2020… the year that was. On so many levels it sucked but I think I’m a pretty positive person so I’ve tried to see the positives both in my personal life and for the GBHBL name overall. It’s not always been easy, even less so in the last few days when an aggressive liver tumour decided to rob my wife and I of one of our cats.
His name was Mort (named after Death’s brief apprentice in the Pratchett Discworld book also called Mort) and he was 14 years old. He was the noisiest cat you’d ever meet and loved nothing more than eating. No meal went by without him sitting feet away watching intently for a potential taste. Which is how we knew he was in trouble. All of that stopped and suddenly he had no interest in eating or drinking.
He went quietly on the morning of the 29th December 2020 and is survived by his very aloof mother, Zelda.
I almost feel guilty talking about the death of my pet when so many people around the world will have lost loved ones to ‘you know what’. How do you equate loss? The answer is you don’t. You survive, carry on and you hold their memories dearly in your hearts. To everyone that has struggled this year, you’re not alone and things will get better.
When I decided to write this ‘opinion’ piece, I told myself to not dwell too much on the virus that has turned the world upside down. Unsurprisingly, it’s impossible as it stopped so much of what I loved in its tracks.
Can you believe my last ‘normal’ live show was on March 4th? That was Alcest, I got quite drunk (a rarity for me these days) and can barely remember anything from the night but it was great fun.
Then the lockdown era began, and everything ground to a halt, all live music stopped and every time it seemed as though we were adapting, things got set back. Hell, even while being initially against the idea (it just seemed so odd to me), I did eventually get to a socially distanced gig at the start of October. Massive shout out to Tableau Mort for bringing it that night, it was a pleasure to witness live music again. Even if it was brief.
It still doesn’t feel real that in Feb I was watching and enjoying BABYMETAL (I band I still don’t get) in a packed-out Hammersmith Apollo. One of the perks of being (hopefully) trusted reviewers!
Instead, it’s been the year for streams and bands fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant when they’ve been unable to tour. From the biggest to the smallest, everyone has been trying to leave something of an impression and for the most part, many have. No matter if they were delivering high-budget professional stuff like Trivium and Behemoth or if they were literally streaming from a corner of their bedroom on Twitch. The effort hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Truth be told though; I haven’t watched many. Simply because of time. Even without live shows to attend, enjoy and review, it’s felt like our busiest year yet. We’ve had more interviews; more reviews and more videos go out than ever before and it’s easily been my favourite thing about 2020.
The output from the rock and metal world has been something else this year and we’ve done the best we can do cover as much as humanly possible. Even still, many slipped through the cracks and for that I can only apologise. I wish we could do everything that comes our way but there just isn’t enough time in the day, and we have sleep and/or work.
That’s even before we get into the fact, we also cover horror and video games too. Although the latter has taken a backseat as keeping up with the video game world is proving to be very difficult. Why the hell does every game have to be ‘open world’ these days!?
I’m fine with us being behind the curve on video games though. That’s always been a more ‘for fun’ aspect and there are a bazillion sites and channels that are solely dedicated to gaming. We’re not part of the conversation there and totally fine with it.
When we entered 2020, we looked at the weakness in our game and identified our YouTube Channel as the area that needed massive work. We posted sporadically and we knew we had to get some consistency. Which is where the show schedule came from and resulted in daily regular content going up. Sometimes filmed weeks and months prior but ready to be used when the date came along.
I’m very proud of what we have achieved there and while growth has been slow, it has been growing. However most importantly, I enjoy it. I am the editor, the one who sits there and snips, fixes, converts and posts the video content. I’ve learned so much over the year (love you premiere pro) and am excited for the ideas floating around my head for 2021.
None of this would be possible though without those who check us out. We consider ourselves a bunch of amateurs who just happen to be passionate about a ton of things. To even have a modicum of your attention is simply wonderful. We’ve lost so many things we enjoy this year, that we can look at the wider landscape with a smile is truly awesome.
In fact, if you wouldn’t mind indulging me for a moment, I would like to mention some people who have been simply wonderful this year. Firstly, The Metal Tris who might be the nicest bloke in the UK. Please check out his YouTube Channel and support him. The author Dave Jeffery, who aside from being a fantastic writer, gives us so much Twitter support. So many of the PR companies and labels (massive shout out to APF Records and What Happened to Your Band?) we’ve worked with. Everyone who has signed up to our Patreon (we’re going to try and do so much more here in 2021) and bought us a coffee on Ko-Fi.
Also those who still think you can hurt my feelings by pointing out that I’m balding. Bitch please, you’re 15 years too late for that insult to have any effect. YouTube comments, eh?
Before I wrap up this rambling mess though, I wanted to mention just how strong the UK rock and metal scene has proven to be this year. 2020 has seen so many bands step up their game and release phenomenal work. The likes of Countless Skies, Dakesis, Ba’al, Saarkoth, Thirteenth Sign, The Infernal Sea, Ingested, My Dying Bride, Dark Forest, Titan Breed and so much more have made it an unforgettable year musically.
Hopefully 2021 holds great things for all those bands and all of you. Thank you for your support. Happy New Year.