Gigs of the Year 2014

Here are Susanne Sinmara’s and Jabbawock’s lists of gigs of the year:

Gigs of the year:

SUSANNE SINMARA

(in no particular order, they were all mindblowing)

– Mgla 13.3.2014, London

– Solstafir 20.6.2014 Sommersonnwende, Austria

– Halo Manash 20.6.2014 Sommersonnwende, Austria

– Possessed 28.7.2014 London

– In Solitude 15.10.2014 London

– Vemod 17.10.2014 Laudata Nex Magicka I, Trondheim, Norway

– Urfaust 17.10.2014 Laudata Nex Magicka I, Trondheim, Norway

– Cult Of Fire 18.10.2014 Laudata Nex Magicka I, Trondheim, Norway

– Windir/Vreid/Ulcus 23.10.2014 London

– Arkona 11.11.2014 London

JABBAWOCK:

Top 10 gigs of 2014

2014 was a very good year for me in terms of seeing great live shows, so this was a good opportunity to come back on the best moments.

  1. Darkspace – 04/10 – Helvete Underground, Geneva

This one is a no-brainer: Darkspace has been my favorite live band for many years, and each of their shows I attended was completely mind blowing. This was the 4th time for me, and it was no exception: perfect sound, solid choice of songs (essentially the whole new album + 3.14),… If anything was missing, it was the anguished screams of Zorgh, who has now switched to more traditional growls. Well worth the trip to Switzerland!

  1. Esoteric – 26/04 – Magasin 4, Brussels (Darken the Moon V fest)

Esoteric has also been on the top of my live bands list for a while, and they have consistently delivered outstanding performances each time I saw them. Their specific blend of Funeral Doom is truly trance-inducing live. This time was just as good as always, with a very good setlist. Nothing more to say here….

  1. Amenra – 28/06 – Graspop Metal Meeting, Belgium

I generally can’t stand most post-hardcore bands, and even Amenra is no exception…. on CD, that is. When performing live, their music takes a whole new dimension. While in many cases, bands have a better sound in a proper venue than on an outdoor festival, those guys managed to get a huge sound in the festival tent, and delivered an incredibly powerful set. Again, a very consistent live band.

  1. Vemod – 06/12 – Magasin 4, Brussels

I was fairly unfamiliar with Vemod before attending this gig. Although I liked their latest album, a live show could go very well or be very disappointing, so I went without any expectations. Much to my surprise, the band completely blew me away with a really high standard live performance. I didn’t even recognize any of the (few) songs I knew, but the playing quality was extremely good and my attention was grabbed from start to finish. The nice surprise of the year for me!

  1. Triptykon – 18/12 – Hof Ter Lo, Antwerp

I will never get enough of the sheer heaviness of Triptykon, both on CD and live. Especially their guitar sound is monumental; each time I see them, I have the feeling they could play 10 more minutes of just guitar chords, and I would still enjoy it. I saw them two times this year (the other time at Graspop), and both sets were really good. The show in Antwerp, which had a nice after-party from At The Gates, gets the cake because of the inclusion of “Circle of the Tyrants” in the set. Only problem: it was too short! If only they would do a headlining tour next time….

  1. Borgne – 25/01 – Garcia Lorca, Brussels

I always thought of this band as a more accessible version of Darkspace somehow, having a similar sound (wall of guitars and a fast drum machine) yet more traditional Black Metal structures. This gig was my first occasion to finally see this band live, and I sure was not disappointed. With three guitar players (not sure they still do that now), bass and keyboards, the expected wall of sound was delivered flawlessly, and the multiple vocalists (1 lead + 3 backing) added even more power to the mix.

  1. The Great Old Ones – 11/04 – Recyclart, Brussels

The second time I was seeing this fast growing band from Bordeaux, and they were just as good as expected. Their Atmospheric Black Metal was perfectly executed, and despite the less-than-ideal location, due to the show being booked at the last minute, the visual aspect of the performance was also surprisingly good. Those guys are bound to appear on bigger and bigger stages over time.

  1. Mgla – 14/03 – Magasin 4, Brussels

The music of Mgla was definitely the discovery of this last couple of years for me (yes, I was a bit late to the party, I know). With such a direct and dynamic approach to Black Metal, filled with catchy riffs, I had very high expectations of their live performance. But in the end, I was a bit disappointed. The energy and stage presence were definitely there, and the choice of songs was perfect, but the sound was far from ideal. I mean, seriously, how hard can it be to mix this band? The lead guitar was set way too low, and a part of the catchy tunes was barely audible. Still, it got better as the set progressed, and in the end it was a rather nice show, but I can’t help but feel frustrated about this. With a perfect sound I would have ranked it a lot higher…. Then I got to see them again two months later at Thronefest, and the sound was even worse! If only they could bring along their own sound guy next time….

  1. Alcest – 06/11 – Ancienne Belgique, Brussels

Alcest is one of my favorite bands and a big artistic influence for me. Despite the controversy, I really enjoyed their latest album, and was looking forward to hear those songs live. Although they were performing in a very nice location, the show felt a bit underwhelming, as the sound was not as thick as it should have been. Also, I always thought this band sounds better on cd, and does not have an outstanding live presence. Nonetheless, the setlist was solid and the performance left me with a good impression.

  1. Bolt Thrower – 05/10 – Muziekodroom, Hasselt

So, right after the Darkspace gig in Geneva, I flew back to Belgium overnight, slept through the day, and then it was time for some Bolt Thrower! I don’t listen to much Death Metal these days, but Bolt Thrower has been my favorite for many years, and always occupies a nice spot in my playlist. Somehow I never got the chance to see them live before, so I could not miss this opportunity. The band delivered a good show, and played most of the songs I like (and they do have a whole lot to choose from). Probably my expectations were a bit too high though, and I felt it could have been better. It was their last day on tour as well, and they were visibly a little tired. Regardless of all that, I enjoyed it quite a bit!

Notable runner-ups for the top 10 this year were Solstafir, Dread Sovereign, Procession, Oranssi Pazuzu and Lychgate. On the other hand, my biggest regret was missing the Vreid/Windir tour, especially since this type of special show does not happen so often. Still, I feel this year will be difficult to beat in the live department.