altrocklife’s top 5 albums of 2016

Hello altrocklifers! Today marks the last blog post I will be writing in 2016, and I thought the best way to conclude the year would be to round up the best albums released over the past twelve months.  Going back over my posts written throughout this year, as well as trawling my iTunes library to keep track of all the albums I’ve purchased, gave me a real nostalgia trip.  This year has been brilliant for rock and alternative music, and with new music from You Me At Six, Mallory Knox, Lower Than Atlantis, Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes and more planned for release next year, I can’t wait to see how 2017 will be even better.  Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the best albums of 2016.

The Stage – Avenged Sevenfold

Without doubt, The Stage is the album that had the biggest impact of 2016.  It was released as a surprise with very little promotion or marketing, and it did a great job of shaking up the world of rock and metal music.  As I said in my review of the album, anyone who was expecting a sequel to Hail To The King was proven wrong, as Avenged Sevenfold’s latest record harked back to their City Of Evil days and showed that the Californian band are anything but predictable.  Hopefully this record influences other bands to produce the music they love, without pandering to the mainstream audience and without giving a thought to what their fans or critics might think.

Bad Vibrations – A Day To Remember

When I originally reviewed this album back in September, I wrote that Bad Vibrations was going to be a competitor for my favourite album of the year.  Three months later, that assertion still stands true.  It’s not often that I can write an album review without any negative feedback, but A Day To Remember’s sixth full length album was one of the minority I listen to that get a 100% approval rating.  I’m constantly listening to this record: whether I’m doing my hair and make-up, or if I’m chilling in my bedroom, or I’m in my car head banging on the go.  I genuinely think this is one of the best records released all year, and I really hope I can see the band perform some of these tracks live next year.

Take Control – Slaves

When Slaves found mainstream success with the release of their first album, I was worried that the band would fade into obscurity or change their sound.  Thankfully their second record, Take Control, is just as fun and aggressively punk as its predecessor.  You can tell from the band’s music videos, such as the one above, that the Kent duo are having a brilliant time making music, and I’m having just as much fun listening to them.

If I’m The Devil… – Letlive.

I was the first to admit when reviewing this record that I’ve not listened to a lot of music by letlive.  I’d heard a few singles, sure but I had no idea what it would be like listening to one of their records from beginning to end.  If I’m The Devil… is an album bursting at the seams with anger and passion, but with a sound evolved enough from previous releases to demonstrate their progression as a band.  In my opinion, letlive. are one of the most underrated bands out there at the moment, and if you’ve not listened to their music extensively, then I’m sure that their latest album will have you hooked from first listen.

Death Of A Bachelor – Panic! At The Disco

This record was released in January 2016, and to me it seems like it’s managed to stick around and remain popular and in the public eye all year.  Even though Panic! At The Disco have abandoned their emo roots and become a one man pop band, I think Death Of A Bachelor‘s jazzy sound and vintage 1950s aesthetic has a mass appeal which seems to have won over even old school fans.

What were your favourite albums released this year? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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altrocklife’s cutest and funniest Christmas cards 2016

If you’re one for celebrating Christmas, or if you’re simply a fan of sending cards via snail mail to your friends and family, you’ll probably be aware that you’re running out of time to post your cards.  With 10 days remaining until Christmas Day, there’s just over a week to get your season’s greetings sent out.  However, if you’re struggling to find the right card for your friends and family, hopefully this guide of some of the funniest cards I’ve seen this year will give you some inspiration.

Merry Xmas, Asshole card – link here

If you’re a bit of a joker and don’t want your cards to be too traditional or emotional, this card is ideal.  Make sure you don’t accidentally give it to your Nan though, because if your’s is anything like mine she probably wouldn’t find it funny.

Groot Christmas Card – link here

Even if you’re not a fan of the Marvel film Guardians Of The Galaxy, you’ve got to agree that Baby Groot is absolutely adorable, and even more so when wrapped up in Christmas lights.

Little Baby Cheeses card – link here

If your friend or family member is a fan of a) plays on words and b) dairy products, this is the card for them.

Dave card – link here

I personally believe that this is the perfect card for anyone named Dave, however it might be worth checking that they didn’t apply for the new reindeer position, in case this card rubs salt in the wound of their rejected application.

Merry Christmas You Prick card – link here

Cacti patterns have been bang on trend throughout 2016, so this card is ideal for those who love their spiky friends.

Winter Is Coming card – link here

This festive card is perfect for the Game Of Thrones fan – or fans – in your life.  Make sure they’re on the side of the Starks, however, or the direwolf on the front may offend their Lannister sensibilities.

Avo Merry Christmas card – link here

Surely everyone knows at least one person who’s absolutely obsessed with avocados.  Whether they’re a veggie or vegan or simply into their healthy fats and instagrammable breakfasts, this card should leave a smile on their face.

Brussels Snouts card – link here

Whether you enjoy eating sprouts or not, I can guarantee that you’ll know at least one person who does like them, and this is an ideal card for them.

Seasons Greetings card – link here

I have a great friend who loves puns, so I’ve sent this card to them, and if you have a pun-loving friend or family member this should get a chuckle out of them.

What do you think of my selection of Christmas cards? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

altrocklife’s best festive band merch 2016

It has officially been winter time for a while now, and everyone is starting to suffer from the cold temperatures.  We’ve all had to dig our winter coats, scarves and jumpers out of the back of the wardrobe, and put away the bikinis and crop tops.  If you’ve found that your winter wardrobe is lacking in size, or you want to demonstrate your festive spirit whilst also repping your favourite bands, this handy guide to the best winter band merchandise is the post for you.

Slipknot’s Holiday Goat Sweater – link here

If you like your festivities to carry slightly satanic undertones, then this jumper is ideal for your holiday break.  The Slipknot logo in the centre makes sure that all of your relatives know you’re a metal fan, whilst the red and green colours keep the festive spirit alive.

AC/DC Holiday Sweater 2016 – link here

Everyone knows that Mistress For Christmas is one of the best festive tracks out there.  Nothing says ‘Christmas spirit’ more than getting down and dirty with someone, so this jumper can help to make your intentions on your favourite co-worker clear at the office Christmas party.

Of Mice & Men Frozen Ampersand Crewneck – link here

If you’re not a fan of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or Yule, but still want to dress for the season of wintertime, this frosty jumper could be right for you.

Slayer ‘Sleigher’ Xmas T-shirt – link here

Everyone knows that a Christmas jumper isn’t enough: you need a festive t-shirt to wear underneath, for when the heat of slaving over a hot oven making Christmas dinner gets too much and the knitwear has to go.  This t-shirt is one of the more subtly festive numbers on this list, but it still does the job perfectly.

Don Broco ‘Don Cocoa’ chocolate orange hot chocolate – link here

Now you can’t wear this winter band merch, that is unless you accidentally spill some down your front, but half of the joy of winter is curling up with a delicious hot drink.  Chocolate orange is a favourite flavour in my house, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be in my stocking on the 25th.

Kiss ‘Merry Kissmas’ Christmas Sweater – link here

It’s always a bonus when the band’s name fits into a popular holiday phrase perfectly, and this Kissmas jumper – see what I did there? – is a brilliant example.

Bring Me The Horizon ‘Rain On My Parade’ Onesie – link here

Winter is the time for cold, cold weather, so when you’re hanging around the house and the heating hasn’t quite kicked in yet, this onesie should keep you warm and snug.

So there you go! What do you think of my winter merchandise round-up? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

News: Reading & Leeds Festivals make first line-up announcement

Last night, Reading and Leeds Festivals announced the first few acts confirmed for next year’s line-up, including one of the three headliners: the mighty Muse.  The festivals will be held over the August bank holiday weekend next year, from the 25th to the 27th.

Alongside Muse, some of the other heavier acts announced include Architects, Against The Current, While She Sleeps and At The Drive In, plus who could ignore the pop/electronic giants Bastille.

Overall I’m fairly impressed with this announcement, but it’s quite difficult to guess how good the festivals’ line-up is going to be overall judging from these eleven acts.  The announcement spans a number of genres, so as someone who would only be interested in seeing heavier bands, I can’t judge how much I’d enjoy next year’s festival.

Compared to the last Download Festival line-up announcement, I’m definitely much more enthusiastic about the Donington Park festival.  Download have announced all three headliners, and it must be said knowing all of the headliners makes a festival a much more exciting prospect.

Hopefully we’ll be hearing more from Reading & Leeds soon, but until then this latest news is enough to tide us over.

What do you think about the announcement? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.