2014 was a solid year for rock songs in a variety of different styles from a number of bands at different stages in their career. We saw bands like Islander, Nothing More and Royal Blood emerge on the scene and leave their stamp on 2014, while acts like The Pretty Reckless and Kyng took major steps forward in their careers. Meanwhile veteran groups like Chevelle, Foo Fighters, Hellyeah, Slash and Against Me!still had plenty to say on what their musical legacy leaves behind.
There were some tough choices to be made, but after much deliberation we feel we've come up with our picks for the 20 Best Rock Songs of 2014. Check out the list below.
'Painkiller'Three Days Grace
There had to be some concern after Three Days Grace decided to continue their career without longtime frontman Adam Gontier, but any fears have been assuaged with the release of 'Painkiller.' The song comes with the signature aggressive guitar and percussion work that fans have become accustomed to, and new frontman Matt Walst does a solid job with the melodic as well as the in-your-face moments.
'Rebellion'Linkin Park featuring Daron Malakian
Linkin Park took a few more risks with 'The Hunting Party' album, including the rare addition of special guests. One of those guests, System of a Down's Daron Malakian, definitely left a stamp on Linkin Park's sound with the track 'Rebellion.' The song works perfectly, blending in just the right amount of System's chaotic vibes with Linkin Park's trademark aggression to create the album's most standout cut.
'Drown'Bring Me the Horizon
Bring Me the Horizon lay themselves bare for all to see on their single 'Drown.' Frontman Oli Sykes pulls back a bit to show a more melodic side to go along with his powerful screams, as 'Drown' begs the question "Who will fix me now?" This is definitely a more vulnerable side for the band, but it's most certainly an overall triumph.
'Talk S--t, Get Shot'Body Count
Take notice! Body Count are back and you best respect! Ice-T and his crew are cranking out some serious riffs on 'Talk S--t, Get Shot.' Even though there's the threat of physical harm in the title, we wouldn't talk s--t about this song cause it's just that damn good.
'True Trans Soul Rebel'Against Me!
It's been an interesting journey for Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel). The transgendered singer revealed her gender dysphoria issues in 2012, then let the journey play out on record with the 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' album. Nowhere on the disc is this more personal, triumphant and infinitely catchy than on the song 'True Trans Soul Rebel,' a definite standout and a poignant moment in the band's career.
Slash's guitar work is on display right out of the gate on 'World on Fire,' the lead single and title track from the album of the same name. His riffing sets the pace, but the song gets a healthy dose of cowbell and high energy drumming from Brent Fitz. A blistering solo, a bluesy breakdown and a whispery vocal from Myles Kennedy mid-song also help make this track a standout.
'Eat You Alive'Emigrate featuring Frank Delle
Get those fists a pumping, as Emigrate arrive on the scene with 'Eat You Alive.' Rammstein's Richard Kruspe snagged Seeed's Frank Delle for a guest spot on this track, which is just a hard-driving rocker filled with solid guitar work and a wall of electronic awesomeness.
'End of Me'A Day to Remember
A Day to Remember tested out a variety of styles on their 'Common Courtesy' album, but 'End of Me' may be one of their best songs to date. Starting off with a somber vibe and frontman Jeremy McKinnon's story of a destructive relationship, the song picks up in intensity and emotional impact as it continues. It's the type of performance where the band's intensity and McKinnon's delivery make you feel every ounce of juicy agony and will likely have you singing along and raising a fist to the sky as it draws you in.
Swampy guitar, wailing vocals and so much more -- Kyng hit paydirt with their single 'Electric Halo' off the 'Burn the Serum' album. This chugging rocker may be about a charismatic leader spinning fables with his words, but there's no falsity when it comes to exactly how much 'Electric Halo' rocks.
'My Dying Time'Black Label Society
Black Label Society made their 2014 return with the wickedly bluesy 'My Dying Time' leading the way. As expected, frontman Zakk Wylde gets a chance to show off his blistering guitar skills with a solid solo midway into the track, but it's his sinisterly soulful vocals that really shine on this standout cut.
Starset broke out with the single 'My Demons,' but 'Telescope' has the potential to be even bigger. The group find that perfect blend between moody atmospherics and intensity, with frontman Dustin Bates leading listeners hypnotically through the beginning of the song before it comes to its heavy conclusion. Bates says the track is about the solitude that comes with love loss and his vocals definitely show that despair.
'Heaven Knows'The Pretty Reckless
Is there anyone having a better 2014 than The Pretty Reckless? Taylor Momsen and her crew have raced up the charts with the chugging anthem 'Heaven Knows.' The infectious track just begs for the listener to clap their hands and stomp their feet alongside Momsen's bluesy swagger. Just like the subjects of the song that are led into temptation and paying the consequences, it's hard for listeners to deny the lure of this seductive rocker and sinful goodness it delivers.
'Just a Ride'The Virginmarys
If you want hard-driving rock, the Virginmarys provide it in spades with their single 'Just a Ride' from their 'King of Conflict' album. Ally Dickaty's blistering guitar work, Matt Rose's bass backing and the frenetic drumming of Danny Dolan blend perfectly to provide the listener with a foot-tappingly infectious rock track.
Standout guitar and bass lines. Check. Call and response vocal. Check. Instantly hummable big sounding chorus. Check. Sixx: A.M. are definitely firing on all cylinders with 'Stars,' one of the standout tracks on their 'Modern Vintage' album. Frontman James Michael called it "one of the best songs we've ever written," adding that it "does everything that Sixx: A.M. does on a heightened level." We couldn't agree more.
'Figure It Out'Royal Blood
Look out Jack White and The Black Keys, there's a new duo entering your orbit and vying for the ears of your fans. The U.K. outfit Royal Blood have burst on the scene in 2014 with some swampy goodness. 'Figure It Out,' the second U.S. single off their self-titled debut, has a nasty blues guitar line, an infectious foot-stomping beat and just the right amount of aggression courtesy of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher. Get to know Royal Blood as their furiously good finish to 'Figure It Out' is just a sign of things to come.
'This Is the Time (Ballast)'Nothing More
Texas-based four-piece Nothing More are well on their way to becoming one of 2014's breakout bands, and part of the reason for that is the single 'This Is the Time (Ballast).' With its trippy opening, heavy bass and guitar and the amazing range provided by frontman Jonny Hawkins, 'This Is the Time' stands out from the masses finding that perfect middle ground between heavy and proggy.
Welcome to Hellyeah in 2014, a band that is thinking outside of the box from what they've done in the past. And one of the biggest signs of that is the group's single 'Moth,' a darkly beautiful track featuring hypnotic vocals from Chad Gray and a rare 6/8 time signature for the group. As Gray told Loudwire, the song is about dealing with addictive or compulsive behaviors. This is one track that would be easy to get addicted to.
'Something From Nothing'Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters start innocently enough with a 'Skin and Bones'-type opening to their single 'Something From Nothing,' but the journey of getting from the somber point A to the furious finish of point B is what makes this one of the year's best tracks. There's so much to take in here, whether it be Chris Shiflett's recognizable opening guitar lines, his distortion-filled riffing later on, keyboardist Rami Jaffe's '70s-inspired funk or special guest Rick Nielsen's (Cheap Trick) heavy licks during the song's most furious moments. And let's not forget Dave Grohl's fever-pitched rage as he belts about keeping his name and coming from nothing. It's never sounded better.
The summer of 2014 gave us a breakout band known as Islander and the track that put them on the map was the oddly titled 'Coconut Dracula.' Featuring some unique sounding guitar licks, a killer bass line and some impressive range from singer Mikey Carvajal, the song drew some Deftones comparisons. 'Coconut Dracula' is an impressive introduction for these upstarts, and their 'Violence & Destruction' album has even more to offer.
'Take Out the Gunman'Chevelle
And our best rock song of 2014 goes to Chevelle's 'Take Out the Gunman.' Pete Loeffler and Dean Bernardini's chugging guitar and bass work leads into some impressive percussion from drummer Sam Loeffler. The song builds and builds from a lurching song into a full-on eruption where you can feel every ounce of emotion of Pete Loeffler's vocals. It just has the feel that makes it our most standout song of 2014.