Metalunderground.com's Best of 2007 Awards Announced
Band Photo: Lamb of God (?)
Looking back, 2007 was an interesting year in metal. The year started off great for tours - here in the US and seemingly everywhere from the news we reported all year - and continued to offer strong showings throughout the entire year. However, we lost quite a number of brothers in metal in 2007. Despite that fact and the fact that there were few truly big releases in 2007, it still seemed to be a good year for metal as a whole - a year in which the underground got to shine through just a little more than usual.
That said, let's reflect on some of the things that made 2007 such a good year for heavy metal by announcing the Metalunderground.com staff picks from 2006. As in previous years, I've polled the entire staff here at Metalunderground.com about their favorite albums and performances of last year.
Here are the Metalunderground.com staff picks for the following categories: Best Metal Album of 2007, Best Metal DVD of 2007, Best Metal Newcomer of 2007, Best Live Act of 2007, and Most Anticipated Release for 2008.
Best Metal Album of 2007
The lack of "big" releases by the well-established or popular rising acts made this year the hardest yet to determine a clear winner, much less predict one ahead of time. Without the big releases from bands such as Slayer, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and others, extreme metal shined brighter than ever with some powerful releases. In the end, the one band who came out on top of the staff poll was:
Dark Tranquillity's "Fiction"
Very close runners up included Pig Destroyer's "Phantom Limb," Behold...the Arctopus' "Skullgrid," and Megadeth's "United Abominations." Extreme releases such as Dimmu Borgir's "In Sorti Diaboli" (voted "Most Anticipated Release of 2007" in 2006), Nile's "Ithyphallic" and Behemoth's "The Apostasy" also received multiple nods, as did their more mainstream counterparts Machine Head's "The Blackening" and Between The Buried and Me's "Colors." Any metalhead can look at that list and know that extreme metal is alive and well!
Best Metal DVD of 2007
In its second year, the category of "Best Metal DVD" was still difficult to vote on. Not everyone on staff had votes for their favorite metal DVDs because we don't all have the time or desire to watch music DVDs nearly as much as listening to music, which can be done while doing other things or even working. Among all of the nominations, only one stood out with multiple nods:
Led Zeppelin's "Mothership"
While considered to be hard rock by today's standards, these forefathers of metal made some of the biggest news of the year by playing their first reunion show in years. And they were smart enough to release a two-disc collection of their best songs spanning all eight of the band's classic studio albums and a special edition that also included a DVD of "The Song Remains The Same." The DVD, now for the first time, contains all 14 songs from the original 1973 concert in newly remixed and remastered 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, and boasts more than 40 minutes of added bonus material.
Best Metal Newcomer of 2007
Bands eligible for "Best Metal Newcomer of 2007" included bands who have released their first full length album or released their first album on a somewhat major metal label, or even have no formal release at all. This is a tough category to get consensus on, since we all have different tastes in metal and will hear of only relatively few new bands each year. However, when a new band with veteran musicians forms and make waves like these guys have, it makes the voting much easier. The clear winner was:
If you thought the OTHER new band with veteran musicians was going to be announced as the winner, HellYeah did receive a nomination but didn't even come close to these guys. The only other band who had more than one nomination was Five Finger Death punch, who received quite a bit of recognition in 2007 as well.
We're happy to spread the word of the underground, so I'll list all of the nominations for this category at the end of this article.
Best Live Act of 2007
"Best Live Act" is typically a fairly competitive category since it is not restricted to releases from this year, only performances. As the votes tallied up, one thing was certain: those bands with big releases last year, were still kicking ass live. Touring behind last year's album voted by our staff as "Best Metal Album of 2006" was this year's winner:
Lamb of God
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed this band live. Lamb of God has put on a killer, super-intense show each of the half dozen times I've seen them perform, and this year's Off-fest date in Baltimore had to have been the best yet. The competition wasn't even close, but runners up with multiple nominations included Slayer, Soilwork and Napalm Death.
Most Anticipated Release of 2008
Like the "Best Metal Newcomer" category, the "Most Anticipated Release" category generates a wide variety of responses due to differing tastes and not actually knowing all of the releases coming out next year. Still, there was quite a bit of consensus on a couple of forerunners in this category and the Most Anticipated Release of 2008 by a landslide turned out to be:
Interestingly enough, Metallica's upcoming album had the most nominations, but almost all were at the bottom of the individuals' lists, showing perhaps a cautious optimism toward the metal legends' new material. There was also some slight consensus on anticipation of new albums from Opeth and Slayer. Another year has gone by and no one even registered a vote for "Chinese Democracy" this time - probably because the category did specify a 2008 release!
Looking back, 2007 was a great year for live performances. Metalcore's dominance of the scene has lessened substantially. The genre has certainly not died, but the stifling competition has thinned its ranks and you don't see a metalcore band on every tour package any more. Instead, I saw (personally) quite a number of tours with more than one extreme metal band, each with their own significantly different style - usually representing black metal, death metal, thrash or some combination thereof.
With more releases from big bands such as Metallica, Testament and Slayer (questionably) slated for next year, it should be interesting to see the effect on the metal underground once again.
Finally, here is the entire list of nominations for the "Best Metal Newcomer" category in 2007, provided simply because these nominations should make good leads for you, our readers, to discover some new bands:
Five Finger Death Punch
Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish)
No doubt there are others worth checking out, but these were our staff picks, limited to five bands per person.
Fewer big releases for 2007 results in less clear winners and more controversial picks. I am quite happy with the results of this year's poll, but I expect many of you will have differing opinions. Feel free to share them in the comments.
Here's to an even better 2008! \m/
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