First, here's my annual end of the year playlist, compiling songs that have been meaningful for me throughout the year: here.
Next is my rank of albums released in 2014 that I have had the chance to check: here. It's really short, but shows how this year felt truly exceptional in terms of the excellence of the albums I did listen to. Every album was either just what I had expected or much better, so this list is devoid of any disappointments. As for EPs, I only heard Katatonia's Kocytean (4.0/5.0) and Days Of The Fallen Sun (3.0/5.0) by Junius, so I didn't even bother making a list.
During the year I also obtained two new band-related items of clothing. You can view short descriptions of them and my other band clothes here.
Then it's time to talk about the year in general. I'll try to keep this short and will exclude any major personal details.
While once again 2014 was not as fruitful as I would have hoped, looking back, it was still pretty decent. I was able to release the first half of my debut album Reflections & Realizations in February, and work on the second half to the extent that a full release is now only months away - and that I can say with certainty since there's only oh so little left to do considering the amount of work it has already taken out of me so far. I never imagined let alone wanted this project to take 5 years, and I can't even say with a straight face that in the end it was all worth it. Don't get me wrong, I do stand behind the songs and feel that production-wise the final product is the best I can do - apart from my approach to the mixing of the drums for the second half, which is much better than what the drums sound on the first half in my opinion. But I also know that the ending result is not going to be totally satisfactory because a) it's not yet professional enough, because I'm not professional enough b) I have newer and better songs waiting to be captured for future albums. Still, I yearn for that day when I can hold the CD in my hand. Thankfully it's not too far away anymore.
My future albums have deserved more of my time this year than Reflections & Realizations, actually. It's shocking, but my upcoming second album is pretty much completed in terms of compositions already and 50% done lyrically. My third album is musically 2/3 done and lyrically 1/3 done. However, these numbers are put into perspective when I say that both of these two albums were started in 2011. These days I feel that this eternally long cooking process is actually a benefit and helps me ensure that the songs are indeed strong enough for the record. Anyway, I have already made plans to capture my second album Romanticism in the summer of 2015. I am so excited for this project that it can't really be put into words right now. For the third album Ravinethrall I've made a song here and there and same goes for the fourth album that is still very much in its baby steps. There's even two other projects, but for those two I only have short ideas, not really actual songs. All of these might never even see the light of day, and even at best they will take years and years to finish. But the important thing is that I have made progress with all of them and it's been fun all year.
Although it got cut after the fifth week, I enjoyed my "A Day; A Record" project at the start of the year. It not only brought me joy in terms of discovering new music, but also in terms of delightful feedback and confidence I gained towards my writing. Though I never reached my rather optimistic goal which was to make it to 1000 albums/EPs heard by my 20th birthday, I did make a list of my 20 favorite albums in video form. I also did hear 71 albums and 10 EPs I hadn't heard before in 2014, which is only half of my record set in 2012, but considering how much work I had to do, it's still pretty nicely done I think. This year was the year I totally fell in love with Paradise Lost, and became even more attached to the music of Opeth and Katatonia. Of course, I also got to see Opeth live on my birthday together with Alcest, and enjoyed the live presence of Korn and Hacktivist as well. I heard Maj Karma for the first time, came to love them, and dived deeper into the music of Brüssel Kaupallinen. This lead me to add both of these Finnish bands to my favorite bands list alongside October Tide, who's 1997 album Rain Without End was one of my most important and heavily consumed albums this year.
Perhaps my biggest and most rewarding artistic project has been my poetry book, which I began writing in September 2013 and continued working on throughout 2014. I'm now at a phase where I have only a few ideas left to try; after that it's nothing but perfecting the poems I want to keep and fitting the pieces together. I probably have about 130 poems to choose from, including the 48 poems I've done during the past two Christmas calendars. The best ones I'm really proud of, and even if no publishing house would decide to grab the book, I'm still going to be thrilled that I have done such a project and made it final. Not as thrilled as for an artistically successful album, but still thrilled.
Besides my art, I've of course been working, studying and - gasp - socializing. I completed my non-military service at the Savonlinna Christian Institute in August. My service brought me some happy memories, confidence, experience and a feeling I had done something meaningful while assisting, being on call and even teaching. SKO is truly a place I will happily return to time and time again. In the spring I had an intense 3-month period of studying for university entrance exams. I applied for literature in Jyväskylä, Finnish and literature in Joensuu and journalistics in Jyväskylä. I passed every exam but chose literature in Jyväskylä as my major, with journalistics as my minor. Since having moved to Jyväskylä at the end of August my life has taken a rather radical turn and mostly for the better. I have more friends than I ever have and ever could've wished for, I'm glad to study again and challenge myself through school, I love living in my own apartment, I enjoy the city's atmosphere, and above all I feel inspired. Sure there's still pressure and time limitations et cetera, but I am not hesitant to say that I'm living the best time of my life right now. And if the conditions don't change, it might go on for at least the next 3-5 years.
Having said all of that, I must conclude that I feel grateful for all that I have and wish a happy new year to each and everyone. Politically, 2015 looks like a very unstable year. Personally? Who knows. I just know that the most defining years of my life so far have been 2003, 2007 and 2011. See the pattern? ;)