Ultimate Guitar Awards 2012

In our first ever annual awards ceremony, we pay tribute to the best bands, people and music of 2012.

Ultimate Guitar

The official Ultimate Guitar Awards for 2012 are here!

For the past two weeks the UG community has been voting in a range of categories to help separate the great from the good.

First of all, we want to thank all of you for taking part. We've been sifting through thousands of replies, but the results are in and we can finally announce the winners.

This is our first major annual award ceremony, so your feedback (and usual hilarious banter) is welcome in the comments.

Band of the Year: Rush

Rush have had a storming year, from start to finish. By March they had been honored with the Governor General's Performing Arts Award from the government in their native Canada, which guitarist Alex Lifeson said was "the highest accolade" an artist can get in the country. Shortly after, they won the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award at the Revolver Golden Gods ceremony. Pretty impressive - that's nearly as awesome as winning a UG award!

Their 20th album "Clockwork Angels" was released in June and debuted at number 1 in the Canadian album chart. Our reviewer awarded it 9/10, and called it one of the best albums of the year thanks to "riff after memorable riff".

Rush would be probably content with this much success already, but then the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame finally found room after ignoring them for a decade. The band commented that it was just a popularity contest - and ironically proved themselves right when they eventually led the fan vote.

As members of Rush turn 60, they're inevitably getting closer to retirement, as Alex Lifeson discussed in October. "We've had a great run, we've left a great legacy that we're proud of, and who knows what will come after that?" he said. But he says fans shouldn't worry: "I think my fingers will still work for a little while longer."

Hear "Headlong Flight" from the new Rush album "Clockwork Angels" here:

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Album of the Year: Periphery "II: This Time It's Personal"

With a storming 22% of the vote, Periphery were way ahead of the competition in winning Album of the Year thanks to a campaign on Facebook.

In the interests of disclosure, we should note that in this category we experimented with a poll plugin, which may have led to multiple votes being cast. But any band could have benefited from that, so who cares?

This album is absolutely nuts - if you haven't heard it, check out the sample track below. It also features guitar solos from axesmiths like John Petrucci from Dream Theater.

Hear the lead single "Make Total Destroy" from the Periphery album "II: This Time It's Personal" here:

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Commiserations to Billy Talent with "Dead Silence" who came in a close second place.

Guitarist of the Year: Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

Tony Iommi is such a legend that he'd probably win a vote for guitarist of the century.

He's been busy writing and recording tracks for the hotly-anticipated Black Sabbath album, which is well underway with producer Rick Rubin.

But all the while, Tony has been working on it with the burden of his cancer diagnosis in January. It turned out he has lymphoma which affects cells related to the immune system, which meant Black Sabbath had to re-arrange a tonne of new live appearances without him.

By all accounts his treatment has been going well thanks to an early diagnosis. Keep strong Tony, we're all rooting for you.

Meanwhile, we want to give a shoutout to UG user Slackerbitch who managed to come second in the vote for Best Guitarist. Dude, whoever you are, consider yourself an official runner-up!

Person of the Year: Dave Grohl

Everyone knows Dave Grohl is one of the coolest guys in rock, and in 2012 he did plenty to remind us why.

Besides relentless touring with the Foo Fighters, he teamed up with Queen Of The Stone Age as a drummer on their forthcoming album. He was great on 2004's "Songs For The Deaf", so we can't wait to hear his return.

Grohl's campaign for real music continued with the production of "Sound City: From Real To Reel", telling the story of the legendary Sound City recording studio. Last week Dave made a point of reaching out to everyone who likes to rock and called on them to help change the world with real music. Right on, brother.

Dave doesn't do all this for the awards, but he keeps winning them anyway. This year he's been inducted to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, and was honored by his hometown of Warren, Ohio with the biggest pair of drumsticks in the world. Seriously, they weighed 900-pounds.

See the trailer for the Sound City documentary directed by Dave Grohl:

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Best Music Video: Tenacious D "Roadie"

Tenacious D sure know how to record a great video.

This song pays tribute to the unsung heroes of live rock music: the roadies. Comedy actor Danny McBride plays the perfect roadie in this brilliantly crafted short story.

Watch the winning video "Roadie" by Tenacious D here:

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Best Live Event: 12-12-12 Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert

It'll be hard to top a lineup like this.

Some of the biggest rockstars in the world teamed up to perform a benefit concert after Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast of America.

12-12-12 wasn't just a lineup of awesome musicians - it was history in the making. Members of Nirvana teamed up with Paul McCartney for a new live jam that didn't disappoint; Roger Waters performed tracks from "The Wall"; The Who rocked the roof off as usual; The Rolling Stones jumped in as part of their 50th Anniversary tour, and many more artists took part to make for a memorable night of music that raised money for people who needed it most.

The event could have appeared forced and uncomfortable, but it proved to be a great night of entertainment. Congratulations to everyone involved - and remember to donate to the Sandy benefit cause if you enjoyed watching it too.

Watch some highlights of the 12-12-12 Sandy benefit concert here:

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Best Comeback: Black Sabbath

2012 was the year of the reformed band. It seemed like all kinds of old metal and hardcore punk bands were getting back together over a matter of weeks, and the trend kept growing.

Some highlights: the new album from Soundgarden, the return of Van Halen, and the unexpected punk resurgence with Refused and At The Drive-In. Good times.

But Black Sabbath are one of the most influential acts of all time, and their return was a sign of great things to come. They're currently working on a new album, which is the most exciting thing to happen to metal since welding was invented.

Of course, the drama surrounding drummer Bill Ward's exclusion from the reunion over a contractual dispute was a tragedy to see furing the first half of the year. Fans would love to see Bill as part of their modern legacy, but the band couldn't reach an agreement over his fee and Bill took the dispute online, which in hindsight, might have made matters worse.

But whatever the results, we're hopefully that the new record will be a timeless classic anyway. Let's hope they see more live action in 2013.

Biggest Drama Of 2012: Randy Blythe Manslaughter Case

When Lamb Of God went to tour the Czech Republic in June, they had no idea singer Randy Blythe would be arrested and charged with manslaughter.

The story goes back two year to when a fan sustained an injury at one of their gigs in Prague. Blythe was accused of causing the injury, though he denies it, and the evidence remains under scrutiny.

The band have been working to raise money for his legal fees, and Blythe has acted in dignity while responding to the accusations. The case continues in 2013, when there may be more twists and turns before this drama has fully played out.

Other notable dramas in 2012 were Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong having a "breakdown" on stage and going to rehab, the Guns N' Roses soap opera in the lead up to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction, and the Baroness bus crash.

WTF of the Year: Rammstein Dildos

In our Most Ridiculous Merch roundup, this entry stood out (no pun intended):

That's right, a set of Rammstein dildos. What the f--k indeed. Moving on...

Best New Act: Art By Numbers

There were some awesome entries to this category (Skyharbor, Alabama Shakes, and the mighty Tame Impala), but it was great to see a genuinely up-and-coming band win out.

Art By Numbers are a young progressive metal band with a jazzy edge that we really like. We heard their debut album which launched this year, and there's a lot of impressive work on there. Congratulations, you're the first winners of our Best New Act award!

Hear the full Art By Numbers debut album "Reticence: The Musical" here:

Here's a video of their guitarists Victor Corral and Dustin Georgeson which is worth seeing too:

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Awesome work guys, keep us updated on everything!


That's the end of the first ever Ultimate Guitar Awards.

Did you like it? Send us your feedback in the comments, and let us know who you would give the awards.

167 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Rammstein Dildo. Perfect Christmas gift for the missus. She's a huge fan.
    You married a fan? And you're buying it dildos?
    Those new guys are talanted, but could they play Enter Sandman?
    I played that riff by accident the other day, and I'm not a good guitarist.
    I assume so. Their song structure is better than anything Metallica has done recently.
    Enter Sandman was made over 20 years ago, I don't think that's 'recently'. It's also the most difficult solo of all time, due to Kirk's intense WAHWAHWAHWAHWAH
    I wouldn't call it the most difficult solo of all time. Trust me, there are plenty of guitar solos out there that make Enter Sandman's solo look like child's play. Not saying the solo sucks or anything, but it's not the most difficult.
    It's amazing that Rush are still relevant in 2012. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if they remain relevant in 2112.
    We should do a user of the year, and of course I should win for suggesting it.
    Last year I remember UG putting up their favorite user comments of the year. I was looking forward to seeing them this year.
    I'm really glad Rush won band of the year, and Tony won guitarist of the year. It's been an interesting year in rock music, several bands have come up with new stuff and many others have reformed. I honestly think it's a pretty fair list UG made here.
    Soundgarden should be somewhere on this list
    Soundgarden should have won. Fantastic new album, great set at Download, announced (and immediately sold out) a U.S. Tour. Taking nothing away from Black Sabbath though. Merry New Year to all!
    In comparison to their earlier albums, the new Soundgarden album wasn't that great. It was hardly worth being album of the year. And I really like Soundgarden.
    I disagree. I will admit, as a big fan of the band, it took me a couple listens to get into every song, but overall, for me anyway, it ranks right up there with Badmotorfinger and Superunknown. Maybe not as good, but I really dig it.
    Wow, I did not expect to like Art by Numbers as much as I did. Just listened to the whole album and it was amazing.I'm not usually a fan of that genre but...wow. Looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. Also, Rush. Fuck yes.
    Gee Halen
    There should be a separate Dave Mustaine section. "Most ridiculous Dave Mustaine comment of the year" or something.
    Congratulations to Tony Iommi. First he overcame his fingertip injury and this year refused to bow down to cancer. This man doesn't give up when so many others would. Tony is a true inspiration!
    Happy there's no Muse in here..
    muse is amazing and their new album is inspiringly exploratory. they show fantastic skill, mastery of their instrument, an aptitude for all aspects of the art and the performance of the art. and that madness song is just like a bealtes love tune from the 60s but a synthesized robot love making version (and holy shit it picks up at the end, it would sound nasty as a melodic metal tune). it sounds amazing and the whole 2nd law album has a lot of good quality in the lyrics, its just different. madness is a new attempt at old music. i guess you could not like it if you are content with the same stuff all the time
    Couldn't agree more, Panic Station was kickass and so was Supremacy then for all the robots theres follow me, madness, and the 2nd law, and a couple ballads and a rock song. Then theres Survival.....simply epic. There's something for everybody on this album and it covers a lot of ground and shows how rockers can go into other genres successfully, like Zeppelin or Queen and not like Kern. I still don't understand how people can not like Muse. In my opinion the are one of the best, if not the best, band of the last ten years and now because the music is diverse and live, the shows put people in awe, and they are still together.
    I'm a muse fan but I'm not a big fan of 2nd law or resistance in fact, I have no idea why they seem more popular now. If you want to listen to muse at their best Origin of symmetry, absolution and Black holes and revelations.
    Really it's not a big surprise why they're so popular now. They've been on a steady and rapid increase in popularity their entire career. Not many bands tour arenas by their 2nd album.
    Knights of Cydonia's intro was the first riff I ever played. It may have been accidental, but I never stopped... GAWD, Muse is incredible!
    And I don't blame anybody for thinking so because they have changed so much and they lose fans but for me I just like music of any sort. So the first time I heard micro cuts I was amazed but I was equally amazed the first time i heard undisclosed desires. Also I didn't pay any attention to them until this year so that probably has something to do with it.
    @TMoreau15: 2nd Law was terrible, imho. And you sound like a fanboy. Same stuff? No, not content with that; but I really dislike the direction Muse has gone.
    Album of the year is Periphery because BTBAM was not included in the list. GG.
    Black Mustangs
    Well actually Periphery is album of the year because they're the only band on the list that shared the vote on their Facebook page
    Torture by cannibal Corpse, Reign Supreme by dying fetus, and Aeons black by none other than Aeon, Periphery and BTBAM are way down on the list imo.
    Torture was just another CC album. I really like them, but their albums all sound the same. They never do anything new. (I kind of expect that from CC.) That means no one's going to vote them for album of the year. As for Dying Fetus and Aeon, very few people know of them or have heard their music. /shrug
    You don't know what youre taking about breh, every cannibal album is unique. some eras might be similar. i.e. Butchered is obviously similar to tomb and eviceration is similar to torture since they are back to back. But you look at Eaten back to life, Butchered, Vile, Gallery, bloodthirst, wretched, kill, and torture. Those albums are nothing alike. Your statement is just the cookie cutter response to CC. And for your second comment, i didn't realise popularity correlated with talent. In that sense i guess one direction, nicki minage, and taylor swift are the best artists
    Don't get me wrong, I like Black Sabbath, but best comeback of 2012? Really? They just played live shows. Why not award a band like Soundgarden or Tenacious D or something who actually released an album that was good and actually toured?
    Black Sabbath are working on a release, but were set back by Tony's cancer and contract issues with Bill Ward. So actually they've been quite busy.
    I understand that they've been busy, but the "best comeback of 2012" in my mind should not be a band that only played a few live shows this year. It's a sign of things to come, sure, and if they release their new record next year, call them the best comeback of 2013 if you will and I will most likely agree. But for 2012, there are bands who are more worthy of the "best comeback" title than Sabbath in my opinion.
    Yeah, that's right. I still feel like it's the best comeback of the year, as Soundgarden or Tenacious D's comebacks aren't as exciting. I mean, Black Sabbath are releasing their first Ozzy album since 1978, which I find extremely interesting. But please, don't get me wrong, I love Soundgarden and the D, great bands. I just don't feel that the D or Soundgarden have had the same impact on this year's rock scene. Nonetheless, they are worthy to mention as they are the biggest comebacks other than Black Sab IMO.
    Yeah I get you, amongst other bands, Sabbath making a comeback is definitely nothing short of wonderful. Though I think we can both agree that 2013 and beyond will be very inreresting in rock music, since we have Sabbath back, Soundgarden back, Alice in Chains making a new record, Pearl Jam also recording, etc, all these amazing bands being active again
    I think Swans new album was the greatest thing to be released by a band that peaked 20 years ago, this year. Soundgarden's new album wasn't very good, and Tenacious D has been active since their release.
    Wait... when was there voting for this? And I feel like these results are... like, where exactly did they come from? I just feel like nobody that I've ever interacted with on UG would have voted for any of those things.
    I feel like UG is afraid to use new music. Like don't get me wrong rush had a great year and probably deserved it anyway but I don't think they would have picked a modern band anyway. I feel like it's frowned upon to listen to newer bands on this site.
    OK first of all it's Queens of the Stone Age. Secondly, Songs for the Deaf came out in 2002. Do you guys proof read anything?
    I'm surprised nobody's posted this yet:"WHAT IS THIS? Nothing I voted for MADE THE LIST? How can democracy possibly ever work against me?" Not a bad haul. Don't necessarily agree with all of them but am not opposed to any. You did OK, commenters.
    not bad of a list (for once...). Glad to see periphery and rush, though my personal favs (Coheed and BTBAM) got not one single mention. Sad, isn't it, for a band with such talent to be excluded.
    not gonna argue with that, I've never heard of art by numbers, but I like what I here
    Honestly, I thought Art by Numbers where going to suck I found myself listening to the whole album. Damn was I wrong
    Glad to see Periphery get Album of the year. Easily the most listened to album i got this year, brought the last one in store and it sat in my car stereo for about a month without being changed. Spencer is certainly one of my favourite vocal inspirations, and the album as a whole sounds tremendous, not a song i dislike at all. People seem to hate any new band and bash them for no reason, i enjoy periphery and no butthurt idiot on the net will make me change that!
    I'd never listened to them before I watched the YouTube video posted in this article and I personally found them pretty uninspired and couldn't get through the whole song. Sure, it was heavy, but it was unpleasant to listen to and seemed to be lacking in musicality, for want of a better word. To each his own obviously but my point is that people can have legitimate reasons for not liking a band other than because they're a modern band. I don't have an inherent problem with modern music yet found this band, from the one song I've heard, completely unappealing.
    It depends how your getting into them. When i first was introduced to them i heard insomnia and i thought it was just all out of time and messed up. I listened to All new materials, watched a few vids of Misha playing, and found them to be incredible musicians. Spencer has a wicked style of writing lyrics and his vocal range matches it. To get the musicality sometimes you have to break it down rather than listen to it as a whole, but not everyone will like them of course as with all bands. Oh and Adam Nolly is a wicked bassist too
    I'm glad to see Rush at the top of the list. Definitely one of my favorite bands of all time. Absolutely great musicians.
    that periphery song was crap
    Agreed. People seem to absolutely adore them though. Can't understand the attraction.
    Aren't you getting tired of posting the exact same thing on all articles related to Periphery? Seems a little bit desperate trying to spam your discontent all over the site.
    i dnt understand either. id rather not track down this guy but hes making pointless assumptions about the band over n over. guess hes sippin' on that haterade then...
    Not a good list, I know that this is a guitar website and all and that is why Art By Numbers won but there was no emotion in it, just mindless scales and sweeps.
    ZOSO <(")
    Exactly. I don't mind sweep picking every now and then, but that was ridiculous.
    Really excited to see Art By Numbers get Best New Act. "Reticence: The Musical" is an unbelievably strong first showing from these guys and I look forward to hearing more from the band (I can't even find an interview online with any of the members.) In my opinion, though, Album of the Year should have gone to The Mars Volta. "Noctourniquet" is a really great collection of tightly-arranged and well-thought-out songs.
    Next year we should have a "douche of the year" catagory reserved for Dave Mustaine. I have a lot of respect for him as a musician, but any time I hear or read anything he says or writes, I just have to shake my head and say WTF?
    The only thing worse than Periphery fanboys are the people who feel the need to go out of their way to try and counter them by saying how bad they are. They released a great album, and they got recognition for it. Their all talented; it's a much better step in metal than the Generi-core bands that have been flowing into the music scene over the past 5 or so years. Not my favorite band, but I can see them earning album of the year, deservingly.
    I think Swans effort was far greater than the likes of Soundgarden, or a currently active band like Tenacious D.
    What the hell UG. In the best comeback article where we were supposed to upvote a winner, Soundgarden won; yet here Sabbath takes the win. Guess our votes didn't count.
    Seriously, I was impressed by the names mentioned on the lists for each category, but the winners of most of the categories are pretty disappointing. I mean, 'Roadie' doesn't have shit on older D videos like 'Wonderboy' and 'Tribute'. Dave Grohl won person of the year though he probably did the least work he's ever done in one year (considering how ridiculously busy he keeps himself normally). Overall still not a terrible list
    God, I hate music like that Art By Numbers. No melody, just who's the fastest. Brrllllmmmm... Do you really guys see any sense in playing like them? Actually it's not music. It's like masturbating instead of having sex.
    Their music is classical based. Are you oblivious to what a melody is? To say what they make isn't music is ignorant and narrow minded. You know who else used many arpeggios in his music? Paganini and his music was better than probably any damn thing you listen to.
    They're not even playing that fast. It's not music? Isn't that a bit pretentious?
    Lads, don't take it so literally. xplosive59 has written nice thing - that music is soulless. That' what I'm talking about. I like Prince and love SRV but I don't really think we can make any comparison to those two guys. I don't mean that I don't like it. I just can't see any sense in playing like this. What the **** is that? ' brad777no you don't know what I listen to so maybe stop being judge who knows everything. It's my opinion, that's all, and Merry Christmas.
    It's not that the melody that was the problem, it's that the music was soulless. Prince or SRV would out play those guys any day.
    Also props to Art by Numbers for winning their award, very talented guys.
    Anyone who thinks Art By Numbers is unique sounding is daft. It really is just a rip off of The Human Abstract and Versailles.
    Of course the album of the year is from a metal band. Oh well you can't really expect much else from UG I guess.
    Thats because Periphery linked the poll on their Facebook, if they hadnt done that they probably wouldnt have won.
    Ah that would make sense, and of course my comment gets down voted. Look, I don't have a problem with metal even if I don't really listen to it, but I have a feeling that if I checked previous UG awards they probably would be full of metal albums as albums of the year. I'm just asking for some more diversity, metal isn't the only genre with guitars in it..
    "but I have a feeling that if I checked previous UG awards they probably would be full of metal albums as albums of the year." There are no previous UG awards.
    Huh, I guess there aren't. Well lets just say if Periphery hadn't linked the poll to their facebook a metal band probably still would've won. (Don't forget to downvote this one too!)
    I have nothing against a metal band winning the album of the year, but it should not have been Periphery. That band is the symbol of everything that's wrong with metal music these days.
    How are they "the symbol of everything that's wrong with metal music these days"? They are proficient at their instruments and write interesting music that is fun to listen to... Posting the poll to their facebook just shows that they know how to market their band. That may have helped them win, but anyone else in the poll could have done the same. It's pretty commonplace for bands to ask their fans for help in polls.
    They're only good on paper. Technically proficient enough to write and perform complex pieces that most couldn't pull off. But calling them "interesting" and "fun to listen to" is kind of a stretch. Of course, that's just my opinion.
    I'm not a fan of Periphery, but I wouldn't have a problem with them winning (not sure if I actually count it cause of the whole facebook linking thing). I mean the only album on the list UG gave that was even in my top 10 was The 2nd Law. Some other websites' lists have a lot more in common with mine. It's just the demographics and different tastes really. The only time I'll ever outright argue with someone is if someone tries to pretend like their opinion is some objective fact. Luckily nothing too bad in this thread.