After putting his Prague woes firmly behind him to front the first new Lamb Of God album in three years, VII: Sturm Und Drang, you could imagine Randy Blythe being more full of beans than ever as 2015 draws to a close. Typically, though, he remains grounded.
“It’s been a lot of hard work this year,” the frontman tells us. “For me personally, it’s been about trying to cram as many of my creative outlets into as small a time frame as possible. We had the album release, of course, which was really well received, plus I’ve become an author and I’ve also been working on my photography. And those other things are hard! I know I can go into a studio and record an album, but photography is something I am still learning and it takes a different kind of discipline. So it’s a lot of different outlets!”
Despite many fans’ expectations, Randy refused to let his experiences in prison in Prague in 2012 dictate the album’s overall direction – pointing out that one of his new ventures enabled him to channel that period of his life in a different way.
“There was no way I was going to write a prison album,” he scoffs. “Firstly, that was a truly tragic incident, and it was far too complex for me to express through a heavy metal album. Secondly, I wrote a book about it [Dark Days]! I’m not the sort of person who mines my experiences after I’ve dealt with them – it was all chronicled in the book. I moved on pretty quickly after that.”
AA’s Ben Bruce kept the train on course
With new singer Denis Stoff filling Danny Worsnop’s not inconsiderable boots, Ben Bruce has had to steer Asking Alexandria through their toughest but most important year yet. But he’s come out the other side convinced that the metalcore heavyweights are stronger than ever, conquering venues and getting ready to take on the challenge of releasing a new album.
“It was quite daunting to think about,” he admits, “but it was actually a fairly painless transition. The reaction to Denis joining has been so incredibly positive, it’s almost like I’m dreaming. I’ve been stood onstage multiple times this year and genuinely shed a tear. It’s been such a relief and such a buzz at the same time.”
Matt Heafy took Trivium into brave new territory
This year, Trivium took another left turn in a career littered with them, dropping screams from their repertoire and taking their classic heavy metal influences to a whole new level with seventh album Silence In The Snow. It gave Matt Heafy a chance to nurture his craft like never before, taking time out for singing lessons and reflection.
“This year, I’ve been learning my voice more than ever!” smiles the frontman. “I always wanted to be a singer like Bruce Dickinson and Ronnie James Dio and Freddie Mercury, and I know that I’ll never be as good as my heroes, but I’ll always work to be as good. That’s a big part of the confidence I now have in life.”
THE PARTY ANIMAL
Wilson’s Chad Nicefield swapped backstreets for the big time
“It’s been an awesome year,” states Wilson frontman and Chief Party Officer, Chad Nicefield. “It’s been pretty crazy to think where we were, even a year prior to this.”
Jumping from back-alley bars to world-famous venues in front of thousands within 12 months has made 2015 a year to remember for the Detroit ragers, but for their singer, it’s all about taking it in his stride. “I think that what we’ve seen this year is some of our hard work paying off,” he adds. “To play venues like London’s Roundhouse, as we did with Halestorm… you have to take a moment and appreciate what you’re doing.”
THE CHART INVADER
BMTH’s world-conquering exploits left Oli beaming
“I can’t lie, it stung when we found out!” laughs Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon coming perilously close to bagging a UK Number One with That’s The Spirit, only to lose out to, er, Stereophonics. “It’s been a weird one, though,” he adds of his year in general. “We spent six months writing and recording That’s The Spirit, which is the longest I’ve ever spent on anything, ever! I was nervous about whether people would take to it, even though I loved it myself, but the response was overwhelming. I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone this year.”
Thy Art man CJ McMahon continued his unholy mission
When Thy Art Is Murder dropped Holy War in June, it created a wave of religious controversy. Six months on, frontman CJ McMahon still stands by its message. “We had a lot of faith in this album and its power to motivate,” he says. “We haven’t finished shaking things up with it!” The inevitable shitstorm that followed in Holy War’s wake has lead to stressful situations at points, though – something CJ has tried to negate in his own way. “I’ve learned more patience this year,” he adds. “I’ve made a big effort to chill out a little more and try to stress less!”
Danny Worsnop landed on his feet with We Are Harlot
“It’s always scary to take a leap of faith,” admits Danny Worsnop, who left the success and safety of Asking Alexandria to go full time with We Are Harlot in January, releasing their self-titled debut in March before hitting the road hard. “Emotionally, it’s been something of a rollercoaster. I stand by my decision and it was a great move for me, but I always put a lot of pressure on myself with my endeavours. I take my career very seriously, and I doubt I would have got to where I am now if that wasn’t the case. I forever strive to be the biggest and baddest and will never be satisfied. It’s the fuel that feeds the ’Snop fire!”