The PiercingMetal.com Best of 2014 Lists
Hello my dear readers and welcome to the PiercingMetal “Best Of 2014” List. Once again it’s that time of the year where sites such as this sit back and opine and honor that which we felt was the cream of the crop across a number of different categories. Now before I get too far ahead of myself I need to stress that this years list is not as expansive as I would have liked it to be and that is not because there were only a few things which rocked my world but more based on the assembly time of such a feature thanks to the demands of the still ongoing redevelopment of the PiercingMetal.com website. That process is moving steadily along to its completion but it has sidelined a lot of the free time as well so what I did for this year was quickly mentalize the things that I found myself referring to again and again over the course of the year to get you something. Make sure you start thinking of your own favorites for the year because I am going to ask you something at the close of this narrative. Here we go with the favorites.
The Best Music of 2014:
There really was a lot of standout Metal released this past year and this crosses all genre quantifications for Metal from Black to Death to Power to Melodic to Thrash. Whew. Recently a friend asked me just how many different titles the Metal scene had since he felt it was hard to keep up with at this point. I chuckled, pretended to count a number and simply said “a lot”. If you are smiling you must agree.
Sanctuary “The Year The Sun Died” (Century Media Records): While we wait, wonder and watch for some new Nevermore, Warrell Dane and company have delivered a resounding return by Sanctuary and I cannot wait to see this stuff delivered live on the stage when they get to touring.
Behemoth “The Satanist” (Metal Blade Records): Crushing, powerful, blasphemous. Just what the world expected by the mighty Behemoth. Their sound is an aural assault on your senses and shall make you question beliefs long ingrained to your psyche. Make it be so. Own this music.
Insomnium “Shadows Of A Dying Sun” (Century Media Records): Clearly some serious melody and darkness being put out there and IMHO this is a Finnish band that more fans need to pay a little attention to. Fortunately the band is returning to our neck of the woods for a short run with Dark Tranquillity.
Exodus “Blood In Blood Out” (Nuclear Blast Records): While I didn’t like the abrupt dismissal of Rob Dukes there is no doubt about their return to a more hoped for form with the return of Zetro and the new material with his voice at the help.
KISS “Love Gun” Deluxe (Universal Music): Yes I know this is an old albums remaster but the deluxe version of the absolutely classic “Love Gun” by KISS is something that every fan of Hard Rock and Metal needs in their collection. It also came with a full CD of extra tracks and the booklet included was awesome.
Judas Priest “Redeemer Of Souls” (Sony Legacy): All hail The Priest. A solid effort from beginning to end and one that finds renewed fires with guitarist Richie Faulkner. The Metal Gods shall not be going quietly into retirement anytime soon and I am alright with that for sure.
Ace Frehley “Space Invader” (eOne Entertainment): I felt that the latest from Space Ace offered a lot more than the previous “Anomaly” did and I liked that one. This is more on point with the classic solo album that fans have worshipped for decades.
Sabaton “Heroes” (Nuclear Blast Records): Continuing the battle and waging Metal war in territory after territory, the mighty Sabaton are the genres strongest defense and its time for all to enlist.
Primordial “Where Greater Men Have Fallen” (Metal Blade Records): The level of drama in this bands latest composition go right through you. This is a must for fans of Metal that breaks boundaries.
King Diamond “Dreams Of Horror” (Metal Blade Records): The Return Of The King was celebrated in the live sense a few months ago and this exceptional compilation release celebrates his entire career as opposed to just a choice couple of albums. All hail!
The Beatles “US Albums” (EMI Music): The Beatles catalog was re-issued once more but in the fashion that they were released here in the United States. For me it was great to here this most influential band in the same format that my parents had enjoyed.
Overkill “White Devil Armory” (eOne Entertainment): Did Overkill need to prove that they are a dominating force for Metal good? Of course not. Did they? Hell friggin’ yes. This is a throttling lesson in how a band can remain vital to the craft.
Mike LePond “Silent Assassins” (Knife Fight Media): You know him well from work in Symphony X but with “Silent Assassins” LePond is joined by the likes of Alan Tecchio and Metal Mike Chlasciak and delivers a truly Metal album that pays homage to the greatness of the past and looks towards its future.
Opeth “Pale Communion” (Roadrunner Records): Wonderful musical colors and textures all over the latest release by Opeth. This is an album that pushes their own musical envelope and would make the late great Frank Zappa nod in approval.
At The Gates “At War With Reality” (Century Media Records): In 1990 At The Gates first unleashed their sound and laid the bricks of the Gothenburg Metal sound. Nineteen years later they have returned with “At War With Reality” to remind the Metal faithful why they are so legendary.
Arch Enemy “War Eternal” (Century Media Records): Could Arch Enemy continue successfully with The Agonist’s Alissa White-Gluz at the microphone? Of course they can and this release proved that point with note after Metal note.
Mastodon “Once More Around The Sun” (Warner Brothers):
California Breed “California Breed” (Frontiers Records)
Septicflesh “Titan” (Prosthetic Records):
Honorable Mentions For Music in 2014
Gus G. “I Am The Fire” (Century Media Records): The master class from this fantastic guitarist is one that all students of the six string would do well to own.
Lullwater “Lullwater” (Dinobird Records): Caught this band at the recommendation of a friend and was impressed with the rock solid pure vibe being delivered. Fans of good old fashioned Rock should enjoy this one as well. Dig in.
Kobra and The Lotus “High Priestess” (Caroline Records): It’s time for the Kobra to rise over the huddled masses of Metaldom. Miss Paige sure has the right stuff for the task and delivers on disc and stage as well.
Shaman’s Harvest “Smokin’ Hearts and Broken Guns” (Mascot Records): Got the chance to enjoy some beers with these guys while the record played in the background and I like it. Need to see them on the live stage as a part of 2015’s plan. Solid stuff here.
So those are the quickest favorites of my music release picks for 2014; Please don’t be mad if I’ve left something off that you feel should be here because that does not mean that I didn’t like it. As I said this was going to be a short list based on the redev but I think it speaks volumes just the same.
The Best Videos of 2014:
I’m just shy of penning my 1000th video review on the site and what I love most about the medium is how so much awesome stuff keeps coming out from providers like Eagle Rock Entertainment. For this year’s summary I have even added in some of the standout films that I picked up on DVD or Blu-ray
“Guardians Of The Galaxy” (Marvel Studios): The super comic book nerd in me awakened with this larger than life fun experience of a film. I had to admit that they had me worried but this one was one of the best film experiences of the year. Don’t believe me? Then rent the video to confirm.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (Marvel Studios): Much like my opinion on the above release the same can be said the “Cap 2” which preceded it but offered up a different level of comics intrigue. This one also worked within the context of the “Agents Of SHIELD” television show. Marvel is on a roll now and DC Studios really better get a move on with their films.
Queen “Live At The Rainbow 1974” (Eagle Vision): Queen before their prime showcased a band that would soon enough be titans. So glad footage like this exists to enjoy so many years later.
Dio “Live At London Hammersmith Apollo 1993” (Eagle Vision): Years after his passing I still feel that one can never have too much Dio in their Metal day. This is footage from the “Strange Highways” tour.
“Batman: The Complete Television Series” (Warner Home Video): Some of my earliest television memories come from the now legendary “Batman” television series that originally aired in homes across America in 1966. Now that this complete series has been released on Blu-ray I am celebrating it as one of my favorite videos of the year. I geek that way.
The Best Concerts of 2014:
As the ninth year for PiercingMetal.com moves steadily towards its end at the ¾ mark, I am happy as a clam at having seen some of the most mind-blowing shows over the course of the year. Here are some of the absolute favorites that I had attended.
Amon Amarth & Enslaved @ Irving Plaza: Not sure I need to say more about these two titans of Metal doing a tour together. Both always deliver.
Queensryche @ Gramercy Theatre: The last NYC go round for the brand identity known as Queensryche as fronted by the great Geoff Tate. Since that show the divorce proceedings finds him at the helm of “Operation: Mindcrime” the band while his former colleagues move forward with the original name. This show ruled and proved why Geoff is not so easily replaced on the stage.
KISS and Def Leppard with Kobra and The Lotus @ PNC Bank Arts Center: Haters be damned, I am not giving up on KISS being one of my very favorite concert experiences even though two of the bands legendary lineup are no longer present and find other talented players in their makeup. It’s a great show for me no matter what happens. I’ve enjoyed Def Leppard for many years as well
King Diamond @ Best Buy Theater: Nine and one half years after his last NYC performance the King had returned and this show was fantastic. Long live the King, your loyal Metal subjects have missed you.
Summer Slaughter 2014 @ Irving Plaza: The Summer Slaughter has been a daunting event for several years and I passed on a few of them in the recent years based on my own schedule. This year that would not be a possibility based on the headlining appearance of Morbid Angel with the likes of Dying Fetus, Goatwhore, Origin and many more to help make this a supremely exciting night for all Metalheads.
Black Veil Brides @ Best Buy Theater: One of the things I enjoy most about the BVB in concert is their connection with fans and the vibe in the room was palpable this evening for sure. Keep up the great work lads.
HIM @ Irving Plaza: For two sold out nights, Ville Valo brought his companions front and center to deliver what I felt was a flawless set.
Good Rats @ B.B. King Blues Club: The memorial show to the late great Peppe Marchello. This was a night of profound support and music along with respectful sadness. A fitting tribute to The Songwriter.
Five Finger Death Punch/Volbeat @ Prudential Center: A lethal combination for sure.
Kamelot @ Stage 48: One of my very favorite live experiences for the past ten years has been Kamelot and once again they impressed and brought along some fantastic support acts. This show found Eklipse and Delain making new fans as well. Kudos guys.
Ghost @ Best Buy Theater: Though I had enjoyed them for a couple of years I had not been able to see them until this past year. Wow what a show in terms of dramatic mood and music. I cannot wait to see them again.
Sonata Arctica @ Stage 48: As I said for Kamelot so I repeat for Sonata Arctica who I have been in the corner for since before beginning this little adventure. A thrilling Metal set from the Finns
Arch Enemy and Kreator @ Best Buy Theater: Kreator being excellent live is a given. Arch Enemy now has Miss Alissa White-Gluz at the microphone and despite some naysayers she is a firestorm commanding the band on the stage. Loved this presentation from beginning to end.
Baby Metal @ Hammerstein Ballroom: Scoff all you like but this was one of the most interesting and charming of the events of the year. Yes it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but for me anything that brings a level of Metal awareness to the globe is a good thing.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ iHeart Radio Theatre: Being able to experience the TSO in a small and intimate space is like nothing I had imagined. These shows are generally accessed by radio station winners but luck was on my side and I was able to be a member of press in attendance. Mind blowing to see one of my favorite live acts in so personal a setting.
Eluveitie @ Irving Plaza: So awesome to see how popular this band has become since first seeing them years ago. This show was increased in appear with the presence of Tyr and Metsatoll.
X Japan @ Madison Square Garden: When a band that has no easily accessed music in the states sells out a show at Madison Square Garden you know you are in for a treat. This was sensational.
HIM @ Webster Hall: Opening night for HIM and a two plus hour set list celebrating their early years. Yeah one of my highlights for the year.
Santa Cruz @ The Studio at Webster Hall: First NYC gig ever and the fires of Heavy Rock and Roll were strong in these Finns. New bands to the scene make note, this is how you deliver a show to your supporters. Leave them breathless.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ Prudential Center: This year the TSO was beginning their “A Christmas Attic” tour and it was great to be a part of the presentation as I have been for what has been a more than a decade of straight attending their shows. I love this experience and with 2014’s go round this would be my last concert of the musical year.
Honorable Mention Concerts For 2014:
Scott Stapp @ Irving Plaza: The former Creed singer really put on an impressive show and seemed a healed person. His later year activity found something seriously amiss in his world and I hope for his best.
Kobra and The Lotus @ The Studio at Webster Hall: An off night from the tour with KISS found Kobra and Co. delivering a rousing set and making new fans which is never a bad thing. If Doro ever chooses to retire I nominate Kobra Paige to be the New Reigning Metal Queen.
Otherwise @ The Studio at Webster Hall: Super energetic and catchy music delivered live. Otherwise impressed me from the moment that I first caught them.
Red Dragon Cartel @ The Marlin Room at Webster Hall: Super energetic and catchy music delivered live. Otherwise impressed me from the moment that I first caught them.
I’m going to stop here because I simply see too many shows during the course of the year to not have this whole narrative populated by them. I didn’t quite manage to attend 100 shows this year which might seem a litte low when one considers what we do here but readers should know that in mostcases all of the openers were discussed as well and pushed our “bands seen” numbers into the couple of hundred digits.
Interesting Reads of 2012:
I think that I read more comic books than your traditional tomes this year and since I don’t want to get too carried away about those in this I will keep this list short.
“Face The Music” by Paul Stanley (Harper Collins): The Starchild is the final original KISS member to offer up a book and this was a very interesting read.
The Best Events Of 2014:
Events are subjective to me since sometimes they are open to the public while at others are only open to the members of the media. This year a few of those happened and here are my favorites.
Theory Of A Deadman @ The Marlin Room at Webster Hall: This was a SiriusXM Radio listener only event that winners who entered a contest were able to attend. Having only a limited experience with the band I was so impressed by this intimate show that I can now call myself a fan.
Santa Cruz Introduction at EMI Offices (Spinefarm Records): Santa Cruz is a new band from Finland and this event found two of their members performing some acoustic tracks for press and label hierarchy. It was a wonderful experience from a band that would rock the socks with their show in NYC in December.
Bumblefoot Listening @ The Good Room: Bumblefoot unleashed his new music on fans and select members of the press at an intimate gathering in Brooklyn. This is some really good stuff and I think fans will rally behind the guitarist.
Judas Priest @ SiriusXM Studios: The mighty Priest was back and promoting their “Redeemer Of Souls” album and I was able to be a fly on the wall for their Town Hall session. Afterward the band met all of those fans and posed for pictures and I was fortunate enough to be able to get that done myself and to let them know just how much they have meant to my Metal self over the past decades. No talk of retirement was brought up during this Town Hall.
That Which Disappointed Me In 2014:
I will NOT list these items under a “Worst Of” list from this year going forward. I think it will be better to let you know what let me down more than I might have wanted it to. It’s not a big list but should suffice.
Queensryche “Frequency Unknown” (Cleopatra Records): Yes I loved Geoff’s incarnation of Queensryche during the past year but I was greatly disappointed in the seemingly rushed album that was hoping to amount to a big FU to his former bandmates. I hope Geoff really delivers with his follow up because I am not among the haters.
“Godzilla” (Legendary Films): It’s almost safe to say that the latest Godzilla film had more Batman in it than it had Godzilla and while folks who didn’t see the film might be making a quizzical face to that comment, those who saw it know exactly what I meant. I remain hopeful for the sequel that is being planned.
“Amazing Spider-Man 2” (Sony Pictures): What a wonderful use of CGI. What incredible action sequences. Story? Well, no that pretty much sucked the big one. Sony needs to lose this comics property fast and let Marvel get back to sorting it out as a part of its larger universe.
Some Anticipations For 2015:
Just a few things that I am looking forward to in 2015. Have you made a list yet?
Year 10: Yep, PiercingMetal will be ten years old at the beginning of the second quarter of 2015 and its blowing my mind as I write that down. I cannot believe it’s been that long and wow so many changes upon the music media geography have been lived through.
Nightwish Tour: Nightwish was the band that I first wrote about as a professional so their tour that hits town not long after the websites tenth anniversary will be a bit of a full circle thing for the brand.
Savatage @ Wacken Open Air Festival: I might not be going to see this festival but I am stoked at the idea of a full Savatage set being delivered at long last.
“Avengers Age Of Ultron” (Marvel Studios): You can also call this “Avengers 2” but yeah this is my film for the summer for sure. If you have not yet seen the trailers make sure to find one because it will surely excite you.
Bumblefoot (untitled release): Having heard what Mr. Thal has in store for fans I can say that I am excited for this one. Hoping it’s in all of our hands soon.
Here’s Where You Readers Come In:
I stressed at the opening of this narrative that my list would not be as massive as I would have liked since I was otherwise occupied for most of the free time to compile based on the reprogramming. Here is where it makes up for the “slacking”. What I would love to get from readers are your own favorites for the year in terms of albums, videos, concerts or overall Metal experiences. I only ask that you parse them out for easier indulgence by your fellow Metalhead and don’t worry about writing a long-assed list because I also want to make sure that I didn’t miss anything that I should have known about for some reason. I always say that there is discovery in every conversation about the genre and with each one I hear about new exciting bands and the comments have been left open for you to offer your own picks up and all comments that are on topic will be approved. Bring it on and I will see you next with the yearly Editorial.