Music that entertained me in 2014

In the lead up to the end of 2014 and my announcement of The Awesomes of the year, I thought I’d cover things other than books that entertained me this year. To start with I thought I’d list some of the music I’ve bought and listened to this year. As always, I’m hoping that sharing the stuff I’ve enjoyed will promote artists and media so that maybe you’ll find something new to enjoy.

Devin Townsend
For me 2014 was all about Devin Townsend, with his new album Z2 and his back catalog on high rotation. Whilst Epicloud and Addicted remain my favourites, there is little Devin has done that isn’t worth listening to.

Epica
Whilst I’ve liked most of Epica’s work, their more recent album, Requiem for the Indifferent, had more pop-inspired vocals than Simone Simmons usual range. This lost my interest quickly. Fortunately The Quantum Enigma was a return to form for the band and Simone’s vocals. They also released one of the few lyric videos that didn’t suck, so there is that as well.

Arch Enemy
With singer Angela Gossow stepping down to manage the band, the new album, War Eternal, could have gone pear shaped. Instead Alissa White-Gluz stepped up and the band continued to kick arse.

Delain
With the second closest thing to pop on my list, Delain’s new album, The Human Contradiction, was a brighter, more rock, release than previous albums.

Diabolicus in Musica
Not to be confused with the classic Slayer album, Diabolicus in Musica share many of the elements I like in music (see if you can spot the similarities). Argia was their second album and released this year. Their studio production is improved over their first album, which makes them sound bigger and more epic.

Nightwish
Nothing new from them this year, but I did see them live so I’m counting that. With Floor Jansen stepping in as lead vocalist I was like an excited puppy to see them perform. Floor previously fronted After Forever, another band I love, not to mention her other projects.

Kontrust
This is cheating slightly because as I write this I haven’t bought the new album. But I did discover Kontrust this year and their music has also been on high rotation, particularly Secondhand Wonderland.

Deathklok
This is another cheat since Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem A Klok Opera was released last year, but I’m justifying it on the basis that Australia has to rely on illegal downloads to get content in a timely manner. So I was only able to buy this Klok Opera recently, and what a cool piece of work it is.

Amaranthe
I was watching a parkour video last year that had a song from Amaranthe as the soundtrack. I subsequently bought their first two albums and love their mix of crushing guitars and pop-inspired vocals. Definitely the most pop-styled music on this list, the new album, Massive Addictive, is more good-fun music.

Within Temptation
Given the list so far it is no surprise that Within Temptation are included here. With the release of the first single from Hydra, which included guest vocals from Tarja Turunen (formerly of Nightwish) I was excited, to say the least. But I found the album to be too inconsistent and a little disappointing. Still some great moments on it, however, such as this track:

Nicki Minaj
Kidding, just kidding. I honestly have no idea who Nicki Minaj is, except that she was one of the musicians satirised on the South Park episode I watched last night. Just wanted some clickbait. #NickiMinajNaked
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Music I’m not ashamed to enjoy

You may remember that I previously wrote about a number of artists and songs that, despite their crappiness, I actually enjoyed. Well, it only seems fair that I talk about the music I enjoy and whose band t-shirt I would not be ashamed to wear in public. Let’s face it, it is too easy to write yet another article on the internet decrying which musicians suck. We already have science proving that pop music is becoming more generic and bland, I don’t really need to beat that dead horse more than a few times. Unless, of course, I get a particularly annoying song stuck in my head after accidentally wondering into a “hip” clothing store.

I’m going to have to limit my list to recent purchases, otherwise this list could become too awesome and might cause the internet to implode.

Kontrust

I discovered Kontrust completely by accident. Whilst searching for “cool ways to kill people with a spoon” on Youtube, I came across the song Hey DJ by this crossover act from Austria. If you don’t understand all of the lyrics in their songs, don’t worry, that just means you don’t know either Austrian, German, Polish or English. They have three albums out, but they really hit their stride with the second and third albums.

Krypteria – Get the hell outta my way

This German band have been around for quite a while and are part of the legion of female fronted metal acts in Europe. This is the only song of theirs that I like, the rest don’t really grab me like this one does.

Halestorm

There is nothing quite like a good rock act belting out some tunes. Lzzy is a great vocalist and I’m sure the other band members, including her brother, are very important to the music as well.

Amaranthe

I first came across this band because I like Kamelot. The latest Kamelot album and tour features Elize Ryd doing vocals that would normally be done by Simone Simons of Epica. She also filled in on vocals for Nightwish. All this was telling me I had to check out all the projects she was involved with because all the bands I liked were fans, so that meant I needed to be as well. Amaranthe has to be the only three lead vocalists band I know of, but it works very well for their pop-metal stylings.

Five Finger Death Punch

So far all the music I’ve listed have one thing in common: positive and fun music. All right, most of it is pretty heavy, although not by metal standards, but none could be mistaken for angry music. Yet I write action packed stories in which bad things happen to bad people. That means I need the occasional piece of angry music to get me in the mood to take aim at some of the crap people in the world and write a scene where they get shown how to resemble swiss cheese. Enter Five Finger Death Punch. I only have their American Capitalist album, which I was put onto by my friend. He’d put together a training video, prior to him winning his IFBB physique pro card, which included the above track – because weightlifters and bodybuilders can’t lift heavy stuff to pop music.

Terrible music I enjoy

Not all music can be as awesome as AC/DC or Steel Panther, some of it has to suck like Nickelback and *inset generic pop star name here*. The problem is that amongst all of that suck there is the occasional gem that rises above its mediocre origins and digs deep into my skull like a Ceti-Aal. So here is some of the music that is on my iPod despite how bad it is.

Katrina and the Waves – Walking on Sunshine
This saccharine peppy pop song revels in its bouncy good-times vibe: how can you not enjoy it? Little known fact: Nine Inch Nails were created to counter the peppiness of this song. During my aspiring musician days (also known as my terrible poetry phase) I was actually trying to develop a cover version of this song that took all the peppy pop and blend it with my favourite dark-angst driven rock music. This would have been the music equivalent of dividing by zero.

Dragonforce – the entire Sonic Firestorm album
At some point you have to turn off Dragonforce to remove the copious build up of cheese from your ears. The insanely fast riffs, the power metal vocals, the lyrics inspired by too many fantasy novels, the video game inspired guitar sounds, all add up to something everyone should be embarrassed to listen to. Still rocks.

The Beatles – most of their career
She loves you…. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah… Need I say more? The Beatles are awesome, but you really have to cringe when you step back to look at some of the banal pop music they produced. Not to mention their drug phase which produced such gems as I Am The Walrus and Dude, Where’s My LSD? My favourite Beatle moment was the guitar duel between Clapton and Harrison over Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. Now you’d battle to find two great musicians who wouldn’t just resort to a threesome.

Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal
It is a good thing these guys don’t take themselves seriously, because otherwise the joke would be all on them. They absolutely rock, are made up of fantastic musicians from metal bands across Europe, and are doing the “we love metal” fandom with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Creed – Higher
A bunch of God botherers form a band and produce pretentious pop-rock albums swamped with FM-radio friendly rock-ballads. They should suck. Actually, they do. But in among the trash is this little gem. Now if only a decent band would cover it.

Bon Jovi – Wanted: Dead or Alive
The highest praise that can be heaped upon Bon Jovi is that they wrote a couple of songs that didn’t suck. Sam and Dean even cranked out a rendition of Wanted: Dead or Alive. The main thing is that the Northern Kings did a cover of this song so you don’t have to listen to Bon Jovi to enjoy this song.

Poison – Unskinny Bop and Nothing But a Good Time
If there was an iconic example of everything wrong with hair metal of the 80s, it was Poison. Before there were metrosexuals, there were hair metal-ers wearing eye-liner, lip gloss and getting their hair permed so that they could jump around on stage in crotch stuffed spandex pants. At least they knew how to party.

MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This
A guy I used to know was in a band that did a cover of this song. Before I heard them do their cover I couldn’t stand this song. After hearing it, I now don’t cringe when I see Hammer-time jokes on the internet.


Only if you feel the need for more aural abuse:

International Day of Slayer

SLAYER

Metal fans of the world unite! Today – June 6th – is every metal fan’s public holiday. Ok, the public holiday is still in the works, and this post is a little late, but it is at least a day when all metal fans can proudly proclaim their faith in all things heavy. To represent all that is metal, the band Slayer have been adopted as the international symbol of metal music.

Who is Slayer

Slayer is a band from California. Their music has come to epitomise speed metal music in the latter half of the 20th century. Their 1986 album, “Reign in Blood” is one of the single most influential metal albums of all time, typified by the modern classic “Angel of Death”. Playing “Reign In Blood” has been positively correlated with reductions in the local infestations of hippies, fundamentalist religious groups and other non-savoury people.

This year the International Day of Slayer takes on greater significance due to the death of Slayer’s guitarist, Jeff Hanneman.

How to Celebrate

  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

DO NOT use headphones! This year find a way to make the music of Slayer even louder, in honour of Jeff. The objective of this day is for everyone within earshot to understand that it is the International Day of Slayer. International holidays aren’t just about celebrating; they’re about forcing it upon non-participants.

Taking that participation to a problematic level

  • Stage a “Slay-out.” Don’t go to work. Listen to Slayer.
  • Have a huge block party that clogs up a street in your neighbourhood. Blast Slayer albums all evening. Get police cruisers and helicopters on the scene. Finish with a full-scale riot.
  • Spray paint Slayer logos on churches, synagogues, or cemeteries.
  • Play Slayer covers with your own band (since 99% of your riffs are stolen from Slayer anyway).
  • Kill the neighbour’s dog and blame it on Slayer.

But, I hear you ask, what if I’m a metal fan and don’t like Slayer? Well there are many options:

  • You could admit yourself to hospital, as you are clearly ill.
  • You could take this opportunity to grow to like Slayer.
  • You could listen to all of your favourite metal albums whilst watching a Slayer video.
  • You could admit that you aren’t really a metal fan and kill yourself in shame or hang out with Justin Beiber fans (same thing really).

Jeff-Hanneman-Slayer-RIP

 

International Day of Slayer

Metal fans of the world unite! Today – June 6th – is every metal fan’s public holiday. Ok, the public holiday is still in the works, and this post is a little late, but it is at least a day when all metal fans can proudly proclaim their faith in all things heavy. To represent all that is metal, the band Slayer have been adopted as the international symbol of metal music.

Who is Slayer

Slayer is a band from California. Their music has come to epitomise speed metal music in the latter half of the 20th century. Their 1986 album, “Reign in Blood” is one of the single most influential metal albums of all time, typified by the modern classic “Angel of Death”. Playing “Reign In Blood” has been positively correlated p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }with reductions in the local infestations of hippies, fundamentalist religious groups and other non-savoury people.

How to Celebrate

  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

DO NOT use headphones! The objective of this day is for everyone within earshot to understand that it is the International Day of Slayer. International holidays aren’t just about celebrating; they’re about forcing it upon non-participants.

Taking that participation to a problematic level

  • Stage a “Slay-out.” Don’t go to work. Listen to Slayer.
  • Have a huge block party that clogs up a street in your neighbourhood. Blast Slayer albums all evening. Get police cruisers and helicopters on the scene. Finish with a full-scale riot.
  • Spray paint Slayer logos on churches, synagogues, or cemeteries.
  • Play Slayer covers with your own band (since 99% of your riffs are stolen from Slayer anyway).
  • Kill the neighbour’s dog and blame it on Slayer. 

But, I hear you ask, what if I’m a metal fan and don’t like Slayer? Well there are many options:

  • You could admit yourself to hospital, as you are clearly ill.
  • You could take this opportunity to grow to like Slayer.
  • You could listen to all of your favourite metal albums whilst watching a Slayer video.
  • You could admit that you aren’t really a metal fan and kill youself in shame or hang out with Justin Beiber fans (same thing really).