Ten highlights from Sound the Charge’s 2014, though as you’ll see, it’s technically more like sixteen. I know top 14 of 2014 is snappier, but frankly, I’m lazy.
AC/DC – Rock or Bust
You can argue that they just release the same album time after time, but to hell with it. When your one album is as good as AC/DC’s you might as well milk it. Sounding like a mix of Stiff Upper Lip and post Razors Edge, the album also has a few darker riffs than we’re used to, maybe down to the situation with Malcolm Young. The familiar upbeat drive is there though and it sits comfortably on the shelf with its predecessors.
Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain
What can we say, you would think when you’ve been going for over two decades you would hit a creative wall in terms of both riffs and disgusting lyrics, but Corpse once again have proved they have a lot more juice in their brutal tank. Our review of the album can be found here.
Andrew W.K. Solo show – Classic Grand, Glasgow
There’s very little that needs to be said about this. One of the most uplifting, high energy performances of the year and it was by a man, a keyboard and his backing singer. Ridiculous but fun. Follow the link to read the full review.
Hellfest Open Air 2014
With a line up as strong as the 2014 edition of Hellfest, it would be a crime not to include it here. It presented a staggered line up system that actually worked so you could in theory see most of the bands you wanted without fear of a clash, the music continuing long into the night allowed for longer set times the like that we can only dream of in the UK, and the overall friendliness of the French crowd made life easy for a bunch of non-French speakers. There are certain complaints, the incredible heat (though you can’t blame the organisers for that), a lack of shaded areas which led to people packing out the tents and the lack of soft drinks on sale from the food vendors was an issue. Still well deserving of a spot on the list.
Sabaton – Triple Heroes
The main entry on the highlight list has to be their recent show in Glasgow. Despite touring so long, the look of surprise that people are genuinely cheering and clapping still hasn’t worn off their faces and it makes it very satisfying to be a fan. The three band bill featured Korpiklaani and Tyr supporting, which is pretty much the dream line up for certain people (fine, me).
However, the studio album itself and the show at Hellfest also are deserving of note.
They’re not strictly metal, and by that I mean they aren’t metal at all. Still, I make the rules here so I’m including them. It’s almost annoying that a band that can write songs this catchy and well are using the talent to write novelty songs. On the other hand, beards are great and are deserving of songs, so we can’t fault them there. The set in Glasgow went to show that they can bring the strength in musicianship from the album to the live setting. Each member is a strong singer alone and together can nail some impressive harmonies. When your front man can play a saxophone/keyboard duel with himself you know you’re on to a winner.
Alestorm – Piratefest
We already have a review for this entry so click here to read it in full. If you don’t want to do that though, just know that when you stick four piratey bands together on a bill, then put them on in Glasgow; things are going to get messy. The amount of rum ingested by the crowd that night must have been enough to keep Morgan’s afloat. Incredible performance, incredibly drunk, incredibly fun.
Opeth – Triple Opeth
As it stands, Pale Communion is one of the best albums of the year without question (see, we said it already). Not content with just one lot of Opeth though, we were able to see them live twice. The first time at Hellfest to close the festival’s final evening. A tip for other bands, ending a festival with Deliverance into Blackwater Park is the best way to end a festival. The second in Glasgow, which we also reviewed here.
Behemoth – A trilogy of Satan
Many publications and fans in general are listing The Satanist in their albums of the year 2014. Well we’re unoriginal so we’re doing the same. The album is genuinely one of the best releases of the year though, and a highlight in the back catalogue of the band. Despite being slower than some of their previous efforts it still sounds heavier than their high speed past, probably in no small part down to the cancer and legal issues faced by Nergal.
The title entry isn’t just The Satanist. That’s because we were also able to see Behemoth live twice in 2014. Once at Hellfest, where the scorching heat and bright lovely day were in direct contrast to Behemoth’s grim appearance. The second time in Glasgow, where they put on one of the shows of the year. Musically they were in the pocket, and the “evil” personas they portray on stage just add power to the tone of the music.
Iron Maiden – Hellfest 2014
Technically this should be under the Hellfest entry, fuck it though. This was one of the performances of the year. The setting sun mixed with the fires on the bar stands and the pyro on stage made the eerie middle section of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son magical. I’ve had the chance to see Maiden eleven times or so so far, that moment is a highlight in all of those performances. Although we weren’t there so it doesn’t really count on our list, the fact that they had an aerial dog fight at Sonisphere in WW1 era planes is pretty damn cool.
2014 was a good year, and with Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend, Opeth, Cannibal Corpse and more already in sight for 2015, this year may be even better.