The best metal gigs of 2016

A photograph of Bring Me The Horizon on stage at the Royal Albert Hall
(Image: © Will Ireland)

Parkway Drive

Brixton Academy, London, February 12

WE SAY: Six months after our cover stars dropped the table-smashing Ire, they brought their anger to the legendary, 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy. Through the new songs, the confetti cannons and the pyro, Winston McCall’s warrior- like stage presence shone strongest of all. Epic.

THEY SAY:“I remember walking into Brixton Academy and thinking how amazing it looked completely empty, and imagining what it was going to look like full that night. I wanted to make sure the show was flawless – that we left an impression worthy of such an iconic venue. It ended up being one of the best shows of last year.” Winston McCall, vocals

Ire met fire for Parkway Drive’s stunning Brixton Academy gig

Ire met fire for Parkway Drive’s stunning Brixton Academy gig
(Image: © Jake Owens)

Ghost

Palladium, London, March 2

WE SAY: Packing out a theatre normally reserved for comedy and drama, Ghost upped their performance accordingly. When Papa Emeritus removed his mitre he transformed into a cheeky vaudeville performer, while the hits flowed like their capacious robes, proving how varied and vast their twisted hymn sheet has become.

THEY SAY: “It was great. The Palladium is a fantastic venue – we liked it a lot. It has a history and it’s obviously a very well-maintained theatre. I don’t like people sitting – that’s annoying, because you can’t feed off the crowd the way you want to – so I was glad that people stood up immediately.” A Nameless Ghoul

London By Norse

Coronet, London, March 19

WE SAY: Billed as ‘a celebration of Nordic culture, London By Norse transcended geography to become a rallying point for something sublime. Culminating at the Coronet in south London, Wardruna’s mesmeric invocations, Enslaved’s open-hearted grandeur, and the two bands’ combined forces for the tempestuous Skuggsjá suite, gathered devotees from across the world as ancient forces were invoked to ecstatic effect.

THEY SAY: “London By Norse kicked off our amazing anniversary year. We were roaming all over London, performing different sets with Enslaved from our different periods, plus the wonderful other events: performing with my BardSpec project alongside [Wardruna’s] Einar Selvik, and finishing the whole thing off with a Skuggsjá concert in front of 2,000 people. It was pure magick!” Ivar Bjørnson, guitars

Mysticum

Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway, March 24

WE SAY: One of the most visually arresting live shows your retinas are ever likely to be subjected to, industrial black metallers Mysticum’s return after a 20-year live hiatus was an ingenious sensory overload. Aligned to piledriving grooves, stark black-and-white Satanic imagery poured from plinths and backdrops acting as video screens, creating a mercilessly immersive out-of-body experience.

THEY SAY: “It became everything we aimed for! The planning, design and execution was demanding. But with an excellent crew and some brute force, it was a success. From our pillars, we gazed out on a baffled and stunned crowd, hypnotised by the sonic and visual onslaught. It is most satisfying being back live, with a show that mirrors our music and art. Hail Satan!” Herr General Cerastes, vocals

Fans converged in London for Jacob Bannon and co’s Blood Moon shows

Fans converged in London for Jacob Bannon and co’s Blood Moon shows
(Image: © Derek Bremner)

Converge

Brixton Electric, London, April 13

WE SAY: Atmospherics reigned supreme at this special Blood Moon show, which saw Converge team up with Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chisholm (Revelator, Chelsea Wolfe) and Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) for special reworkings of the band’s tracks, plus a spinetingling cover of The Cure’s Disintegration. The mesmeric spell was only broken for an abrasive encore of Jane Doe.

THEY SAY: “The first Blood Moon shows were fantastic, and the beginning of something special that we hope to continue in 2017. The Brixton show was a highlight; London’s always been supportive of our band, and we always look forward to playing there.” Jacob Bannon, vocals

Neurosis

Poppodium 013, Tilburg, Netherlands, April 17

WE SAY: Marking three decades in which their seismic intensity has never dropped by even a notch, Oakland’s elemental standard-bearers Neurosis spent the second of two convulsion-inducing nights at Roadburn Festival unearthing the recesses of their history in the manner of ripping flesh from a still-living body. It proved to be rough-hewn, incendiary, and a testament to the indomitable nature of the human spirit.

THEY SAY: “As usual, Roadburn exceeded my hopes, and the gathering of the tribes was an event that is unparalleled. I’m humbled and thankful to be able to do this work with my brothers, 30 years from our inception. Roadburn is sacred ground and we respect it with a passion from the gods.” Scott Kelly, vocals/guitars

Bring Me The Horizon

The Royal Albert Hall, London, April 22

WE SAY: When Bring Me The Horizon were asked to play a gig for Teenage Cancer Trust in the opulent surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall, they made the show extra special by rearranging their music for an orchestra and a choir. The result wasn’t a quiet classical tribute, but a loud, dramatic, and very metal show with myriad spinetingling moments.

THEY SAY: “It was very different for us. We’ve got used to playing with lots of production, big screens and all that stuff, so to be backed by an orchestra is very different. It was nerve-wracking being that exposed – you get it wrong and you look like a cock. But we wanted to do something a bit classier, because it was such a prestigious venue. I think it came off well.” Jordan Fish, programming and keys

Letlive

Underworld, London, April 23

WE SAY: Having already blown the roof off London’s Dome the previous night, Letlive had a lot to live up to. Soon enough, the Underworld’s ceiling was dripping with sweat, the band’s banner had been ripped down, and singer Jason Aalon Butler was eyeball-to-eyeball with a crowd who were already screaming out their new songs.

THEY SAY: “Those in attendance seemed just as passionate about these songs as myself and the boys, so it created this visceral type of sweat to perspire from not only our bodies, but from the walls. To most that may sound gross, but to anyone there that night, that shit was real. As a result, I’m looking into Letlive-led sweat lodges throughout the UK. I really think I’m onto something…” Jason Aalon Butler, vocals

Twisted Sister

Bloodstock, Catton Park, Derbyshire, August 12

WE SAY: Despite the crowd singing, ‘We’re not going to take it’, Bloodstock’s Friday night headliners performed their final UK show. And it truly was a last hurrah. Dee Snider snaked around the stage with boundless energy, whipping the crowd into a frenzy while jets of flame licked at his ankles.

THEY SAY: “Twisted Sister’s farewell show at Bloodstock is the kind of memory I wanted to take with me from the UK: a sea of true metal fans sharing one last great show with a band they helped bring to the world stage. The band was on, the fans were on, and the night was perfect. We are Twisted Fucking Sister! Goodbye.” Dee Snider, vocals

Metallica

Webster Hall, New York, September 27

WE SAY: When Metallica debuted material from Hardwired… To Self-Destruct to a thousand-odd rabid fanclub members at New York’s Webster Hall, not only did Hardwired and Moth Into Flame absolutely crush it live, but The Four Horseman looked on their finest form for years. Some rare jams in Breadfan and Holier Than Thou added to an absolutely electric evening.

THEY SAY: “It was exciting! We felt a more intimate energy. You can see your friends out there, and you can see all your fans. There was a concession of young fans, which was really cool. I’m talking, like, 10 years old, kinda in that range. So it was interesting to see such a wide spectrum of fans in such a small environment.” Rob Trujillo, bass

The 10 best Ghost memes

Watch Twisted Sister's final live performance

Why Letlive's Jason is using his music to push for social change