- NICKELBACK – Get Rollin’
Say what you want about Nickelback, but they’ve put out a killer record this year. Get Rollin’ isn’t as heavy as I’d hoped, especially given bassist Mike Kroeger’s assertion that they’d love to do a metal album. Nevertheless, opener ‘San Quentin’ delivers a real hard rock moment and was a blistering return for the band. They dig into the feelings of reminiscence better than anyone once more on ‘Those Days’, put out a better love song than most bands today on ‘Does Heaven Even Know You’re Missing?’ and issue another party anthem with ‘Vegas Bomb’. ‘Still Steel Rusts’ takes me back nearly twenty years, sounding as if it should have been on The Long Road (an album my mum played a lot when I was a small child). There’s not a bad track and there’s some unexpected moments, such as serious and powerful closer ‘Just One More’ and country tinged ‘High Time. Truly a belter of a record.
- SILVERSTEIN – Misery Made Me
These guys haven’t rested these last few years. Since 2017, they’ve issued three new albums, two albums of re-recordings and a live record – and all have been killer. Misery Made Me returns to the band’s heavier style after 2020’s poppy A Beautiful Place To Drown and it’s evident from aggressive, crunchy and irresistible opener ‘Our Song’. Highlight ‘The Altar/Mary’, a track in two parts, marries the band’s post hardcore aggression with their affinity for the mellow, reserved and emotional. ‘Bankrupt’ and ‘It’s Over’ are made for the live show, while ‘Don’t Wait Up’ displays one of Told’s best vocal performances to date. Closer ‘Misery’ sees the band once more doing an acoustic track better than any other band in the genre, and wraps up neatly a well-written, well-performed and brilliant assembled album.
THE WONDER YEARS – The Hum Goes On Forever
Everything The Wonder Years has ever done has built to this record. On The Hum Goes On Forever they bring together each part of their sound, each emotion and experience Campbell has ever sung about. Exploring Campbell’s fears and joys of fatherhood on a backdrop of the pains of the world today, this record starts with emotional and powerful opener ‘Doors I Painted Shut’ and doesn’t let up until the final note of the glorious, career-defining ‘You’re The Reason I Don’t Want The World To End’. In between, softer tracks ‘Summer Clothes’ and ‘Laura & The Beehive’ tell stories in poetry, ‘Low Tide’ presents another one of the band’s most brilliant, most them offerings, ‘Cardinals II’ is frankly haunting and ‘The Paris Of Nowhere’ lights the whole world on fire. Objectively, the band’s best ever album.
DEAF HAVANA – The Present Is A Foreign Land
Any year but this year, Deaf Havana would’ve topped this list. Their return came with an album that, though not my personal favourite (for a variety of reasons) saw the band self-actualise. There’s a sense of hope in these tracks for the first time. ‘19dreams’ sees both James and Matty take the mic (as does the rocking title track). There’s some grit in tracks like ‘Going Clear’ and ‘On The Wire’. James’ vocals are the best they’ve ever been – vulnerable and soaring – on pained acoustic ‘Nevermind’. ‘Someone/Somewhere’, an experimental offering, is poetry in music with haunting guest vocals. ‘Kids’ is one of the band’s best ever tracks, with thrumming synths that build to a crescendo. From front to back, this album is a journey. And a fantastic one, with mountainous highs and cavernous downs. A masterwork.
DEF LEPPARD – Diamond Star Halos
I knew if Def Leppard delivered, their album would be hard to top. And that’s the case. Diamond Star Halos has just about every era of the band represented, each in a killer track assembled with insane attention to detail. Opener ‘Take What You Want’ is right out of the early to mid-eighties, feeling like it belongs somewhere between Pyromania and Hysteria. ‘Kick’, ‘Fire It Up’ and ‘Gimme A Kiss That Rocks’, three traditional Leppard bangers, wouldn’t feel too out of place on Adrenalize. ‘Liquid Dust’ is right out of the Slang playbook. ‘Lifeless’ and ‘Unbreakable’ yearn to be amongst the tracks of underrated X. But that’s not what truly makes this album. Despite all this, the songs sound new, fresh, inspired. They’re all crafted brilliantly. They’re all killer in their own right. Furthermore, they take risks. ‘All We Need’ (sounding like it belongs on the 2015 self-titled album, by the way) has a different spin to it, ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Angels (Can’t Help You Now)’ are very Queen. And ‘SOS Emergency’ could stand shoulder to shoulder with the band’s biggest tracks and it wouldn’t flinch. Diamond Star Halos could be the band’s last offering and, if it is, it’s a hell of a way to end a brilliant career.
Originally featured on Love It To Death.