Aaah Christmas, the season deliciously heralding the death of the calendar year alongside the birth of a new gut.
As is always the way with this time of year, I’ve been reflecting on the past 12 months with a mixture of exasperation, fondness, and bafflement. Life never goes the way you predict it will, and 2014 couldn’t have made more of a point of proving that even if it somehow came to life and made it its raison d’être with all of the gusto of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Despite this, I regret nothing. Nor should I; everything I did was bloody marvellous.
Speaking of bloody marvellous, one of my favourite album’s this year has to be one I reflected upon in my second column: Allegaeon’s Elements of the Infinite.
Despite countless listens I remain completely incapable of keeping a straight face during the opener Threshold of Perception, such is the joyful abandon with which the band romp through it. The rest of the album continues in the same vein, making the whole thing a genuine delight to listen to.
Should you find yourself laden with wintry melancholy, or discover that you are simply a living creature, then this may just be the record for you.
Another album which deserves an honourable mention is Behemoth’s long-awaited The Satanist.
Considering the remarkable quality of almost everything the black metal juggernauts release this may come as no surprise, but it stands head and shoulders above most of what the year had to offer.
O Father O Satan O Sun! is a particular favourite of mine, though it admittedly may have a touch too much melodrama to it for some.
In regards to dragging my small frame out into the world and witnessing live music, the past year has been an interesting one.
As many of you will be able to tell from my upcoming interview/review, Goatwhore’s performance supporting Dying Fetus stood out as truly remarkable.
I can’t remember the last time I was that blown away by a set, which really is something when you consider the fact I’ve loved the band for years and thought I knew what to expect. Silly old me.
One live performance which was particularly noteworthy was Aerosmith’s performance at Download. Having seen them several years ago and been forced to leave before they’d finished playing due to how simply terrible the sound was, it was wonderful to learn for sure that it really was only a sound issue.
They played so well in fact that I became quite emotional; singing along with hair-splitting gusto and almost losing my voice. Incidentally, I recently read that Stephen Tyler credits his fabulous hair to the use of not one, but two hair-dryers. The magnificent old git.
Anyway, that’s more than enough reflection for one month.
Let us look to the future, and contemplate what 2015 may hold. One thing I can be sure of is that it will be an exciting year for music, with so many up-and-coming bands jostling on the metal horizon.
It’s easy to feel like there’s not much bubbling on the Merseyside front, but Lomax’s Grinch Fest earlier this month served as a firm reminder that the scene really is very much alive and kicking. While the full review of the evening will be coming soon (patience my friends), Animus and Deified in particular stood out as bands to keep an eyeball on.
So should you be setting your peepers to tracking mode, they would make a very good place to start.
In terms of musicians hailing from further afield, Year of the Goat are a group of chaps who have really caught my attention this year.
You can read my review of The Key and the Gate in last month’s column, but should you want to discover why they tantalised me so with more immediacy then do listen to the track Mystic Mountains below.
It’s a beautiful piece of work, full of soaring notes and a surprisingly sincere air of passion. Each time I hear it I find myself completely lost in it.
On that note, it is time for both you and I to similarly lose ourselves to the unrelenting deliciousness of festive feasting. Joyeux Noël , mes amis.