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My 2014: Ben Armstrong

Posted on January 1, 2015 at 7:35 PM

Ben Armstrong talks us through his musical highs and lows of 2014

Albums – Metal


1. Behemoth – The Satanist. A colossal comeback record for Nergal. The Satanist is as melodic as it is vicious, as righteous as it is blasphemous, and quite frankly fucking superb. The most vital and corrosive album of Behemoth's career so far couldn't have come at a better time, and, bolstered with a spectacular live show, cements the Poles as the best metal band in the world right now.


2. Panopticon – Roads to the North. Bandcamp is a wonderful thing. If you're a fan of black metal, bluegrass or melodic death metal then Austin Lunn provides more than your recommended dose of all three on Roads to the North. It's a real journey and one you can't afford to miss this year. Raise your fiddles!


3. At the Gates – At War With Reality. The best metal comeback album of all time. Period. It's better than last year's Surgical Steel (Carcass) and one-ups the legendary Slaughter of the Soul on a few occasions during its running time. At the Gates more than justify their return to the metal world; they come back and claim their crown once more.

Albums - Pop/Electronic/Ambient

1. Ben Frost – A U R O R A. Heavier and louder than every metal album I've heard this year, Frost's vision on A U R O R A is a true vision of hell. With a wider sonic palette than his previous work and the inclusion of pulsating beats and builds, this album is Frost's most accessible yet punishing work to date. Live, it was true magic and the album version ain't half bad either - if you turn it way, way up.


2. Liars – Mess. Liars enter dancey territory with a twist on Mess. Dark, seedy and terrifying, Mess is as much a horror soundtrack as it is a homage to 80's pop and electro. This album contains 2014's best chorus (Mess on a Mission) with a truly infectious hook, and an amazingly comedic low-budget music video.


3. Tycho – Awake. My reading album for 2014. I spent every page of Murakami's 'Kafka on the Shore' with this in the background and it enhanced an already wonderful book. Eastern, soothing melodies are the order of the day here, and there's no album I'd recommend more to unwind to than Awake this year.

Albums - Hip Hop/Hardcore/Punk

1. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels II. Oh man. What can I say about El-P and Killer Mike that hasn't already been said. This duo is the most refreshing and talented hip-hop duo to emerge in a very long time. II tops their superb debut, with a blitzkrieg of punchlines, wit and scathing political critique. East Coast and Southern styles meet for an absolutely fantastic rap record which is unlike anything I've heard before.


2. Cold World – How the Gods Chill. One of the best hardcore/hip-hop crossovers I've heard in a long time. This album is a short, sharp shock with a excellence in fusion which is hard to overlook.


3. Cruel Hand – The Negatives. Another short one and an incredible fun twenty or so minutes. Every track is unique, aggressive and straight to the point. There's a few hooks to draw me in and enough big riffs to keep me hitting that replay button. Worth a purchase for the beautiful album art, too.

Most Disappointing Record

Cynic – Kindly Bent to Free Us. After the genre-defining Focus and superb comeback album Traced in Air, Cynic finally fall flat. A thin guitar tone, vague too-floaty song structures and a lack of solid stand out moments make this record, sadly, my disappointment of the year. Here's hoping for a return to form in the near future.





2. Tesseract finally rehire Dan Tompkins


3. TodaysArt Festival (Scheveningen, Den Haag, The Netherlands)

Best Gig

1. Metallica – Sonisphere, Knebworth


2. Ben Frost/Tim Hecker – TodaysArt Festival, Zuiderstrandtheater


3. Luboš Andršt Trio – AghaRTA Jazz Club, Praha


Disappointing Gig


The Safety Fire – Sonisphere, Knebworth


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