Tamarin Fountain

Theatre: Wicked

The mega hit musical has been playing to packed out houses internationally for years. But I finally managed to catch it at the Edinburgh Playhouse and was so overjoyed by its message of the power of the feminine, its theme of enduring female friendship united by difference, and the fact that its main stars are both women – who utterly smashed it.

Food: Bodega

I can’t resist a margarita, least of all when it’s paired with authentic Mexican flavours in the shape of herb and spice laden soft corn tacos. Here is mouthwatering street food, friendly staff, a funky intimate eating area with effortlessly cool decor and bench seating and a small, perfectly formed menu. Previously only Leithers could enjoy Bodega’s delights on the doorstep. Now Tollcross locals can too – and boy are we glad.

Film: The Shape of Water

Similarly to Wicked, I loved the central theme of bridging the divide of difference and the power of a woman’s actions. It’s a kind of fairy tale for adults, shot, directed and acted sublimely beautifully, providing escapism, a touch of the divine and hope in humanity.

Scott Wilson

Album: Amorphis

While there have been outstanding records this year by bands finding innovation in a generally stale genre (Deafheaven, Zeal & Ardor, The Ocean – to name a few), sometimes greatness comes in the form of finesse.

Thirteen albums and twenty seven years deep into a career, Amorphis’s Queen of Time did not have to be this good. Having built a reputation as consistent and reliable in the Scandinavian folk-influenced metal scene, Queen of Time takes what the band have been working with on their last few albums and perfects it.

Released two months prior, lead single The Bee is a masterclass in accessible heavy music. The guitar work during its shouted verses is infectiously melodic, holding the attention of those who like their metal hummable. Switching to clean vocals for the chorus is nothing new structurally, but it’s such a radio friendly hook that delivering it just twice makes the song endlessly listenable. It is – by some margin – my most played track of the year, earning its crown with ninety two plays (a distant second is A Perfect Circle’s So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish with a not-too-shabby sixty three plays).

Bands of this genre can get by on a few good singles, enough to justify a tour, but Queen of Time is full of this fine-tuned balance between aggression and melody. Not a week has gone by since its release in May where I haven’t woken up with Wrong Direction in my head or wanted to learn The Golden Elk’s lead guitar part.

Most impressive of all is how Amorphis are operating at such a high level in this stage of their career. Other than Iron Maiden, no other metal band with a discography this big continues to not only push themselves but feel so alive while doing so. They sound like a band with something to prove despite their place in the scene’s upper tier being long-secure.

It isn’t a ground-breaking release and it won’t change the game. The lyrics are typically silly and it’s about as cool as your dad watching the darts. But out of every record in 2018, Queen of Time is the only one I’ve listened to weekly since it was released back in May. It is proof that sometimes the best doesn’t have to explore new ground, it just has to do something better than everyone else.