Contact Us

10 Best Hard Rock Albums of 1994

Green Day Soundgarden Nine Inch Nails
Kevin Winter (2) / Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

The year 1994 was one of the best for rock music, offering a variety of options for those who liked it loud and upbeat. It was the year that punk re-entered the mainstream, grunge continued its dominance and Woodstock proved to be a tipping point for several bands on the verge of massive popularity.

With that in mind, we flash back to glimpse this landmark year in rock music at its peak and provide you with the 10 Best Hard Rock Albums of 1994.


Pearl-Jam-Vitalogy
10

'Vitalogy'

 
 

Coming off of the hit albums 'Ten' and 'Vs.,' Pearl Jam were on a hot streak. While 'Vitalogy' didn't live up to its predecessors, the album was still one of the strongest releases of 1994. 'Better Man' has been the disc's most enduring track, while 'Spin the Black Circle' provided the band's first Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. Songs like 'Corduroy,' 'Not for You' and 'Immortality' also struck a chord with listeners.

 
Bad Religion Stranger Than Fiction
9

'Stranger Than Fiction'

 
 

It's rare that a band goes eight discs into their career before reaching that big album! But such was the case for Bad Religion with 1994's 'Stranger Than Fiction.' Jumping to Atlantic Records brought a larger audience to such standout cuts as '21st Century (Digital Boy),' 'Infected' and the title cut. The Greg Graffin-Brett Gurewitz songwriting partnership was on fire with 'Stranger Than Fiction.' The disc would become the band's first gold record in the U.S.

 
Bush Sixteen Stone
8

'Sixteen Stone'

 
 

A late 1994 release, Bush's 'Sixteen Stone' showed that the dirty grungy sound had crossed the pond to the U.K. Gavin Rossdale's crew immediate connected with 'Everything Zen,' and then followed with a slew of hit singles. The rockers 'Little Things' and 'Comedown' were pure ear candy, while 'Glycerine' offered a more mellow change of pace before 'Machine Head' finished the run in 1996. These Brits earned their spot on the Best Hard Rock Albums of 1994.

 
Hole Live Through This
7

'Live Through This'

 
 

Hole really left their stamp on the music scene in 1994. While there had been some sentiment that they rode Nirvana's coattails early on, that idea was quickly tossed aside after 'Live Through This' arrived. Courtney Love was simply a force to be reckoned with as the attitude-filled tracks 'Miss World,' 'Doll Parts' and 'Violet' rocked listeners to the core. Songs like 'Asking for It' and 'Softer, Softest' also connected with listeners, and Hole established themselves as one of the more kick-ass bands in rock.

 
Stone Temple Pilots Purple
6
 
 

Stone Temple Pilots burst on the scene in 1992, but showed no signs of a sophomore slump with 1994's 'Purple.' They had the benefit of the bluesy lead single 'Big Empty' getting early buzz thanks to an MTV Unplugged performance and 'The Crow' soundtrack inclusion. But things just picked up from there. 'Vasoline' rocked radio in the summer of '94, while 'Interstate Love Song' followed and became the standout single. 'Unglued' and 'Pretty Penny' also earned some spins, making 'Purple' one of the band's most complete records.

 
Alice in Chains Jar of Flies
5

'Jar of Flies'

 
 

In a case of less is more, Alice in Chains rocked 1994 with their EP, 'Jar of Flies.' Though only filled with seven songs (including one instrumental), 'Jar of Flies' was no less impactful. 'No Excuses' topped the rock charts, while 'I Stay Away,' backed with violins, is one of the band's most powerful tracks. And while it was not released as a single, 'Nutshell' has become one of the band's most popular songs. The 'Jar of Flies' EP may not be a full disc, but definitely stands among thebest hard rock releases of 1994.

 
The Offspring Smash
4

'Smash'

 
 

1994 was the year that punk made a comeback and The Offspring were one of the bands that pushed it back into the musical mainstream. The group's third album, 'Smash,' proved to be their breakout, led by the single 'Come Out and Play,' with seemingly everyone singing the line, "You gotta keep 'em separated." But it didn't stop there, as 'Self Esteem,' 'Gotta Get Away' and 'Bad Habit' kept fans rocking over the next year. 'Smash' has stood the test of time and remains as popular today as it did 20 years ago.

 
Soundgarden Superunknown
3

'Superunknown'

 
 

Soundgarden had already established themselves in the rock world by the time 1994 rolled around, but 'Superunknown' catapulted them to the top of the heap. The heavily percussive 'Spoonman' kicked things off in the spring of '94, while 'Black Hole Sun' proved to be one of the songs of the summer. Chris Cornell's vocals on 'The Day I Tried to Live' made it a fan favorite, and 'My Wave' also generated some love, while 'Fell on Black Days' proved to be the third standout single from the album.

 
Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral
2

'The Downward Spiral'

 
 

If you didn't know Nine Inch Nails before 1994, you definitely did by years end. Trent Reznor's destructive masterpiece 'The Downward Spiral' was filled with the fury fans had been waiting for. The electro-funk, curse-filled single 'Closer' was inescapable in '94, while brutal tracks such as 'March of the Pigs' and 'Mr. Self Destruct' were pure mayhem! The disc also featured the deeply personal album closer 'Hurt,' which also later became a hit for Johnny Cash.

 
Green Day Dookie
1

'Dookie'

 
 

While grunge may have dominated radio in 1994, it's hard to deny the impact that Green Day had in bringing something different to the table. After bubbling under for a few years, the band emerged with a string of hits like 'Longview,' 'Basket Case,' 'Welcome to Paradise,' 'When I Come Around' and 'She' that not only established them, but also influenced a new generation of punk rock loving bands. The combination of the music, the success and the influence makes Green Day's 'Dookie' the top hard rock album of 1994.

 

10 Best Metal Albums of 1994

Best of the Web

More From Around the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://loudwire.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on Loudwire quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Register on Loudwire quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!