Best Rock Albums of 2014 (So Far)
The script for 2014 continues to be written, but there’s enough of the year in the rearview mirror to begin reflecting on some of the year’s standout releases. And while the early months of most years are typically light on quality discs, 2014 has served up some strong offerings.
We’re pulling from a variety of hard rock options — from veteran bands cranking out some of their finest works to up-and-comers getting widespread accolades.
Keep in mind we’ll add to this list as the year goes on, but for now check below for our picks for the Best Rock Albums of 2014 (So Far).
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.
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.
Texas Hippie Coalition bought their brand of "red dirt metal" to the masses with the 'Ride On' album and hit on some truly raw and gritty rock. 'Monster in Me' offers some bluesy hard rocking with Big Dad Ritch's full swagger in effect. And if you want swagger, look no further than the follow-up song 'El Diablo Rojo' in which the wild and reckless pride of Texas step up their game. With tracks like 'Bottom of the Bottle,' 'Go Pro' and 'Rubbins Racin,' there's plenty of down home rock goodness to choose from.
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.
'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.
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.
'The Black Market'
It would be hard to find an act that does the "angry punk band" thing better than Rise Against these days. Though perhaps a little more introspective, 'The Black Market' still finds its targets and hits dead on. 'I Don't Want to Be Here Anymore' fits in perfectly with the band's biggest hits and tracks like 'Tragedy + Time,' 'The Eco-Terrorist in Me' and 'People Live Here' should keep listeners enthralled well into 2015.
'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.
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.
'The Hunting Party'
For those looking to a return to the hard-rocking sounds of the band's early days, Linkin Park have 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.
'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 other 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.
'Time Travelers & Bonfires'
With 'Time Travelers & Bonfires' being crowd-funded by the fans, it's little surprise the care that Sevendust took in translating many of their rock staples into acoustic versions. The acoustic version of 'Black' ended up being the single, but what makes the disc special is that it's a mix of fan selected favorites with six new songs recorded acoustically. Tracks likes 'The Wait' and 'Bonfire' also show great promise off the album.
'Burn the Serum'
Kyng are quickly becoming one of the most solid rock acts around and 'Burn the Serum' is proving to be a key album in their development. The riff-heavy 'Electric Halo' is capturing the ears of listeners as the lead single, but the album also connects with such standouts as 'Faraway,' 'Self Medicated Man' and the thrashy 'Big Ugly Me.' Meanwhile, 'Paper Heart Rose' is the type of album closer that leaves listeners wanting for more.
'Catacombs of the Black Vatican'
At this point, Black Label Society have a very distinctive sound, but that being said, the band's new 'Catacombs of the Black Vatican' 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.
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.'
Though not receiving the headlines of some of the year's other breakout bands, Lionize are definitely ones to watch. Falling in the vein of their Weathermaker Music cohorts Clutch, the band called in Jean-Paul Gaster to oversee their 'Jetpack Soundtrack' album. The result is a funky journey filled with chunky riffs and groove-filled bliss. The band rides the groove for all that it's worth on 'Lazarus Style,' they let the organ take the lead on the amusing 'Evolve,' and they take listeners on a spacey journey with 'Electric Reckoning.'
Chino Moreno's experimentation outside Deftones continues, with Shaun Lopez and Chuck Doom helping flesh out a more synth-filled sound on Crosses' self-titled release. 'The Epilogue' is the most accessible track on the disc, serving up a radio-ready groove and an instantly hummable chorus that will stick with you. Other standouts include the unease of 'Bitches Brew,' the haunting build of 'Thholyghst' and the tribal sounding 'Telepathy.'
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.
'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.