So there it is. Another year behind us and a new one about to begin. As the old 2008 is slowly running out it’s days, the Millworkers sat down to look back on the past year. What were the highlights in the world of heavy metal? What albums had the biggest impact on the Mill boys and which ones fizzled out with the sourest aftertaste? Delve into the weird minds of the Millworkers and find out what they think about the year ’08…
Starting off with an overview on 2008, what were the highlights of the year for you… and what kinda music year do you see 2008 in general?
Jari: Well, of course Judas Priest´s “Nostradamus” was THE highlight of the year. The album has got top musicianship and a lot to dig in with different moods. Two songs :”Visions” and “Nostradamus” were nominated for the Grammy Award.
Ville: Well, a brand new Judas Priest album is pretty hard to top whatever the year is… I have to admit due to somewhat tight financial situation I did not buy that many new albums in 2008, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Most of the stuff that I DID buy was impressive so all in all it’s been pretty good year.
Kimmo: Personally the release of Nostradamus was the ultimate highlight, but in general 2008 could be best remembered for the fact that it was the end of a long recording break for bands like AC/DC, Anathema, Nazareth and Uriah Heep.
Kassu: 2008 was a pretty fine year in terms of good music. A bunch of good albums came out and it was nice to see both some new bands popping to the surface as well as some old sleeping legends reappearing with new material. As they’re my favourite band, Priest provided the biggest and most anticipated highlights of the year for me with a new album and a new tour, but also a lot of other bands got me on a metallic high during the past year.
A lot of new albums by a lot of new and older bands saw the light of day this year. What releases do you view as the best ones of the year?
Jari: Priest´s ” Nostradamus”, no doubt .Also AC/DC ´s ” Black Ice ” was strong. Also liked Grand Magus’ (SWE) ” Iron Will ” a lot and Metallica´s ” Death Magnetic” was pretty much okay for me.
Ville: Besides “Nostradamus” these were my favourites: Avantasia – The Scarecrow (great, catchy songs with good story line and an impressive cast), Def Leppard – Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (a definite return to form after few mediocre releases, fun album to play in your car during summertime) and Bob Catley – Immortal (Bob delivered again, a classic voice blended in with classic tunes, top stuff)!
Kimmo: That’s always a hard question, because these personal ‘top lists’ keep on changing constantly. Maybe ‘The Newz’ by Nazareth and ‘Hindsight’ by Anathema are worth mentioning. Also Metallica’s ‘Death Magnetic’ was a giant step towards the right direction.
Kassu: Like Kimmo said, it’s a tough job to put together these top lists, especially as 2008 was rich with quality releases. But let’s drop a few names: New Priest of course… and Avantasia’s ‘The Scarecrow’ was brilliant, as well as Volbeat’s ‘Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood’. Testament’s ‘Formation Of Damnation’ was a furious slab of quality thrash and swedish Grand Magus took a huge creative leap with their excellent ‘Iron Will’. The title for the most pleasant surprise of the year goes to Ross the Boss’ ‘New Metal Leader’ -album that turned out to be a true highlight on traditional metal field. Of more modern groups, Disturbed’s “Indestructible” and newcomer Story Of The Year’s “The Black Swan” spring to mind as cream of this year’s crop. Many good albums. I’m sure I’m forgetting some while typing this….
But as always, amongst the good albums there are those that are much weaker than the fans had hoped. What were the albums you consider as year’s biggest dissappointments?
Ville: Well, from those I’ve heard so far there haven’t been any major disappointments. Whitesnake’s “Good To Be Bad” and Alice Cooper’s “Along Came A Spider” I suppose were two small ones. I expected a lot from those albums and neither of them were quite up to both artist usual – very high – standard.
Kimmo: Let’s say the latest Uriah Heep and TNT releases weren’t exactly what I expected, but having such great backcatalogues as these bands do, it must be hard to maintain a certain quality all the time…
Kassu: New albums by Alice Cooper, Uriah Heep were both good albums but I expected more… as such they were slight letdowns. Whitesnake, Mötley Crüe, Edguy and Jon Oliva’s Pain on the other hand all failed more or less miserably with their recent albums.
Going to live gigs is of course one of the best forms of enjoying music. How was your year regarding them?
Jari: I did see Priest three times this year , Helsinki ( Finland), Munich (Germany) and Toronto ( Canada). Seeing Metal Masters Tour; Testament, Motörhead, Heaven and Hell and Priest was absolutely the highlight of the year .
Ville: Priest’s opening night show in Helsinki 3.6.08 was THE live event of the year no doubt, not knowing the set-list in advance and all the gems we got definitely made it a night to remember. Besides that Bruce Springsteen’s concert later in the summer was another awesome experience. Just recently I saw Whitesnake live as well and it was an enjoyable show, one of those legends I was now able to see for the first time.
Kimmo: Just great! Seeing Judas Priest a couple of times this summer, as well as Doro’s recent 25th anniversary gig in Dusseldorf, were definitely the highlights of this year.
Pete: Only show I saw was Judas Priest in Helsinki and it was all I wanted. Getting in the mood with bunch of good friends and beer before the show was also great time. Afterparty was also pretty awesome…
Kassu: Also for me Judas Priest’s Helsinki concert in June was obviously the highlight and what made it even more special was the fact that it happened to be the first gig of the tour, so all the songs came in as surprises. Hearing the familiar tunes of f.ex. Sinner, Between The Hammer & The Anvil or my all-time favourite Rock Hard Ride Free nearly got me jolting through the roof! Apart from that, Nazareth/Deep Purple gig here in Kuopio was a lot of fun, as well as the muddy but very enjoyable Jurassic Rock spearheaded by Volbeat. Of the (so far) little smaller bands I greatly enjoyed gigs by groups like Die So Fluid, Leverage, Cerebro, Deathlike Silence and Masterstroke, to name a few. All very much recommended bands!
One of the most notable events of 2008 for a Judas Priest fan was obviously the release of Nostradamus. Now that you’ve been spinning the album since the summer, how have your feelings towards the record shaped?
Ville: The album’s still growing on me, again it’s completely different beast compared to the rest of the Priest catalogue – as it should be. Not all the songs get to stand on the podium themselves, however the album needs to be absorbed as one entity. Because of this, it demands listeners full attention. There are new details found during every listening session. The record sounds timeless and a lot like 1970’s at the same time. In some ways “Nostradamus” could have appeared right after “Sin After Sin” and personally I like this approach.
Kimmo: There’s so much stuff in this album that I still keep on finding new things. Lately I’ve been mostly listening to separate tracks, while all the summer went spinning the whole album from the start to the end. Of course there are always some bits and pieces I would like to change, but that doesn’t change the fact that Nostradamus is a true masterpiece. Priest has again, like many times before in their career, succeeded in creating something totally different, but in the end it’s still good old Priest you can easily regognize.
Pete: Funny thing, I´ve been spinning it many times but still haven´t got the time to focuse on the booklet that well. Also I don´t remember all the names of the songs, probably ´cause there are so many of them. Anyway, I had high hopes for Nostra being one of the best releases of Judas Priest. And it almost is. It´s a great musical journey with bunch of really good songs. I believe Nostra will play a big role in Priest catalogue after ten years or so.
Kassu: I like the album a lot. And at the same time I know people who don’t. Not because it would be a bad album but because it doesn’t sound like something Judas Priest has previously done. That’s okay I guess, after all many people like to have their metal fitted into a certain mold that can’t be changed. But in my opinion this usually results into a predictable and thus “safe” music that in the long run becomes uninspiring and repetitive. Look at Iron Maiden for instance, they’ve been playing “the same songs” on each their last few albums and though they keep the fan core satisfied the songs people want to hear on their gigs are the classic ones from the band’s old days. That’s just one example of course, but the way I see it bands acting like this shoot themselves in the foot. Heavy metal music, in my opinion, shouldn’t be about creating ‘easy listening’ material but the bands should aim to outdo themselves, remembering their best aspects and at the same time explore new ways to apply them. Priest excels in this. They’ve done it before and with Nostradamus they did it again. So yes, it’s a good album. There are a couple of weaker moments but on the other hand songs like ‘Visions’, ‘Alone’ or ‘Persecution’ immediately earned a ‘Priest Classic’ status in my books.
So, as it’s time to say goodbye to past year it’s also the time to welcome the new one. What are your most anticipated musical events coming up in 2009?
Ville: Right in the beginning, the new Bruce Springsteen album “Working On A Dream” will be released in January as well as Saxon’s new opus. Those two are definitely on top of my list. Kiss have also announced they are working on a new record, although I have somewhat mixed feelings about the band as they currently are, still very curious to find out what they come up with. Next summer there might also be some great metal festivals well worth attending.
Kimmo: What comes to the concerts, it’s already looking good: Priest will be on the road pretty soon, and I’ve also got tickets for the upcoming Volbeat and Metallica gigs. With the albums I just try to keep my eyes open, there are always nice surprises lurking behind the corner…
Pete: Well I´m really hoping to hear a brand new Turbonegro album, especially because of their guitarist Euroboy who defeated cancer this year. I also hope they will visit Finland and hopefully we could get an interview from them. I´m also waiting a new album from Powerwolf since “Lupus Dei” has become one of my “all time favourite cheesiest superalbums” ever.
Kassu: Nothing really extraordinary looming on the horizon at the moment… So for 2009: Good gigs, good albums, good time!
And finally, from a millworker’s point of view – how was the year for the Steel Mill in your opinion? And what are your plans and hopes to develop the site in the future?
Jari: 2009 at the Steel Mill looks brilliant, we are presenting more features about interesting musicians and of course K.K. will be active : more K.K. videos are at the producing stages. Plus our hard working Millworkers will please readers with new “poetryesque ” material. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the K.K.Downing & Judas Priest fans who have contributed with us 2008 – Keep Feeding The Flames through 2009 !
Ville: There were great things happening all throughout the year, special reports, blogs, video material and plenty of interesting guests. Interviewing Doogie White, Dan McCafferty and Ken Hensley among others was really fun to do. Hopefully in 2009 we’ll introduce some new features, make the site more interactive, develop the content, surely there will be more good stuff to come.
Kimmo: It was a great year, I really believe that we have managed to create something totally different and unique here at the Mill. All the millworkers are huge Priest fans, and the whole site is created from the fans point of view. There certainly are plans for the next year, but I think it’s better not to spoil the surprise. Just keep on feeding the flames with us!
Pete: It´s a pleasure to work at the Mill. In 2009 there will be a lot of changes and developments to the site. I have tons of ideas, let´s see how it goes. Otherwise this year has been busy and It´s been absolutely fantastic to read all emails and comments from K.K.´s fans regarding the site and the work we do. Unfortunately we are not able to answer each one of them but that´s life. One thing is for sure in 2009: We will work harder and we will play harder!
Kassu: The Steel Mill engines keep on blazing hotter by the year and we have every intention to raise the temperature even higher in 2009! So expect more interesting guests, band features, pictures, album & concert reviews and other metal features. Thanks everyone, and keep on checkin’ in!
Mill Bill: Örrrggg öööörggg, öygä möygä möö!!!