Here are the shows that ruled 2015.
70,000 TONS OF METAL MEGA-JAM
ON A FUCKING BOAT, JANUARY
WE SAY: There really is nothing like heavy metal on the high seas, and when 70,000 Tons Of Metal set sail for its fifth outing in January, smashing sets from the likes of Behemoth, Soulfly, Arch Enemy and Napalm Death made it the best one yet. What truly stole the show, however, was a multi-band, mega-jam covers set on the cruise’s fourth day that saw some of metal’s greatest names – including Nergal, Max Cavalera, Barney Greenway and Cronos –pull together to throw the party of a lifetime. We’re still hungover now…
THEY SAY: “When they asked me to do a Black Sabbath song, I chewed it over, and decided to sing it straight. I could easily have died a death, but thanks to the fellas playing with me it went quite well! I am a big Birmingham buffoon after all, so who better?”
BARNEY GREENWAY, NAPALM DEATH
WEMBLEY ARENA, LONDON, JANUARY
WE SAY: We’re used to Slipknot putting on a show worthy of a fourth of July in Hell, but what made their winter arena outing all the more special was a show-stealing support slot from longtime buddies Korn – topped off with the two metal titans teaming up for a ridiculous, shambolic and utterly brilliant cover of Beasties’ classic Sabotage at Wembley. What a time to be alive.
THEY SAY: “I ran into Clown backstage and was like, ‘Oh man, what if we did a song together?’ He said, ‘What are you thinking?’ and I was like, ‘…Sabotage!’ And the next thing you know, we’re all in Slipknot’s dressing room rehearsing, and it really just clicked. We did it that night, and there was such chemistry, it was amazing. It was one of the funnest times I’ve ever had.” FIELDY, KORN
ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON, MARCH
WE SAY: Completing a renaissance that started with 2012’s Daybreaker and was bolstered by last year’s career-defining Lost Forever // Lost Together, Architects smashed their biggest-ever headline show in style. A flawless victory for the Brighton crew saw 3,300 people proceeding to lose their minds – and their voices – to an unstoppable run of crushing metalcore anthems.
THEY SAY: “I was crying after the first song – the vibe was so perfect. We’re a technical metal band and we were playing in front of over 3,000 people?! It was emotional; we were all so happy and had so much fun.” SAM CARTER, VOCALS
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT
ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON, APRIL
WE SAY: How could Devin top his phenomenal Retinal Circus show at London’s Roundhouse in 2012? By taking over the Royal Albert Hall for an even bigger show dedicated to his extra-terrestrial compadre, Ziltoid, of course! Split into two halves, one a Ziltoid-led space opera and the other a special by-request set, Devin pulled out all the stops, and it was spectacular.
**THEY SAY: **“That was for that kid that saw Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal and has never really forgotten the experience of it. I can’t really believe that we pulled it off. It’s a triumph for everyone involved; the audience, the band, the people that have supported us for all of these years.” DEVIN TOWNSEND, GENIUS
FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM
ROADBURN FESTIVAL, TILBURG, APRIL
WE SAY: A band whose influence has spread far and wide throughout the underground, Fields Of The Nephilim’s two sets at Roadburn were treated like visitations from another, more rarefied realm. Materialising out of banks of dry ice, Carl McCoy led 2,000 rapt devotees on twin stately yet still visceral spiritual odysseys, as the bliss-inducing wanderlust of Preacher Man and Psychonaut left no soul unstirred.
THEY SAY: “It was an honour to headline such a unique festival! We are used to performing in front of partisan crowds made up of many hardcore Watchers; this was different and allowed us to reach a new audience as well.
It was a memorable show for The Nephilim.” CARL MCCOY, VOCALS
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL, DONINGTON, JUNE
WE SAY: 5FDP have always seemed like a band made for big stages, and at Download this year, they proved it. The five-piece attracted a huge crowd to their late-afternoon main stage set, obliterating Donington with songs big enough to kneecap a mammoth and enough circle pits to sink the entire site. They didn’t, luckily.
THEY SAY: “Download is one of the biggest festivals in the world, and it’s not just a festival – it’s a destination where people come from all over the world. Download festival is a special party, an elite club; you have to earn your spot at Download. So it was a validation, and it feels good.” ZOLTAN BATHORY, GUITAR
U.S. WARPED TOUR, NEW JERSEY, JULY
WE SAY: When Metal Hammer headed out to Camden, New Jersey to get stuck into this year’s Warped bill, Beartooth made a crushing impression with an impassioned, rabble-rousing performance that drew a huge and vocally ecstatic crowd. There were so many people crowdsurfing by the time Body Bag dropped, we’re sure there were more fans in front of the barrier than behind it.
THEY SAY: “I didn’t even know how to take it; obviously it’s cool, but it’s always shocking when you go out to a place you’ve never been and have some of the loudest reactions and the greatest crowds. It’s hard to wrap my head around!” CALEB SHOMO, VOCALS
BLOODSTOCK FESTIVAL, DERBY, AUGUST
WE SAY: Mere hours after their Bandung brethren Jasad brought their death metal assault to Bloodstock on the very same stage, Burgerkill made their UK debut in the Sophie Lancaster tent. Hordes of metal-heads took a break from the sunshine to watch the culmination of 20 years’ hard graft, as the Western metal community finally opened their arms and ears to the noise emanating from Indonesia.
THEY SAY: “Playing for the British crowds at a legendary heavy metal festival was fundamentally different from any other shows we’ve done. Coming from a developing country that also has an incredible heavy music scene, we can’t believe what we experienced up there on the Sophie Lancaster stage. We enjoyed every second of it. We couldn’t ask for more… it was fucking brilliant!” EBENZ, GUITAR
OLD BLUE LAST, LONDON, SEPTEMBER
WE SAY: We knew Creeper were special when they dropped their brilliant EP The Callous Heart on us earlier this year, but nothing could have prepared us (or them, it seems) for the throat-tearing bedlam that ensued when they played the tiny Old Blue Last. The atmosphere created during that scintillating 45 minutes will make this an ‘I was there’ moment for years to come.
THEY SAY: “It was incredible, and something that we’re going to remember for a very long time. It was so loud and I’d be tempted to say it was our best gig ever. Something very special happened that night.” WILL GOULD, VOCALS
THEATRE ROYAL, LONDON, OCTOBER
WE SAY: Not even a last-minute venue change could stop Opeth’s Ghost Reveries show being wondrous. With the evening’s first half dedicated to playing their 2005 classic in full, and its second covering a flurry of well-worn classics and deeper cuts, the Swedes put on a masterclass, with Mikael in typically warm form throughout. What. A. Band.
THEY SAY: “We had a lot of technical difficulties, but actually, I quite liked that, because it pissed me off. And when I’m pissed off, I play harder, so we walked offstage feeling angry but content! It was a great setting with a great crowd and we enjoyed it.” MIKAEL ÅKERFELDT, VOCALS/GUITAR