Because 2014 was such an incredible year for hard rock music, we have nearly doubled the year-end list of top hard rock songs from last year. To give our readers the greatest possible variety of music, the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014 only features one song per album (although a number of artists released more than one single worthy of recognition).
Many of the songs on the list were heard throughout the year on SiriusXM’s Octane and on Active Rock radio stations throughout North America. However, in an effort to offer the most comprehensive list of hard rock music possible, a number of songs that don’t fit either format were also included.
In addition to featuring established artists with careers that span several decades, this list also includes a number of “below-the-radar” artists who were featured on Hard Rock Daddy’s Music Discovery Monday.
The Top 100 Songs of 2014 featured on the playlists below can also be found on the Hard Rock Daddy Network (HRD’s YouTube channel).
The goal of Hard Rock Daddy is to expose our readers not just to songs, but also to the artists who create the music, which is why each song on the list features a short blurb.
This list covers all areas of hard rock (from acoustic and power ballads to active rock to heavier melodic and power metal, and everything in between).
Click on the hyper-linked song titles to read the full Hard Rock Daddy reviews that were featured on the site during the year.
#1 – 25
The Top 3 songs of the year all had featured reviews on Hard Rock Daddy in 2014 (click on each song title to read the extended reviews). Rather than offer an abbreviated blurb for each, we decided to feature the story behind the writing of the songs (as told by directly by the bands during interviews with Hard Rock Daddy)…
1 – NONPOINT – “Breaking Skin” (Elias Soriano – Nonpoint Vocalist)
“Breaking Skin is a song about addiction that was inspired by people around me. The addiction can refer to a variety of things. For people battling an addiction, it is something that they ‘scratch’ in private.
Even though you know that scratching at a rash is bad for you, it still feels good, even if that feeling is only temporary. Eventually, if you keep scratching, you break through the skin, and at that point, you have to deal with it head-on, just like you would have to deal with an addiction once it hits the point of ‘breaking skin.’”
2 – LIKE A STORM – “Wish You Hell” (Matt Brooks – Like A Storm Lead Guitarist and Vocalist)
“During our last few years of touring in the States, we have been totally immersed in American culture – and one thing we really fell in love with was the blues. We have been lucky to spend so much time in both Chicago and the South, where the blues was born! As musicians and songwriters, we were really drawn to the dark, heavy vibe of those old blues songs.
When we came up with the line “Wish You Hell,” we thought it was the perfect good riddance to someone who had screwed you over. We also thought it sounded like the title of an old delta blues song, so that gave us the idea to combine our style of hard rock music with our new-found passion for delta blues – creating a hybrid that we now call “Voodoo Metal.”
Lyrically, “Wish You Hell” is about someone who screwed you over getting what they deserve. It was inspired by that feeling of saying goodbye and good riddance to a person who has caused you so much pain – and knowing that sooner or later, the tables will turn. To me, the lyrics in the second verse really capture that vibe:
“Take one minute of your time,
Look at the wreckage of the ones you’ve left behind.
Face one lesson – a lesson never learned,
You’re gonna get what you deserve”
Musically, incorporating delta blues into our music gave us the freedom to try a lot of different things. And, since we produced our new record ourselves, there was no one to stop us from trying different things. To make the intro sound as authentic as possible, we all played traditional blues instruments – Kent played jaw harp, Chris played a slide resonator guitar, and I played mandolin. The old blues guy singing in the intro is actually me, doing my best impression of Samuel L Jackson.
“Wish You Hell” is definitely one of the most fun songs that we’ve ever written and recorded, because it gave us this crazy artistic challenge of combining two totally different styles of music. I am so proud of how it all came together, and to have it in the hands of our fans and on the radio is just incredible!
3 – BOBAFLEX – “I’m Glad You’re Dead” (Marty McCoy – Bobaflex Vocalist/Guitarist)
“We were in a bar, and I was within earshot. My brother (Shaun) was talking to this guy, and he had explained that his father had just passed away. My brother told him how sorry he was to hear that. And the guy responded with ‘Don’t be, I’m glad he’s dead! He was a real son of a bitch! My brother and I just looked at each other with a stunned look on our faces.
The more we talked about writing a song about that situation, we realized that a lot of people felt that way about various people that they are glad to see gone, whether it be someone like Saddam Hussein or someone that they knew personally. Once the song hit radio, we were flooded with stories from fans who said that there was someone in their lives that they were glad to see gone.
I love the song because it fits in with our dark humor. At the same time, it was kind of like a social experiment where we learned that so many people feel this way about people in their lives. It was kind of eerie and cool at the same time. We got a lot of letters from people telling us that the song made them feel better about having these kinds of feelings.”
4 – GODSMACK – “Something Different” – Appropriately named, “Something Different” is unlike any other track off of Godsmack’s latest release, 1000HP. In fact, while the song is distinctly Godsmack, it is “something different” than anything that they’ve ever done before. Strong consideration was given to featuring the title track off of the album on this list, which is more of the classic Godsmack sound and unique in its own right due to the autobiographical lyrics, but ultimately, “Something Different” got the nod because of its ability to connect on a deeper emotional level than we’ve come to expect from the band. It is also appropriate to feature “Something Different” on this list, because the list itself is “something different” than other year-end song lists.
5 – SLASH featuring MYLES KENNEDY & THE CONSPIRATORS – “World On Fire” – The title track from the dynamic duo writing team of Slash and Myles Kennedy gets the recognition on this list, but to fully appreciate how good they are together, you MUST listen to the album in its entirety. It is, quite simply, one of the best hard rock albums to come out in the past few decades, so it is almost an injustice to single out one track over the others. “World On Fire” is a high-energy, melodic rocker that perfectly showcases Kennedy’s distinct vocals and Slash’s unique guitar sound. The Conspirators don’t get nearly the recognition that they deserve, but suffice it to say that Todd Kerns, Brent Fitz and Frank Sidoris comprise one of the best rhythm sections in the genre today.
6 – SIXX: A.M. – “Stars” – A true testament to talent of the members of Sixx: A.M., and the success that they have achieved, is the fact that they never intended to be a band. Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), DJ Ashba (GNR) and lead singer, James Michael initially got together to record the soundtrack to Sixx’s incredibly revealing autobiography, The Heroin Diaries. Although his vocals are among the best in the genre, Michael is actually known more for his writing and producing than he is for singing and performing. The band’s latest album, Modern Vintage, is the first one that the band has recorded as a standalone music project (not tied to one of Sixx’s books). Because of their resumes, the band is not shackled by the constraints of what active rock radio is “supposed” to be. The end result is a unique, but incredible, track like “Stars.” If Sixx: A.M. ever becomes a full-time band instead of a side project, there is no telling how bright their “star” will shine.
7 – WE ARE HARLOT – “Denial” – Three years in the making, We Are Harlot finally made their debut in 2014 with their first shows ever taking place at major hard rock festivals (Rock On The Range and Rocklahoma). Of course, this is no ordinary new artist, featuring Asking Alexandria vocalist, Danny Worsnop, Sebastian Bach guitarist, Jeff George and Silvertide bassist, Brian Weaver. “Denial” is a pure, energetic rocker that builds from the first piano note into a GNR-like crescendo from the Appetite For Destruction days. Drummer, Bruno Agra, sets the pace with powerful, almost frenetic beats, laying the foundation for beautifully melodic vocal harmonies and a guitar riffs and leads that harken back to 80s heavy metal. This incredible debut single is definitely one of the most underrated tracks of the year.
8 – CHARM CITY DEVILS – “Shots” – It isn’t often that your first time hearing a single is in concert, but that was the case with “Shots,” a killer track by Baltimore rockers, Charm City Devils. The room was electrified as the band performed this song in front of a capacity club crowd when they opened for The Winery Dogs over the summer. Dirty, gritty and raw like Motley Crue, GNR and Buckcherry, CCD represents everything that there is to love about timeless hard rock music. At face value, the song may seem like a party anthem, but a deeper look into the lyrics shows that it is actually about the downward spiral that often times goes hand-in-hand with addiction. Serious meaning aside, “Shots” is the type of song that triggers involuntary head banging and fists being thrown in the air!
9 – RATED X – “Fire And Ice” – Hard rock music may have suffered a downturn with the arrival of grunge in the 90s, but the truly talented musicians of the golden era that was the 80s never went away; they just faded from the spotlight. The term “supergroup” often times indicates a one-off project, but Rated X promises to be the exception to the rule. Featuring the extraordinary vocals of Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen), Karl Cochran (the longtime guitarist on JLT’s solo albums) and the legendary rhythm section of Carmine Appice (drums) and Tony Franklin (bass), Rated X is a force to be reckoned with. “Fire And Ice” is just the tip of the iceberg of what this band is about to unleash on the hard rock world. With big melodic hooks, and a sound that is tailor-made for an arena, Rated X is a reminder that the heyday of hard rock is still very much upon us!
10 – ASKING ALEXANDRIA – “Moving On” – Asking Alexandria is known for an aggressive, intense style that straddles various genres, but they have stated that they are heavily influenced by mainstream hard rock acts, Aerosmith in particular. Without using any screaming or growling that goes hand-in-hand with Metalcore, Asking Alexandria has tapped into their inner Aerosmith with “Moving On,” an emotional, moving, melodic track that gives the listener an inside look at living life on the road. Although not quite in the same vein as the power ballads that defined 80s hard rock and heavy metal, this song is as close as you can get to a power ballad in the current hard rock music climate. It’s not surprising that the band’s most mainstream single is also the one that has garnered the most attention at radio.
11 – TRIVIUM – “Villainy Thrives” – More often than not in hard rock today, the music and melody pulls you in, but in the case of “Villainy Thrives,” the raw, emotional delivery of thought-provoking lyrics takes center stage. For those who have no patience for the injustice that takes place when evil acts go unpunished, “Villainy Thrives” will hit close to home. The term “thinking man’s metal” used to be reserved for acts like Queensryche and Dream Theater, but if ever there was a modern hard rock act that fits the description, Trivium is it. While the big hook is in the melodic chorus, there is something very powerful about hearing the lyrics “meet the vessel of your reprisal… retribution calls.” Thinking man’s metal for sure!
12 – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – “Wrong Side Of Heaven” – FFDP proves time and time again that they belong atop the hard rock music food chain. Is there another band that could put out a two-part album less than four months apart and have singles off of each dominate Active Rock radio? The bands anthems of rage are unrivaled in the genre, but “Wrong Side Of Heaven” is less about rage, and more about their continued desire to acknowledge the contributions of U.S. military veterans, and assist those who suffer from PTSD and homelessness. While “Wrong Side Of Heaven” is a powerful song in its own right, to fully appreciate its impact, the video is a must-watch! Those interested in helping to further the band’s cause should visit www.5fdp4Vets.com.
13 – LONGREEF – “Battle Plan” – In 2013, Aussie rockers, Longreef, made their mark in the U.S. with their clever and melodic single, “She Likes The Ladies.” Taking a 180-degree lyrical turn with “Battle Plan,” the band has delivered a beautifully melodic and emotional piece about the bullying epidemic that has reached all corners of the world. This song was the inspiration for Hard Rock Daddy’s special National Bullying Prevention Month campaign in October. What makes this song so powerful is that is comes from a very personal place, as the band’s frontman, Josh Barker, was bullied during his school years. He revealed the details of his bullying experience during an interview with Hard Rock Daddy to start the month-long bullying prevention campaign. There will be a lot more coverage on these rising stars in the coming year on Hard Rock Daddy (details to be announced in the near future).
14 – BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – “Angel Of Mercy” – There is no disputing that Zakk Wylde is one of the greatest hard rock guitarists of all-time. His signature sound is as instantly recognizable as a distinct vocalist. That being said, some of Wylde’s most memorable moments occur on his slower, more melancholic, southern-influenced songs like “Angel Of Mercy.” Fans of Wylde’s guitar playing will be satiated by the shredding solo which captures the emotion of the song, but it is his raspy, soulful vocals that really bring “Angel Of Mercy” to life. From the beautiful string arrangements to the guitars that cry out in pain, this inspired track by BLS offers a cathartic journey for those who have suffered the loss of someone close to them.
15 – SEETHER – “Words As Weapons” – Choosing between “Same Damn Life” (Seether’s latest single) and “Words As Weapons” was extremely difficult, but in the end, this track gets the nod because of how much it stands out as unique in today’s Active Rock landscape. Tribal drumbeats lay the foundation for beautiful, poetic melancholy to flow through angst-ridden lyrics. For many longtime hard rock music fans, “grunge” and “alternative” are terms that are closely associated with the demise of a nostalgic time period. “Words As Weapons” is a perfect example of the band’s ability to incorporate both into a sound that appeals to the masses.
16 – ROYAL BLISS – “Home” – While a band with a similar sounding name gets a lot of attention, Royal Bliss continues to fly under the radar to some degree, although the band’s latest album, Chasing The Sun, has already produced standout singles “Cry Sister” and “Turn Me On.” This stellar track doesn’t really have a natural “home” on active rock radio like the previous singles, but it deserves to be recognized as one of the best songs of the year. In a day and age when a lot of music is “enhanced” by technology, “Home” pays homage to the golden days, when music was written and performed by artists who let the music flow from their soul. True music fans will appreciate the message as much as they do the song.
17 – NOTHING MORE – “This Is The Time (Ballast)” – Is it possible for a song to enjoy too much radio success? Usually not, but “This Is The Time (Ballast),” might be the exception to the rule. This is not to say that the song wasn’t worthy of all of the attention (because it was), but the prolonged success started to turn people unfairly against the band (the downside of a singles-driven world). Those who dug deeper into the band after hearing this track were rewarded with one of the best albums of 2014. “This Is The Time (Ballast)” is merely the tip of the iceberg of what Nothing More has to offer, as is the follow-up single, “Mr. MTV.” If you are a music fan that appreciates an album as a musical journey, make sure to listen to Nothing More’s album in its entirety.
18 – JOE LYNN TURNER & GEORGE GAKIS – “Street Of Broken Dreams” – Most hard rock music fans know Joe Lynn Tuner as one of the greatest vocalists of all-time. Very few are familiar with his close friend, George Gakis, an outstanding singer in his own right, whose bluesy delivery is reminiscent of David Coverdale. Gakis, who considers JLT his mentor, wrote this song as the antithesis of “Street Of Dreams,” one of JLT’s biggest hits with Rainbow. “Street Of Dreams” has a fairytale ending; “Street Of Broken Dreams” is about when things fell apart in a relationship. A beautiful acoustic intro explodes into an upbeat, infectious melodic rocker with huge hooks. You may not have known who George Gakis was before listening to this track, but you’ll never forget him after you’ve hit the replay button over and over on the best power ballad to come out in recent memory.
19 – HELLYEAH – “Moth” – When Hellyeah released “Sangre Por Sangre (Blood For Blood)” earlier in the year, it seemed destined for this list, but it ended up getting bumped for “Moth,” the follow-up single off of the band’s latest album, Blood For Blood. Chad Gray is as intense as ever, but he shows a more vulnerable side on this melodic track with thought-provoking lyrics. It’s not surprising that this has become the band’s most successful single to date because it has a broad appeal, but you have to give Hellyeah credit for staying true to the sound that fans have come to expect.
20 – THE FAMILY RUIN – “Let’s Go” – Another in a long line of British hard rock acts, The Family Ruin has a direct connection to fellow Brits, Asking Alexandria (they were one of the first bands signed to AA guitarist’s new label – KBB Records). In spite of the “family” connection, “Let’s Go” was only given limited exposure on SiriusXM’s Octane, for reasons that are still unclear. The song is a perfect fit for Octane, and it offers something that makes it stand out among many other songs played regularly on the station. Radio dropped the ball on this track, but they will come around when this band inevitably takes off.
21 – WOVENWAR – “All Rise” – Every once in a while, when a band changes singers, they “rise” to an entirely new level. Fronted by ex-Oh Sleeper frontman, Shane Blay – who replaced Tim Lambesis after he was convicted in a murder-for-hire plot of his wife – the former members of As I Lay Dying have created a sound with Wovenwar that appeals to a much broader audience. With Blay at the helm, the band’s intense, heavy style is infused with a melodic sound. “All Rise” is one of many outstanding tracks from the band’s debut album. While no one ever wants to live through a real-life TV drama, the former members of As I Lay Dying may end up benefiting in the long run if Wovenwar reaches their full potential.
22 – SAHAJ TICOTIN – “The Mission” – Like his band (Ra), vocalist extraordinaire, Sahaj Ticotin is vastly underrated. There are few (if any) vocalists that could bring to life a song from Queensryche’s epic Operation Mindcrime concept album like Ticotin, using only acoustic guitars and his voice. Aside from Geoff Tate’s incredible vocal ability, what makes “The Mission” special is Queensryche’s ability to create depth with layered nuance. It takes a lot of self-assurance to even attempt to cover a classic Queensryche song, much less doing it in the most bare-bones way possible. With unrivaled power and emotion, Ticotin made the song his own…a “mission” that would have been impossible for most.
23 – DEMON HUNTER – “The Last One Alive” – A mainstay on Christian Rock radio for over a decade, Demon Hunter crossed over to Active Rock in a huge way with “The Last One Alive.” Ryan Clark, the band’s founder, frontman and sole remaining member of the original lineup is a creative tour de force. In addition to his work with Demon Hunter, he and his brother founded Invisible Creature (a highly-regarded design and illustration studio). Not surprisingly, imagery is a big part of the band’s appeal. Driven by principles, but recognizing the flaws of the human condition, the band delivers a positive, yet realistic message in a melodic, heavy way. “The Last One Alive” is a perfect example of the band’s approach.
24 – TESLA – “So Divine” – After a six-year hiatus between studio releases, Tesla returns with a vengeance on “So Divine,” a song that features Jeff Keith’s instantly-recognizable raspy vocals. It’s hard to believe that this band has been making classic hard rock music for over three decades. “So Divine” is as good as the songs that defined the band in the early years. From the cool Megadeth-esque intro to the shredding leads at the end, and everything in between, this song kicks ass!
25 – SWEET CYANIDE – “Better At Goodbyes” – SiriusXM’s Octane got it right when they jumped on this track, and then got it wrong when they inexplicably jumped off just as quickly. With some modern touches added, at its core, “Better At Goodbyes” is an homage to Guns N’ Roses, Buckcherry and the like. The band who dubs themselves “New York City’s favorite bastard sons” have shared the stage with some top hard rock acts, so hopefully they will get the attention that they deserve sooner rather than later.
#26 – 50
26 – HEARTIST – “Skeletons” – Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than to be good, but in this case, Heartist is fortunate to be blessed with both attributes. Leveraging the power of an ingenious social media strategy to build excitement around the band before they ever played a single show, Heartist took to the stage for the first time in their hometown with an existing fanbase. Little did they know that the person booking the show also worked in A&R at Roadrunner Records. Serendipitous circumstances aside, the band’s recognition is well-deserved. With a goal to bring honest emotion back into heavy music, Heartist hit it out of the park with “Skeletons,” a stirring anthem that blends haunting lighter moments with Bryce Beckley’s powerfully tortured vocals.
27 – BUCKCHERRY – “Say Fuck It” – What do you get when you infuse AC/DC-inspired riffs into a saccharine sweet pop song? “Say Fuck It!” The song had a familiar ring the first time that I heard it, but couldn’t place it. Eventually, I figured out that I heard it once when my daughter was listening to a Kidz Bop CD. Josh Todd’s edgy, ballsy vocals bring this song (from their EP entitled Fuck) to life. You can’t help but crank it up and groove to the music that would otherwise be considered a very guilty pleasure if not for the fact that it was coming from Buckcherry.
28 – JUDAS PRIEST – “Redeemer Of Souls” – While trends come and go, the classic heavy metal sound that Judas Priest has honed over the past four decades has never gone out of style. Although legendary guitarist, K.K. Downing, has retired, with Richie Faulkner taking the reins, the band has not missed a step. “Redeemer Of Souls,” the title track off of the band’s latest release, is classic Priest at its best. Age is clearly just a number when it comes to Rob Halford, whose vocal style and range are superior to many vocalists that are half his age, and he proved on the Redeemer Of Souls tour that he can still “deliver the goods” in a live setting.
29 – BLACK VEIL BRIDES – “Heart Of Fire” – Back in the heyday of heavy metal, Judas Priest mastered the art of the dual guitar and defiant lyrics. Fast forward to today…Black Veil Brides have taken on that role for modern hard rock acts. Though they are unfairly criticized at times for inexplicable reasons, the fact of the matter is that BVB continues to produce quality, anthemic music that speaks to those who feel cast aside by society for one reason or another. “Heart Of Fire” picks up where the band left off with their smash-hit, “In The End.”
30 – THREE DAYS GRACE – “I Am Machine” – The transition from frontman Adam Gontier to his replacement Matt Walst began with a tour and will culminate in a new album in 2015. So far, the early results with Walst at the helm have been very positive, although it’s safe to say that fans of the band are probably chomping at the bit to hear the full album, as only two singles have been released during 2014. This was a very close call, but “I Am Machine” gets a slight nod over “Painkiller” (the debut single), because it’s got a little edge to it, and really lets Walst put his stamp on the new sound of the band.
31 – THE WINERY DOGS – “Time Machine” – To fully appreciate just how incredible The Winery Dogs are, you should listen to their eponymous debut album in its entirety and go see them in concert whenever you can. The band was named the top headliner of the year on Hard Rock Daddy against some very tough competition. Choosing a single to showcase everything that this power trio supergroup – featuring Richie Kotzen (vocals/guitars), Mike Portnoy (drums) and Billy Sheehan (bass) – has to offer is virtually impossible. “Time Machine” is not only a great introduction to the band, but also fits well in this block of “machine” themed songs. With the mystique of Led Zeppelin, featuring vocals that rival Chris Cornell and Ian Gillian at their best, shredding bluesy guitars, insane bass lines and arguably the greatest rock drumming of this generation, “Time Machine” is a journey back in time to master musicianship.
32 – FLYING COLORS – “Mask Machine” – Finishing off the “machine” block is “Mask Machine” by Flying Colors (yet another Mike Portnoy supergroup). Clearly, drumming is not the only energetic element to Portnoy’s repertoire, as the tireless “machine” never seems to take a moment to stop and smell the roses. “Mask Machine” fuses some legendary influences together to create a hard rock song that is unlike any other on this list. The heavy bass intro, reminiscent of Rush’s “New World Man,” seamlessly transitions into a guitar riff that is reminiscent of Judas Priest’s “The Ripper,” before the cool vocals kick in. Haunting and melodic, “Mask Machine” showcases the band’s immense talent and unique sound, while also paying homage to Rush at times (especially the drum fills). You don’t have to be a fan of prog rock to appreciate what Flying Colors brings to the table.
33 – SEASONS AFTER – “So Long, Goodbye” – After a three-year hiatus, this Kansas quintet is back with a vengeance. From Seasons After’s latest release, Calamity, Scars & Memoirs (a title that describes the band’s music business horror stories), “So Long Goodbye” is a single that has yet to get the recognition that it truly deserves. There is no explanation as to why a song like this gets limited exposure on stations like SiriusXM’s Octane, while numerous songs of lesser quality get put into heavy rotation. “So Long Goodbye” features impressive dual guitars, shredding solos and infectiously melodic vocals, and if logic prevails, the band should become a mainstay on Active Rock radio.
34 – AMARANTHE – “Drop Dead Cynical” – Featuring three vocalists, and a sound that straddles more than one genre, this unique Swedish act has found the right balance on “Drop Dead Cynical” to make it a good fit on Active Rock radio. By combining Lzzy Hale-inspired female vocals with a Rammstein-esque electronic elements, Amaranthe stands out with their instantly-recognizable sound on the extremely catchy “Drop Dead Cynical.”
35 – FOO FIGHTERS – “Something From Nothing” – The latest Foo Fighters single had Active Rock radio programmers tripping over themselves to get the song into heavy rotation. Though such unbridled enthusiasm for other songs simply doesn’t exist, “Something From Nothing” has proven to be more than just a flash in the pan, and with good reason. Though the song is not a “typical” sounding Active Rock track, Dave Grohl and co. have combined elements of funk, grunge and more to come up with arguably their most memorable song to date.
36 – MICHAEL SWEET – “I’m Not Your Suicide” – Ever since the black and yellow spandex Stryper days of the 80s, Michael Sweet has been writing meaningful lyrics intent on empowering others. Fast forward to 2014, and Sweet is still spreading his words of encouragement, albeit without the over-the-top stage wear. “I’m Not Your Suicide” is about delivering a heartfelt message that shows that we are all bigger than any bullying or belittling that we may endure, and that we are all meant to shine in our own way. This dynamic track goes back and forth between emotive verses and larger-than-life, arena-style choruses in signature Michael Sweet style.
37 – SWEET & LYNCH – “September” – It’s been 13 years since the 9/11 attacks that shook America to its core. For many (especially those that experienced the attacks from afar), the anniversary of 9/11 is, for all intents and purposes, “business as usual.” However, for those of us who experienced the attacks in a much more personal way, the anniversary of 9/11 will always be a somber day of reflection. Falling into the latter category, hearing “September” for the first time when it was released this year on the anniversary of 9/11 was an intense and moving experience. Lost in the emotions of the song, and Michael Sweet’s incredibly passionate vocals, is the fact that teaming up with George Lynch (Dokken) is an inspired move that will undoubtedly be very nostalgic and exciting for fans of 80s metal.
38 – SHAMAN’S HARVEST – “Dangerous” – Shaman’s Harvest has had to overcome a fair share of adversity throughout their career (which spans nearly two decades), the latest being a throat cancer diagnosis for frontman, Nathan Hunt, during the recording of the band’s latest release, Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns. With Hunt’s cancer in remission, Shaman’s Harvest is once again making a radio impact with “Dangerous,” a gritty, southern rock track that features Hunt’s soulful, distinct delivery.
39 – CROBOT – “Nowhere To Hide” – It isn’t often that you find modern hard rock bands citing legendary bands of the 70s as their main influence, but Crobot is exception to the rule. A few notes into “Nowhere To Hide,” it’s easy to see that Crobot marches to the beat of a drummer that is different from their fellow hard rock brethren on the scene today. Funk, blues, meal, dirty, groove, rock…Crobot is all of the above and then some. Backed by a rock-solid rhythm section and blues guitar that harkens back to a bygone era, Brandon Yeagley’s soaring vocals help create a timeless sound that would have been just as relevant 40 years ago as it is today.
40 – SEVENDUST – “Karma” (acoustic) – Originally featured on the band’s 2010 release, Cold Day Memory, “Karma” garnered radio attention again this year after Sevendust released their acoustic album, Time Travelers & Bonfires. With some bands, acoustic versions of songs fail to capture the essence of the original, but Sevendust has a way of bringing their stripped down songs to life, due in no small part to Lajon Witherspoon’s incredibly soulful voice.
41 – PAPA ROACH – “Face Everything And Rise” – When it comes to tapping into raw emotion and connecting with lyrics, few are on the same level as Papa Roach frontman, Jacoby Shaddix. With “Face Everything And Rise,” off of the band’s upcoming release (F.E.A.R.), Shaddix once again delivers his signature, tortured, angst-ridden sound. Screams of rage complement anthemic, melodic choruses that will undoubtedly have fists flying in the air when the band performs this intense track in a live setting.
42 – TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION – “Monster In Me” – Texas Hippie Coalition is not your ordinary hard rock act. The band’s larger-than-life frontman, Big Dad Ritch, describes the THC’s sound as “red dirt metal” (like Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top had a child and Pantera ended up raising it). The description alone should have you intrigued enough to check out this underrated band. “Monster In Me” is cool, gritty and seductive in a way that makes it the ideal song for “dancers” to showcase their skills on poles around the world.
43 – HINDER – “Hit The Ground” – Replacing a singer like Austin Winkler is no easy task, especially when you consider the contribution that his distinct style had to the overall sound of Hinder. Many wondered if the band would be able to continue on as one of the rising stars in the genre. It’s only one song into the Nolan Neal era of Hinder, but based on “Hit The Ground,” the band looks poised to pick up where they left off before Winkler’s unexpected departure. The Hinder sound is alive and well, and Neal seems to be the ideal choice to allow the band to “hit the ground” running as one of the top hard rock acts today.
44 – GEMINI SYNDROME – “Mourning Star” – Last year, Gemini Syndrome was a dominant force on SiriusXM’s Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown with their debut single, “Stardust.” Inexplicably, the follow-up single, “Mourning Star” received very little attention at radio. With cryptically poetic lyrics like “I found my way through recapitulation, everything is still a haze,” the band definitely fits squarely into the “thinking man’s metal” category. Gemini Syndrome should be commended for their unique ability to weave thought-provoking, emotive verses with grandiose, anthemic, theatrical moments that would be the perfect accompaniment to a rebellious march.
45 – 3 YEARS HOLLOW – “For Life” – What do you get when you mix progressive rock, hair metal and pop punk influences, a Sevendust connection and a desire to create meaningful melodic hard rock? 3 Years Hollow – a Quad Cities powerhouse quintet. With Sevendust’s Morgan Rose as their A&R guy, and Clint Lowery as their producer, you might think that 3YH arrived overnight, but they are the product a years of hard work, and it shows in their inspired music. “For Life” – a powerful song about facing your demons and coming out on the other side – is just a sample of what this band has to offer. Get to know the band from this track and then go and check out the rest of the album. You will not be disappointed!
46 – REVOLVE – “Stranded” – You probably haven’t heard of Revolve yet, but it won’t be long before this band makes a big impact on Active Rock radio with their debut single, “Stranded.” After going through some lineup changes and a name change, this Baltimore hard rock outfit is poised to make their mark in the coming year. Like 3 Years Hollow, Revolve was produced by Sevendust’s Clint Lowery. The band definitely will appeal to Sevendust fans, and fans of bands like Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin (to name a few). “Stranded” features the incredibly melodic vocals of Thommy Michaels, a tight, driving rhythm section and the dynamic dual guitars of the badass power couple that is Debbie Barlow and Dave Phelps.
47 – RIVAL SONS – “Open My Eyes” – Sometimes, all it takes to turn a vision into a reality is making the “right” connection. Rival Sons is living proof that this is true. According to guitarist, Scott Holiday…“a random find on the Internet points me to (vocalist) Jay Buchanan. In 13 seconds, I realize I have just come across the singer I’ve looked for over the last 10-12 years of my life.” This serendipitous connection is something to be celebrated by fans of legendary hard rock bands, Led Zeppelin in particular. Many bands are influenced by Led Zeppelin, but most can’t capture the mystique that made them so unique. With “Open My Eyes,” Rival Sons offers up a modern-day version of the classic Zep sound. If you’re a fan of songs like “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” this track will definitely “open your eyes” to Rival Sons.
48 – AVATAR – “Bloody Angel” – Back in the early 90s, Type O Negative made their mark on the world with their highly-acclaimed Bloody Kisses album. Two decades later, Avatar has shown that they have more in common with Type O than their “bloody” titles. Like their Brooklyn brethren, these Swedish rockers have a unique ability to intertwine punishing moments of raw intensity with dark, moody melodies. “Bloody Angel” is an exhilarating musical roller coaster ride that you’ll want to ride again and again.
49 – SEBASTIAN BACH – “All My Friends Are Dead” – Many people probably don’t realize that Sebastian Bach is still making kick-ass records because of limited radio outlets for his style of music. His latest album, Give ‘Em Hell, is arguably his best work since Slave To The Grind with Skid Row. “All My Friends Are Dead” showcases a lot of what the album has to offer, but Bach/Skid Row fans should definitely make it a point to check out the entire album. If you are a fan of classic Skid Row albums, you will love Give ‘Em Hell.
50 – WAYLAND – “Get A Little” – In the 70s, Rush gave us “Working Man,” and Loverboy gave us “Working For The Weekend” in the 80s, but there hasn’t been a true anthem of the working man for the past several decades…until now! With “Get A Little,” Wayland has perfectly crafted a song that caters to those whose life is defined by the Monday – Friday, 9-5 grind. Wayland’s feel-good style is a throwback to a time when music was made to lift the spirits of the listener. Listening to “Get A Little” makes you want to head straight to the bar for happy hour to hoist a few with friends and leave the troubles of the world behind.
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51 – STEEL PANTHER – “The Burden Of Being Wonderful” – If you are a fan of 80s hair bands, you should be very thankful to Steel Panther for carrying the torch that was once abruptly extinguished by the grunge movement. Will they spark another hair band revolution? Not likely, but they will not be deterred from bringing joy to the Aqua Net generation with their humorous brand of hair metal. “The Burden Of Being Wonderful” is a comedic, nostalgic journey back to the days when power ballads were all the rage. This is quite likely the only Panther song that could be reviewed without requiring a parental permission slip, so be warned that this is not a band for the morally uptight or the religious right.
52 – URIAH HEEP – “One Minute” – In this day and age, virtually every hard rock band that dates back to the 70s is a household name, although Uriah Heep is not one of them. The band formed in 1969, and with the exception of a 10-yr gap around the turn of the century, they have been releasing albums on a fairly regular basis. Heavily laden with the Hammond organ, “One Minute” is a soulful, upbeat track with a positive message.
53 – STARSET – “Carnivore” – Following up their juggernaut single, “My Demons,” the release of “Carnivore” was met with much less fanfare at radio, although it is a great song in its own right. Of course, this is not a singles-driven band anyway; they are more of an artistic journey that is meant to be experienced. To begin your Starset journey, it is strongly recommended that you visit their website at www.StarsetOnline.com.
54 – FRAMING HANLEY – “Criminal” – “Criminal” is a melodic, feel-good, modern rock track that features tight musicianship beneath Kenneth Nixon’s rangy vocals. From the smooth, subdued verses to the powerfully catchy choruses, Nixon delivers in a memorable way. For those old enough to remember the 80s, the background vocals will take you on a journey back to the “Centerfold” days of the J. Geils Band.
55 – POP EVIL – “Torn To Pieces” – When Pop Evil goes back into the recording studio to record their next album, they are going to be challenged to repeat the astronomical success that they have had at radio with the singles off of Onyx. “Torn To Pieces” made its mark earlier this year. The song showcases a more subdued side and emotional side of the band, at times reminiscent of slower-tempo Red Hot Chili Peppers tunes.
56 – MESSAGE TO VENUS – “Hollow” – Defining themselves simply as “21st Century Rock,” Message To Venus is a quartet from San Juan, Puerto Rico that delivers a powerful, driving brand of hard rock. While most artists strive for a record deal, Message To Venus is a proud D.I.Y. band. It’s fitting that “Hollow” is about living the life that you want by making choices for yourself, not others.
57 – GREY – “Use Me” – Formed in 2012, Macedonian quintet, Grey, is an interesting blend of hard rock, metal, alternative and classic rock. The end result is a powerful unit that blows you away with their intensity. “Use Me” starts out hauntingly dark and melancholic before the band kicks in and hits you like a punch to the gut. Many modern hard rock bands that play with this kind of intensity resort to screaming and growling, but Grey takes the opposite approach, showcasing the immense vocal talents of Croatian singer, Zoran Misic-Zox. It is extremely rare for a relatively new act to have such chemistry and cohesion. Grey is definitely a band that will be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future.
58 – OTHERWISE – “Darker Side Of The Moon” – The first single off of the band’s latest release, Peace At All Costs, is an energetic rocker that features tight musicianship and breaks that are as important to the song as the music itself. According to Otherwise frontman, Adrian Patrick, the song “is just the beginning of the journey that we plan to take with everyone. The Moon is a heavenly body that we’ve come to cherish and worship throughout our meager lives…but there is another side to it that most of us know nothing about.”
59 – THE USED – “Revolution” – “All revolutions are impossible until they happen…then they become inevitable,” states the voiceover at the beginning of “Revolution.” A politically charged anthem that gets your blood pumping and your fists flying in the air, “Revolution” is both thought-provoking and inspiring.
60 – WICKED TONGUES – “Electric” – Rival Sons may be the ones grabbing the attention for Led Zeppelin inspired music, but it won’t be long before the world discovers the equally-talented Wicked Tongues. Blues-based hard rock at its finest from this California quartet that features a pounding rhythm section (Ryan Shaw & Elias Berlinger), the outstanding classic rock guitar playing of Michael Conway and the outrageously stellar vocals of Mason Betsch (think Robert Plant meets Ian Gillan in their respective primes). Definitely a band to watch in the new year!
61 – KYNG – “Electric Halo” – A few things come to mind when listening to Kyng’s “Electric Halo.” The first is that it’s hard to believe that this is a three-piece band that, according to their bio, “finds grandiosity in simplicity.” And the other is that frontman Eddie Veliz was ready to turn his attention towards other pursuits if Kyng didn’t take off, calling this attempt “his last hurrah.” Although the band is often categorized as “stoner metal,” their sound transcends the genre, and will appeal to fans of hard rock music in general.
62 – THEORY OF A DEADMAN (featuring ALICE COOPER) – “Savages” – When Theory Of A Deadman released “Drown” earlier in the year, it looked like a shoo-in to be featured on this list, but the combination of T.O.A.D. and Alice Cooper on “Savages” was too cool to pass up. This unlikely pairing is one of the more inspired of its kind in recent memory in the hard rock genre. Each brings their own unique approach to the song, and complements the other perfectly.
63 – ALLEN/LANDE – “Lady Of Winter” – The opening moments of “Lady Of Winter” are reminiscent of Savatage’s “Edge Of Thorns,” but the song quickly transitions into an incredibly melodic, power metal ballad. The joining of forces between extraordinary vocalists Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jorn Lande (Masterplan) is a stroke of genius. With “Lady Of Winter,” this dynamic duo has set the bar for collaboration projects at a stratospheric level. You don’t need to be a fan of power metal to appreciate this musical masterpiece!
64 – NICKELBACK – “A Million Miles An Hour” – The second single off of Nickelback’s latest release, No Fixed Address, “edges” out the first single “Edge Of A Revolution” on this list. It’s inexplicable why a band that writes melodic songs (often with adult subject matter) like “A Million Miles An Hour” is judged so harshly by supposed hard rock music fans and critics. Aside from the fact that they are a tremendously talented and entertaining live band, they write songs that appeal to the masses. “A Million Miles An Hour” uses just the right amount of vocal effect to highlight the subject matter of the song in a clever way, for those open-minded enough to appreciate what the band has to offer.
65 – CRAZY LIXX – “Hell Raising Women” – 80s hard rock and heavy metal may run its course at one point in time, but the passion for the music never diminished, particularly in Europe. Swedish rockers, Crazy Lixx, fired up the DeLorean to take us “back to the future “with “Hell Raising Women,” a throwback to the bygone days of the 80s. Unlike the hair bands that favored style over substance, Crazy Lixx delivers quality hard rock in the Skid Row, GNR, Aerosmith vein.
66 – SLIPKNOT – “The Devil In I” – For the most part, Slipknot is generally too heavy for Active Rock radio, but they found the perfect balance with “The Devil In I” to satisfy their fans and appeal to the masses. This song has been a juggernaut both on the SiriusXM Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown and the MediaBase Active Rock charts. Although still significantly heavier than the work that Corey Taylor does with Stone Sour, this track will appeal to those who favor Stone Sour over Slipknot.
67 – GRAND DESIGN – “Rawk ‘N Roll Heart Attack” – Listen to Grand Design’s “Rawk ‘N Roll Heart Attack” just once, and you’ll be singing it in your head for the rest of the day. Infectious melodies and huge hooks make it virtually impossible to avoid grooving to the music. Want the recipe for a “Rawk ‘N Roll Heart Attack?” Equal parts “Cherry Pie” (Warrant) and “Pour Some Sugar On me” (Def Leppard), and sprinkle in some “Hot Cherie” (Hardline) for good measure.
68 – REVOLUTION SAINTS – “Turn Back Time” – Journey meets Night Ranger meets Whitesnake as the latest supergroup power trio joins forces to create music that most definitely “turns back time.” Journey drummer, Deen Castronovo, finally gets his chance to shine as a lead vocalist, and delivers with flying colors. In fact, with a vocal style that is eerily similar to Steve Perry, you have to wonder why Journey didn’t give him the chance to pull double duty before bringing on Arnel Pineda. Brilliant vocal harmonies are to be expected with Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) in the band. And, of course, Doug Aldrich’s guitar work is stellar as usual. Revolution Saints probably won’t be anything more than a side project, but if they chose to pursue the band on a full time basis, they would have no shortage of fans ready to embrace their brand of melodic hard rock.
69 – PISTOL DAY PARADE – “Rock Star’s Girlfriend” – Good, fun, straight ahead rock and roll, heavy on melody and hooks with just enough edge to appeal to Active Rock radio listeners. With a feel-good quality, and a vocal similarity to classic Sebastian Bach, “Rock Star’s Girlfriend” will also appeal to those who grew up on 80s hard rock and heavy metal. If you like bands like Skid Row and Dokken, check out these Detroit rockers.
70 – STONE GLORY – “Rise” – Featuring ex-Stereoside frontman, Jeff Shields, Floridian rockers, Stone Glory, first got together in 2013. The band recorded 14 tracks for their eponymous debut album. “Rise” is the first song that the band wrote together. Blending melodic hard rock with a southern, bluesy sound, Stone Glory’s goal is “to create a truly original rock & roll experience.” Shields’ soulful vocals are perfectly complemented by Stone Glory’s energetic sound. With any luck, this band will “rise” to even greater heights than Shields’ equally-worthy former band, Stereoside.
71 – OF MICE & MEN – “Would You Still Be There” – Having endured lineup changes and a struggle to be heard, Of Mice & Men broke through in a big way with their hit song “Would You Still Be There,” from the band’s third album, Restoring Force, a title that is based on a powerful concept. According to the band’s Facebook bio “strength often comes from starting over. In the aftermath of a disruption, calamity or tragedy, there’s a process of restoration.”
72 – THE VIRGINMARYS – “Just A Ride” – Punk rock music is often times so frenetic that it borders on being out of control. It’s all part of the rebellious culture that goes hand-in-hand with the genre. With “Just A Ride,” The Virginmarys channel their punk rage and grunge sensibilities in a controlled manner that makes the song a fit for Active Rock radio. You’d never know that this was a trio by listening to this intense track.
73 – SEVENTH WONDER – “Inner Enemy” – Progressive Swedish metalers, Seventh Wonder, have created a familiar (yet unique) sound with the highly melodic and energetic “Inner Enemy.” Imagine Kansas on steroids with Zakk Wylde adding his signature riffs into the mix. If you’re a fan of the vocal style of Tommy Shaw you will absolutely be a fan of Tommy Karevik, whose voice bears a resemblance to the legendary Styx vocalist.
74 – THE PRETTY RECKLESS – “Going To Hell” – The title track off of the band’s latest release has gotten considerably less attention at radio than the other singles from the album, which is somewhat confusing because it is arguably the strongest song of them all. Of course, it you take radio out of the equation and look strictly at YouTube numbers, you would think that this song was at the top of the charts. Taylor Momsen delivers an inspired, gritty vocal performance atop heavy riffs and a driving rhythm highlighted by double-bass drum parts.
75 – REV THEORY – “Born 2 Destroy” – In a changing record industry, one of the best things that a band can do is find exposure for their music that goes beyond radio. With songs that get played at sporting events (NHL, WWE) and on television, Rev Theory has definitely expanded their reach. “Born 2 Destroy” is another song that is lyrically and musically poised to follow the same path as their hit songs “Hell Yeah” and “Voices.”
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76 – FOZZY – “Lights Go Out” – With a professional wrestler turned frontman (Chris Jericho) and an album title like Do You Wanna Start A War, you’d think that Fozzy would be all about fighting, but “Lights Go Out” proves that Jericho is as much a lover as he is a fighter. In an unexpected twist, the band incorporates elements of dance music into their heavy, Ozzy-esque sound. This song is a perfect fit for the one place where hard rock and dance collide – strip clubs!
77 – SEVENTRAIN – “Carry The Cross” – Seventrain is a blues metal band whose bittersweet formation came as the result of playing together at a memorial show for a close friend. Although the band is still in its infancy, the members of the band are seasoned veterans (most notably Joel Maitoza who played drums in 24/7 Spyz). The strongest influence that can be heard on “Carry The Cross” is King’s X, but the band draws from a number of other influences as well. Seventrain tracked their entire album in analog and a limited use of effects, which gives them a sound that harkens back to the early days of hard rock in the 70s.
78 – US AMONGST THE REST – “Fields Of Fray” – British hard rockers, Us Amongst The Rest, were one of the bands featured on Hard Rock Daddy’s Music Discovery Monday. They were the first band to submit their music after the launch of the weekly featured that has quickly become the favorite of HRD readers. “Fields Of Fray” features a guitar intro that is reminiscent of Iron Maiden and then launches into a melodic brand of hard rock that is similar to the music being created by fellow Brits, Asking Alexandria and The Family Ruin. This is definitely a band to watch in the coming year!
79 – CRASH MIDNIGHT – “151” – While modern hard rock acts sometimes cite bands from the 70s as influences, it is rare to find a band whose sound is predominantly 70s influenced. Such is the case for Boston rockers, Crash Midnight, who clearly have an admiration for fellow Bostonians, Aerosmith. Although they do not mention any acts from the 80s as influences, Crash Midnight will definitely appeal to fans of Def Leppard’s raw debut album, On Through The Night. This is the type of music that Def Leppard could have been making if they didn’t choose to transition to an extremely polished sound.
80 – SOTO – “The Fall” – Jeff Scott Soto’s resume reads like a “who’s who of rock and roll,” and yet, he still seems to fly somewhat under the radar with hard rock fans. Soto shows another side of his vast range on “The Fall,” the first single off of his latest release, Inside The Vertigo. Shifting away from the higher register that he has used in the past, Soto embraces his edgier side on “The Fall” (both lyrically and musically). He even throws in a scream towards the end of the song. This new direction should have Active Rock radio programmers chomping at the bit to add this kickass track into their rotations.
81 – KILLER BE KILLED – “Wings Of Feather And Wax” – Formed in 2011, this heavy metal supergroup finally released their first album this year. One of the heaviest tracks on this list, “Wings Of Feather And Wax” features an incredibly catchy, melodic chorus amidst the band’s distinct style which frontman Greg Puciato characterizes as “a bit of Sabbath-y doom, a bit of thrash, a bit of hardcore and punk.”
82 – BURNOS – “WarShip” – Burnos debuted on SiriusXM’s Octane with a song called “Octane.” Strange coincidence or genius marketing move? The latter seems more likely, but that’s neither here nor there. While “Octane” got the band noticed, “WarShip” is the track that really grabbed the listeners’ attention, and allowed singer Melissa Burnos to showcase her powerfully melodic vocals. The band is currently working on their debut album with Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Tremonti). Based on the first few singles, this is a band to keep on your radar in the new year.
83 – BROTHER GREY – “If It Kills” – Brother Grey’s bio describes the band as “fresh, heavy, complex and dynamic, yet easy to digest.” Bios have a tendency to be hyperbolic at times, but in this case, the description is 100% accurate. From their latest EP, In Irons, “If It Kills” is a hauntingly powerful track with thought-provoking lyrics. Backed by a dynamic rhythm section (Ryan Butler & Casey Dorriety), Chris Pierson shines with his crunching guitars and impassioned vocals. Keep this up-and-coming band on your radar!
84 – SHALLOW SIDE – “My Addiction” – It isn’t often that a picking banjo intro leads into a melodic hard rock song. In fact, aside from Shallow Side’s “My Addiction,” it’s hard to recall any other hard rock act leading (or even incorporating) a banjo. While the banjo playing grabs your attention initially, and is revisited throughout the song, it is the heavy guitars, driving rhythm, emotional vocal delivery and big melodic hooks that will feed your “addiction” to this catchy rocker.
85 – RIGHTEOUS VENDETTA – “Take Over” – Hailing from a small town in Wyoming, Christian Metal band, Righteous Vendetta, has come a long way from their humble beginnings. Like many up-and-coming hard rock acts, Righteous Vendetta are road warriors, tirelessly touring to spread their message and build their fanbase. “Take Over” is a powerful, anthemic rocker that features heavy guitars, an aggressive rhythm section and the impassioned vocals of frontman, Ryan Hayes.
86 – THE BLOODLINE – “The Blackout” – The Bloodline is another band that was featured on Hard Rock Daddy’s Music Discovery Monday. Formed by ex-Soil guitarist, Shaun Glass, The Bloodline is getting ready to release their debut album in the coming year, and is a band to keep an eye on. “The Blackout” features crunching, power guitars, shredding solos and angst-ridden vocals. Though their sound is in line with modern hard rock acts, there is a notable Iron Maiden influence that adds another layer of intrigue to their music.
87 – ADELITA’S WAY – “Dog On A Leash” – The first single off of the latest Adelita’s Way release, Stuck, is a metaphor for those who resent being at the mercy of an overbearing boss or significant other. “Dog On A Leash” is all about delivering an anthemic, straight forward, hard rock song without resorting to special effects or enhancements. Frontman, Rick DeJesus, definitely nailed the stripped-down, back-to-basics approach that he was going for with this track.
88 – NIGEL BAILEY – “In The Name Of The King” – From Nigel Bailey’s debut solo album, Long Way Down, comes “In The Name Of The King,” an melodic hard rock track with huge riffs and beautiful vocal harmonies. The song, in the vein of the John Elefante era of Kansas, features a big sound that is ideally suited for arenas. If you are a fan of incredible melodies and huge hooks, check out Nigel Bailey’s solo album and also check out his work with Three Lions.
89 – ALTITUDES & ATTITUDE – “Booze And Cigarettes” – Supergroup side projects have become fairly commonplace in the hard rock genre, however, Altitudes & Attitude stands out for a few reasons. First of all, the group was formed by two bassists (Frank Bello of Anthrax & Dave Ellefson of Megadeth), who started writing together as they traveled the world putting on “Metal Masters” clinics. Although both Bello and Ellefson play bass on the project, they also played guitar, and Bello is the lead vocalist. The other thing that makes this project stand out is that two metal bassists from “the big four” worked together to create straight forward, melodic rock.
90 – THE AMITY AFFLICTION – “Pittsburgh” – Often times, bands that feature screaming/growling all tend to sound alike to casual listeners, but The Amity Affliction has put their own unique stamp on the technique. Not only can the lyrics be understood, but in this case, the tortured delivery enhances the meaning of the song. “Pittsburgh” offers a dichotomy of sounds that doesn’t exist in other songs. From the tortured screams to the melodic verses to the angelic sound of children singing, this song breaks all the rules, but still manages to find a perfect balance.
91 – AC/DC – “Rock Or Bust” – The title track off of AC/DC’s latest album features the classic AC/DC sound that fans know and love. This is, by far, the most bittersweet of all AC/DC releases (due to the health issues of founding member, Malcolm Young), but one that will be greatly appreciated by the fans because it almost didn’t come to fruition. After all these years, and trends that come and go, there is something comforting about AC/DC’s ability to stick with the music that has defined them for several decades and still be well-received by fans, radio and media alike.
92 – PERIPHERY – “The Parade Of Ashes” – Intense, dynamic, chaotic, progressive, melodic, heavy, innovative and more are terms that all accurately describe Periphery’s “The Parade Of Ashes.” The glue that holds all of the chaotic moments together is an incredibly catchy, rebellious chorus that states “fuck your theories, we are the way we are” and some cool falsetto vocals. It takes talent to be able to start and stop on a dime and keep things flowing, and Periphery has it in spades.
93 – ACE FREHLEY – “Gimme A Feelin’” – If you long for the classic sound that made KISS one of your favorite bands back in the 70s, look no further! Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley continue to record albums under the KISS moniker that have little to no appeal to their longtime fans. Meanwhile, Ace’s latest release, Space Invader, sounds like a true KISS album. “Gimme A Feelin’” is a nostalgic journey back to the days when KISS was relevant for their music, not just the shameless monetization of their iconic logo.
94 – WE AS HUMAN (featuring LACEY STURM) – “Take The Bullets Away” – Christian rockers, We As Human, got their big break after being discovered by Skillet singer, John Cooper, but the band still had to pay their dues to get to that point. In a true leap of faith, members of the band quit their day jobs to hit the road without lining up a single paying gig. According to vocalist, Justin Cordle, the band’s latest release “is not a compilation of songs…every song is a part of my heart, this band and our story.” Collaborating with Lacey Sturm (Flyleaf) was an inspired decision; her tortured delivery brought the lyrics of the song to life.
95 – ISLANDER – “Coconut Dracula” – The first time that I heard “Coconut Dracula,” I couldn’t decide if it was a stroke of insanity or a stroke of genius. After all, it’s hard to forget a song title that makes absolutely no sense, and the song had a really cool vibe to it. Digging deeper into the meaning of the song, I discovered that it came about as a result of something that frontman, Mikey Carvajal, thought he heard his Hispanic uncle say. As it turns out, it wasn’t what his uncle said, but he liked the way that it sounded, so he decided to write a song about it. Lyrical content aside, the song definitely stood out as unique on Active Rock radio, and has proven to have staying power.
96 – UNISONIC – “You Come Undone” – European heavy metal supergroup featuring members of Helloween, Pink Cream 69 and Krokus had a busy year together. “You Come Undone” is a track off of the band’s For The Kingdom EP (released in May). The band also released a full-length studio album (Light Of Dawn) in August. Former Helloween frontman, Michael Kiske, is as impressive today as he was during the late 80s, hitting every high note in a seemingly effortless manner.
97 – ARSON CITY – “City Of Fire” – Featuring vocalist, Patrick Wilson (Emphatic) and four members of The Wreckage, Nebraska quintet, Arson City, is more than just another hard rock band. According to the band’s bio, they are an “all-out concept and vision, with each member of the band portraying their own character within Arson City (The Mayor, The Doctor, The Barber, The Con & The Enforcer). The band’s fans have even gotten involved in the theater of it all, dubbing themselves “Citizens,” and becoming a part of the overall vision. With so much similarity between many bands, Arson City is taking an interesting approach to creating something truly unique. “City Of Fire” is best described as a combination of The Sopranos theme song (“Woke Up This Morning”) and classic Megadeth.
98 – DRAGONFORCE – “The Game” – Thunderous drums, lighting-fast guitars (that sound like a classic video game) and soaring, theatrical vocals from British Power/Speed Metalers, Dragonforce, sends adrenaline coursing through your veins as you take nearly the 5-minute ride that is “The Game.” A little bit of Active Rock flavor is sprinkled in for good measure, as Trivium frontman, Matt Heafy, makes a guest appearance on the track.
99 – EVERGREY – “King Of Errors” – Whether you classify Everygrey as Dark Melodic Metal, Power Metal or Progressive Metal, one thing is for sure…these Swedish rockers deliver inspired, theatrical works of musical art. The video for “King Of Errors” is as cinematic as it is musical. Those interested in the full cinematic experience should watch the video in its entirety, but if you are just interested in hearing the music, skip ahead to the 1:45 mark.
100 – JUDAS PRIEST – “Never Forget” – If you’ve made it this far, and looked at all of the songs on this list, you’ll notice that a self-imposed rule has been broken, as this is the second track off of Priest’s latest album, Redeemer Of Souls (sort of). This song was only included on the Deluxe Edition of the album, which features a second disc with five bonus tracks. If a rule is going to be broken, it might as well be for one of the most influential bands in the history of hard rock and heavy metal.
If “Never Forget” is good enough for Priest to use as the final song on an epic, 18-song deluxe album, it is good enough for Hard Rock Daddy to use as the final song on the musical journey that was this epic, year-end list. When you listen to the song, pay close attention to the lyrics that seem to hint that this may be Priest’s swan song. Although my hope is that their legendary career (which now spans 45 years) will continue, the possibility remains that the band won’t record another album. If that is the case, not including this incredibly moving power ballad will always be looked upon with regret.
“We leave with no regrets…we will never forget. We’ll play until the end…it’s not over, not over my friends. We are together tonight…reunited, for all of our lives. And we thank you for it all…we will NEVER FORGET!”
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THIS LIST AND LISTEN TO THE PLAYLISTS. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. \m/\m/