Originally published December 31st 2015:
Hello folks! Season’s greetings, and all that jazz! Hope you’re doing well, and your festive cheer hasn’t been worn down to a stump by the current pro/anti ‘top ten/five’ internet article grumbles, debates, and rants that have been circulating. It hasn’t? Well, that’s jolly good! Because, guess what! Underground In Prydain is going to hit you with another one! This is our Fave Five metal moments of 2015!
Before we start firing out any names, however, let’s lay out the parameters. This isn’t a ‘best album’ or ‘best band’ list. 2015 has been an absolutely fantastic year for underground releases, and pitting them against each other to pick ‘winners’ would be nigh on impossible. Instead, this is, as the title suggest, five favourite moments which have occurred in the circles of Underground In Prydain’s – and Critical Events’ – corner of the UK scene.
It’s also worth pointing out that, even with the list broken down to five, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to choose between these, so there is no order of preference – one entry is just as exciting as the next to us! So, without further ado, UIP’s Fave Five Metal Moments of 2015!
Reign Of Fury’s UK attack
2015 saw this lot change the word ‘Reign’ from merely part of their band name and into a purpose of being. Anyone would be forgiven for thinking they had just been signed to some significant indie label, such was the veracity with which they assaulted Ol’ Blighty this year. A steady stream of fairly high profile live appearances was backed up with a blinding array of rewards for investors in the crowdfunding campaign for their second full-length ‘Death Be Thy Shepherd’. Not only were there copies of the album on CD, but also coloured vinyl, blood-splatter imports (we know where at least one of those ended up), test pressings; it was quite simply a lot of fun to watch this enthusiastic group at work, and to witness what former manager Andy Pilkington helped them to achieve.
Diesel King covering Toto
It’s not all business here. Everybody loves a laugh. Everybody also loves Toto, right? Or at least two of their better known songs – Africa and Hold The Line. Diesel King certainly do, as they unleashed a video cover of the latter this year, with a tongue in cheek character which left many beaming, entertained faces in its wake. This was a side-line to the release of their Concrete Burial platter, and a significant helping of live appearances in the UK and mainland Europe, but it was a great laugh, and likely won a few more followers of their sludged up, death metal stylings. It’s a great reminder that while you have to be somewhat serious to get anywhere, laughter brings people together, and can be a fantastic way to show your human side and connect with the masses. The track has had more than a few plays at this end, and it almost always leads to the album getting fired up.
Aside from having one of the best releases of 2015 (in our humblest of opinions), A War Of Souls And Desires, and a killer live show, Krysthla have been all over the metal media. Terrorizer called them ‘ruthlessly precise’, while Metal Hammer described AWOSAD as a ‘perfect gateway death metal album’, and tipped them as their Hot New Band. Gracing metal charts and HMV’s in store Recommended Buy stalls, they surely made an impact not usually accessed by underground bands. This was thanks in no small part to the exemplary PR work of Stampede Press, although we get the feeling that Krysthla’s fantastic sound and solid effort may have had something to do with it, too. For those who want some more information on this campaign, read UIP’s interview with Stampede’s boss, Rob Town here.
TBFM launching Breaking Bands
Few radio stations can lay claim to doing as much for up-and-coming rock and metal talent as TBFM. They even started a record label, acting as a stepping stone for emerging artists looking to develop, and aiming to take them to the next level, rather than take them for every penny they make. Following the ethos of the rest of the TBFM universe, in 2015 the company launched Breaking Bands Festival; a three day event designed to ‘bring the very best of the bands of the future into one place’, putting them alongside the likes of Breed 77 and Blaze Bayley. The bands who were chosen to play, performed at a sold out event, which was also shortlisted for Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards & Conference 2015. The second Breaking Bands Festival is due to take place in Bromsgrove, from the 27th to the 30th of May in 2016, and it will be interesting to see how things pan out for the venture in future.
Fear Factory’s nostalgia tour with Dead Label
Whether you love ‘em, hate ‘em, or fall somewhere in between, Fear Factory were pretty big news to us back in the mid to late 1990s. While some might feel that they have lost their edge on recent releases, there’s no arguing that Demanufacture stamped its existence all over the metal world, and recent touring has seen it performed in full at every show. If you didn’t already know, the term for this is ‘nostalgia touring’, taking old classics that people know and love out on the road for almost guaranteed financial return. Big bands have been doing it for years, but in FF’s case, it was an exciting occurrence for two reasons. First, this is traditionally the territory of giants, so, while everyone is saying there will be no festival headliners in the future, if bands of FF’s vintage are doing nostalgia tours, they might just be the resounding answer. Secondly, being pretty sure that it was going to be successful, they grabbed hard working (and self-booking, from the looks of it) Irish band, Dead Label, as touring support, showing that the upper end of the industry isn’t closed to underground bands with a solid work ethic.
Bonus entry No. 6 – Hordes Of Belial turned six
Yeah, at the beginning we agreed on a list of five things, but being part of Critical Events (the company behind Hordes Of Belial) UIP was incredibly pleased to see Hordes make its way through a sixth year, putting its existence past the half-a-decade mark. Despite the ridiculously good line-up for the 2014 edition of the metal showcase event, the finances didn’t work out that year, and it took a bit of thinking outside the box, a fistful of scrabbled cash, and some stubborn determination to see the show go on again this year. Experiencing new bands taking part in something bigger, and established names play to an intimate, appreciative crowd is its own reward, but none of us have infinitely deep pockets. However, everything came together for ‘The 6th Verse’ this year, and we’re very happy to tell you that arrangements for ‘Hordes Of Belial – 7 & Hell’ are well underway, with the venue booked for October 1st 2016, and some brilliant bands already in the works!
Well, we hope you enjoyed our list. Maybe you’ve just discovered a band or someone working in the industry who really impressed you, too, or maybe you want to get more involved in our corner of the music world. Then again, maybe this article has just filled you with rage at our inadequacies. Either way, feel free to share and comment, but please, do keep it as polite as you can!
Until next time!