Every year has its highs and lows, but 2014 sure seemed to take pleasure in keeping us in the metal community on our collective toes. It swung between triumph and tragedy, often in the space of a few weeks. Angela Gossow stepped down from Arch Enemy, Slayer’s lineup continued to rotate like a damn rotisserie, and a Bill Ward-less Black Sabbath won a Grammy. We said a lot of goodbyes — to GWAR’s Dave Brockie, to The Gates of Slumbers’ Jason McCash, to Black Tusk’s Jonathan Athon, to too many more.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, though. Black Tusk (joined by longtime friend Corey Barhorst) has just announced a European tour, and GWAR’s new female member, Vulvatron, has already won over the band’s diehard fans. Despite typical doomsday predictions, metal has actually enjoyed a huge upswing in creativity, resulting in genre-defying new sounds and styles that see releases from Nux Vomica and the Atlas Moth nestle in comfortably alongside more orthodox practitioners like Blut Aus Nord and Death Congregation. Metal is still dogged by the issues that arise from its deep-seated conservative values, but thanks to an increase in conversations about racism, politics, and feminism, those on the right side of history have gained solid ground.
At the end of the day, metal ain’t perfect — but it’s ours, and we love it, warts and all. Here are a few of 2014’s brightest metallic moments. KIM KELLY