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04.08.14 Dr7's Top 7 Of 201302.21.14 Desertfest 2014 - Bands Of Interest
12.26.13 Live 2013 - A Retrospective

Live 2013 - A Retrospective

A look back at the bands I've seen this year, excluding Download 2013 (I might cover that in another list). I've excluded a load of support bands and in some cases I've not gone into much detail - if you'd like me to expand on any performance in particular let me know.
1The HAARP Machine

(2nd March, Underworld) - Short, decent performance. Chris Barretto filled in for vocals which was cool. Nice to hear some of their songs live.
2After The Burial

(2nd March, Underworld) - Great performance. While I was unfamiliar with their material it was really solid and got the crowd going. Most impressive set of the night.
3Monuments

(2nd March, Underworld) - Decent performance. The second time I'd seen them and while good, noticeably more average than the first time I saw them.
4Born of Osiris

(2nd March, Underworld) - Another solid performance. After listening to "The Discovery" obsessively for a week or two before the gig it was great to hear them do it live.
5Gojira

(24th March, Brixton Academy) - Amazing performace but short set. One of the weirdest line-ups of the year with Gojira seemingly supporting Ghost, Gojira destroyed, as expected, pleasing the crowd, a portion of which only came to see them.
6Ghost B.C.

(24th March, Brixton Academy) - Fortunately for me, I'm a fan of Ghost having loved "Opus Eponymous" and was really looking forward to the show. They didn't let me down with an excellent show - they really know how to get a good groove going and you can't help but tap your foot. Their set also included material from their second album which was relatively fresh to me at the time but "Year Zero" and closer "Monstrance Clock" were great.
7Hypocrisy

(16th April, Underworld) - An amazing, relentless performance featuring huge riffs from beginning to end. Great to hear tracks for "End of Disclosure" live. Can't wait to see them again.
8Meshuggah

(3rd May, Brixton Academy) - A mechanical performance involving trance-like repetition and headbang-inducing grooves. Thanks to whatever they used for their live mix - which sounded perfect - it left me mesmerized and at times, made me close my eyes just to feel and absorb everything I was hearing.
9Devin Townsend Project

(3rd May, Brixton Academy) - Like something someone would come up with as a fantasy gig - Devin Townsend follows Meshuggah - getting everybody in the right mood first by giving us a good dose of "ZTV", getting a good laugh out of the crowd including myself, all of a sudden the seriousness of Meshuggah was put to one side, and then Devin Townsend, with Anneke van Geirsbergen, start the incredible show with "Angel". In a set that consisted mostly of DTP and Ziltoid material, this felt like he was closing the book on a huge effort with the Project and I felt privileged to be seeing it. On a less positive note, after Meshuggah sounding perfect, I couldn't help but notice how DTP sounded too loud and muddier, but it didn't hurt things too much, especially when songs that didn't involve the trademark wall-of-sound sounded amazing (Deadhead, in particular).
10Nazoranai

(11th July, Scala) - Having been sold on the "drone experience" by Boris at this very venue last year, the temptation of seeing this supergroup of sorts was too great to resist. Nazoranai presented around an hour of experimental drone, fronted by astounding Keiji Haino, which left me suitably at a loss for words and ever curious to hear where the music was going. It was a sonic experience and if you can get into it, you lose yourself in it. I certainly did. (Special mention for the excellent Flower Corsano Duo who supported)
11Mogwai

(26th July, Barbican) - This was a bit of an odd one - here, Mogwai performed the soundtrack to "Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait" live during a screening of the film. Having been a fan of "Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will" as well as this very soundtrack a couple of times, I was very keen to check this out. The film was decent, but it all felt a bit awkward seeing how any spoken word was subtitled, which made you look at the screen, when I was enjoying observing the band playing. By the end I felt somewhat underwhelmed by the experience, but thankfully an excellent encore featuring long songs big on atmospherics that I hadn't heard before really made this "gig" worthwhile.
12The Safety Fire

(4th September, Upstairs at The Garage) - Coming off the release of the excellent "Mouth Of Swords" this headline set saw the band play a nice mix of material from the latest effort and their debut. Vocals were shaky to begin with but got better as the set went on. This was a thoroughly enjoyable performance which served as a very good indicator of what's to come.
13Dead Letter Circus

(30th September, Underworld) - A very good performance from the Aussie rockers. Vocalist Kim Benzie in particular impressed, with tracks from "The Catalyst Fire" going down a treat.
14Monuments

(30th September, Underworld) - An indicator of where this band is heading, headlining at the Underworld and attracting quite an audience, this had to go well for them as since the last time they played here vocalist Matt Rose had left the band and Ever Forthright vocalist Chris Barretto came in. The usual mega-heaviness of the Gnosis material being played live really got the crowd going and Chris did a great job. He and the band seemed like they were enjoying themselves and now they are on the verge of releasing their 2nd LP. This will be a very important release for them, but I'm quietly confident that it'll be what it needs to be.
15Skyharbor

(13th October, Barfly) - Having fallen in love with "Blinding White Noise" over this year, I was very excited to see them announce this date as part of a headline UK tour. After a truly lacklustre support band, the band took the stage and must have felt the crowd, now at fever pitch. I knew they were going to be good, but not this good. A truly superb performance followed, featuring the bands trademark atmospherics and quality riffs, every member impressed with Daniel Tompkins in particular blowing away my expectations - a feat you hope for with bands with incredible vocalists but don't always get. They also played a new song which fit in wonderfully with the songs from their debut which has raised my expectations for their 2014 release so high that I anticipate something of "Album Of The Year" quality.
16Shining

(1st November, The Garage) - The Norwegian band took to the stage with their brand of jazz-metal, mixing up various material from their career - big songs from Blackjazz and One One One went down well and the ones I didn't recognize were impressive. The musicianship was astounding and often left you wondering who you should be watching. I couldn't help noticing that a lot of the crowd were clearly just waiting for The Ocean, but for those looking forward to these guys - me included - it was an awesome musical treat.
17The Ocean

(1st November, The Garage) - The band the crowd were waiting for were finally here - unfortunately, that wasn't the case for me so I was watching these guys only off hearing a few songs from them and not thinking too much of them either. What I did know was that their latest effort Pelagial went down a treat with critics and fans alike so this should be a good show. It was. A very heavy set followed and it became clear very quickly that this was a very talented group of people. Coupled with their creative visuals, The Ocean warrant a "stand and stare" response and similarly to Shining who preceded them, you wondered which member of the band to watch as they were all very impressive. This also put to rest my doubts of whether a vocalist makes sense for the band, impressing an awful lot more in a live environment. I'll certainly be making more of an effort to listen to these guys after this performance.
18Leprous

(9th November, Underworld) - In retrospect, it's hard to describe how I felt about the prospect of seeing Leprous live. Being a big fan of "Coal", their latest effort, I was aware of how seeing this band live may be disappointing. If you know who they are, you might already know what I mean - they don't write songs you'd expect to be performed live with ease. Fortunately, my doubts were put to rest immediately with opener "Foe". These guys don't mess around. What followed was a breathtaking set performed with total precision and inspiring attitude. My doubt over whether vocalist Einar Solberg could sing the way he does in a studio were also blown away, being floored by his ability throughout the set. Quite possibly my favourite gig of the year, along with Skyharbor. Do not miss the opportunity to see these guys live, because you won't be disappointed.
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