20 Best Rock Albums of 2014
As 2014 winds down, we can reflect on an eclectic year in rock albums. You had new bands like Nothing More, Crobot, Starset and Islander bringing something fresh and new to the game. There were established acts like Chevelle, Slash and Seether showing they could still deliver some of their best work well into their careers. Acts like Hellyeah and Sixx: A.M. took some creative risks and a host of others also created albums that left their mark on 2014.
There was quite a bit of debating among the Loudwire staff, but we’ve put together what we feel are the 20 Best Rock Albums of 2014. Check out the list below and be sure to click on the button at the bottom of this post to see the 20 Best Metal Albums of 2014 as well.
‘Violence & Destruction’
Islander broke through in a big way in 2014 with their single ‘Coconut Dracula,’ a track featuring unique sounding guitar chords, a hopeful vocal from Mikey Carvajal, and just enough catchy hooks to pull in listeners. But there’s so much more to dig into with ‘Violence & Destruction,’ with the Deftones-esque ‘New Wave,’ the hardcore riffing of ‘Criminals’ and the heavy ‘Hearts Grow Cold’ among the disc’s standouts.
‘The Hunting Party’
For those looking to a return to the hard-rocking sounds of the band’s early days, Linkin Park stepped up with ‘The Hunting Party’ album. Determined to capture energy and love of good rock music, the band set their path toward a more guitar driven album. The disc spawned the lead single ‘Guilty All the Same,’ featuring a guest appearance from rap icon Rakim. The album also features guest spots from rockers like Tom Morello and System of a Down’s Daron Malakian.
The mysterious outfit known as Starset arrived on the scene in 2014 with one of the more unique sounding discs of the year in ‘Transmissions.’ Buoyed by the dreamy electronic-driven single ‘My Demons,’ Starset connected with radio listeners across the country and began to build a name for themselves. The other single, ‘Carnivore,’ showed a grittier side, but the album’s true standout may be the slow-building hypnotic track ‘Telescope,’ which ends with a symphonic flare.
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Godsmack, but with ‘1000hp,’ it didn’t take long for the band to shake off any rust. The anthemic title track begs the listener to “turn that s–t up louder,” and that’s exactly what fits for this collection of hard-hitting tracks. With cuts like ‘Generation Day’ and ‘Locked and Loaded,’ the group shows off plenty of swagger, but the song ‘Something Different’ offers up a more catchy and melodic standout that offers the perfect change of pace for the band.
‘Going to Hell’
The Pretty Reckless may have built some buzz in the past, but 2014 was the year they broke through and established themselves as a force on the rock scene. The ‘Going to Hell’ album featured the infinitely catchy single ‘Heaven Knows,’ the hard-rocking title track and the poppy, button-pushing single ‘F—ed Up World.’ As the year ended, the songs ‘Follow Me Down’ and ‘House on a Hill’ got some attention, as well.
The Sixx: A.M. trio of Nikki Sixx, James Michael and DJ Ashba have channeled their ’70s rock influences into a straight-up, good-time rock and roll album called ‘Modern Vintage.’ Whether it be the glam stomp of ‘Gotta Get It Right,’ the anthemic ‘Stars’ or the upbeat rocker ‘Let’s Go,’ it’s hard to deny the infectiousness of the music. Add in an interesting cover of The Cars‘ ‘Drive’ and other standouts like ‘Give Me a Love’ and ‘Get Ya Some’ and ‘Modern Vintage’ is an enjoyable listen from top to bottom.
‘…Honor Is All We Know’
Rancid have been churning out infectious punk rock for more than 20 years, and their latest effort, ‘…Honor Is All We Know’ is no different. With sing-along choruses on tracks like ‘Back Where I Belong,’ ‘Collision Course’ and ‘Already Dead,’ the disc offers up a hefty dose of vintage-sounding Rancid, as Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen trade off vocals throughout the disc. We can imagine a handful of these tracks becoming live favorites as Rancid continue to play energetic gigs for their devoted fans.
‘Rock or Bust’
You may know what you’re going to get with AC/DC, and they almost always deliver. ‘Rock or Bust’ ranks among the best works of their latter career, with the standout title track just begging you turn it up and rock it out. ‘Play Ball,’ the first single, also delivered, fist-pumping rock. But AC/DC could be primed to go deep on this disc with such standouts as ‘Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder,’ ‘Sweet Candy,’ ‘Miss Adventure,’ ‘Baptism By Fire’ and the outstanding album closer ‘Emission Control’ leading the way.
‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’
Given the transformation of frontman Tom Gabel to frontwoman Laura Jane Grace on Against Me!‘s ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues,’ there was going to be a lot of attention on this disc regardless. But once you get past the headline grabber, you find that the spirit of Against Me! is still there. Songs like ‘F—MyLife666‘ and ‘Black Me Out‘ immediately caught the ears of listeners, but it’s tracks like ‘True Trans Soul Rebel,’ ‘Two Coffins,’ and ‘Drinking With the Jocks‘ that make ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ worthy of a deeper listen.
If there’s one band who knows how to ride a groove on this list, it’s Crobot. The band serves up some nasty, funky rock on their ‘Something Supernatural’ album, led by the songs ‘Nowhere to Hide,’ ‘Legend of the Spaceborne Killer’ and ‘Night of the Sacrifice.’ Turn it up and rock it out as killer riffs permeate through ‘Necromancer,’ ‘La Mana de Lucifer’ and ‘Skull of Geronimo.’ Pick this one up.
Of Mice & Men are in a state of transition, but the addition of bassist / co-vocalist Aaron Pauley to the lineup has given the band a boost, with ‘Would You Still Be There‘ showing the perfect interplay between Pauley and Austin Carlile. The band has also struck a chord with the chaotic ‘Bones Exposed‘ and the heavy hitting ‘You’re Not Alone.’ Add in a blend of the heavy ‘Public Service Announcement,’ the more straight-ahead rocker ‘Feels Like Forever’ and the contemplative album closer ‘Space Enough to Grow’ and Of Mice & Men have one of their best albums to date.
‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’
At this point, Black Label Society have a very distinctive sound, but that being said, the band’s ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’ disc offers a number of memorable tracks. ‘My Dying Time‘ is one of the year’s best rock songs, highlighted by Zakk Wylde‘s hauntingly bluesy guitar lines and an Alice in Chains-esque vocal. There’s also plenty of variety on the disc, with the ballad ‘Angel of Mercy,’ the twangy ‘Scars’ and the heavy, uptempo guitar-led ‘Heart of Darkness’ leading the way.
Foo Fighters have one of the year’s most ambitious albums, recording ‘Sonic Highways’ in eight of America’s most revered music scenes and attempting to show that influence in song. ‘Something From Nothing’ is the blistering standout single that kicks off the disc, while ‘The Feast and the Famine,’ ‘What Did I Do? / God as My Witness’ and ‘Outside’ are also favorites off the disc. Add in a special guest lineup of Rick Nielsen, Joe Walsh, Zac Brown, Gary Clark Jr., Ben Gibbard and more, it’s definitely an attention grabbing disc.
When history is written, it will note that 2014 was the year that Nothing More made their mark on the music industry. The San Antonio upstarts have had several under-the-radar releases, but with songs like ‘This Is the Time (Ballast),’ ‘Christ Copyright’ and ‘Mr. MTV,’ the band appears to be here to stay.
‘Isolate and Medicate’
Seether continue to be one of rock’s most consistent bands. The veteran rockers hit radio gold out of the gate with the impactful single ‘Words as Weapons,’ showed their fun and poppy side with the second single ‘Same Damn Life’ and still have plenty of great songs (‘See You At the Bottom,’ ‘Suffer It All,’ ‘Save Today’) to choose from as we approach 2015.
Duo Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, better known to listeners as Royal Blood, have truly enjoyed a breakout year in 2014 and it’s due to the songs that make up their self-titled album. ‘Out of the Black’ introduced listeners to the band with its gritty riffing and killer beat. Then came the guitar driven coolness of ‘Figure It Out’ and the band also tested the waters with the trudging rocker ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton.’ Look for the Royal Blood invasion to continue into 2015.
‘Blood for Blood’
‘Blood for Blood’ will be looked at as a key album in Hellyeah‘s career as Chad Gray, Vinnie Paul and Tom Maxwell parted ways with two of the band’s members to make the disc they wanted to make. The end result is a heavy, hard rocking release that is strong from top-to-bottom. ‘Sangre Por Sangre‘ and ‘Cross to Bier‘ were simultaneously released as singles, while the shout along anthem ‘Demons in the Dirt‘ and the change of pace track ‘Moth’ are also worthy of your attention.
‘World on Fire’
Slash has definitely found his groove with his band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Though the ‘World on Fire’ title track dominated radio for most of the year, there’s much more worth checking out on this expansive album. The driving ‘Wicked Stone,’ the fist-pumper ‘Automatic Overdrive,’ the captivating ’30 Years to Life’ and the haunting live favorite ‘Bent to Fly’ are all worthy of your attention and provide the cornerstones for this all-around solid effort.
Chevelle have a definitive sound, but that’s not to say that they’re still not experimenting and finding new ways to keep it fresh. In that sense, ‘La Gargola’ is a revelation, led by the dialed-in aggression of ‘Take Out the Gunman,’ the sinister single ‘Hunter Eats Hunter‘ and the distortion filled ‘Ouija Board.’ Other standouts include the deceptively catchy ‘One Ocean and the hypnotic, whisper-heavy album closer ‘Twinge.’
‘Silent So Long’
Our No. 1 album of the year goes to a late 2014 release that many of you may not have heard yet. The disc ‘Silent So Long’ is the latest effort from Emigrate, led by Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe. The album offers up a mix of hard rock and industrial that is rock solid from beginning to end, but it’s the songs that boast guest spots that truly shine. ‘Rock City’ featuring Lemmy Kilmister is one of the best rock songs we’ve heard in years, while ‘Hypothetical’ featuring Marilyn Manson is a tour de force. With Peaches and Jonathan Davis among the album’s other guest stars, ‘Silent So Long’ stands out among the best rock albums of 2014.