Rock and roll is a wide ranging term that has seen many different evolutions over the years, but by the time 1970 came around you could start to see acts that weren't just content with the catchy ditties that populated radio in the '50s and early '60s. A harder sound had emerged and its there we find our focus for this list, recounting the Best Hard Rock Album of Each Year Since 1970.

Even these hard rock sounds branched off in different directions, from the guitar-centric rock of the early '70s into the evolution of the punk movement. By the time the '80s came around, we saw metal spin off of a more radio ready version of rock. At the end of the era, you began to see things branch out even further with industrial rock also making its presence felt. The '90s saw a grittier version of hard rock labeled grunge dominating the early part of the era, while elements of more beat-driven music yielded the nu metal era of the late '90s and early 2000s.

But regardless of labels, it all comes together in one aggressive melting pot known as hard rock. So scroll through the gallery above and see which albums helped to shape rock as we know it as we explore the Best Hard Rock Album of Each Year Since 1970. And if you're wondering why you don't see any metal albums of this list, that's because we already did a separate one on just metal. Click below to see that list.