I had hoped to post this on Mouths For War back in December, but I got distracted by a shiny thing. HOWEVER, I still want to know what people think so here you go, my top 5 best and worst albums of 2014:
Just to clarify once again, that this is a selection of ALBUMS not SONGS (and if you need to know the difference between them then you might as well put on a dunce cap and go and join Deadpool in the corner). We also listen to mainly rock and metal, so that’s most of our list (we aren’t going to comment on things that we haven’t listened to…we aren’t The Daily Mail). 2014’s been an interesting year, and there’s been plenty of good records (we’ve been quite spoilt really) it was difficult to narrow it down to 5! However, there’s been plenty of pure, unlistenable shyte to come with it. Some people may disagree…We don’t really don’t care. Let’s begin!
Kings of the Castle – Top 5 of 2014
#5- Alestorm’s “Sunset on the Golden Age” (Napalm)
Whenever Alestorm put out an album, you can rest assured that there’s plenty of pirate tomfoolery to go around, and “Sunset on the Golden Age” brings tomfoolery-a-plenty with more of a folky edge…Like The Wurzels after a cider chugging contest. This album strikes a great balance of being bow shatteringly heavy whilst remaining more pirate-like than Jack Sparrow on a rum cruise of the Caribbean. Fun tracks like lead-single “Drink” and (I’m guessing it’s sequel) “Hangover” balance out well with fast-paced attackers “Walk the Plank” and “Surf Squid Warfare.” Pirate-jargon, shredding guitars and furiously catchy song titles, are more than enough to secure Alestorm this year’s number 5 spot…now…where’s that rum gone?
#4 Behemoth’s “The Satanist” (Nuclear Blast) and Slipknot ‘s“.5: The Gray Chapter” (Roadrunner)
Yes, the number 4 spot is a shitting tie. Why? Well:
a.) these albums were both aso-fucking-lutely incredible
b.) I’m an indecisive prick and I couldn’t pick just one.
“The Satanist” was a the return of blackened death metal titans, Behemoth, who had been out of action due to frontman Nergal’s battle with Leukemia. From the opening tolls of “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” to the fury of “Oro Pro Nobis Lucifer”, Behemoth’s sound darker than your grandad’s sense of humour, and that they’re back to unabashedly snatch the death metal crown (When you’re opening lyric is “I saw the virgin’s cunt spawning forth the snake” it doesn’t get much darker).
Slipknot’s latest is the triumphant return of everyone’s favourite masked metal monsters (honestly, so many metal bands have “returned” this year it’s like the Second Coming). “.5: The Gray Chapter” is the first record not to feature late bassist, Paul Gray, and depicts the band’s struggle to regain their musical fire. Not only has said musical fire been found but it’s been lit with all of the intensity of a fireworks display sponsored by Rammstein and Square Enix. Tracks like “Sarcatrophe”, “AOV” and “The Negative One” offer the most pissed off Slipknot that we’ve seen since 2001’s “Iowa.” The album also highlights Slipknot’s clear talent for slower, stealthier builds, with the snake-like crecsendos of “Killpop” and “The Devil in I.” “Custer” rounds off the record’s list of achievements by sampling that goat scream…y’know…that one…and making it sound more frightening than a clown masked percussionist…wait a minute.
#3 Mongol Horde’s “Mongol Horde” (Xtra Mile)
Last year, I had somewhat of an overdose on Frank Turner, BUT, although Mr. Turner’s solo stuff is brilliant, no album was more worn out over my summer than his new project, Mongol Horde’s self-titled release. It hits harder than tripping over drunk into the nearest bollard, and like the afformentioned activity it’s downright funny (including a song about Nathalie Portman’s tapeworm will do that). From the opening explosion of “Make Way” to the Gallows-esque chorus of “Blistering Blue Barnacles”, Frank Turner and co. display their hardcore punk prowess more than Sick of It All and Minor Threat’s illegitimate child, and whilst Gallows are going all hipster and self-indulgent on us, Mongol Horde seem to a be a hardcore light in the alternative dark.
#2 Foo Fighter’s “Sonic Highways” (Roswell, RCA)
If you haven’t been watching the Foo Fighters’ documentary series accompanying this album, then you damn well should have. Every song on this record was influenced and recorded in a different city (bloody hell they must’ve been knackered). I suppose it’s this extremely clever marketing strategy that gives listeners a newfound appreciation for every song. Touché Foo Fighters, touché. Particular favourites include the tranquil-headbangery of “Something from Nothing” as well as the strongly country influenced “Congregation.” Our boys The Foos have more than transcended their one-man beginnings (a bit like Bert from the opening credits of Mary Poppins), developing one large sonic highway of their own (I know “*cringe cringe* *moan moan* Captain Cliche strikes again).
If that’s not enough of a conniving act of convincing, well…Taylor Hawkins makes a bangin’ drum face.
#1 Machine Head’s “Bloodstone and Diamonds” (Nuclear Blast)
One fantastic album is a wonderful thing. Two fantastically fantastic albums is an extremely wonderful thing. THREE fantastically fandabeedozee toodily-fuckwits amazingly fantastic albums in succession is…you get the idea. Machine Head have managed to pull yet another rabbit out of the metal hat (one does worry that they’ll run out of rabbits and start pulling wild bats out of their hat or something) with “Bloodstone and Diamonds.” This is an album that almost seems like the band have taken “Through The Ashes of Empires” (2003), The “Blackening” (2007) and “Unto the Locust” (2011) and thrown them into some kind of magic metal milkshake maker, with a sprinkling of shrapnel to dust off this swirling milky-metal vortex. The sombre slow building songs like “Sail into the Black” and “Beneath the Silt” are matched by the trash fury of “Killers and Kings” and “Game Over.” The band’s trademark groove however is what truly escalates this to number 1, with tracks like “Ghost Will Haunt My Bones”, “Night of the Long Knives” and (my personal favourite) “In Comes the Flood” laying the heavy metal smacketh down. A solid return to the (Killers and) Kings of 2014’s metal castle!
Dirty Rascals…Really, really, really dirty rascals – Bottom 5 Albums of 2014
#5 – Pink Floyd’s “The Endless River” (Columbia)
Want to know what “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) B-sides without Roger Waters would sound like? Well then listen to this. I gave this album a chance, and I really wanted to enjoy it (I really did). But, it sounds like David Gilmour and the hollow shell of what was Pink Floyd listened to Devin Townsend’s “Ghost” (2011), added a load of synth/keyboards on top of it and said “Yup, that’ll keep people happy.” Well it didn’t. “The Endless River” is over-long, over produced and just generally a load of re-hashed mess. That and Pink Floyd without Roger Waters is NOT Pink Floyd…no….I won’t get back in my pram.
#4 – Taylor Swift “1989”
Believe it or not, I actually used to like Taylor Swift. Key phrase: “used to.” Her older, country stuff was quite cool if not infectiously catchy. An old band of mine even covered “Love Story” at one point (don’t judge). But, somewhere along the way, she ditched her guitar and embraced a load of synthpop garbage. That being said, she has retained one part of her older repertoire…singing about ex-boyfriends/guys that have fucked her over. Lead singles “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off” are basically the same song
“How You get a Girl” is supposed to be an instructional manual for men. Excuse me if I don’t want to take dating advice from someone who’s dated more guys than Zeus had children. Honestly…she’s just regurgitating her last load of singles, and it’s showcasing that her song writing abilities are about as limited as Squidward’s emotional range. If this record wasn’t enough to land Ms. Swift on this side of the list, then her extremely childish tantrum with Spotify definitely helped. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m being chased by a mob of Taylor Swift fans.
#3 Nickelback’s “No Fixed Address”
Need I say more? Nickelback are Nickelback. Incredibly douchey, unbelievably repetitive and Chad Kroeger’s voice makes Kid Rock sound like an opera singer. Ok, maybe not that far…still…this record’s shit. I would write more, but I refuse to put in more effort than Nickelback did. Here have a Dave Grohl quote:
“If you play a Nickelback album backwards, you’ll hear messages from the devil. Even worse, if you play it forwards you’ll hear Nickelback” – Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters
#2 Iggy Izalea’s “The New Classic”
If her whole “bow down to me, I’m a goddess” bollocks doesn’t drive you crazier than Gnarls Barkley, then here nasal faux-American accent will. Iggy Azalea drives right into number 2, and this is more based on annoyance than the actual album itself . Her attempt at word play makes Big Sean look like Charles Dickins ie: “I’m going to fit as many metaphors into my lyrics as I can, to make myself look intelligent,” yeah…, I’m not buying it. Lead singe “Fancy” is clearly just a rip-off of Tyga’s “Rack City” (an equally crappy song) ironic as Ms. Azalea claims that “she the realest.” “Change Your Life” not only receives the award for most mentions of the term “basic bitches.” But hey, if you want to hear an Australian girl try and mimic Southern style hip-hop almost to the point of caricature, you’ve found the right album.
#1 King 810’s “Memoirs of a Murderer”
Of course, number 1 is still a metal record, and of all of the albums that I’ve listened to this year, this is the one that I despised the most. Blander than a twice-boiled cabbage, both in terms of lyrics and songwriting, this album is everything people hate about metal: guttural, samey vocal lines, pointless down-tuned riffs and lyrical content about as extensive as The Tiger who Came to Tea. Like I said in my initial review of this album, “Memoirs of a Murderer” is a boring heap of boring boringness, so much so that you couldn’t un-boring it with an electric un-boringing machine (I think you get the gist). Bottom line: it’s awful, unless you want a laugh, don’t bother.
Well, there we go, another year, another list. Obviously, there’s some clear favouritism here but surely that’s the point? My favourite records of the year are certainly not going to be the same as somebody else’s, that’s the beauty of music! Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go and punish myself for using that phrase.