious at this point I have a bit of a bias towards members of a certain band, but Will Putney, Will Yip and Brendan O’Brien have done excellent work throughout their careers and especially in the last year. However, Kurt Ballou always brings a sound that I love to any record he produces and is also able to break his usually disgustingly filthy sound to produce Chelsea Wolfe’s latest album. This shows that while he does have a brilliant signature sound, he’s versatile enough to break that mould.

Pick: Kurt Ballou

In terms of who I think will win, it’s a tricky choice but Brendan O’Brien’s work with Mastodon is fantastic and very noticeable to even a casual listener, he fully deserves recognition for his great work.

Prediction: Brendan O’Brien