Our Guide to the Heavy Music Awards 2018

Established only last year, the Heavy Music Awards have already become one of the biggest dates in the rock and metal calendar. URY Music’s Grace Venables and Jed Fulwell look ahead to a fantastic night.

The final awards show for the HMAs takes place this Thursday at KoKo in Camden and broadcast on Scuzz TV, including live performances from The Fever 333, Milk Teeth, Coldbones, and, our own personal highlight, Black Peaks. From visual mediums such as album artwork, to live bands, established bands, breakthrough bands, and producers, this show will highlight the best in genre. With so many great acts both nominated and performing, this show will be sure not to disappoint — here are URY’s picks for this year’s Heavy Music Awards.

Best Album

Best album is a highly contested and prestigious award and this bunch of albums are certainly the biggest this year. Enter Shikari’s The Spark is a divergence from their roots in heavy electronicore, experimenting with a more alt rock sound; whilst original fans of the band may miss the old days, the slick new identity that this album gives the band is worth a nomination. The only debut album in this set of nominations is Creeper’s Eternity, In Your Arms. This Southampton-based band released the loosely Peter-Pan influenced album last March. The mix of horror punk combined with both glam and post-punk influences allow this album to hold its own against the likes of bands such as Mastodon, who have been around for nearly twenty years. However, our pick for Best Album is While She Sleeps’ independently released fourth album: You Are We (produced by Whilst She Sleeps and Carl Bowen) for its pure energy.

Best UK Band

Next up is Best UK Band, and all seven nominations have achieved truly great things this year. Coming straight off the back off of their European tour and Festival season, where they played sets at Pol’and’Rock festival as well as Aerodrome and SmukFest, are Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. Marmozets are our pick for this category, though; with the release of their highly anticipated and incredible second album Knowing What You Know Now, Reading and Leeds Festival appearances, and their own UK tour, it’s clear to see why they’re our pick.

Best International Band

As strong as the UK scene is, the international scene matched it. The Best International Band category includes bands from across the USA alongside a lone Aussie act, who happen to be our pick for this category. Parkway Drive, signed to Epitaph records, released their sixth studio album, Reverence, earlier this year to great critical acclaim. The metalcore band’s LP reached the Number 1 spot in their home country, and the Byron Bay boys have since toured the new album worldwide.

Best Album Artwork

Arguably our favourite category of the whole show is Best Album Artwork. This category celebrates an often under-appreciated and vital part of an album which, done right, can elevate the album to the next level. Converge’s The Dusk in Us is a personal highlight; the album projects inner-torment into something more external and existential, which is matched perfectly by the artwork. The grey-scale and detailed graphics suggest a feeling of dread with the background crashing towards you. This is a perfect example of album graphic intensifying the music.

Best UK Breakthrough Band

We are sure that all the acts in the Best UK Breakthrough Band and Best International Breakthrough Band are going to go on to achieve great things. The act we’ve picked for UK Breakthrough is Milk Teeth, who will also be playing a live set on Thursday. This Stroud-based punk band released two great EPs last year and have recently announced that they will be supporting Enter Shikari on their UK and Scandinavian tour later this year. We predict this band will only continue to rise.

Best International Breakthrough Band

As for International Breakthrough, the Canadian fashion-art rock brothers Palaye Royale have our pick. This band’s sophomore album, Boom Boom Boom (Side B) is set to be released later this year and our anticipation for this album has only been increased by the release of outstanding singles such as You’ll Be Fine, and their appearances this summer on the Warped Tour.

Best Festival

With so many festivals picking the best festival is a really tough job. HellFest, the only international festival in this list, continues to highlight the very best in heavy metal music. However, this year we’ve chosen Slamdunk Festival in Leeds, with headliners Good Charlotte and Jimmy Eat World. We sent our own Alice Cronshaw to cover Slamdunk and from her review it’s clear why we think this should win.

Best Photographer

Another category which we found hard to pick was Best Photographer. Corinne Cumming has shot for RockSound magazine as well as acts such as Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and Green Day, creating almost minimalist live shots, a stark difference from many photographers. Paul Harries, the most distinguished name on this list, has photographed many bands in the past two decades, and his most recent exhibition Access All Areas ran this spring at Proud in Camden. Our pick, however, is Jennifer McCord. Her photography manages to depict artists’ personalities even when they are mid-performance, whilst her non-music photography is equally stunning, and showcases how diverse her ability is.

Best Live Band

There is nothing like the energy seeing a metal or hardcore band Live, which is why Best Live Band is arguably the most important category at the awards. Many of the nominations deserve this award: While She Sleeps have an anthemic feel that’s quite unique, and has even caused a few tears. Architects, with their aggressive energy, are also a hot contender. However, Enter Shikari, having already won awards for their live show, are perhaps the most deserving. Their blend of lighting, stage usage, humour and pure energy are like no other band, and Alex West’s review of their gig at Hatfield last month makes clear how.

Best Producer

Production is an element that often feels overlooked in the modern music scene, particularly in a lot of metal and hardcore, where, regrettably, a tight production isn’t always the most desired trait. However, Don Broco’s most recent album, Technology, produced by Dan Lancaster, our pick for Best Producer, is a beacon of hope. The drums are roomy and powerful, the guitars are thick and meaty, and the use of synthesisers is more than welcome.

Those are all of our picks for this year’s Heavy Music Awards. Of course all the nominations are superb so we won’t be surprised to be wrong: come back next week for our review of the final awards show!

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