Category Archives: Hard Rock Song Lists

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2016

hard-rock-daddy-top-100-hard-rock-songs-of-2016

2016 was a year that will remembered for the loss of a number of hard rock and metal icons, but it was also a year filled with outstanding music.  To give our readers the greatest possible variety of music, the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2016 only features one song per album release (although a number of artists released multiple singles worthy of recognition).

Many of the songs on this list appeared on SiriusXM’s Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown and the Active Rock Mediabase Chart throughout the year.  In an effort to offer a snapshot of the overall year in hard rock and metal, a number of songs that weren’t featured in the Active Rock format are included as well.

This list covers all areas of hard rock (Active Rock, Classic Rock, Metal, Thrash, Prog and Southern Rock).

In addition to featuring established artists whose careers have spanned 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 Hard Rock Songs of 2016 featured on the playlists below can also be found on the Hard Rock Daddy Network (HRD’s YouTube channel).

#1-25

1 – ANTHRAX – “Breathing Lightning”

Since the turn of the millennium, Anthrax’s studio releases have been fewer and further between than the time period between 1984-1998.  There has been an undeniable shift in the hard rock and metal genres in recent years, but Anthrax’s music has always had a timeless quality to it.  If they chose to continue creating new music with their signature sound, they would have no trouble connecting with fans.  Getting radio attention, on the other hand, would not necessarily be so easy in the current climate.

“Breathing Lightning” features enough of the band’s signature sound to appeal to longtime fans, but it is the infusion of huge melodic hooks that is likely to bring in new fans from younger generations that didn’t grow up with their music.

With a vast catalog of timeless thrash songs, would it be sacrilege to say that the band’s most memorable chorus has arrived in 2016 (over 30 years after their debut)? Perhaps, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  The melodic refrain of the song (which conjures up memories of Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same”) sets the stage with a theatrical intro, and is intertwined around customary in-your-face Anthrax riffs throughout.  The song ends with a beautifully melodic, haunting fade out.

Like the maples in the Rush classic “The Trees,” Anthrax is often left in the shade created by the oaks that are fellow “Big Four” members Metallica and Megadeth, but not this time.  With “Breathing Lightning,” Anthrax not only outshines their thrash legend brethren, but the rest of the field as well, to grab a well-earned spot at the top of this annual list.

 

 

2 – ALTER BRIDGE – “My Champion”

Much to the delight of many, Alter Bridge returned with a new album in 2016, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  In a year of chaos, division and loss, it’s nice to know that you can count on AB to wash away the worries of the world and lift your spirits.

Unlike their previous album (2013’s Fortress) – which saw a wide gap between singles – this time around, the band released three singles in a fairly short time-span.  This is following along with the current trend in rock, where high-profile artists are literally overlapping singles in order to get the most traction and build excitement.

From the first notes of “My Champion,” you can feel the positivity flowing before the lyrics even kick in.  Not only is the vibe of the song uplifting, but the lyrics are as well.  Myles Kennedy’s vocals are stellar as usual as he delivers a song of hope and inspiration (something that many people can use nowadays).  The riffs, the leads, the vocals, the harmonies, the lyrics…everything just works on “My Champion.”  It’s the kind of song that makes you feel better with each listen.

 

 

3 – GEMINI SYNDROME – “Remember We Die”

These days, the average rock music fan’s taste is narrower than those who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s.  That may be the only thing that keeps Gemini Syndrome’s “Remember We Die” from being a song that touches an entire generation of fans.

Two classic songs from the ’70s – “Dust In The Wind” (Kansas) and “Time” (Pink Floyd) – continue to serve as a stark reminder to this day that life is nothing more than a fleeting moment in the scheme of things.  In the late ’80s, the phrase “carpe diem” was introduced to the masses by Robin Williams in his unforgettable role in Dead Poet’s Society. The phrase translates in English to “seize the day.”  A decade ago, this concept was brought to life once again in a powerfully thought-provoking song by Avenged Sevenfold, aptly titled, “Seize The Day.”

Like A7X, Gemini Syndrome has a way of making you feel things in a visceral way, with haunting melodies that stay with you long after the song has ended.  “Remember We Die” is just as deep and inspirational as all of the aforementioned songs.  In a world that grows busier by the day, as attention spans continue to recede, this song should serve as a wake-up call to those who reminisce about yesterdays and/or dream of tomorrows.  None of us knows when our time on earth will end, but as Gemini Syndrome poignantly points out, we should all be squeezing every ounce of life out of today (while we’re here). The future is about the other side.

The term “thinking man’s metal” is not bandied about these days as often as it once was, but it should be when it comes to Gemini Syndrome.

 

 

4 – MEGADETH – “Dystopia”

The title track of the latest Megadeth album is the most powerful single so far, both musically and in its message.  Did Dave Mustaine have a crystal ball when he was writing this song, or did he just see the writing on the wall before others?

Are we truly on the road to a sci-fi-like Dystopian society?  That thought seems a bit extreme, but not nearly as far-fetched as it once was.  Cranking up one of the better Megadeth songs in recent memory actually does have a somewhat cathartic effect, but doesn’t completely alleviate the sense of frustration that comes with the prospect of what lies ahead.

There’s enough chaos in a world that seems to have gone mad for “Dystopia” to resonate with any metal fan, regardless of location or political leaning.  Like Anthrax, Megadeth remains on top of their game long after they burst onto the scene.

 

 

5 – METALLICA – “Moth Into Flame”

There has been a growing trend of releasing multiple singles before an album is released.  With Metallica releasing “Moth Into Flame” – the follow-up single to “Hardwired” – while the first single off of their upcoming album was still getting strong airplay, there remains little doubt that this trend can officially be qualified as the “new normal.”

Like “Hardwired,” the band’s follow-up single is something of a nostalgic journey back to their roots.  However, while “Hardwired” was more along the lines of the early thrash days of Ride The Lightning“Moth Into Flame” seems to be a blending of all of the work prior to, and including, the Black Album.  It features the thrash elements of the early days with the groove and melody of their work from the early ’90s.

Based on the enthusiasm from longtime Metallica fans about the band’s latest release, it’s safe to say that the fans have been craving the sound that initially drew them to the band in the first place.

 

 

6 – DISTURBED – “The Sound Of Silence”

Unbridled emotion goes a long way towards defining David Draiman’s vocal style.  The Disturbed frontman is known for channeling his aggression, and delivering his message with great intensity (even on cover songs such as “Land Of Confusion” by Genesis).  This time around, with a cover version of Simon & Garfunkel’s classic – “The Sound Of Silence” – Draiman and company venture off in a much darker, solemn direction.  The angst and piss and vinegar that has become synonymous with Draiman, is replaced with a soul-searching melancholy so intense, that it makes the original version of the song sound almost joyful.  It’s not just the vocals that wash over you like a wave of sadness; it’s the hauntingly theatrical keyboards and tortured beauty of the acoustic guitars as well.

This is anything but what you would expect from Disturbed, so it does take some getting used to, but ultimately, it moves you in a visceral way.  There are moments of signature Disturbed tastefully woven into a song that has been covered numerous times over the past 50+ years, but at its core, this version offers something truly unique that grows on you more with each listen.

 

 

7 – SIXX: A.M. – “We Will Not Go Quietly”

With Motley Crue’s career officially in the rear view mirror, Nikki Sixx hasn’t missed a beat in returning to the top of the hard rock genre with Sixx:A.M.  What was once a side project, has joined the upper echelon of rock acts in short order.  Following the paths of Five Finger Death Punch and Stone Sour in recent years, Sixx:A.M. released a two-part, double studio album in less than a year.  “We Will Not Go Quietly” – the first single off of Sixx:A.M.’s latest release – is another powerful anthem from a band that has established a signature sound that differentiates them from all others.

 

 

8 – THROUGH FIRE – “Stronger”

From the ashes of Emphatic rises Through Fire, the newest project from guitarist Justin McCain.  Rather than continuing on as Emphatic with more lineup changes, McCain felt that he needed a new beginning, which is the reason for the name change.  Emphatic’s lineup changes had caused McCain to have a difficult time writing new material while trying to stay true to any particular sound from the band’s history.  The name change freed McCain to “write from the heart” (Click here to read the full story as told by McCain).  Whether you were a fan of Emphatic (which I was) or not, there is a lot to like from Through Fire’s debut single, “Stronger.”

The catchy melodies that were synonymous with Emphatic are still front and center on Through Fire’s debut single, albeit with a bit more edge that made it a huge hit on Active Rock radio this year.

A good description of “Stronger” would be Skillet on steroids.  It will be interesting to see if this re-branding helps to take McCain to a higher level than Emphatic was able to reach.  It certainly seems likely given their strong start with this song, and the follow-up single, “Breathe.”

 

 

9 – HELLYEAH – “Human”

With the mileage that Hellyeah got out of their 2014 release, Blood For Blood, it feels like the band never really went away (which is a good thing for their fans, and Active Rock radio for that matter). With “Human,” Hellyeah picked up right where they left off.  Not that there should have been any doubt after Blood For Blood, but this one-time “supergroup” is not only a full-fledged band, but one that deserves to be mentioned in the rarefied air of the elite groups in hard rock and metal today.

“Human” showcases the raw emotions that frontman Chad Gray wears on his sleeve, much like he did with “Hush” and “Moth” the last time around. With a unique ability to deliver angst-ridden, yet melodic, vocals, Gray continues to distinguish himself amongst his peers. Lyrically, “Human” takes things up a notch with clever word play that comes off as natural, never forced. It should be noted that Gray has the advantage of working with a powerful group of musicians whose chemistry continues to evolve in an impressive manner. If you’ve ever seen Hellyeah in a live setting, you’d understand that, as intense as the band sounds on record, they take it to another level in concert.

 

 

10 – AVATAR – “The Eagle Has Landed”

Isolated from their recent concept album (Feathers & Flesh), the lyrics to “The Eagle Has Landed” lack context, but it doesn’t matter.  If the purpose of a single is to create intrigue about an album and artist, this song certainly accomplishes its goal.  The tone of the song is a bit schizophrenic, with verses that can best be described as aggressive, and a hook in the melodic chorus that is infectious.  While the chorus has an upbeat, carnival-esque feel to it, there is an underlying touch of evil that makes it feel like you’ve entered a three-ring circus of madness.  Avatar is quickly becoming one of the most theatrical bands in the hard rock genre lyrically, musically and with their distinct image.  Unlike most, they’ve managed to straddle the fence between being incredibly unique and simultaneously “radio-friendly.”  This is no easy feat to pull off given the state of radio today.

 

 

11 – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH – “My Nemesis”

With the vast amount of hit singles that Five Finger Death Punch has amassed, if you didn’t know better, you’d think of them as a commercial rock act.  Despite being embraced by radio, one of the biggest bands of the modern era has always stayed true to their sound while intensely delivering emotional, angst-ridden messages.  Ivan Moody’s ability to bring the pain out in FFDP’s songs is always done with a melodic tone that makes you feel uplifted, like you can take on the world after listening to their music.  Too often, people get trapped inside a negative cycle that perpetuates itself over and over again.  It takes guts to break the cycle and leave behind that which has held you back, be it an actual nemesis, or the nemesis that lives within us all…our doubts and fears.  You can’t go wrong choosing any track off of Got Your Six, but this one is a personal favorite.

 

 

12 – ZAKK WYLDE (f. COREY TAYLOR) – “Sleeping Dogs”

Sometimes Active Rock radio gets it wrong when songs that are not a natural fit for the format end up cracking playlists.  This is an ongoing problem, and one that exists all the way to the top of the chart.  Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and in the case of “Sleeping Dogs,” programmers are to be commended for giving this song the attention that it deserved, even if it deviates from the typical “Active Rock sound.”  After all, it features two of the biggest stars of the genre in Zakk Wylde and Corey Taylor, both of whom are transcendent talents that have stood the test of time.

“Sleeping Dogs” – and the whole Book Of Shadows II album for that matter – is the continuation of a journey that began in 1996 when the original Book Of Shadows was released. Regardless of stature, there are very few artists who can blow you away with sheer power and stir you emotionally with slower, more emotive songs, just as this duo has done here with a memorable track that rises above the din of Active Rock playlists.

 

 

13 – UGLY MELON – “60 Days”

Canadian rockers Ugly Melon have been featured a handful of times during the year on Hard Rock Daddy, and will continue to be featured in 2017.

“60 Days” was originally featured on the July 4th edition of Music Discovery Monday.  The song is actually about another form of independence; the kind that comes from a loss.  While Independence Day is about celebrating freedom, we usually don’t think about the loss of life that is the cost of freedom when gathering with family and friends.  In the case of “60 Days” the loss is about a dying parent.

From the first note of “60 Days” to the last, frontman Tony LaSelva taps into the tremendous feeling of loss that many people know all too well.  Impending death has distinct way of ripping at your soul, making time simultaneously fly by and stand still.  “60 Days” captures the emotion of the helpless feeling of watching a loved one die.  LaSelva’s vocals are always brilliantly powerful and emotional, but he takes it to another level on this song that is sung from the heart…a broken heart.

This song proves once again that the writing team of LaSelva and guitarist Lu Cachie is a force to be reckoned with.  Listening to Cachie’s blend of beautiful acoustic guitar and wailing leads that cry out in pain, you would think that Cachie had suffered the loss himself.

 

 

14 – VOLBEAT – “Seal The Deal”

Volbeat is one of the most consistent bands in Active Rock today.  It’s no wonder that they are virtually guaranteed airplay whenever they release a new single.  Earlier this year, “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” – the lead single off of their latest album, Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie – went on a monster run, dominating the chart for over two months.

Although each of their songs has its own personality to some degree, there is a formula to Volbeat’s unique sound that is reminiscent of the approach that AC/DC has perfected throughout their career.  There is no band around today that can make edgy lyrics feel as uplifting as Michael Poulsen and company.  “Seal The Deal” is no exception.

If you only looked at the images on the lyric video and listened to the aggressive guitar playing of Rob Caggiano (which taps into the Anthrax sound), you would think that this was a blistering track. Many of the lyrics would confirm your suspicions, but then there is the lighter, more fun side of the song, with lyrics like “get groovy” and “let’s boogie.”  These lyrics would make you think that it was an upbeat, danceable song. Amazingly, you’d be right about that as well.

Volbeat has managed to blend the speed of thrash guitars with an infectious melody and make it seem like that is how songs are meant to be written.

 

 

15 – SHINEDOWN – “State Of My Head”

Like Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown continues to dominate Active Rock radio, albeit with a much less aggressive sound.  The songs may be melodic, but the band’s messages are often times aggressive beyond their music.  Such is the case with “State Of My Head,” an empowering song about standing your ground in the face of adversity.  Brent Smith is one of the premier lead singers of the modern generation.  His unmistakable vocal style is more about beauty than aggression, but still, his impassioned delivery brings Shinedown’s songs to life in an inspirational way.  There were a number of songs considered from the band for this list, but “State Of My Head” gets the nod for being able to get a family with vastly different musical tastes all singing along on long car rides.

 

 

16 – RED SUN RISING – “Amnesia”

After huge runs with their first two singles (“The Otherside” and “Emotionless”), Red Sun Rising delivered a “hat trick” with their latest single, “Amnesia.”  It’s hard enough for new artists to cut through the clutter to get noticed, but Red Sun Rising has already risen to the top of the genre with their debut album.

What’s most interesting about the band is that each single has its own sound, proving that they are much more than a one-trick pony.  Along with Nothing More, it can be argued that Red Run Rising is the hottest new band to emerge in recent years.

 

 

17 – CRASH MIDNIGHT – “Roxy”

A lot of ‘80s hard rock has a distinctive sound that takes you on a journey back in time when you listen to it today.  The “decade of decadence” also delivered some timeless, gritty rock and roll that still feels as relevant today as it did back then.  There’s been a revival of a more classic rock sound in recent years, but not many bands have been able to capture the Appetite For Destruction vibe of Guns N’ Roses or the On Through The Night vibe of Def Leppard (when they were incredibly raw).  Crash Midnight infuses influences of both into their modern hard rock sound.  Not only does the music have just the right amount of sleaze, but the lyrics harken back to an era when sex, drugs and rock-n-roll were alive and well.

Like GNR, Crash Midnight isn’t afraid to rock the boat.  Their single, “Roxy,” created an instant stir with YouTube because of nudity (which is why the censored video is featured in this forum).  If you’re interested in seeing the uncensored version of the video (which I highly recommend), make sure to go to www.CrashMidnight.com and download the band’s free app.

 

 

18 – THE WINERY DOGS – “Captain Love”

I’ve yet to speak to anyone who has listened to The Winery Dogs (or has seen them in a live setting) give anything but positive feedback.  This is a pretty big accomplishment in a day and age when people feel emboldened by the anonymity of the internet to say any negative thing that comes to their mind.  Equally surprising is the fact that many people still aren’t familiar with this incredibly talented, virtuoso power trio that features Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen.

Once upon a time, this is the kind of band that would be all over rock radio, but these days, most people have discovered them either through word-of-mouth or by following the individual band members on social media.

Although The Winery Dogs are known for their virtuosity, “Captain Love” is one of the band’s more straight-ahead, blues rock songs.  From the band’s sophomore release, Hot Streak“Captain Love” has a haunting quality in the same vein as the Deep Purple classic, “Perfect Strangers.”  Keeping the instrumentation less intricate affords Kotzen the opportunity to fill in the blanks with his brilliant vocals.

If The Winery Dogs have somehow managed to fly below your radar, here’s another chance to discover a band that already seems legendary.

 

 

19 – THE NEAL MORSE BAND – “So Far Gone”

“So Far Gone” is an incredible song from The Neal Morse Band’s epic double album, The Similitude Of A Dream.  Back in the day, long before radio changed in the United States, this song would have made an excellent single (in the vein of early Kansas and Styx).  While it has its complexities, “So Far Gone” definitely fits into the mainstream rock category.

At times, “So Far Gone” will conjure up memories of Mountain and Grand Funk Railroad with riffs enhanced by a cowbell (in a tasteful way, not like Spinal Tap).  The vocal harmonies are a thing of sheer beauty.  If you have an appreciation for stellar musicianship and production that enhances (rather than sanitizes) music, you’ll be blown away by “So Far Gone.”  You know that you’re listening to true professionals when you consider that this is not a band that has a long history together, and the moments of spacing are as musical as the instrumentation itself.

 

 

20 – ART OF ANARCHY – “The Madness”

Many supergroups end up being nothing more than a one-off project for various reasons, but it’s hard to think of one with a story as unlikely as Art Of Anarchy’s.  The original lineup featured Scott Weiland, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, John Moyer and the Votta brothers (Jon and Vince).  Although Weiland is the only singer on the band’s debut album, he claimed that he was never in the band before his untimely passing.  Things seem to be much clearer now as Art Of Anarchy returns with new music and a new frontman in Scott Stapp.

“The Madness” is an apt description of the confusion with their departed former frontman.  Having been through tough times with Weiland, and Stapp having had his own share of trials and tribulations, you might think that there would be a darkness to this song, but quite the opposite is true.  There’s passion with a hint of pain, but for the most part, this is an incredibly melodic single with an uplifting feel.  This is a great start for the latest incarnation of a supergroup that very nearly never got off the ground.

 

 

21 – BOBAFLEX – “A Spider In The Dark”

Following up the anthemic “Mama Don’t Take My Drugs Away” – the lead single from Anything That Moves – Bobaflex returned with “A Spider In The Dark.”  Fans of the band have come to expect the outstanding vocal chemistry between the McCoy brothers (Marty and Shaun), but this time around, the band mixes it up to showcase the equally-talented vocal prowess of guitarist Dave Tipple, who teams up with Marty to deliver chilling harmonies over an acoustic intro.

Bobaflex is one of the more creative artists around today, especially when it comes to making videos. Make sure to check out the video for “A Spider In The Dark” to see how truly apropos it is to use the word “chilling” to describe this song.  The intensity slowly builds until the rest of the band kicks in with a powerful, driving rhythm that is like a shot of adrenaline, featuring Bobaflex’s signature phrasing (which is truly unique, and sets them apart from others).

Whereas many bands today accentuate angst with growls, Bobaflex achieves the same effect with melodic gang vocals and harmonies. The band’s sound continues to evolve, to the point where even their breaks have a great deal of musicality.

 

 

22 – SEASONS AFTER – “Fighter”

It’s been two years since the release of Seasons After’s first independent release – Calamity, Scars & Memoirs – an album that featured three outstanding Active Rock singles, “So Long Goodbye,” “Lights Out” and “Weathered and Worn.”  The previous album was largely based around the battle that the band dealt with in gaining their independence from their previous label.  This time around, the edge is still there (perhaps even stronger), but the troubles of the past are now firmly in the rear view mirror.

“Fighter” has the same ballsy vibe asf bands like Sevendust and Saint Asonia.  The outstanding melodic vocals of Tony Housh is complemented by a heavy rhythm and Chris Dawson’s guitar work, which helps bring out the emotions of the song.  Independent artists have to scratch and claw to get the radio airplay that they deserve, but the lyrics of this song tell the story of the tenacity that this band has used to make it happen.

 

 

23 – JOEL HOEKSTRA’S 13 (f. JEFF SCOTT SOTO) – “Until I Left You”

Guitar virtuoso Joel Hoekstra gets most of his recognition from his work with Whitesnake and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but he deserves a lot more for his songwriting ability.  Hoekstra surrounds himself with talent to bring his songs to life, most notably the outstanding vocalists that he worked with on his latest solo album.  Like Hoekstra, Jeff Scott Soto has an impressive resume, including stints fronting Journey and Yngwie Malmsteen (in addition to touring with TSO).  This pairing works perfectly together.  If you love timeless, AOR songs with outstanding vocals and musicianship, make sure to check this one out.  This is a duo that you’ll definitely want to hear more from in the future.

 

 

24 – METAL CHURCH – “Signal Path”

Although they’ve had their fair share of lineup changes (and a hiatus), Metal Church has a history that dates back over three decades.  Thrash, heavy metal, call them what you want.  What matters most is that they deliver timeless, high-adrenaline metal.  “Signal Path” – from the band’s 11th studio release (XI) – stays true to the band’s metal roots, while adding in a melodic, theatrical flair that is more common in European Power Metal.  The theatrical moments on this track are reminiscent of Jim Steinman’s writing (with Meat Loaf).  This band has never gotten the recognition of bands like “The Big Four,” but their contribution to the metal world cannot be denied.  Over 30 years after their formation, Metal Church has proven with “Signal Path” that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

 

 

25 – SUNFLOWER DEAD (f. JONATHAN DAVIS) – “It’s Time To Get Weird”

With the vast amount of music and entertainment vying for the attention of the masses nowadays, standing out from the pack is becoming increasingly difficult, but it is also extremely important if you want to be more than just another artist in the mix.  Enter Sunflower Dead, a band that rises above the din to capture your attention with their brand of intense, dark, melodic hard rock.  The makeup that they wear certainly helps them stand out, but it is the music that grabs you before you even know what they look like.  You have to figure that they are something special when you see that, as a newcomer, they managed to get Korn’s Jonathan Davis to provide guest vocals on the track.

To be honest, I had no idea what “It’s Time To Get Weird” meant until speaking with frontman Michael “Hulk” Del Pizzo, but it didn’t matter.  Hearing the song made me want to listen more, and seeing the thought-provoking animated video whet my appetite even further.  I don’t often make predictions in this forum, but in this case, the exception is warranted…

Sunflower Dead will join the ranks of the elite, modern-day hard rock bands sooner rather than later.  Not only do they have the right blend of music and image, but they also have aspirations to do big things with their stage show when the time is right.  The band has already toured with the likes of Hellyeah, Avatar and In This Moment.

 

#26-50

26 – DEVOUR THE DAY – “Lightning In The Sky”

One of the biggest challenges today for newer artists is finding the balance between having a hit single, and not having radio listeners burn out on the single before they get to truly discover what the band has to offer.  Through no fault of their own, this was my initial experience with Devour The Day.  When I first heard that some of the members of Egypt Central had formed this new band, I was a bit puzzled.  After all, Egypt Central was just starting to gain some nice traction.  Because I was a fan of EC, I probably didn’t give Devour The Day a fair shake when I first heard it.  Shortly thereafter, “Good Man” was all over SiriusXM’s Octane, and to be honest, I burned out on it after hearing it several times a day.

I’m not too proud to admit that I was shortsighted in my initial evaluation of Devour The Day based on hearing one song with a closed mind.  Thankfully, I didn’t let my initial burnout prevent me from giving “Lightning In The Sky” (the lead single off of DVD’s latest album, S.O.A.R.) a chance.  Before the song got to the first chorus, I realized that Devour The Day is no one-trick pony, and that it was unfair to define them by my knee-jerk reaction to one single.

Hearing the upbeat feel and pacing of Lightning In The Sky” reminded me of Thousand Foot Krutch, another modern band with a dynamic ability to showcase multiple layers of sound.  My enjoyment of this single also inspired me to do more research about the band.  What I discovered is that I like their approach to life as much as I do their music, (which is meant to deliver a positive message).  The band’s most recent single, “The Bottom” was also under consideration for inclusion here, but “Lightning In The Sky” got the nod because it’s the song that gave me a second bite at the apple (so to speak).

 

 

27 – SMASHING SATELLITES – “Gamblin’ Man”

From the ashes of My Darkest Days rises Smashing Satellites.  Former MDD guitarist Sal Costa steps up into a much greater creative role as the lead singer, songwriter, co-producer and guitarist of this exciting new band from the Great White North.  Although Costa has made his bones playing modern-day hard rock music, his goal is to bring rock back to the mainstream with his brand of music that pulls from numerous different influences ranging from the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson to Nirvana and Triumph and everything in between.  His career goal is to grab for the brass ring, not just find his place in a very crowded genre.

Every once in a while, you can tell within a few bars that you’ve discovered a memorable track.  “Gamblin’ Man” definitely fits into that category.  Costa shows that he is capable of stepping up into a higher profile role than he had with My Darkest Days, displaying a nice vocal range and dynamic songwriting.

 

 

28 – SOTO – “SuckerPunch”

Jeff Scott Soto is known for his melodic rock vocals (see Joel Hoekstra review above), but his diversity is what makes him so special.  With his band SOTO, JSS has tapped into the edgier side of his vocals.  This band (which must be seen live to fully appreciate) is an outstanding unit with tremendous chemistry.  If “SuckerPunch” was released as a single by an established Active Rock band like Sevendust, there is no doubt that it would be garnering a great deal of radio attention.  One of the most frustrating aspects of the Active Rock format is that is misses out on songs like this that would make listening infinitely more enjoyable.  Radio may have failed SOTO this time around, but the Hard Rock Daddy audience should make sure to check this band out.  You will not be disappointed!

 

 

29 – SUNSTORM (f. JOE LYNN TURNER) – “Edge Of Tomorrow”

Joe Lynn Turner may not have gotten the respect that he deserves from Ritchie Blackmore when it came to the “Rainbow reunion,” but he is still making outstanding music.  JLT’s most recent release is Sunstorm’s Edge Of Tomorrow, the fourth studio album that he has done with a band that also features members of Pink Cream 69. The title track off of the band’s latest release is the epitome of feel-good AOR rock, highlighted by JLT’s brilliant, melodic vocals and guitar work of Simone Mularoni.  If you long for the days of passionate, message-driven melodic rock, make sure to check out “Edge Of Tomorrow” (the song and the entire album).

 

 

30 – GRAHAM BONNET – “California Air (Better Here Than There)”

“California Air (Better Here Than There)” is from Graham Bonnet Band’s latest release, The Book (an epic double album that features remakes of some of Bonnet’s most well-known work).

Bonnet’s amazing vocals are complemented by his gregarious personality and sense of humor, both of which take center stage on this feel-good rock anthem.

You can take the boy out of the arena, but you can’t take the arena out of the boy.  Ok, I realize that is not really a saying, but just the same, there’s something extremely nostalgic about hearing songs that feel like they were meant to be played in front of thousands of screaming fans.

In a perfect world, Bonnet fans would get the opportunity to see him perform his latest songs and classics alike in an arena setting.  Unfortunately, the state of rock music (especially in the U.S.) makes that an unlikely scenario.  However, “California Air (Better Here Than There)” will electrify a crowd of any size.  This song is a timeless, instant classic that deserves much more attention than it is likely to get in the current climate.

 

 

31 – BLACKTOP MOJO – “Dream On”

Like many others, Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is near and dear to my heart.  It is a song that has more than withstood the test of time, and is largely regarded as one of the greatest hard rock songs of all-time.  Anyone with the guts to take on a cover of this song should be commended, because they risk ridicule for tampering with a classic.  It was one thing when Ronnie James Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen covered the song because both of them had already been long-established as rock and roll icons by the time that they recorded their interpretation.  It is something entirely different when an up-and-coming band like Blacktop Mojo steps up to take on a monumental challenge.

Knowing that Steven Tyler has recently put out a country album, if you didn’t know any better, your first impression of the song might be that the legend himself re-recorded his own song with a new twist.

When listening to this cover, there are two distinct thoughts that came to mind.  The first is that the band did an outstanding job of staying true to the original, while also infusing enough of their own sound to make it unique.  The other is that frontman Matt James absolutely killed the ungodly high notes that Tyler delivered over 40 years ago when the song was released, so much so, that it’s almost indecipherable from the original.

 

 

32 – KLOVER JANE – “Walk Away”

It’s interesting how different people interpret music.  I was intrigued when a friend shared Klover Jane’s “Walk Away” on Facebook, and described it as having a “Seattle sound.”  While some incredible bands have originated from Seattle, labeling a band with a “Seattle sound” can be a double-edged sword because it can paint a very specific picture of a grunge band.

I hear a lot of things on “Walk Away,” but grunge is not the first thing that comes to mind.  In fact, if not for the mention of “Seattle sound,” I would have no idea where the band was from.  To be fair, even though the band hails from Seattle, they describe themselves as “100% PURE AMERICAN ROCK!”

Rane Stone is a rangy vocalist who has that “it factor.”  A hint of rasp conjures up thoughts of Axl Rose, and the soulful, southern rock influence is reminiscent of the late Ronnie Van Zant.  Guns N’ Roses meets Lynyrd Skynyrd?  I’d say that the band is more than living up to their billing of “100% PURE AMERICAN ROCK!”

Klover Jane may call Seattle home, but this is a band that should be garnering attention throughout the United States and beyond.

 

 

33 – BUMBLEFOOT – “Devil On My Shoulder”

From 2006 to 2014, Bumblefoot was one of the guitarists in Guns N’ Roses.  The lineup received much less fanfare than the current reunited lineup, but it certainly wasn’t due to lack of talent.  Long before joining GNR, Bumblefoot was a prolific solo artist.  His time in the band just helped to raise his profile, a position that he is using to benefit others.

“Devil On My Shoulder” is a single that was released earlier this year.  All proceeds from the song are being donated to Road Recovery (a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping young people battle addiction and other adversities).  They do this by harnessing the influence of entertainment industry professionals who have confronted similar crises, and now wish to share their experience, knowledge and resources.

For “Devil On My Shoulder,” Bumblefoot joined forces with vocalist/guitarist Milan Polak, Megadeth bassist David Ellefson and drummer Thomas Lang.

According to Polak…“the song is about battling your daily demons that could be anything from procrastination to depression to drug abuse, and everything in between.”

At the onset, the pacing of “Devil On My Shoulder” creates a palpable tension, like that of a racing heart.  Polak delivers the meaningful lyrics as if he is singing the story of his own life.  The musical framework and the storytelling gives the song a classic Queensryche feel, with a hint of Kansas in the vocal harmonies.  From the riffs to the leads, Bumblefoot and Polak’s outstanding guitar work shines throughout.

It is highly recommended that you watch the lyric video when listening to “Devil On My Shoulder.”

 

 

34 – NONPOINT – “Generation Idiot”

“Generation Idiot” is a frenetically melodic, controlled yet chaotic, angst-filled statement about the human condition in America today.  At least, that’s my interpretation of a song that seems to also be somewhat politically charged, which wouldn’t be surprising given the current state of affairs.  Regardless of the exact meaning behind the song, “Generation Idiot” is one of the more memorable songs of the year.

Nonpoint is one of a handful of bands on the scene today that has a true signature sound, due in large part to the unique vocal style of Elias Soriano.  Nu metal, rap rock…it doesn’t matter what label you place on the band.  Ultimately, they are just a kickass unit that never fails to deliver.

 

 

35 – DROWNING POOL – “By The Blood”

“By The Blood” is an aggressive, balls-to-the-wall anthem dripping with testosterone (and of course, blood) in the same vein as another fairly recent blood-thirsty track – Hellyeah’s “Sangre Por Sangre (Blood For Blood).”  While the Hellyeah influence is apparent, there are also more subtle influences of Alice In Chains and even some ‘80s metal vocals at times.  The upbeat rhythm has a groove that you might not expect in a song this heavy, some psychedelic nuances and shredding guitars.  “By The Blood” continues the evolution of Drowning Pool, building on the foundation that they laid with songs like “Bodies” and “One Finger And A Fist.”

 

 

36 – AVENGED SEVENFOLD – “The Stage”

When you’re at the top of the food chain, and the Active Rock world is clamoring for the first new material in three years from you, there’s a good chance that radio traction is going to take place rather quickly.  However, there is a challenge when your first single is an epic song that is over eight minutes long.  Upon first listen, there was so much to like about “The Stage,” but I couldn’t help but wonder how the song would be viewed by Active Rock radio.  Because exceptions are made for proven artists with stellar track records and huge fan bases, the song was instantly put into heavy rotation.  Could a lesser-known band make this kind of impact with this exact song?  Highly unlikely, but A7X has built up enough goodwill to be given some leeway by a format that has very few true superstars.  “The Stage” is the type of song that gets better with each listen as you peel back the layers and discover the nuances.

 

 

37 – SONS OF TEXAS – “September”

“September reminds her of how things used to be…”  This slower, more melancholic side of Sons Of Texas tackles the struggles that define the lives of many single parents.  The lyric highlighted above struck a chord with me, even though I am not a single parent.  September also reminds me of how things used to be (before September 11, 2001).

On that tragic day, the entire nation suffered a loss of innocence, causing numerous people to become single parents.  Many others have joined those ranks in less publicized, more personal ways since then, but it doesn’t lessen the pain or make the void any smaller.

Years ago, John Cougar Mellencamp famously sang…“oh yeah, life goes on…long after the thrill of living is gone.”  Sons Of Texas has poignantly brought that concept to life with “September.”  Perhaps there is no more telling lyric in the song about what life is like for struggling parents than…“I’ll take the pain to preserve their joy.”  No matter the heartbreak and challenges that any loving parent faces in life, we all do what we can to take away the pain for our children.

In this song, “September” is a reminder of how things used to be, but it is really just symbolic of any trigger that reminds you of a painful loss, or makes you long for days gone by.  Between the guitars that seem to cry out in pain, and Mark Morales’ emotionally stirring vocals, this thought-provoking song will deeply touch those who can relate to the story in any way.

 

 

38 – ONE LESS REASON – “Where Were You?”

When you think of Memphis, the first thoughts that come to mind are probably Elvis and the blues.  If you’re a fan of Iron Maiden, hearing the words “tattooed millionaire” together undoubtedly conjures up memories of Bruce Dickinson’s first solo album.  So, what do these seemingly unrelated things have in common?  Tattooed Millionaire Records is the name of a relatively new label that is positioning itself to be the next major record label out of Memphis.  The company, which also serves as a recording studio, is located in a building that was most recently House of Blues (until 2001).

One Less Reason and Tattooed Millionaire are both the brainchild of Cris Brown.  The band has recorded five independent albums since their inception in 2003, and has racked up impressive digital sales, yet still flies below the radar.  The band’s most recent release, The Memories Uninvited, is the result of a painstaking process that was not constrained by budgetary or studio concerns.  According to Brown, this allows the listener to “hear exactly what I heard in my head.”

“Where Were You?” features huge hooks and bright vocal harmonies, which gives the song an upbeat feel (though the lyrics tell a different story).  This song definitely makes you want to dig deeper to see what this band has to offer.

 

 

39 – MESSAGE FROM SYLVIA – “Heart Of War”

In 2015, the Lopez-Smith brothers (Zach, Isaac and Dane) burst onto the scene with First Decree.  Three of the band’s singles made an impact on Active Rock radio (“Lost In The Crowd,” “Phoenix” and “This Is Our Rise”), and “Stop” was featured on Hard Rock Daddy’s Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015.  This year, the Lopez-Smith brothers return with Message From Sylvia, which features Matthew Nevitt (Echovalve, DoryDrive) on lead vocals.

Produced by Sahaj Ticotin (Ra), “Heart Of War” should continue the success that the brothers have had in the format.  If you’re a fan of Ra, you’ll definitely hear Ticotin’s stamp on this single…big, powerful, arena-rock riffs, impressive vocal harmonies and Queensryche-esque spoken word nuances.  Message From Sylvia has picked up right where First Decree left off. Bands like this are exactly what the Active Rock format needs to keep things fresh and interesting.

 

 

40 – HIGHLY SUSPECT – “My Name Is Human”

Highly Suspect is one of the more fascinating rock acts to emerge in recent years, with a sound that stands out as totally unique.  There were rumors that frontman Johnny Stevens was offered the Stone Temple Pilots gig, but he turned it down.  STP has emphatically denied the rumors.  Regardless, you can see why Stevens had no interest in chasing other pursuits.  Highly Suspect is already making waves in the rock world with a distinct sound that infuses psychedelic influences with the tortured anger of grunge.  “My Name Is Human” is a perfect example of the blending of two sounds that seemingly are contradictory, but they make it work perfectly.  The band has already become one of the top artists in the Active Rock format, and the sky seems to be the limit for them.

 

 

41 – GOODBYE JUNE – “Oh No”

Every once in a while, a song sounds so unique, that it makes you stand up and take notice. Such is the case with Goodbye June’s “Oh No.”  It gives you hope that bands rooted in classic rock can find their place on Active Rock radio, because otherwise, there is no natural radio format for them. “Oh No” starts off with a boot-stomping shuffle before Landon Milbourn’s gritty, bluesy Steven Tyler-esque vocals kick in over punk-laden riffs. As the song progresses, you can hear shades of classic Zeppelin.  “Oh No” is a three minute and forty second shot of pure adrenaline. The name of this band came on the heels of a tragic life event that took place over a decade ago, and yet, Goodbye June plays with an almost defiant zest for life.  We can only hope that they get the attention that they deserve, because, based on their talent, they seem to have limitless potential.

 

 

42 – THE GREG BILLINGS BAND – “Old Friends Don’t Come Easy”

When Brian Johnson’s hearing problems forced him to suddenly leave AC/DC, fans were hoping that someday he would return to the stage (or at the very least, the studio).  It’s safe to say that most people didn’t expect his return to happen as a guest vocalist (on a fitting song) with The Greg Billings Band.

You might be wondering how the band was able to land Johnson for a guest vocal spot.  I must admit, I wondered the same thing, having not heard of them until recently.  It turns out that Billings has a history that dates back to the ‘80s with a band called Romeo (which was signed to Epic Records).  The band – who gained popularity in Florida – changed their name to Stranger before the album was released.

Stranger, with their “hook-laden songs” and “electrifying stage show,” became well-known in the southeast.  Although the band released a number of albums through the years, most were independent.  Fast forward to 2003…two original members of Stranger – Billings (vocals) and Tom King (bass) – continue the phenomenon that began in the ‘80s.

“Old Friends Don’t Come Easy” – from the album Boom Boom All Night! – captured my attention because of the reemergence of Johnson, but the band more than stands on its own with its brand of feel-good, gin-soaked, honky-tonk rock and roll.

The smooth vocals of Billings are the Johnnie Walker Blue to Johnson’s edgy shot of Jack Daniels.  Together, this vocal duo makes for an interesting blend that works perfectly together.

It just so happens that the lyrics of the song paint a picture of nostalgic bar memories, but even if they didn’t, listening to “Old Friends Don’t Come Easy” makes you want to hit the bar for happy hour.  Bluesy guitar, great vocals and rollicking piano…what more can you ask for?

 

 

43 – KENNY DUBMAN – “Ain’t Too Late For Memphis”

Kenny Dubman’s “Ain’t Too Late For Memphis” is a southern rock anthem with an arena rock feel.  I discovered this song when Zakk Wylde posted an article about it on his Facebook page.  Both New Jersey guitarist/vocalists may have been born in the north, but you would never know it when you listen to their brands of Southern Rock.

“Ain’t Too Late For Memphis” sounds like the lovechild of Skynyrd and Bad Company (in a good way).  According to Dubman, “the song is the story of a musician who has been out of the game for a long while and longs to break back in, but is not quite sure how to make it happen.” 

Dubman also says that the song is autobiographical.  If that’s the case, he has certainly figured out a way to create memorable, inspired music for a comeback.

 

 

44 – FIFTYWATT FREIGHT TRAIN – “Whiskey & Hate”

Fiftywatt Freight Train – a hard rock quartet out of Charlotte, NC – has been recognized as one of the city’s best bands, and has been expanding their following throughout the Carolinas. Listening to “Whiskey & Hate,” it’s hard to believe that they still play a mix of covers and originals in their region because they clearly have a knack for writing high-energy, melodic hard rock that rolls over you like a “freight train,” with a seasoned sound that makes them feel like an established act.  With big hooks that are in the same wheelhouse as Pop Evil, this band has huge Active Rock radio potential.

 

 

45 – PARKWAY DRIVE – “Devil’s Calling”

If there’s a hard rock band around today that melds dark and light together as well as Parkway Drive, I’ve yet to discover them.  If you isolated the vocals, you would expect the underlying guitars to be dirty, gritty and distorted.  If you isolated the guitars, you would expect the vocals to harken back to the days of ‘80s metal.  This is what makes Parkway Drive stand out from other Active Rock artists.

The sweet, melodic guitar intro of “Devil’s Calling” transitions into haunting, raspy vocals before angst-ridden growls dripping with testosterone kick things into high gear.  The gang vocals in the chorus give the song an arena anthem feel.  It’s not hard to imagine an electrified crowd singing along in unison as fists fly in the air.  If you liked “Vice Grip,” you’re going to love “Devil’s Calling!”

 

 

46 – I PREVAIL – “Stuck In Your Head”

What makes I Prevail’s “Stuck In Your Head” intriguing is the infusion of elements that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from this type of band.  There are enough heavy/angry moments in the song to appeal to Active Rock fans.  At the same time, it also has an upbeat/positive vibe (think Skillet meets Green Day with a hint of power pop a la The Romantics).  What’s most important is that this is the kind of song that lives up to its title – “Stuck In Your Head.”  Good luck trying to stop singing this catchy melody after you’ve heard it.

 

 

47 – LAMB OF GOD – “The Duke”

The softer, more melodic side of Lamb of God?  Well, sort of, but “The Duke” is still incredibly heavy.  This song was purposely held off of Lamb Of God’s last album (VII: Sturm und Drang) for a special reason.  It was written for Wayne Ford, a fan of the band who frontman Randy Blythe befriended back in 2012 (click here to read about Ford’s battle with Leukemia, and how it inspired Blythe).  “The Duke” deals with facing your imminent demise.  It’s emotionally heavy (as is the story, which I highly recommend reading).  Not only is the song inspired by, and dedicated to, a fan of Lamb Of God, it is also being used to raise awareness for bone marrow donations.  Kudos to Blythe for making a dying fan feel special in his final days, and doing his part to help others.  “The Duke” happens to be a kickass song in its own right, but because of the story, it’s even more powerful.

 

 

48 – KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – “Hate By Design”

Admittedly, growling vocal are something of an acquired taste.  Often times, they make the lyrics indecipherable, and blend into a wall of sound.  However, sometimes, when used to properly bring the lyrics of a song to life, they can be effective.  Killswitch Engage’s “Hate By Design” is a perfect example of this.  It’s hard to think of a song that has captured the mood of America like this insightful punch to the gut.  The clean vocals in the infectious chorus are so catchy that you’ll have the hook playing on a loop in your head long after the song ends.  “Hate By Design” does what metal is supposed to do…provide a release for the frustrations of a world that seems to have gone mad.

 

 

49 – ICE ON MERCURY – “Blind Leading The Lifeless”

Hailing from South Australia, Ice On Mercury hits you with a rare blend of aggression and infectious melody from the first note on “Blind Leading The Lifeless.”  The band cites Anthrax as one of their influences, which is something that you definitely hear in the song, along with shades of fellow Down Under rockers Parkway Drive, Bullet For My Valentine and Hellyeah.  Like Anthrax, who excels at combining blood-pumping, in-your-face metal with humor, Ice On Mercury can rock out with the best of them without taking themselves too seriously.  After listening to this killer track for the first time, I checked out the band’s bio on Facebook and learned that they like “long walks on the beach, romantic candle-lit dinners and rocking out with ye Ol’ Cock Out!!!”  Make sure to jump on this bandwagon early before it gets too crowded!

 

 

50 – LAST IN LINE – “Starmaker”

When Ronnie James Dio left Black Sabbath, he took drummer Vinny Appice with him, and recruited former Rainbow bandmate Jimmy Bain to join him in DIO.  It was Bain who suggested Vivian Campbell to RJD.  In September of 1982, these four played together for the first time.  The magic was evident, and the classic DIO lineup was born.  Together, this lineup created not only the three best DIO albums, but three of the best hard rock/heavy metal albums of all-time:  Holy DiverThe Last In Line and Sacred Heart.

Three decades later, with RJD having passed away in 2010, the original members of DIO reunited to play the songs that they recorded together, under the moniker Last In Line.  You can’t replace a legend like RJD, but you can find a singer that can not only do the songs of a golden era justice, but also take the band to new heights with original material.  Enter Andrew Freeman, a passionate, talented singer with a nice resume, but far from a household name.

Jimmy Bain’s unexpected passing on the Def Leppard Cruise earlier this year thrust this band into the headlines.  Sadly, it was not because of the band’s vast talent or chemistry, but that doesn’t diminish the music that they created together.

This was the last video that Bain made before his passing.  It was scheduled to be released ahead of the release of Heavy Crown.  No one expected it to be done as part of a tribute to Bain, turning a celebratory moment into a bittersweet one.

“Starmaker” features the heavy bottom that Bain was famous for in his work with the likes of DIO and Rainbow.  It blends elements of each legendary band into something different and timeless.  It’s fitting that this song was Bain’s final video.  He is a “starmaker” who helped bring attention to Campbell, and now to Freeman.  This song is everything that you love about classic DIO and more.

 

#51-75

51 – TREMONTI – “Dust”

Although Alter Bridge’s three-year release schedule can feel like an eternity at times, the good news is that the members of the band stay active in between albums.  Mark Tremonti has been particularly active over the past few years, releasing not one, but two studio albums.

With less than a year between 2015’s Cauterize and 2016’s Dust, Tremonti has basically put out the equivalent of a modern-day double album.  This is the same approach that Five Finger Death Punch and Stone Sour have used in recent years for their double albums, and that Sixx:A.M. used this year as well.

The title track off of Tremonti’s latest release opens with a somber acoustic guitar, which is actually the melody line that Tremonti sings when the vocals come in.  The highly-acclaimed axe man continues to shine as a lead vocalist with a style that is all his own.  Of course, no Tremonti track would be complete without impressive guitar work, and “Dust” delivers as you would expect.  It’s another in a long line of outstanding songs from Tremonti.

 

 

52 – GLENN HUGHES – “Let It Shine”

If you appreciate the simple heaviness of Black Sabbath riffs and the soulful, bluesy sound of Deep Purple, you’ll enjoy a journey back in time with Glenn Hughes on his latest solo work.  Hughes has connections to both bands, having played on a project with Tony Iommi, and sharing time with David Coverdale in Deep Purple in the mid-‘70s.  Hughes is known in classic rock circles for both his bass playing and his incredible vocal range.  On “Let It Shine,” Hughes delivers a timeless classic with a heavy bottom and repeating riff upon which he adds a layer of beauty and soul with hypnotic vocals.  There is a lot to like on Hughes’ entire latest release, Resonate.  Make sure to give this (and the rest of the album) a listen.

 

 

53 – ELECTRIC REVOLUTION – “Here We Go”

Trends come and go, but one thing that NEVER goes out of style is high-energy, soulful, bluesy hard rock like Wisconsin’s Electric Revolution.  As you listen to “Here We Go,” you’ll swear that it was a lost track from a bygone era, but you’d be wrong!

This killer tune proves, without question, that it doesn’t have to be old to be classic.  From the pacing of the powerful rhythm section that is Billie Pulera (drums) and Steve Crucianelli (bass), to the adrenalized riffs of guitarist Josey G. and the Ian Gillian-esque vocals of frontman Dave Lawson, “Here We Go” is a journey back in time to the formative years of hard rock.  It’s all about the “colors” for this blues rock band:  Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Rainbow and shades of Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure.

Whether you want to take a nostalgic journey back to the soundtrack of your youth, or have an appreciation for the aforementioned legends of rock, Electric Revolution is for you.  Buckle up, crank it up and enjoy the ride…“Here We Go!”

 

 

54 – BEASTO BLANCO – “Feed My Frankenstein”

Alice Cooper has given Beasto Blanco’s inspired cover of “Feed My Frankenstein” his seal of approval.  Cooper may be a little biased, given that the band was formed by his longtime bassist, Chuck Garric, and features backing vocals by his daughter, Calico.  However, I am not at all biased, and I couldn’t agree with him more about the quality of this cover.

Beasto Blanco knocked it out of the park with their interpretation of “Feed My Frankenstein,” perfectly threading the needle between staying true to the original and making it their own.  You can best sum up this song as “beauty and the beast.”  Calico adds a seductive quality to the song that you wouldn’t think possible.  Her soft beauty sets the stage for Garric’s beastly vocals to grab you by the throat.

The “beauty and the beast” theme isn’t limited to just the vocals.  The beauty of the acoustic guitars offers a brilliant contrast to the beastly riffs of Chris Latham and the dark, pulsating rhythms of Jan LeGrow and Tim Husing.

“Feed My Frankenstein” is the song that introduced me to Beasto Blanco recently, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.  Look for much more from this kickass band in the near future on Hard Rock Daddy.

 

 

55 – THE WILD – “Ready To Roll”

On the black carpet of the Epiphone Revolver Music Awards, The Wild was described as “a band that needs their own category.”  That is an intriguing notion.  Long after the awards and after party were over, that description stuck with me.  So, when I ran into Dylan Kirouac at a pizza place in the wee hours of the night, I asked him what made them so unique.  The story (which will be told in an upcoming article on Hard Rock Daddy) reminded me that rock and roll (in all its glory) is very much alive and well.  The Wild isn’t another in a long line of bands that has tailored their sound to fight for their piece of the pie on Active Rock radio.  Quite the contrary!  “Ready To Roll” is everything that you loved about rock and roll in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  It’s a timeless song that would have kicked ass at any point over the past 40 years.  We need more bands like this!

 

 

56 – MONSTER TRUCK – “Don’t Tell Me How To Live”

Canada’s Monster Truck is a rock and roll band comprised of four “selfish” guys who rose from the ashes of the Canadian indie rock scene.  Personally speaking, I think that we can use more of these kind of self-centered creative forces.  The term “selfish” is from their bio, but in this case, it is truly a positive.  Once upon a time, rock and roll bands wrote music because it moved them, not necessarily just for radio play.  Making a living as a rock musician nowadays is certainly not for the faint of heart, so it’s understandable why bands do whatever they can to get a leg up, including writing songs that “fit” a format.

Monster Truck, on the other hand, has proven that you don’t need to limit creativity to fit into some arbitrary preconception of what Active Rock should be.  The band talks about mixing their favorite hard rock, punk and classic rock to formulate their sound.  The end result is something memorable and unique in “Don’t Tell Me How To Live,” which has a nice southern rock flavor added in for good measure.  Anyone who needs further proof that this band marches to the beat of their own drummer should check out the lyrics to this track.

 

 

57 – EVE TO ADAM – “Lucky”

Eve To Adam has remained active on the road, but it had been nearly three years since they released Locked & Loaded (which featured the hit song, “Immortal”) before returning with “Lucky.”  The song has a far less serious message.  As far as energetic rockers go, it has everything that you look for in an Active Rock song.  What’s interesting about Eve To Adam is the fact that they are a modern hard rock band with an old-school mentality, one that embraces the fun, partying element that once defined the genre.  Both the lyrics and the video for “Lucky” offer up a refreshing change-of-pace in the Active Rock format.

 

 

58 – DIMINO – “Never Again”

Back in the mid-‘70s, Gene Simmons discovered the band Angel.  They were eventually signed to Casablanca Records (with Kiss).  The band enjoyed early success as the alter-ego (of sorts) to Kiss, dressed in all white vs. the all-black ensemble sported by their label mates.  For reasons that are still unclear, the band enjoyed more of a cult following than mass commercial success.

The ride ended quickly, as both frontman Frank Dimino and guitarist Punky Meadows left in 1981.  Dimino has kept busy through the years, although not with any projects as high profile as Angel.  When Dimino and Meadows both released albums this year, rumors swirled that there would be an Angel reunion, but nothing has materialized to date.  Meadows did provide guest guitars on this bluesy rocker that is in the same wheelhouse as classic Deep Purple.  Dimino shines on vocals, proving that he still has the pipes that once made him a part of a band that should have been bigger than they were.

 

 

59 – PUNKY MEADOWS – “Straight Shooter”

The ‘80s and glam metal are virtually synonymous, but not every glam band got the recognition that they deserved during the decade of decadence.  As stated above, musically and stylistically, Angel should have been one of the biggest bands of that era, but they never rose above the level of having a cult following.  The band’s guitarist, Punky Meadows, was well-respected for his playing, but ridiculed by rock critics (along with the rest of Angel) for his all-white outfits and androgynous image.  Even Frank Zappa piled on with his song “Punky’s Whips,” but Meadows took it all in good stride, even appearing on stage during a Zappa concert in his Angel costume back in the day.

Between 1975 and 1980, Angel released five studio albums and one live album.  By 1981, the band had called it quits, although they would release anthologies and collections in the ‘90s and 2000s.  After a lengthy absence, Meadows has returned with a solo album entitled Fallen Angel (an autobiographical play on words).  However, one listen to “Straight Shooter” (a single from the album), proves that he certainly would have been justified to call the album “An Angel has Risen” if he so chose.

The song starts off with a huge intro, symbolic of the time period when Angel was at their peak.  Short of reuniting with Angel, Meadows couldn’t have chosen a better singer for his return than Chandler Mogel, a brilliant young vocalist with an “old soul” who would have been a household name if he was around during the time that classic rock was current.  Meadows’ memorable riffs and leads leave you wondering why he took so long to come out of retirement.  In fact, you have to wonder why he ever retired in the first place.  No matter.  He’s back now and you should make it a point to check out this timeless single.

 

 

60 – ART OF DYING – “Torn Down”

In a somewhat under-the-radar way, Canada has been a hotbed of great rock music.  Many of the bands don’t get the recognition that they deserve, particularly when it comes to radio airplay.  Art Of Dying’s “Torn Down” eventually gained traction at radio this year, but it took longer than it should have.  Jonny Hetherington’s vocals capture the tonal quality of some of the more aggressive vocalists in the genre, albeit with a delivery that is as smooth as silk. “Torn Down” is a melodic anthem that blends nice vocal harmonies with gang vocals over a rock solid music foundation.

 

 

61 – RIK EMMETTT & RESOLUTION 9 – “Human Race”

When you think of Canadian power trios, the first band that comes to mind for most is Rush.  For me, it’s always been Rush and Triumph, two bands that I love equally for different reasons.  So, when I saw that Alex Lifeson and Rik Emmett were collaborating, I was immediately intrigued.

It’s been almost three decades since the release of Surveillance (the last Triumph album with the original lineup).  One of the albums that has remained a personal favorite to this day is 1986’s The Sport Of Kings.  The album had an uplifting, melodic vibe that doesn’t really exist much these days.  “Human Race” is not only nostalgic for me because of the marriage between Triumph and Rush, but also because this song takes me back to the sound of the The Sport Of Kings album.

 

 

62 – THIRTEEN REASONS – “Unbreakable”

Many things can inspire you to check out a new artist.  Because of Hard Rock Daddy’s Music Discovery Monday, I’m always on the hunt for music that is flying below the radar.  One of the best ways to find these hidden gems is on social media.  If you believe in the power of signs (which seems to happen more after a loss), some are just too striking to ignore.  So what does this have to do with “Unbreakable” by Thirteen Reasons?  Personally speaking…a lot.

Having lost both parents, there are ebbs and flows throughout the year where the realization of the loss strengthens depending on the calendar. This song appeared on my radar during a difficult time, and the number 13 is one that always reminds me of my loss.

So, when I came upon a post by Thirteen Reasons drummer, Daren Pfeifer, talking about the loss of his mother a year-and-a-half ago, and his dedication of “Unbreakable” to her, my interest was piqued.  A song that is dedicated to the recent loss of someone’s mother, by a band named Thirteen Reasons?  Was this one of those signs that I mentioned above?

I listened to “Unbreakable,” and then immediately reached out to Pfeifer to discuss featuring the song on Music Discovery Monday.  The signs may have inspired me to listen to the song, but the music itself is what inspired me to feature it.  Opening with a cool, Everlast vibe, the song quickly transitions into a powerful melodic rocker with an uplifting message.

Formed this year, these Philly rockers aim to “bring rock back to where it belongs, inside the hearts and souls of anyone who needs a victory, a good time or an escape.”  They’re off to a good start with “Unbreakable.”  Expect to see more of Thirteen Reasons on Hard Rock Daddy in the coming months.

 

 

63 – ANOTHER LOST YEAR – “We All Die Alone”

In 2012, Another Lost Year burst onto the scene with an incredible song called “War On The Inside.”  It’s a story for another time, but that song helped lay the groundwork for the launch of Hard Rock Daddy in 2013.  The band has been active in the years since then, but have yet to garner the radio attention that they deserve with subsequent releases.  I’m thankful to radio for introducing me to these North Carolina rockers, but puzzled as to why Active Rock programmers seemed to have dropped the ball on a band that is far from a one-hit wonder.  It’s a sign of the times that bands like ALY soldier on as road warriors even without enough exposure from radio.  On “We All Die Alone,” the band delivers its usual driving rhythm, laying a powerful foundation for the emotive vocals of frontman Clinton Cunanan.  If you still haven’t discovered this band, make sure to go back and check out more of what they have to offer.

 

 

64 – DREAM THEATER – “The Gift Of Music”

Fantasy meets reality in the first single off of Dream Theater’s latest concept album, The Astonishing.  Early on in the song (before any characters are mentioned), the storyline reads like a discourse about the current mood of the people in the United States during one of the most divisive times in recent memory.  While “The Gift Of Music” touches upon the present state of affairs, the construction of this musical journey took place over the past few years, so the lyrics are definitely not ripped from the headlines.

As “The Gift Of Music” progresses into the fantasy element that mentions specific characters, you realize that you don’t have the full context of the song when it’s isolated from the rest of the album.  In the future, will this fantasy end up looking like a historical piece?  Only time will tell.  For the moment, “The Gift Of Music” offers enough intrigue to whet your appetite and make you want to experience the story in its entirety.

 

 

65 – DEE SNIDER – “We Are The Ones”

Nobody does “us-against-the-world” anthems like Dee Snider.  In 1984, Snider and Twisted Sister gave us one of the greatest rock anthems in history with “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”  Over three decades later, Snider delivers again with “We Are The Ones” (the title track off of his latest solo release).  Referred to as “the song that shaped the sound of the record” by Snider, “We Are The Ones” is about rebellion and believing in yourself.  It’s a modern-day twist on the timeless Twisted Sister classic.

The release of Snider’s solo album is bittersweet for fans of a band that so many of us grew up on, given their recent retirement after a 40-year career.  Perhaps it would have happened anyway, but any notion of Twisted Sister continuing on was put to rest after the tragic passing of A.J. Perro in 2015.

Fans can take solace in the fact that the Twisted Sister sound is still alive and well.  Snider’s vocals are as good as ever on this fist-pumping anthem!

 

 

66 – JESSE BLAZE SNIDER – “Credits Roll”

Knowing that Jesse Blaze Snider is the son of legendary rocker Dee Snider, I had a certain expectation when I first listened to Jesse’s single, “Credits Roll.”  Although my first exposure to his music didn’t adhere to my pre-conceived notions, in some ways, it exceeded it.

Growing up as a rock and metal fan in the ‘80s on Long Island, it was almost mandatory to be a fan of Twisted Sister, and I was.  In fact, purchasing Stay Hungry is one of the few purchases that I remember so vividly to this day.

While the connection to Dee is what initially intrigued me enough to check out Jesse’s music, it is the music itself that really made the biggest impression.  “Credits Roll” doesn’t sound remotely like Twisted Sister, but there is a connection to be made in that it has a theatrical quality to it.  Whereas Twisted Sister made an impact with over-the-top videos for anthemic songs, Jesse’s music is written for placement in movies, television, etc.

Musically speaking, “Credits Roll” begins with an intro that has the same vibe as Buckcherry’s “Sorry,” and eventually transitions into verses that would appeal to fans of Bon Jovi, before launching into an incredibly melodic hook.  It has an upbeat feel, with lyrics that are a bit more pensive than the melody would indicate.

 

 

67 – SHALLOW SIDE – “Rebel”

I always look forward to hearing new music from great up-and-coming bands, but this one is even more special for a number of reasons, the main one being that frontman Eric Boatright seems to be back in full swing after suffering life-threatening injuries in a car accident back in March.

Trying times tend to either tear people apart or bring them closer together.  Although I didn’t know the relationship between the members of Shallow Side before, you can tell that they treat each other like brothers, which just makes you want to root for them even more.  When you factor in their humility and true gratitude for their fans, your rooting interest continues to grow.

There’s a refreshing, down-home vibe to “Rebel.”  The band is able to deliver an edgy, “piss and vinegar” message with an upbeat feel that keeps your head nodding and your feet tapping.

 

 

68 – BRIDGE TO GRACE – “Left Inside”

It isn’t often that you think of Iron Maiden when you listen to most Active Rock artists.  This is true of Bridge To Grace, although the beginning of “Left Inside” conjures up memories of another powerfully melodic vocal intro…Iron Maiden’s “Can I Play With Madness?”  While the Maiden comparison ends there, the band’s latest single does infuse a modern sound with elements of melodic hard rock from the ‘80s.  If you’re a fan of catchy vocal harmonies, “Left Inside” will be right in your wheelhouse.

Songs like this add a fresh and exciting change-of-pace to Active Rock stations.  If the format is going to survive, bands like Bridge To Grace need to have a greater presence.  Once upon a time, no one thought that “hair metal” would ever go away, but it died a very quick death when it started to sound like a parody of itself.  While Active Rock doesn’t suffer from the “cheese factor” that hair metal did around the time of its demise, it is suffering (at times) from a lack of diversity of sound.  Bridge To Grace brings much-needed diversity to the table.

 

 

69 – SEPTEMBER MOURNING – “Eye Of The Storm”

Hard Rock Daddy jumped on the September Mourning bandwagon back in September of 2015 when the band was still independent (they’ve since signed to Sumerian Records).  This band is much more than another in a long line of female-fronted hard rock acts (a current trend).

The heavy music of “Eye Of The Storm” provides a perfect landscape for September to showcase a dynamic, emotive vocal range that helps bring the song to life in a manner that makes you think the music as art.  The theatricality of “Eye Of The Storm” is further enhanced by the imagery in the video.  If you somehow missed September Mourning when they were featured earlier on Hard Rock Daddy, make sure not to miss the opportunity to discover something truly unique this time around.

 

 

70 – FAILURE ANTHEM – “First World Problems”

While the United States appears to be falling apart at the seams in recent times, our problems still pale by comparison to many other people around the globe, especially those in third world countries.  It’s easy to get caught up in the racial and political tension that has left citizens of the United States taking sides like children in a schoolyard game, but the blessing in disguise is that we still have choices.

Failure Anthem’s “First World Problems” offers a stark reminder that our problems, while notable, are relatively small in the larger scheme of things.  This song was written well before many of the tragedies that took place in 2016 in the Untied States, but the facts and statistics displayed in the lyric video offer proof-positive that “First World Problems” are not nearly as devastating on the whole as those who have no real hope in sight.  The song has an understandable edge to it, and a somewhat unexpected display of shredding guitars that is more commonplace in songs from ‘80s hard rock and metal than today’s Active Rock.

 

 

71 – THE DEAD DAISIES – “Last Time I Saw The Sun”

First there was Aerosmith.  Then came Guns N’ Roses.  And now, we have The Dead Daisies, the latest chapter in the book that is gritty, timeless rock and roll.  If you love the two aforementioned bands, you have no choice but to be a fan of The Dead Daisies.  Unlike Aerosmith and GNR, this is not a band that paid their dues and came up together.  According to the band’s bio, this is “a music collective created by a rotating lineup that has individually and collectively left their mark on the high-class brand of rock and roll that the band is known for.”

The current incarnation of the band features Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio), John Corabi (Motley Crue, The Scream), Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake), Brian Tichy (Ozzy, Foreigner) and David Lowy (Red Phoenix, Mink).  Unlike many modern supergroups that record an album, but rarely tour, The Dead Daisies are road warriors who have toured extensively, going all around the world as the opening act for Kiss.

“Last Time I Saw The Sun” is everything that you love about Aerosmith and GNR (and more)…powerful vocals, bluesy riffs and huge melodic hooks with anthemic choruses.  They may be relatively new, but with a foundation that harkens back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, The Dead Daisies are a band whose sound is tailor-made for the arena shows of yesteryear.

 

 

72 – TYKETTO – “I Need It Now”

Out of the many bands whose career launched in the early ‘90s, Tyketto is the one that always left me wondering what might have been if the rock music landscape hadn’t shifted so drastically with the grunge movement.  The band’s 1991 debut album was one of the best albums of the year.  The title of the album, Don’t Come Easy, would prove to be prophetic.

Lead singer Danny Vaughn had kept busy in recent years over in Europe with an Eagles cover band, but for Tyketto fans from the old days, it was disappointing to see the band fall by the wayside.  Thankfully, 2016 has brought the band back into the fold with a new album entitled Reach.  Let’s hope that the album title is prophetic this time around as well, and the band finally “reaches” their potential.  “I Need It Now” picks up right where the band left off back in the day.  If you were a fan back then, you will be now.  If you’re just discovering Tyketto, make sure to check out the old stuff too.

 

 

73 – OCTOBER RAGE – “Giants”

October Rage’s “Giants” was purposely positioned at #73 because of the meaning behind the song.  The full story from the band will be published on an upcoming Music Discovery Monday on Hard Rock Daddy, but for now, suffice it to say that the song was inspired by someone (who was born in 1973) that left us way before his time.  I only got to know him for a brief period before his untimely passing, but he and his family made a big impact on me.  We had discussed having him share his personal story on Hard Rock Daddy in a regular column, but never got the chance to launch it.  That being said, October Rage is featured on this list because of the quality of the song, not just the meaningful inspiration.

“Giants,” like many songs written for those who have departed, is a bittersweet, emotional journey for those who understand the meaning.  For those that don’t, the song still has a vibe of a melancholic power ballad with an uplifting undertone.  This is one of those songs that gets better with each listen.

 

 

74 – JORN – “Hotel California”

Jorn’s latest album, Heavy Rock Radio, features several of the power vocalist’s favorite songs that meant something to him when he was younger.  This interesting mix of covers ranges from pop to heavy metal.  Of course, once Jorn puts his stamp on it, all of the songs become heavy.

One of my all-time favorite songs is “Hotel California” by the Eagles.  I’m always leery about hearing classics re-interpreted, but Jorn does not disappoint.  At its core, this version stays true to the original, albeit with a much heavier vibe, shredding solos and thunderous drums.  Jorn’s perfect vocal blend of melody and dark intensity makes this cover one of the more memorable ones that I’ve heard in recent times.

 

 

75 – CRAZY LIXX – “All Looks, No Hooks”

“All Looks, No Hooks” seems like a song that should have been written around the time of the demise of hair metal.  However, the song is actually this Swedish glam band’s clever take on the auditions that took place after losing both guitarists in August of 2015.  Finding one new guitarist is challenging enough, so you can imagine how hard it is to replace both at the same time.  The song and the video for “All Looks, No Hooks” is actually used as the introduction of the new guitar duo (Chrisse Olsen and Jens Lundgren).  Throughout the video, you get to see a comedic re-enactment of the audition process, which undoubtedly had numerous moments of frustration.

Fortunately for Crazy Lixx, they have found two guitarists that have plenty of hooks.  In fact, the whole song is a cavalcade of melodic hooks that features the best of what ‘80s hard rock had to offer.

 

#76-100

76 – GHOST – “Square Hammer”

Sometimes it takes a while to warm up to a band that many others already love.  Ghost is one of those bands for me.  There’s something about the band’s latest single, “Square Hammer,” that is almost mesmerizing.  It’s hard to say whether it’s the haunting, Halloween-esque keyboards, the chorus (which feels like an homage to ‘70s FM rock), or a combination of both, but there is something about the song that just draws you in.  Of course, it’s always refreshing to hear something unique on Active Rock radio, which has a tendency to become a wall of similar sounds at times.

 

 

77 – BIBEAU – “Mark This”

Bibeau is a five-piece metal outfit from East Texas, who describe their sound as “a musical bridge between the classic power metal of the ‘70s and ‘80s, combined with the edge and attitude of today’s modern metal.”  Musically, the band’s debut single (“Mark This”) is in the same vein as classic Queensryche, which is even more impressive when you take into account the fact that the band is so young (guitarist Robin Bibeau is 19, and drummer Peyton Bibeau is 15).  The distinct, rangy vocal style of Drew Theiring is perfectly suited for this style of music.  Theiring’s ability to blend the upper register with more hardened vocals is reminiscent of Sebastian Bach’s early Skid Row days.  If you’re looking for a band to jump on early, Bibeau is a great place to start!

 

 

78 – TESLA – “Save That Goodness”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since the release of Tesla’s incredible debut album, Mechanical Resonance.  I can still remember hearing “Modern Day Cowboy” for the first time and being blown away.  And then seeing the band open for Def Leppard, in what I’m pretty sure was their first ever American arena show in upstate NY, was something to behold.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of one of the best debut albums in my collection, Tesla released Mechanical Resonance Live! In 2016 (which includes “Save That Goodness” as a bonus studio track).

The connection that started three decades ago with Def Leppard is still strong.  The bands have toured together recently, and this song was written by Def Lep guitarist, Phil Collen.  After Tesla bassist Brian Wheat heard the song, he suggested to Collen that they record it with him as the producer (see full story).

You can hear the influence of both bands in a song that brings the bands together in a brilliant way.  This isn’t exactly the first time that there has been a connection between the bands.  Years ago, Tesla paid homage to fallen Def Lep guitarist Steve Clark with “Song and Emotion,” one of the band’s more powerful tunes.  This collaboration just works on every level.

 

 

79 – THE RADIO SUN – “Standing On The Edge Of Love”

If you’re a fan of upbeat, melodic rock with beautiful vocal harmonies, you will absolutely love Australia’s The Radio Sun.  With “Standing On The Edge Of Love,” the band captures the spirit of Nelson’s debut album.  For those who never gave Nelson their due (for reasons that still elude me), this is your chance to judge the music on its merit, rather than some misguided critical notion of an image.  In a chaotic world filled with uncertainty, this song is a brilliant escape that is sure to lift your mood, and make you nostalgic for simpler, happier times.

 

 

80 – EDEN’S CURSE – “The Great Pretender”

“The Great Pretender” is off of Cardinal (the fifth studio album from Eden’s Curse).  The album – which is the group’s heaviest and most progressive to date – took two years to write.  Rather than just rush to get new material out to follow-up their successful previous release (Symphony Of Sin), the band took painstaking effort to scrutinize every riff, lick, hook, melody and lyric.  The deliberate songwriting process was done to showcase this European metal band’s more technical side.

“The Great Pretender” blends together different styles of metal.  At the outset, the riffs have a raw quality that is reminiscent of Great White’s debut album.  When Nicola Mijic’s vocals kick in, thoughts of Joe Lynn Turner-era Rainbow comes to mind.  As the song progresses, you can hear the attention to detail that the band paid in their writing.  “The Great Pretender” builds to an epic, theatrical progressive/power metal crescendo.

The beauty of lyrics is that they can inspire different thoughts in different people.  Because the lyrics seem so timely and relevant, I thought that the song was about something specific.  It turns out that the meaning and inspiration behind the song is not what I initially thought, but it’s an outstanding tune that speaks to me nonetheless.

 

 

81 – SERIOUS BLACK – “As Long As I’m Alive”

For fans of European Power Metal, Serious Black is the result of a number of musical forces joining together to create something special.  This six-piece tour de force features members from five different countries, and has only been together for a few years, but you would never know it by listening to them.  “As Long As I’m Alive,” from the band’s Mirrorworld album, is a high-octane throwback to the Dio days of Rainbow blended with the best that Power Metal has to offer.  Sadly, this type of music rarely finds an outlet in the United States (deserving as it may be).

 

 

82 – CRYSTAL BALL – “Deja Voodoo”

What started out as a cover band in 1995 has blossomed into a brilliant hard rock outfit that released their 9th studio album in 2016.  Crystal Ball has a larger-than-life, theatrical sound that blends raw power with beautiful vocal harmonies.  It’s the rare band that can tap into the sheer force and grit of bands like Judas Priest and Accept and infuse their songs with harmonies that rival AOR bands like Styx and Kansas.  “Deja Voodoo” is merely the tip of the iceberg of what this band has to offer.

 

 

83 – BILLY TALENT – “Afraid Of Heights”

Billy Talent has flown beneath my radar until recently.  There’s a lot of great music out there these days, sometimes too much to keep up with, so things can slip through the cracks.  I may be a bit late to the party, but I’m sure that there are many others who haven’t discovered the band yet either.

In late July, Billy Talent released their fifth studio album, Afraid Of Heights.  The title track is an interesting blend of Green Day-esque punk and Myles Kennedy’s work with Slash.  There’s something about soaring vocals and melodic harmonies with a punk foundation that adds another level of intrigue to a song, and the overall sound of the band.

 

 

84 – JACKYL – “Just Because I’m Drunk”

In recent years, Jackyl frontman Jesse James Dupree has been in the public eye mostly because of his partnership in the Full Throttle Saloon and the annual television coverage of the Sturgis bike rally.  However, with much less fanfare (outside of the mainstream), Jackyl has been going strong since their debut album in 1992.  In 2016, the band released Rowyco (their eighth studio album).  Dupree and co. have always been a bit edgy with their lyrics, and “Just Because I’m Drunk” is no exception.  Unlike most of their upbeat rockers, this is a slower southern tune with a honkytonk flavor.  This is about as close as the band has come to doing a ballad, but it works perfectly, and is the standout track on the album.

 

 

85 – STEVEN TYLER – “Red, White & You”

For nearly half a century, the rock and roll world could count on Aerosmith to be there like an old friend.  Only a handful of bands have enjoyed that kind of longevity, much less remain at top of their game.  Aerosmith is one of those bands that inarguably falls into the category of rock and roll legends.

As the saying goes…“all good things must come to an end.”  It looks like that time is finally coming for Aerosmith.  A Joe Perry health scare in 2016 served as a reminder that we should appreciate legendary bands while they’re still together.

Steven Tyler’s 2016 release takes the iconic frontman in a different musical direction, but one that will resonate with his fans just the same.  Perhaps if someone else recorded the same songs, it would fall squarely under the umbrella of “country music,” but Tyler’s distinct vocals nudge the song more towards the Southern Rock category.

“Red, White & You” – the debut single off of We’re All Somebody From Somewhere – will have instant appeal to Aerosmith fans who appreciate songs like “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” and “Amazing” (to name a few).  This melodic slice of Americana pays homage to Tom Petty in an upbeat, feel-good, summer song kind of way.

 

 

86 – DITCHWATER – “Save Your Apologies”

You would think that a band with origins that date back to the mid-‘90s would have either made it or packed it in by now, but there is something to be said for perseverance.  Social media can be something of a double-edged sword; it has its share of negativity, but some very positive things can come from it as well.  If not for a Facebook friend turning me on to Ditchwater, who knows when I would have discovered this hard rock unit from Chicago?  The band’s heavy, groove-oriented sound is reminiscent of Sevendust.

Like many bands, Ditchwater has gone through its share of lineup changes through the years.  After a seven-year “hiatus” between 2007-2014 (which featured the occasional show and single release), the band returned to full strength in December of 2015, reforming with some long-time members and one newcomer.

“Save Your Apologies” offers a nice introduction to a band that, by all rights, should become a staple on Active Rock radio.

 

 

87 – HARVEST FALLS – “Waiting On The Edge”

Harvest Falls describes their sound as “a fusion of modern alternative music and hard rock.”   Interestingly, while I find an alternative undertone to “Waiting On The Edge,” because of the melodic vocal harmonies and passionate lead vocals of Ronnie Cinnella, I hear a unique blend of King’s X and Kansas.  The dual guitar work of Anthony Gomes and Marc Bernuy has ‘80s metal sensibilities infused with the vibe of Tool’s “Sober.”  This New Jersey rock quartet is rounded out by the solid foundation laid by drummer JR Pereira.

Harvest Falls is currently unsigned, but it certainly isn’t because of a lack of talent or quality songs.  The only challenge that I can see for these up-and-comers is that they’re too unique to be easily pigeon-holed into a specific radio format.

 

 

88 – WALKING WITH GIANTS – “Heavy Hand”

Though Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy’s work outside of Alter Bridge gets the most attention, they are not the only members of the band releasing new music between albums.  AB bassist Brian Marshall recently completed his second album with Walking With Giants, a project that also features Clint Lowery and Morgan Rose of Sevendust.  While this may appear to be some sort of supergroup, the story behind the band is actually more interesting than that.  Singer/guitarist Gary Noon is the creative force behind the music.  It just so happens that he is one of the rare talents that is able to get musicians from his two favorite bands (Alter Bridge & Sevendust) to help bring his songs to life.

“Heavy Hand” – from Walking With Giants’ sophomore release, Worlds Unknown – has an understandable influence of the aforementioned bands, but it is the unexpected flavor of ‘80s supergroup Asia that makes this song so intriguing.  Noon may have the least name recognition of the group, but from a talent perspective, he fits right in with the rest of the band.

 

 

89 – CROBOT – “Not For Sale”

I still remember where I was the first time that I heard Crobot being played on SiriusXM’s Octane.  I only caught about a minute or so of “Nowhere To Hide,” but that was enough to get me hooked.  At the time, I thought that it might have been Myles Kennedy singing on a side project.  It turns out that it was Brandon Yeagley’s soaring vocals blasting through my speakers. On the band’s latest single, “Not For Sale,” Yeagley once again makes you stand up and take notice, belting out vocals over the timeless sound that is Crobot.

One of the growing trends over the past few years is the strong influence of classic rock shining through in current hard rock bands.  Crobot does it as well as any band out there.  It is worth mentioning that the lyric video for “Not For Sale” is an even greater nostalgic journey than the song itself, so much so that it was almost impossible to pay attention to the lyrics on the first viewing.

 

 

90 – AIRBOURNE – “It’s All For Rock N’ Roll”

These days, you hear a lot of noise being made about the death of rock n’ roll.  It’s simply not true.  However, 2016 was a rough year for rock n’ roll when it comes to the loss of iconic rock legends.  Perhaps the greatest loss for the genre was the passing of Lemmy Kilmister.  Although he is gone, Lemmy will not soon be forgotten by the masses or by the artists that he inspired.

One of the bands that toured extensively with Motorhead is Australia’s Airbourne.  In fact, Lemmy played the part of a truck driver in the promo video for “Runnin’ Wild” (the title track of Airbourne’s debut album).

Lemmy’s passing – along with memories of other hard living rockers like Bon Scott and Keith Moon – helped to inspire this rock n’ roll anthem that is very much in the same vein as fellow Australians, AC/DC.  “It’s All For Rock N’ Roll” is more than just a tribute to fallen rock icons.  This song is for everyone who loves rock n’ roll, from the fans to the crew to those on stage.  Rock n’ roll is more than just music; it’s a lifestyle whose essence is perfectly captured in this fist-pumping anthem.

 

 

91 – BITERS – “1975”

When you mention modern bands and glam in the same breath, your thoughts immediately go to the glory days of ‘80s hair metal.  While glam may be most often associated with the ‘80s, the movement began at least a decade earlier in a less obvious way, with artists like David Bowie, Alice Cooper and others.  Biters are a current band with a definitive ‘70s glam vibe and a bit of a punk edge, making them stand out as being something totally different today.  You have to wonder if they chose “1975” as the year that they want to go back to because it is around the time that Cheap Trick (a band that clearly has a big influence on them) made their debut.  This song takes you on a nostalgic musical journey back to the ‘70s, without sounding dated.  With an underlying riff that is reminiscent of the Police hit “Roxanne,” combined with a grittier version of classic Cheap Trick, “1975” is a home run!  To make the nostalgic journey complete, make sure to watch the video as you listen to the song.

 

 

92 – EVANS BLUE – “iGod”

With the relatively short attention span of people today, and a seemingly endless supply of new hard rock music, it’s somewhat risky to disappear from the public’s eye for an extended period of time.

That is, of course, unless you come back with a vengeance, the way that Evans Blue has with their first new material in nearly four years with “iGod,” the lead single from their latest release, Letters From The Dead.  The sound of Evans Blue continues to evolve, moving in a decidedly heavier direction this time around.

Many bands in the current Active Rock climate would have taken this heavy song over the top with angry growls/screams, but Evans Blue has a style that is all their own, and melody is a big part of it.  The more that you peel back the layers of “iGod” (especially listening through headphones), the more that you discover that the song is clear fit for Active Rock, but also infuses influences of other sub-genres such as prog, thrash and metal.

 

 

93 – DORO – “Love’s Gone To Hell”

Doro Pesch’s career began in the early ‘80s as the frontwoman of German heavy metal band, Warlock.  By the late ‘80s, she moved on from Warlock and transitioned to her own band, Doro.  Nearly three decades since her first release under the Doro moniker, this underrated powerhouse continues to put out quality music that rarely gets its due (at least in America).  With “Love’s Gone To Hell,” Pesch proves that she is as good as ever, both vocally and as a songwriter.

 

 

94 – STREETLIGHT CIRCUS – “Needle Down”

In recent years, there has been a revival of both vinyl records and the classic rock sound (from up-and-coming bands).  Enter Streetlight Circus at the crossroads of both with the title track from their latest release, Needle Down.

The song starts with the nostalgic sound of the scratch of a needle across a record before kicking into high gear.  There’s no arguing that Kiss is one of the greatest bands that rock has ever seen, but still, their influence is heard in bands far less than other legends like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin (to name a few).  However, if you’re a fan of the glory days of Kiss, there’s no doubt that you’re going to enjoy putting the “needle down” on this record.

 

 

95 – PRETTY MAIDS – “Face The World”

American metal fans have had very little exposure to Denmark’s Pretty Maids.  Aside from the title track to the band’s sophomore album, Future World, a good portion of American metal fans are unfamiliar with the band’s storied career and lengthy discography.

In November, these Danish rockers released their 15th studio album, Kingmaker.  Admittedly, I am among the American metal fans who was unaware of Pretty Maids’ longevity, but thanks to Frontiers Records (the Italian metal label that bridges the ‘80s to today), I discovered the band’s most recent single, “Face The World.”

Nearly 30 years have passed since the band’s sole American hit, so it’s understandable that they would be coming from an entirely different “world” (so to speak) this time around.  “Face The World” is rooted in ‘80s metal, but isn’t quite as in your face as “Future World.”  It’s more along the lines of the melodic AOR sound of bands like Night Ranger and Whitesnake.

 

 

96 – BLACKFOOT – “Southern Native”

Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke’s history with Blackfoot goes all the way back to the early ‘70s.  Medlocke is still a part of the current incarnation, but not exactly in the way that you would expect.  While the co-founding member of this storied southern rock band is no longer an active member, he is the one responsible for recruiting the current lineup to carry on the band’s name.

“Southern Native” is the title track of the band’s 11th studio album.  It’s been 22 years since the band’s last studio album, After The Reign (which featured a guest appearance by Zakk Wylde on the title track).  Medlocke calls the band’s latest release “classic rock for a new generation.”  The title track is classic rock meets southern rock with a powerful tribal backbone that befits the Native American-themed lyrics.  Although Medlocke is not an active member of the band, he provides guest guitar work and backing vocals on this outstanding track that also features the soulful guest vocals of Stacy Michelle.

 

 

97 – BLACKBERRY SMOKE – “Waiting For The Thunder”

Blackberry Smoke has been making noise on the Southern Rock scene for over a decade.  In 2016, the band released their fifth studio album, Like An Arrow.  “Waiting For The Thunder” takes you a journey back in time to the days when Lynyrd Skynyrd ruled the roost, and “Saturday Night Special” warned that “the cold barrel wasn’t good for nothin’ but put a man six feet in the hole.”

The stakes are much higher with Blackberry Smoke this time around, with an ominous observation about the state of the world…

“Light the fuse and run now brother ‘cause you ain’t got a lot of time.  Don’t you act surprised when it all goes to hell on your dime.  Maybe you can stand tall enough to look the devil in the eye.  But you better make a getaway quick so you don’t have to answer why.”

 

 

98 – LOVE AND A .38 – “Oh My God”

If you are a fan of classic, bluesy hard rock with a southern flare, you’ll be thanking me for introducing you to Love and a .38, a Los Angeles-based, DIY band who plays music from the heart with no regard for genres or sub-genres.  The four members of the band (who hail from various parts of the country) have taken an “it’s all rock and roll to me approach” to their music.  They’ve come together through varied and shared experiences, triumphs and failures.

If you’re like me, by the time that you finish listening to this killer tune, you’ll be saying “Oh My God”… “how the hell is this band still unsigned!?”  Is it because they don’t fit neatly into some ill-conceived radio format?  If that’s the reason, it says a lot about the state of the music industry, especially when it comes to rock.

 

 

99 – TEN TON MOJO – “American Honey”

When you think of Southern Rock, the first thing that comes to your mind is New York City, right?  Obviously not, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find some quality music from the genre in the “city that never sleeps.”  Of course, Ten Ton Mojo’s brand of Southern Rock is infused with a bluesy sound that is reminiscent of The Black Crowes, and the coolness of Sammy Hagar’s early days with Montrose.  The studio version of “American Honey” is cool, but to fully appreciate what this band has to offer, you have to check them out in a live setting.

 

 

100 – COUNTER VOID – “Pucker Up”

Counter Void is a newer band with an incredibly professional sound and undeniable chemistry, which is not surprising given that there are only two members (Ben Hafeman and Brad Miller).  It would be an exercise in futility to tell you what instruments they each play because they both seem to play everything (although Hafeman is listed as lead vocals and Miller as lead guitar).  What I can tell you is that they get the most out of every instrument, defying the old adage…“jack-of-all trades, master of none.”  If you’re a fan of timeless, classic rock, make sure to be one of the early adopters of this intriguing duo.

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.  STILL WANT MORE HARD ROCK?  CHECK OUT THE ARTICLES BELOW! \m/

RELATED ARTICLES:

Top Hard Rock Songs of 2015

Top Hard Rock Songs of 2014

Top Hard Rock Songs of 2013

Top 10 Power Metal Albums of 2016

top-10-power-metal-albums-of-2016

By Rob Dell’Aquila

1 – INNERWISH – Innerwish

It had been six long years since their last album, during which they lost their lead singer and their drummer, but Innerwish returned stronger than ever in 2016 with this self-titled album. Clocking in at nearly two hours, it’s filled with powerful and often deep songs with staggering vocal harmonies. They hail from Athens, Greece.

 

2 – THEOCRACY – Ghost Ship

This band is out of a different Athens – Athens, Georgia – and they put their mark on 2016 with another album filled with their trademark layered harmonies and monster riffs.  This is Christian power metal with strong progressive and symphonic influences.

 

3 – CIVIL WAR – The Last Full Measure

For 2016, Sweden’s Civil War wrapped up a trilogy of amazing albums dedicated to historic battles and famous final stands. The collaboration of vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson with ex-Sabaton members works wonderfully, yet again, for another compelling romp through history.

 

4 – SABATON – Last Stand

Sweden’s Sabaton continued to marry power metal to military themes with a knockout album dedicated to famous last stands in battle.  No song ends well for the heroes here, but the listener is in for a treat on every single one.

 

5 – AVANTASIA – Ghostlight

Tobias Sammet returned in 2016 with another symphonic, power metal masterpiece from his supergroup, Avantasia.  This one clocks in at nearly two hours, with appearances from Dee Snider, Geoff Tate, Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Sharon den Adel, Ronnie Atkins, Robert Mason and Marco Hietala.

 

6 – EVERGREY – The Storm Within

Heavy riffs, complex compositions, deep yearning.  These are the three elements that Sweden’s Evergrey deliver in their best work, and all three were in strong supply on this veteran band’s latest release.

 

7 – PRIMAL FEAR – Rulebreaker

Primal Fear returned in 2016 with another hard-hitting entry into the genre.  Ralf Scheepers, Matt Sinner and the rest of the band nailed it again with a mix of straight-up power metal and epic masterpieces like the ten-plus-minute “We Walk Without Fear.”

 

8 – LORDS OF BLACK – II

Lead singer Ronnie Romero was tapped by Ritchie Blackmore to front the long-awaited reunion of classic rock legends Rainbow, but that didn’t stop him from putting out another album with his bandmates in Lords of Black.  Hailing from Madrid, Spain, the band debuted with a powerful album in 2014, and deliver again in 2016 on their sophomore effort.

 

9 – THUNDERSTONE – Apocalypse Again

After a seven-year absence, Finland’s Thunderstone returned in 2016 with their sixth album.  Reunited on this one with former lead singer Pasi Ranaten, the chemistry is still there.  This one was worth the wait!

 

10 – SERIOUS BLACK – Mirrorworld

Serious Black delivered one of the best power metal albums of 2015 with their debut, and return strong again just a year later. Urban Breed and the band pour it on heavy again with some impressive writing and musical performances.

Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015

Hard Rock Daddy's Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015

Hard Rock Daddy presents the Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015.

In 2015, the hard rock and metal genres continued to flourish, so much so that we have once again increased the number of songs featured on the year-end list.  It started with the Top 52 Hard Rock Songs of 2013 in the year of our launch, and was followed by the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014 last year.

To give our readers the greatest possible variety of music, the Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015 only features one song per album release (although a number of artists released more than one single worthy of recognition during the year).

While a good portion of the songs on the list were heard throughout the year on SiriusXM’s Octane and on Active Rock radio stations throughout North America, this list gives a much broader look at the year in hard rock music.

The Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015 is a musical journey that spans the globe and a number of sub-genres.  To make the list as user-friendly as possible, it is subdivided into the following categories:  Top 25 Hard Rock Songs (regardless of genre), Top 65 Active Rock Songs, Top 45 Classic/Mainstream Rock Songs, Top 20 Prog/Power/Heavy Metal Songs and last, but certainly not least, the Top 5 Southern Rock Songs of 2015.

Hard Rock Daddy prides itself on giving exposure to artists that fly below radio’s radar…from artists whose careers date back to the ‘80s to today’s up-and-comers.  Many of the artists and songs on this list were featured on Music Discovery Monday or the HRD Radio Report.

The Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015 can be found on the sub-genre playlists below, in addition to the Hard Rock Daddy Network (HRD’s YouTube channel).

In an effort to expose our readers to artists, and not just songs, a short write-up for each featured song is provided.

Any links provided at the end of a write-up will take you to the corresponding Music Discovery Monday article, where the artist shared the meaning and inspiration behind the featured song.

 

TOP 25 HARD ROCK SONGS (regardless of genre).

{Song list and write-ups listed below the YouTube playlist}

 

1-THE WINERY DOGS“Oblivion”

The lead track from Hot Streak – the sophomore release from The Winery Dogs – dials up the intensity and energy from the first note, setting the tone for a musical journey that lasts for 13 songs, and yet somehow still leaves you wanting more (see Hard Rock Daddy album review).  “Oblivion” is an excellent representation of the sound that The Winery Dogs are cultivating.

When the band first appeared on the scene with their eponymous debut album, they were justifiably categorized as a supergroup (which is something of a double-edged sword nowadays).  Featuring legends Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and the equally-talented (but lesser-known) Richie Kotzen, the supergroup categorization is understandable.  However, with their second full-length album released on the same cycle as most acts today, the time has come to look at The Winery Dogs as developing artists (albeit with a big head start).

Any thoughts that The Winery Dogs are merely another side project, like the ones that are prevalent in hard rock today, are not justified.  “Oblivion” is an outstanding introduction to the band.  After you listen to this track, dig deeper into everything that they have to offer.  You will not be disappointed! (MIKE PORTNOY discusses “Oblivion”)

 

2-SEVENDUST“Thank You”

Sevendust is undoubtedly in the upper echelon of artists that get played on Active Rock radio today,  alongside other recent heavy hitters like Shinedown, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin (to name a few), but they don’t always get the recognition that they deserve.  “Thank You” – the first single off of Sevendust’s album, Kill The Flaw – may be the song that gives them their just due.  Hard rock/metal music fans have learned to put little credence in the nominations for the annual Grammy Awards in this category, but they finally got it right this year by including “Thank You” in the mix.  The song – which features the perfect blend of heavy and emotive (both signature Sevendust qualities) – stands out on Active Rock radio because of Lajon Witherspoon’s distinct vocals and the overall intensity of the band.

 

3-HELLYEAH“Hush”

To put it in sports terms, the emergence of “Hush” off of Hellyeah’s album, Blood For Blood, gives the band a radio hat trick.  Like the previous singles, “Sangre Por Sangre (Blood For Blood)” and “Moth,” this track drips with angst and rage in a uniquely melodic way.  Active Rock radio programmers understandably can’t get enough of this supergroup, who have finally managed to join the ranks of the elite in the hard rock music genre, and are well on their way to becoming a staple in the Active Rock format.

Just as he did with the first two singles off of the album, frontman, Chad Gray, masterfully channels his angst, rage and tormented lyrics into a unique style that makes him stand out amongst other hard rock vocalists.  With Gray, drummer Vinnie Paul, and guitarist Tom Maxwell handling the writing duties, and producer Kevin Churko (Ozzy, Five Finger Death Punch) guiding the process, Hellyeah has really hit their stride.  As they release each single, the only real question is how high each song will climb on the charts, not if they will.  Hellyeah should be a force on Active Rock radio for many years to come. (CHAD GRAY discusses “Hush”)

 

4-NOTHING MORE“Jenny”

If you listen to Active Rock radio, you are undoubtedly familiar with Nothing More at this point.  All of the singles off of the band’s debut eponymous album are powerful in their own right, but “Jenny” takes the intensity to an entirely different level.

On a debut album filled with incredible songs, “Jenny” was the track that left the most lasting impression (both musically and lyrically) when the album review was featured on Hard Rock Daddy.  Because of the personal story behind the lyrics, it should come as no surprise that frontman Jonny Hawkins brilliantly delivers the song with unbridled, heartfelt passion.  The only real surprise for those unfamiliar with Nothing More’s history is that Hawkins was originally the drummer.

“Jenny” seamlessly vacillates between sullen verses and impassioned choruses.  Hawkins makes you feel – in a visceral way – the desperate frustration of unsuccessfully trying to get through to someone to help them.  Although “Jenny” is an amazing song, Hawkins’ reasoning for exposing such painful, raw emotions to the world goes well beyond the music. (JONNY HAWKINS discusses “Jenny”)

 

 

5-FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH“Jekyll & Hyde”

It feels like a lifetime ago that a meltdown on stage during a Five Finger Death Punch concert had people speculating that the band would break up.  Fast forward a few months, and they come roaring back onto the scene as if nothing had ever happened.  Perhaps the stage meltdown was the ultimate “Jekyll & Hyde” moment.  No matter, FFDP’s latest album continues to solidify their place in the upper echelon of modern hard rock artists.  Because the band features an instantly recognizable sound, they can “borrow” ideas from others and make it their own.  Although “Jekyll & Hyde” bears a resemblance to “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers, there are enough signature FFDP moments to give the song its own personality (or two as the case may be).

 

6-DISTURBED“The Vengeful One”

After a four-year hiatus, the long-awaited return of Disturbed arrived with power in the form of “The Vengeful One,” the first single off of the band’s latest release.  It’s fair to say that Active Rock programmers were chomping at the bit for new music from Disturbed as much as the fans were, and that the band is back with a vengeance with their distinct brand of aggressive rock.  It’s no surprise that “The Vengeful One” soared up the Active Rock charts and peaked at #1.  Sometimes, big-name acts rise to the top because of their status, not necessarily because they have put out a great single.  This is not the case for “The Vengeful One.”  Even without the pent up demand for new Disturbed music, it’s highly likely that this song would have shot up the charts anyway.  It’s just that damn good!

 

7-RICHARDS CRANE (f. MYLES KENNEDY)“Black & White”

Sometimes less is more, and in the case of “Black And White,” less comes in the form of a sparse musical arrangement designed the allow the stellar vocals of Whitfield Crane and Myles Kennedy to shine in the spotlight.  That’s not to say that guitarist Lee Richards (who wrote “Black And White”) doesn’t add a very important element to the song, because he does.  While the dual vocals bring the thought-provoking lyrics to life, the tone of “Black And White” is set by a riff that is as emotionally stirring (and in the same vein) as the instantly-recognizable riff on Bob Seger’s “Main Street.”  Richards is far from a household name, but he could have been had he not received a life-changing phone call early in 1997 that led to his departure from Godsmack.  You can’t help but think that the poetic lyrics of “Black And White” are extremely personal to Richards.  He may always wonder what might have been if he had remained with Godsmack, but Richards can take solace in the fact that he has written a timeless classic in “Black And White.” (WHITFIELD CRANE discusses “Black And White”)

 

8-SLASH f MYLES KENNEDY & THE CONSPIRATORS“Bent To Fly”

The most recent album by Slash f. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators was loaded with material, none of which was filler.  There could have easily been several singles released, but for some odd reason, only “World On Fire” (the title track) and “Bent To Fly” made the cut.  The song made a nice run on the Active Rock radio charts, and got significant airplay earlier in the year on SiriusXM’s Octane.  More than any other track, “Bent To Fly” may be the one that takes the unique style that Slash and Kennedy have honed outside of this band, and blends it together seamlessly.  From Slash’s beautifully melodic picking intro and leads to Kennedy’s emotional phrasing and distinct bridge, “Bent To Fly” offers the best of both worlds of GNR and Alter Bridge.

 

9-SHINEDOWN“Cut The Cord”

Like Five Finger Death Punch and Disturbed, “Cut The Cord” – the first single off of Shinedown’s latest album (Threat To Survival) – made a tremendous debut, and rocketed up the Active Rock radio charts out of the gate.  The three-year wait for the follow-up to 2012’s hit album, Amaryllis, had fans clamoring for new material from Shinedown, and they delivered as usual.   While many songs on Active Rock radio have a similar sound that makes it hard to differentiate between them, Shinedown (thanks in large part to Brent Smith’s outstanding, distinct vocals) is instantly recognizable.  There’s a good reason that Active Rock radio programmers have made them a staple of the format.

 

10-SEETHER“Nobody Praying For Me”

As one of the most popular rock acts today, Seether gets attention whenever they release a new single.  Although frontman Shaun Morgan has questioned why the band (inexplicably) no longer receives any support from Alternative radio stations, Seether’s music is well-represented on Active Rock radio.  While the band eventually releases YouTube videos, it isn’t always done when the single impacts at radio.  “Nobody Praying For Me” is a good example of their approach.  The official video debuted long after the song was already being played regularly on Active Rock radio.

As the saying goes, anything worth having is worth waiting for, and Seether proved this to be true with their inspired, thought-provoking, interactive video for “Nobody Praying For Me,” which features multiple endings to the same story.  The video is as inspired as the song.  Seether has the ability to tap into the emotions of a song as well as anyone in hard rock today.

 

11-RED SUN RISING“The Otherside”

It’s rare to find a current hard rock band that seamlessly blends the dark, grunge influences of Alice In Chains and Nirvana with the bright, soaring melodic influence of Shinedown.  Perhaps that is why “The Otherside” – the debut single from Akron, OH rockers, Red Sun Rising – immediately stood out as unique from the first listen.

Based on frontman, Mike Protich’s comments, it’s clear that Red Sun Rising’s unique sound is by design…

“Red Sun Rising is what rock was built on, but is not today’s rock, but a new rock alternative.  Subtle touches of blues mixed with the dark minor tonality of today.  Our music allows the listener to travel through a song that is anything but linear.  With soaring vocals, we strive to find melodies that convey the passion of our thought-provoking lyrical content, and push the boundaries that rock has somewhat forgotten.”

“The Otherside” grabs you right away with a haunting, grunge-influenced verse and never lets go as it crescendos into the soaring melodic chorus.  The more you listen to the song, the more you begin to peel back the layers, revealing a seasoned sound that rivals artists who have made several albums together. (MIKE PROTICH discusses “The Otherside”)

 

12-SONS OF TEXAS“Baptized In The Rio Grande”

Supergroups are all the rage nowadays in the hard rock music genre, but they usually consist of long-established artists.  Formed in 2013, Sons Of Texas is a new breed of “supergroup.”  A world away from Austin, TX – the lone star state’s music hotbed – this powerful quintet, comprised of local all-stars from McAllen, burst onto the scene with their first single, “Baptized In The Rio Grande.”

Like a Texas tornado, “Baptized In The Rio Grande” grabs you from the first note with shredding guitars and an intense rhythm.  Displaying dynamics that go well beyond their years, Sons Of Texas dial back the intensity during the soulful verses before taking it to another level when the chorus kicks in with heavy, melodic harmonies.

If you didn’t know any better, you might think that Zakk Wylde had made a guest appearance on the song, but the bending of notes and shredding solos actually come courtesy of lead guitarist, Jes De Hoyos.  Because of the incredibly tight rhythm section consisting of guitarist Jon Olivares, and the Villarreal brothers (Mike – drums, Nick – bass), De Hoyos is afforded the freedom to showcase his immense guitar skills.

The impressive musicianship on “Baptized In The Rio Grande” provides an ideal backdrop for the soulful, gritty, impassioned vocals of frontman, Mark Morales, to bring the song to life.

Listening to “Baptized In The Rio Grande,” you are left wondering how a relatively inexperienced band of guys in their mid-20s could have a sound as seasoned and mature as bands with a decade or more under their belts.  (JES DE HOYOS discusses “Baptized In The Rio Grande”)

 

13-JOEL HOEKSTRA’S 13 (f. JEFF SCOTT SOTO)“Scream”

After making a name for himself by being one of the most talented and hard-working guitarists around, Joel Hoekstra has risen to greater fame after joining Whitesnake.  Long before joining David Coverdale and company, Hoekstra began writing an album that shows that his writing prowess is every bit as impressive as his guitar playing.  Picking a favorite track off of this album is like picking your favorite child, but “Scream” gets the nod for the pure heart-pounding energy, and stellar vocals of the vastly underrated Jeff Scott Soto.  “Scream” is sung from the standpoint of the demon or vice holding you back in your life.  It’s hard to imagine anyone doing it any better than Soto.  And though this album was about showcasing Hoekstra’s songwriting ability, he shows why he was tabbed by Coverdale to be Whitesnake’s guitarist with some impressive shredding.

 

14-BUMBLEFOOT“Little Brother Is Watching”

Daring to be different and not subscribing to any notion of what hard rock “should” be, Bumblefoot delivers a track that is both lyrically and musically unique.  Incredible guitar playing is par for the course for Bumblefoot, but on “Little Brother Is Watching,” he showcases how talented he is as a singer and songwriter.

The song opens up with anthemic gang vocals, transitions to a very cool vibe with distinct bass lines and then ratchets up the intensity with a heavy, danceable beat.  If you are a fan of intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics, this is a track that you MUST check out. (BUMBLEFOOT discusses “Little Brother Is Watching”)

 

15-HIGHLY SUSPECT“Lydia”

You don’t have to be from New York to have an image in your mind about Brooklyn.  It is a place with a very distinct culture, and a unique, collective personality.  There is a cool, tough image that many people envision when they think of the vibrant borough of NYC.  In the case of Brooklyn rockers, Highly Suspect, they ooze cool from every pore with their debut single, “Lydia.”

Highly Suspect lacks the brashness that many Brooklynites wear as a badge of honor.  Perhaps, it is due to the fact that they are transplants from Cape Cod, or maybe it’s because they really are surprised by the attention that their music is getting.  Either way, it’s refreshing to witness a band that is truly grateful to hear what others have to say about them.

This power trio didn’t start out with the intention of creating a sound that defies being easily categorized, but they have done so just the same.  For some bands, blurring the genre lines can be risky because radio and media don’t know what to do with them.  In the case of Highly Suspect, the opposite has been true, as they stand out amongst both the Active and Alternative Rock genres as something fresh and different.  The attention that “Lydia” has gotten is proof positive that music fans just crave great songwriting and musicianship; they don’t care about how things “fit.”

 

16-SHAMAN’S HARVEST“In Chains”

If there is one word to describe Shaman’s Harvest, it would be “diverse.”  It would be easy to shower them with a number of other positive adjectives, but what sets them apart from most is their ability to deliver a variety of musical experiences on one album and make it work so well.  The band’s two previous singles (“Dangerous” and “Dirty Diana”) off of Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns both garnered radio attention, and “In Chains” has done the same.

Whereas “Dangerous” was a straight-forward southern rocker and “Dirty Diana” was an inspired, bluesy cover of a classic Michael Jackson song, “In Chains” offers yet another side of Shaman’s Harvest.  There is a seamless transition between the verses (which would be an ideal fit for a modern western film), and the choruses, which feature larger-than-life gospel theatricality.  Need more?  How about some soulful blues shredding thrown in for good measure?  Nathan Hunt’s vocals are impressive enough on their own.  They become even more awe-inspiring when you take into account that he was receiving treatment for throat cancer during the recording of the album. (NATHAN HUNT discusses battle with cancer)

 

17-BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE“You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)”

“You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)” – from Bullet For My Valentine’s latest album, Venom – is the perfect anthem for the downtrodden and underappreciated who have reached their breaking point.  Clearly, BFMV has no trouble tapping into their inner rage, but they do so in such a melodic and inspiring way, that it never comes off as bitter.

“You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)” begins with acapella gang vocals and quickly transitions into a powerful musical intro that is reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “Aces High.”  Frontman Matthew Tuck delivers tortured growls of anguish over intense guitars that border on thrash, before pulling back to a more subdued verse supported by the heavy bottom of the rhythm section.  The pounding, driving rhythm helps the song to build to a crescendo into the chorus (which features thunderous double-bass drumming beneath Tuck’s melodic vocals).

This empowering song will undoubtedly connect with those who have suffered any form of abuse, as well as those who feel under-appreciated or enraged by those who abuse their authority and disrespect others.

 

18-SCORPIONS“We Built This House”

The number of bands that stay together for several decades is fairly small.  Out of those bands, the number of them that have continuously remained relevant is even smaller, almost infinitesimal.  There is no doubt that the Scorpions have managed to defy all odds with their career (which now spans 50 years), and claim their place in this elite group.  “We Built This House” is yet another example of the Scorpions’ ability to continue to write outstanding, timeless music.

Taken at face value, the lyrics to “We Built This House” may lead you to believe that this is a love song about perseverance.  While it can certainly be interpreted that way, there is clearly an underlying metaphor for the rock solid foundation that the Scorpions have built their career upon.

In an article featured on Ultimate Classic Rock, Klaus Meine shared some insight about “We Built This House”

“In the end, it tells our story.  We’ve built this house called Scorpions brick-by-brick, and often, quite arduously.  From the first days in Hannover and the first concerts abroad, until this very day, we’ve weathered severe storms, but the house withstood everything.  It turned out to be weatherproof and stable.  However, building this house was never just cumbersome, but joyful as well.  The joy of music, the joy of having experienced and still experiencing it all, the joy of – and the thankfulness for – the fans’ affection.”

While Meine is thankful for the affection that the band has received throughout their illustrious career, it is we, the fans, who should be truly thankful for everything that the Scorpions have given to us (and continue to give) long after most bands would have called it a day.

Someday, the Scorpions will record their final song, and play their final concert.  For the sake of the fans, we can only hope that it doesn’t happen anytime soon.  They are still an incredible live band, who have the rare ability to write new material that fans look forward to hearing in concert (along with their countless hits).

 

19-SEASONS AFTER“Lights Out”

Seasons After’s “Lights Out” is a defiant anthem that showcases the band’s ability to persevere in the face of trying times.  There was a time when getting a major record label deal was the holy grail for aspiring artists.  Those days have long since passed.  Stories of artists returning to true independence have increased in recent times, especially since the Internet and social media have helped to level the playing field for DIY artists.  Seasons After is the latest hard rock act to take this approach, even going so far as to use their label conflict as inspiration for the Calamity, Scars & Memoirs album…

“A lot of bands go through the “music business horror stories”, which is basically what happened to us.  But thankfully, we were able to come out the other side – and that is what the whole album is about,” states guitarist, Chris Dawson.

You have to give kudos to any artist that can not only embrace their freedom from the grips of a major label, but also write about it in a very powerful way without mincing words.

Given the inspiration for the song, “Lights Out” comes across as intensely personal.  Seasons After channels their rage perfectly in this dynamic, melodic rocker that features impassioned vocals and guitars that ideally capture the meaning behind the lyrics.

To the average person who grinds out a living, it may seem like making a living playing music is all glory.  The truth of the matter is that, in today’s climate, most bands are working harder than most people just to make ends meet.  More often than not, the biggest benefit of making a living in music is pursuing a passion, not living a life of luxury.

If you are fan of great, melodic hard rock, and like to root for the underdog, you’ll love “Lights Out.”

 

20-MAGNUS KARLSSON’S FREE FALL (f. JOE LYNN TURNER)“No Control”

Swedish guitarist/songwriter/producer Magnus Karlsson – whose work includes: Primal Fear, Allen/Lande, Kiske/Somerville, Last Tribe and Starbreaker – released his second solo album under the Free Fall moniker in 2015.  Once again, Karlsson has enlisted a who’s who of hard rock singers to help bring his songs to life.

“No Control” is melodic hard rock at its best.  If this song had come out during the ‘80s (the decade of music that heavily influenced Karlsson), there is no doubt that it would have been a huge commercial hit.  Featuring the always-stellar vocals of Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, Deep Purple), “No Control” takes you on a journey back in time.  The melody and harmonies are infectious, and Karlsson makes the guitar sing with shredding that makes you long for days gone by.  This song is tailor-made for JLT’s voice and distinct style, featuring a nice blend of Rainbow and Yngwie elements. (JOE LYNN TURNER discusses “No Control”)

 

21-HALESTORM“Apocalyptic”

After a three-year wait since Halestorm’s hit album, The Strange Case of…, they returned earlier this year with their latest album, Into The Wild Life, returning to the scene with the lead single, “Apocalyptic.”

Josh Smith’s fat bassline, Arejay Hale’s pulsating drums and Joe Hottinger’s gritty guitars hit you hard and heavy from the first note, but it is frontwoman extraordinaire, Lzzy Hale, that brings out the “balls” in “Apocalyptic” with her take-no-prisoners delivery.  Both musically and lyrically, Lzzy proves time and again that she can not only hang with male hard rock vocalists, but also outshine them in many cases.

“Apocalyptic” is dirty and edgy in a way that empowers women (like Lzzy) to take as much pleasure in having break-up sex as a man would.  The beauty of Lzzy is that she is just as comfortable and engaging when she sings about life from a traditional female perspective (“Here’s To Us”), as she is when she turns the tide and embraces the traditionally male perspective (as she does in “Apocalyptic”).

 

22-SAINT ASONIA“Better Place”

Whenever musicians from bands with name recognition get together to form something new, the tendency is to instantly dub them as a “supergroup,” even if the individual members shun the label.  Such is the case with Saint Asonia, which features Adam Gontier (Three Days Grace) on lead vocals, Mike Mushok (Staind) on guitar, Rich Beddoe (Finger Eleven) on drums and Corey Lowery (Dark New Day, Stereomud, Eye Empire) on bass.

Given the fact that “’supergroups” have a tendency to have a relatively short shelf life, it’s understandable why Gontier was quick to dismiss the label…

“Truth is, we’re more like refugees that just really hit it off creatively,” joked Gontier when discussing his view of Saint Asonia.

The band’s first single, “Better Place,” instantly gained traction on Active Rock radio.

Gontier shocked everyone when he parted ways with Three Days Grace just as the band was peaking.  Citing a desire to “create real music from the heart rather than for radio,” Gontier promised that “real, honest music from his soul” was forthcoming.  He delivered on his promise with “Better Place,” an edgier version of the type of songs that he wrote with Three Days Grace. (ADAM GONTIER discusses “Better Place”)

 

23-ALL THAT REMAINS“This Probably Won’t End Well”

If ever there was a band that marches to the beat of their own drum and laughs in the face of criticism, it is All That Remains, particularly their outspoken frontman, Phil Labonte.  While the band’s sound has evolved throughout their career (which dates back to 1998), there are fans from the early days who want to keep them confined in a tightly sealed “metalcore” box.

All That Remains admittedly draws from a vast variety of musical influences, many of whom would be considered “guilty pleasures” by most hard rock bands, but ATR wears their appreciation of “uncool” artists on their collective sleeves.  To their credit, All That Remains creates music that inspires them without any consideration for “fan” backlash.

“This Probably Won’t End Well” probably seemed like a prophetic title for fans stuck in “metalcore mode” when they first heard the melancholic piano intro.  However, it doesn’t take long for the song to kick into a heavy rocker featuring crunchy guitars and a driving rhythm with insane drum fills.  The music definitely sets the stage for angry growls, but what you get instead are beautiful vocal harmonies complemented by soulful, bluesy guitar leads.

If you’re stuck in 1998, then “This Probably Won’t End Well” may leave you believing that the song is appropriately titled, but if you have an appreciation for what constitutes a kick-ass hard rock tune in 2015, then the title will just come across as ironic.

 

24-IRON MAIDEN“Tears Of A Clown”

With the exception of a five-year hiatus from the mid-to-late ‘90s, Bruce Dickinson has been the voice of Iron Maiden since 1981.  Although Dickinson is the voice, the band’s lyrics are mostly derived from the mind of Steve Harris.

Though he has tackled serious subjects before with his lyrics, Harris generally focuses on the bigger picture.  It was revealed by Dickinson that “Tears Of A Clown” was written specifically about Robin Williams, his depression and ultimate suicide.

Not only do the lyrics have a different tenor than most Maiden songs, but the music does as well.  “Tears Of A Clown” eschews Maiden’s signature galloping rhythm for more groove-oriented pacing, which makes it stand out as unique for the band.  Dickinson brings the lyrics to life with his vocals, an impressive feat considering that their most recent release (The Book Of Souls) was recorded as he was battling tongue and throat cancer.

 

25-BOBAFLEX“Mama Don’t Take My Drugs Away”

When you first hear “Mama Don’t Take My Drugs Away,” you might think that Bobaflex has written an infectious (dare I say “addictive”) drug anthem, but that is not the case.  While the song is both infectious and addictive, the meaning behind the song is not actually what it appears to be at first blush.

The gang vocals at the beginning of the track are reminiscent of another song about drugs (Alice Cooper’s “Hey Stoopid”), but the verses are much grittier.  Bobaflex continues to hone their unique delivery of melodies on “Mama Don’t Take My Drugs Away,” distinguishing them amongst the plethora of hard rock artists on the scene today.  (MARTY McCOY discusses “Mama Don’t Take My Drugs Away”)

 

 

TOP 65 ACTIVE ROCK SONGS OF 2015.  

{Song list and write-ups listed below the YouTube playlist}

 

NOTE:  See Top 25 Hard Rock Songs (above) for write-ups and links for songs 1-18.

 

1-SEVENDUST“Thank You”

 

2-HELLYEAH“Hush”

 

3-NOTHING MORE“Jenny”

 

4-FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH“Jekyll & Hyde”

 

5-DISTURBED“The Vengeful One”

 

6-SLASH f MYLES KENNEDY & THE CONSPIRATORS“Bent To Fly”

 

7-SHINEDOWN“Cut The Cord”

 

8-SEETHER“Nobody Praying For Me”

 

9-RED SUN RISING“The Otherside”

 

10-SONS OF TEXAS“Baptized In The Rio Grande”

 

11-HIGHLY SUSPECT“Lydia”

 

12-SHAMAN’S HARVEST“In Chains”

 

13-BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE“You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)”

 

14-SEASONS AFTER“Lights Out”

 

15-HALESTORM“Apocalyptic”

 

16-SAINT ASONIA“Better Place”

 

17-ALL THAT REMAINS“This Probably Won’t End Well”

 

18-BOBAFLEX“Mama Don’t Take My Drugs Away”

 

ACTIVE ROCK SONGS 19-65

 

19 – CAGE9“Illuminator”

Every once in a while, you come across a band and hear a song that blows you away, and leaves you wondering how they have managed to stay below the radar.  Such is the case with Cage9’s “Illuminator.”

The brainchild of Evan Rodaniche (vocals/guitar) – who is known for his guitar work with Powerman 5000 (featuring Rob Zombie’s brother, Spider) – Cage9 is a Los Angeles-based power quartet.

Though the band has gone through some lineup changes since its inception, the current incarnation (which includes Brian Sumwalt – drums, Leslie Wyatt – bass and Matt Borowski – guitar) is a force to be reckoned with, and one that promises to make a significant impact in the hard rock music genre once they get on more peoples’ radar.

“Illuminator” grabs you by the throat from the first power chord and never lets go.  On this track, you get all of the ballsiness and intensity of Powerman 5000, but in a much more melodic way.  Though Rodaniche made his bones as a guitarist, his powerful vocals rival the best singers in hard rock today.  Particularly impressive is his ability to bring meaningful lyrics to life with his heartfelt delivery.  Hauntingly beautiful harmonies perfectly complement Rodaniche’s vocals, as does the dynamic playing of this killer quartet. (EVAN RODANICHE discusses “Illuminator”)

 

 

20 – BLACK VEIL BRIDES“Goodbye Agony”

After dominating Active Rock radio with “In The End” a few years back, “Goodbye Agony” didn’t get nearly the recognition that it deserved, which is a disservice to the listening audience.  “Goodbye Agony” is an incredibly haunting, emotionally-stirring track.  As far as Black Veil Brides is concerned, they have proven to have (arguably) the most dedicated fanbase in hard rock today, so any lack of radio support doesn’t stop them from getting their message to the masses.  Despite the lack of radio support, “Goodbye Agony” has over 12.5 million views on YouTube early in January of 2016.  Thankfully for Black Veil Brides, they can always count on the viral buzz created by their fans, which far exceeds the reach that most bands achieve (even if they get more love from Active Rock radio).

 

 

21- FROM ASHES TO NEW“Through It All”

From Ashes To New is not your typical hard rock act, with influences deviating far from the norm.  Born from the mind of vocalist/programmer Matt Brandyberry, From Ashes To New is equal parts rock and rap, and both elements come across as truly authentic.  That’s what happens when you cut your teeth on Biggie and Tupac and then discover the likes of Sevendust.  With a passion for hip-hop flows, guitar, piano, songwriting and most importantly, a thirst for learning various techniques, Brandyberry is a force to be reckoned with, and it shows on “Through It All.”  Like the rest of his small-town Pennsylvania bandmates, Brandyberry held down a full-time job while recording the album, which is why they connect on a meaningful level with their growing fanbase.  You don’t have to be a fan of rap-rock to appreciate everything that FATN has to offer.

 

 

22 – POP EVIL“Footsteps”

Following up 2013’s Onyx (an album loaded with singles) is no small task.  Pop Evil’s sound continues to evolve with the first single from their latest release, Up.  Whereas most of the singles from their previous album were somewhat angst-ridden, “Footsteps” offers a more upbeat, feel-good sound.  The song had a nice radio run, but the greatest exposure may very well have come as the music bed for a Dodge Ram commercial.  There was a time when it was considered “selling out” to allow your song to be used commercially.  Those days are over, as bands must do whatever they can to monetize their music to earn a living.  A sign of the times…

 

 

23 – THE GLORIOUS SONS“Heavy”

In the early ‘90s, the Black Crowes (featuring the Robinson brothers) rose to fame with their brand of Rolling Stones-inspired rock.  Fast forward two decades, and it looks as though history may repeat itself with Canadian rockers, The Glorious Sons (featuring the Emmons brothers).  Although they are more edgy than either of the aforementioned bands, The Glorious Sons have built their sound upon the same rock and roll foundation.  “Heavy” is not only the title of the song, but also an accurate description of the direction that the band is taking with their sound (due in large part to Brett Emmons’ vocals).  Emmons takes a little bit of Mick Jagger and mixes it with an Ian Astbury (The Cult) vibe to create a vocal style that stands out as unique in the current hard rock landscape. (BRETT EMMONS discusses “Heavy”)

 

 

24 – BREAKING BENJAMIN“Failure”

In 2010, while touring to support their album, Dear Agony, Breaking Benjamin went on hiatus due to Benjamin Burnley falling ill, and being unable to tour in support of the record.  After dealing with legal issues and a number of lineup changes (Burnley is the only original remaining member), Breaking Benjamin finally returned this year without missing a beat.  The first single off of 2015’s Dark Before Dawn, “Failure” seamlessly bridged the gap between 2009’s Dear Agony album and today’s Active Rock sound.  Fans and programmers alike clearly were hungry for new material from Breaking Benjamin based on the airplay and sales that have been generated thus far.

 

 

25 – REVOLVE“Believe”

Talent and connections only take you so far in today’s hard rock music climate.  Though the days of huge record deals have long since passed, the reality is that it still takes money to rise above the din in a very crowded genre.  Since their inception, Revolve has been one of the ultimate DIY bands.  Much of the burden to promote the band early on has fallen on the strong shoulders of guitarist, Debbie Barlow, whose hard work is finally beginning to pay off in a meaningful way, as this independent band has played with the likes of Shinedown, Hinder and Shaman’s Harvest.  Barlow, a cancer survivor, is a testament to what can be achieved in the face of adversity.  Revolve’s entire debut EP is rock solid.  Any of the songs could have been chosen for this forum, but “Believe” was selected because it fits so well with the cancer survivor story, and the fact that Barlow’s unwavering belief in Revolve is now taking the band to new heights.  This hard-hitting tune features an infectious melody, to go along with impressive guitar work and vocal harmonies.  If you’re a fan of bands like Sevendust, Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin, make sure to check out Revolve! (DEBBIE BARLOW discusses cancer battle)

 

 

26 – SEPTEMBER MOURNING“Children Of Fate”

September Mourning’s “Children Of Fate” has a theatrical quality to it, which makes sense given that the band members are considered to be a cast of characters (one of the things that makes September Mourning unique and interesting).  Although it fits very well into the Active Rock genre, the song’s intro has a mystical feel that is in the same realm as Rainbow’s “Gates Of Babylon.”  Lead vocalist September shines with vocals that range from soft, sweet and melodic to powerfully anthemic to angst-ridden rage.  (SEPTEMBER discusses “Children Of Fate”)

 

 

27 – PARKWAY DRIVE“Vice Grip”

With a hard rock / metal foundation built in the ‘80s, I tend to favor melodic songs and clean vocals.  Although my appreciation has grown in recent years for a well-placed growl when it captures the angst, rage or torment of a particular lyric, songs that exclusively feature “unclean” vocals generally do not grab my attention.  That being said, “Vice Grip” – by Australian metalcore artists Parkway Drive – instantly made me turn up the volume the first time that I heard it on SiriusXM’s Octane.  The combination of incredibly melodic guitar riffs, anthemic gang vocals and a big hook gives the song an appeal that transcends the metalcore niche.  Although more extreme, at its core, “Vice Grip” is in the same wheelhouse as anthems from bands like Accept and Five Finger Death Punch.  While Parkway Drive is well-known and highly accomplished in the metalcore world, they just broke through on Active Rock radio when “Vice Grip” became a listener favorite.

 

 

28 – SONIC X“Pray”

Sonic X is a hard rock unit hailing from Toronto and Detroit.  Truth be told, if not for hearing “Pray” one time on SiriusXM’s Octane, it’s quite likely that Sonic X would still be flying below my radar.  No matter…one listen is all that you need to be hooked on a song that kicks your ass from the beginning and never lets up throughout.  With a song title like “Pray,” you may be thinking Christian Metal, but the song is more about rage than spirituality.

Similar to Five Finger Death Punch’s collaboration with the legendary Rob Halford on “Lift Me Up,” “Pray” chugs along with an intense driving rhythm and an incredibly catchy chorus.  Tight playing anchored by a powerful rhythm section, passionate vocals and an impressive display of guitar shredding all combine to make this a killer track.  (ADAM TROY discusses “Pray”)

 

 

29 – WAYLAND“Bloody Sunrise”

Wayland is the epitome of an up-and-coming, nose-to-the-grindstone modern day hard rock band.  With a relentless touring schedule, it’s hard to imagine how they find the time to record new music.  But they do, and every time that they release new material, it stands out as something different (in a good way).  Of course, different can be a double-edged sword when it comes to radio airplay, where conformity seems to take priority over originality.  Like fellow mid-westerner, Kid Rock, Wayland has proven that they have a southern side with “Bloody Sunrise.”  While the band isn’t from the south, they are managed by Jesse James Dupree (Jackyl), so they are (at the very least) southern by association.  Make no mistake though; “Bloody Sunrise” is not pure southern rock, just a killer track with a southern rock influence.  Wayland is exactly the type of band that should be used to add a unique, fresh infusion to an Active Rock format that tends to get a bit stale at times.

 

 

30 – TREMONTI“Another Heart”

For the legion of Alter Bridge fans around the world, the three-year cycle between albums can seem like an eternity.  The silver lining is the music that comes out from the band members’ various side projects, like Tremonti’s second album, Cauterize. 

Mark Tremonti has gotten a tremendous amount of well-earned acclaim for his guitar work, which shines as usual on “Another Heart.”  Adding to the intrigue of Tremonti is the fact that his vocals are front and center, unlike Alter Bridge where they usually take a back seat to frontman, Myles Kennedy.  “Another Heart” not only showcases Tremonti’s vocal ability, but also a powerful group of dynamic musicians who have the ability to seamlessly blend melody and speed.  Featuring Wolfgang Van Halen (bass), Garrett Whitlock (drums) and Eric Friedman (rhythm guitar), Tremonti is a force to be reckoned with in its own right, not just a side project to fill the void between Alter Bridge albums.

 

 

31 – TRIVIUM“Until The World Goes Cold”

The evolution of Trivium probably came as a surprise to many.  Although hints of the band’s departure from their metalcore roots became evident with 2013’s Vengeance Falls (while working with Disturbed’s David Draiman as the producer), there was still a considerable amount of angst in singles like “Villainy Thrives” and “Strife.”  Fast forward to 2015’s Silence In The Snow, and it looks as though the transition is complete.  While the change probably doesn’t appeal to a number of longtime fans, it has been well-received by Active Rock radio.  The band’s evolved sound is actually closer to European metal than their metalcore roots, but for fans of big hooks and melodies, the change is something to embrace.

 

 

32 – BRIDGE TO GRACE“Everything”

From the moment that “Everything” was released, it was featured in the “Spin It” section of the HRD Radio Report and also on Hard Rock Daddy’s Music Discovery Monday.   These up-and-comers draw comparisons to Shinedown (a band that Bridge To Grace producer Rick Beato has worked with in the past).

The band has blended influences from the top bands in the genre to create their own sound.  Huge hooks, soulful vocals, powerful vocal harmonies, big crunchy riffs,  shredding guitars, a pounding rhythm and nice dynamics…the title of the song says it all….it has “Everything” that you want to hear in an Active Rock track.

 

 

33 – ARANDA“We Are The Enemy”

The latest album from Aranda is aptly titled, Not The Same. Brothers Dameon and Gabe Aranda have found a home on Active Rock radio even though their sound is quite unique compared to most others.  Often times, deserving bands don’t get the opportunity that they deserve in the format.  Kudos are well-deserved to programmers for giving Aranda’s latest single the attention that it deserves.  The band describes their sound as “Rock, Funk, Soul,” and the Aranda brothers have surprisingly worked with some high-profile pop artists.  “We Are The Enemy,” while clearly a great rock song, has some influences from bands that go beyond the genre.

 

 

34 – WE ARE HARLOT“Someday”

When We Are Harlot finally made their debut in 2014, it was looked at as a side project for frontman, Danny Worsnop.  It wasn’t long before Worsnop parted ways with Asking Alexandria to focus all of his attention on We Are Harlot, a risky move considering his former band’s place in upper echelon of hard rock at the time of his departure.  Asking Alexandria’s loss is We Are Harlot’s gain.  Though this band will cater to a smaller audience (for the time being), there is no reason that they can’t eventually reach the same heights as his former band.  If you are a fan of Worsnop’s melodic singing, “Someday” will be right in your wheelhouse.  If you’re looking for the angst-ridden growls that he was once known for, this song will leave you wanting more.  You have to admire people who take chances that others won’t because they are afraid of change.  “Someday” (soon), this gamble should pay off, provided that We Are Harlot continues down their current path.

 

 

35 – HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD“Day Of The Dead”

The title track from Hollywood Undead’s fourth studio album captures everything that the band stands for, and adds in some unexpected elements (particularly the acoustic flamenco guitar).  If you didn’t know about the enigmatic, masked men’s sharp wit, you would probably lock up the women and children upon listening to one of the premier rap-rock band’s take on a day that is supposed to be about remembrance.  Somehow, they manage to wrap a very violent package in an upbeat, melodic wrapper with a huge, infectious chorus.  Just when you expect “Day Of The Dead” to rise to an aggressive crescendo, it pulls back to a subdued, sweet sounding bridge, before launching back into the powerful hook.  There’s a reason why Hollywood Undead has a massive audience that goes beyond rap-rock fans.  “Day Of The Dead” showcases the band’s “f**k-the-world” attitude, and it clicks on all cylinders.

 

 

36 – BUCKCHERRY“The Madness”

Buckcherry is widely known, but still underrated.  It’s hard to believe that the band formed two decades ago, and has been releasing albums since 1999.  After a dark period for hard rock and metal, Buckcherry emerged onto the scene with a gritty, dirty, rock and roll sound in the Guns N’ Roses vein.  By all rights, they should be one of the biggest bands in the world today.  Aside from a brief hiatus, the band has been going strong for many years, always putting out quality music.  Though they have evolved through the years, their signature sound remains intact.  From the band’s latest release, Rock ‘n’ Roll“The Madness” has an interesting guitar picking intro before kicking in with a heavy Megadeth-esque riff.  Like Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets,” “The Madness” deals with the different sides that live inside us all (albeit in a more subdued, less deranged manner).  Great vocals, riffs and drums are held together by the heavy groove of the bass on yet another standout track from Buckcherry.

 

 

37 – FAILURE ANTHEM“Paralyzed”

Like fellow newcomers (and label-mates) Red Sun Rising and Sons Of Texas, Failure Anthem made their debut with a single that stands out on Active Rock radio.   The band sets the tone at the outset before hitting a powerfully emotive crescendo when the melodic chorus with a huge hook kicks in.  Particularly notable are the vocals of frontman JD Eubanks, who looks every bit the part of a modern-day rock star.  This is somewhat surprising, given that he has a background as a chef that studied under Wolfgang Puck and served as a Navy Culinary Specialist previously.  If you haven’t discovered Failure Anthem yet, make sure to check out “Paralyzed.”

 

 

38 – SLIPKNOT“Killpop”

Being the frontman for two of the most successful hard rock bands today, you’d think that Corey Taylor would be enjoying his career more than most.  But the music industry is not what it once was, and while Taylor still loves making music, he has reached the end of his rope with the music industry.  The lyrics to “Killpop” are not what they may have seemed at first blush, and were being misinterpreted early on, until Taylor revealed the meaning behind them in a Blabbermouth article earlier this year… I’ll be honest with you: the song is my reflection on my relationship with music.  That’s who the ‘she’ is.  And, not just music, but the music industry in general.  So there’s a love-hate relationship there that really kind of comes into view.”  Although “Killpop” is one of Slipknot’s less intense songs, Taylor’s rage comes across just the same.

 

 

39 – RA“We Won’t Back Down”

With radio airplay becoming more and more challenging for all but the most well-known artists, there is a benefit to being able to get your music to the masses through other mediums such as television, movies and video games.  Another avenue that is not quite as obvious, but very effective, is having your song played at sporting events.  Ra has always been a band whose talent far exceeds the exposure that they get, but they are now getting some nice exposure at the home games of the Washington Capitals with “We Won’t Back Down.”  Rather than waiting for a team to adopt an existing song, frontman Sahaj Ticotin worked directly with the Capitals to come up with the theme to this arena rock anthem.  This is not the first time that this underrated band has been associated with sports, as their most popular song (“Do You Call My Name?”) was licensed exclusively to ESPN for years.  If you haven’t yet discovered Ra, make sure to check this song out and then go back and discover more of what you’ve been missing.

 

 

40 – FOO FIGHTERS“Saint Cecilia”

With so much hand-wringing these days about artists getting paid for their work, it was interesting to see Foo Fighters offer Saint Cecilia (the band’s latest EP) as a free download as a sign of gratitude for their fans.  At least that was the initial intention.  Ultimately, it was dedicated to the victims of the Paris terrorist attack that took place just 10 days before the EP was released.  The title track is an upbeat, melodic rocker about finding salvation and healing.  Dave Grohl’s legend continues to grow with each Foo Fighters’ release.  Just like his days with Nirvana, he is now a part of one of the most popular bands in the genre, a feat that is arguably more impressive given the nature of the business, and the fact that his current role is much more integral to the band’s success than his previous one.  Because they are at the top of their game, it took everyone by surprise when Grohl announced that their most recent EP would be the last thing that fans hear in a while, as the band is going to be taking a hiatus.

 

 

41 – RED SKY MARY“Gone”

Turning back the hands of time, just as Crobot and Rival Sons have done in recent years, Red Sky Mary delivers their own brand of high-energy, ‘70s-inspired rock with “Gone” (the lead single from their debut album).  The distorted riffs, reminiscent of classic Zeppelin and Sabbath, are complemented by the soaring vocals of frontman Sam Vlasich.  What makes the band unique is that Vlasich’s vocals seem to be more influenced by the ‘80s than the ‘70s, creating an interesting, timeless sound that harkens back to two golden eras of hard rock.  The cool, funky verses lead into infectious, straight-ahead choruses with big harmonies that have an early Journey feel.  There’s a lot to like about this New Hampshire power quartet.  Keep these guys on your radar as we move into the new year.

 

 

42 – MARILYN MANSON“The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles”

Originally the title track of Marilyn Mason’s most recent release, The Pale Emporer“The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” is a song that Mason has referred to as “the album’s heart.”

“The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” is as much a short film as it is a song.  It is highly recommended that you watch the video for this track to appreciate everything that it has to offer.  Given Manson’s affinity for acting, it stands to reason that he would marry the two art forms so well.  This particular track would have been an ideal fit for Sons Of Anarchy, the highly-acclaimed TV series that featured Manson as a white supremacist leader in prison during the seventh (and final) season.

If you are a fan of Manson’s unique style, you’ll wonder why this song hasn’t received as much attention at radio as the lead single, “Deep Six.”  Although the verses are more about creating a vibe with a more sparse arrangement that gives the song room to breathe, and Manson the opportunity to paint a mental picture with the lyrics, the song features a powerful chorus with a big hook.  Manson brings the Faust legend from German folklore to life with his interpretation in this song about making a deal with the devil.

 

 

43 – GEMINI SYNDROME“Eternity”

Other than the fact that “Eternity” was released well in advance of Gemini Syndrome’s sophomore release, there is no explaining why the first single from their upcoming album hasn’t gained major traction on Active Rock radio.  Well, there might be an explanation, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the music.  The band has already proven that they connect with Active Rock audiences with songs like “Stardust” and “Mourning Star” off of their 2013 debut album, Lux “Eternity” has everything that you want in an Active Rock song…in-your-face intensity from the first note, the uniquely cool melodic vocals of Aaron Nordstrom, thunderous drums, emotive backing vocals and a heavy rhythm.  When songs like this don’t get the attention that they deserve, you have to wonder about the state of the format.

 

 

44 – FIRST DECREE“Stop”

It is often said that a brotherhood surrounds the hard rock and metal genres.  In the case of First Decree, this brotherhood is quite literal (the Lopez-Smith brothers comprise three quarters of the band).  The brotherhood is not the only interesting thing about First Decree.  They hail from Cheyenne, WY…a beautiful, bucolic setting, but not exactly a hotbed for modern hard rock.  The band is rounded out by the soulful vocals of Travis James, whose style is reminiscent of the vastly underrated dUg Pinnick (King’s X).  In fact, “Stop” sounds like it could be a modern take on a King’s X song…energetic guitars, a heavy bottom and nice vocal harmonies to complement the lead vocals of James.

 

 

45 – ARCANE ROOTS“If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves”

It took less than 30 seconds of hearing “If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves” on SiriusXM’s Octane to pique my interest.  What makes Arcane Roots so compelling is that they simply cannot be pigeon-holed into a specific genre, much less a radio format…the blessing and the curse of being unique.  For the Active Rock format to thrive, some chances must be taken on artists like Arcane Roots that have something new to offer.  During the tortured moments of “If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves,” the band falls into the same wheelhouse as bands like The Amity Affliction.  There are also moments on this track (especially during the vocal harmonies) where the sound is reminiscent of Kansas with a modern rock flair.

 

 

46 – ATREYU“Do You Know Who You Are?”

The huge, anthemic drum beat that opens Atreyu’s “Do You Know Who You Are?” takes you on a journey back in time to 1982, bringing back nostalgic memories of “I Love It Loud” by KISS.  This influence may seem unlikely for a metalcore band, but guitarist Dan Jacobs once talked about being a big ‘80s rock fan in an interview with Metal Underground, stating…“I love all that stuff, and think that is one generation where music was done right.”  While Atreyu definitely does “love it loud,” their latest single takes a much more angst-ridden, metalcore turn in between the more ‘80s-influenced, melodic choruses.  When Alex Varkatas shifts into unclean vocal mode, shades of Rage Against The Machine come to mind, albeit in a much more pissed off manner.  “Do You Know Who You Are?” offers a truly unique change-of-pace to most Active Rock playlists, so it’s no wonder that the song continues to gain traction.

 

 

47 – APOCALYPTICA“Cold Blood”

To casual fans, Apocalyptica may seem like a relatively new band, but they’ve actually been together since 1993, albeit in a much different way.  The band began as a Metallica tribute band featuring three classically trained cellists.  Over time, Apocalyptica began to introduce original pieces with vocals, working with hard rock frontmen like Brent Smith (Shinedown) and Adam Gontier (Three Days Grace, Saint Asonia) among others.  This is the band’s first album with a featured vocalist (Franky Perez) singing on all of the tracks.  “Cold Blood,” the first single with Perez, is a standout track.  Perez fits right in, as if he had been with the band for years.  As of now, he is not considered a member of the band, but you’d have to think that a strong possibility exists down the road for that to change.

 

 

48 – THREE DAYS GRACE“Fallen Angel”

When Adam Gontier departed Three Days Grace just as the band was peaking in popularity with their hit album, Transit Of Venus, it was hard to imagine them continuing their growth.  With “Fallen Angel” – the fourth single off of the band’s debut album (Human) with Matt Walst – continuing a string of radio hits, it’s safe to say that the post-Gontier transition is a success.  The band has found a formula that works for them, and Gontier has seemingly found what he was looking for with Saint Asonia, so in this case, it looks like everybody wins.

 

 

49 – I PREVAIL“Blank Space”

“Blank Space” was the introduction of I Prevail to many Active Rock listeners (particularly those listening to SiriusXM’s Octane).  Only after hearing it a few times did I discover that it was a cover of a Taylor Swift song.  Predictably, I like I Prevail’s version infinitely more than the original.  This is the type of cover song that really makes people stand up and take notice, because the band truly made this pop song their own.  Knowing now that it is a Taylor Swift song, it’s easy to see where the melody came from, but it is I Prevail’s intensity that really makes the song unique.

 

 

50 – ADAKAIN“Hey Girl”

Produced by Ra’s Sahaj Ticotin, Adakain’s debut single, “Hey Girl” is a powder keg of energy.  Those who are familiar with Ra will notice Ticotin’s influence, but these Dallas, TX rockers also have other (more homegrown) influences in the form of Pantera, Drowning Pool and HellYeah.  The end result is a sound that is familiar, yet distinct, which fits with the band’s core philosophy (according to lead vocalist/guitarist)…“Our band’s goal is to play heavy music that is unconventional, yet recognizable, that gives a message of fun, individuality and encourages people to do what they love in a positive environment.”

 

 

51 – NONPOINT“Misery”

For reasons that defy all logic, Nonpoint’s “Misery” generated very little traction with Active Rock radio (outside of SiriusXM’s Octane).   You have to wonder if Active Rock programmers resent living in the vast shadows cast by Octane, or if Octane is just so far ahead of others when it comes to certain songs.  On more than one occasion, I’ve noticed songs rising steadily on the Active Rock chart while they are close to being phased out on Octane after a lengthy run.  Even if Nonpoint wasn’t a staple Active Rock artist, “Misery” is a song that deserved much more attention than it received.

 

 

52 – THE PROTEST“Vicious Cycle”

Take the energy of Avenged Sevenfold and the faith of Stryper and you have the ingredients for a powerful, Christian rock band called The Protest.  The lyrics to “Vicious Cycle” are somewhat subtle, but when you listen to them knowing their faith, you get a better understanding of what the song means.  These Indiana rockers started out with their own goals, and plans to achieve those goals, thinking that sticking to the plan was bulletproof.  It wasn’t until they put their faith in something bigger than themselves that they realized that they could make an impact on people through their music.  “Vicious Cycle” is an energetic, melodic, upbeat song with a positive message that will appeal to hard rock fans (regardless of their faith).

 

 

53 – WHILE SHE SLEEPS“Four Walls”

A haunting chant sets the stage for a metal onslaught highlighted by melodic growling vocals where the lyrics can be understood without sacrificing any intensity.  In fact, the vocals in this case only serve to enhance the story being told in the song.  “Four Walls” is not for the faint of heart, but its melodic quality is likely to have an appeal that lies well beyond the realm of a typical metalcore audience.  The song addresses death with a rage so intense that it ends up being a cathartic experience…the healing power of metal, I suppose.

 

 

54 – DOROTHY“Raise Hell”

Earlier this year, Hard Rock Daddy featured a review of “After Midnight,” a Dorothy song that received some attention on SiriusXM’s Octane, but not nearly what you may have expected.  The unique sound of the band stands out amongst other Active Rock music, but that is not the only way that they march to the beat of their own drum.  Despite the fact that “Raise Hell” is getting radio attention, as well as television (the song has been featured in more than one promo for upcoming new shows), there is very little information about the band available.  You don’t need to know a lot about the band to appreciate what they have to offer.  Dorothy’s soulful vocals are enhanced by a musical arrangement that is upbeat and will keep you unconsciously tapping your feet.  Everything just works together.  There is a real art to making less really feel like more, and this band does it like few others in rock today.

 

 

55 – MESSAGE TO VENUS“Over And Done”

Message To Venus’ debut single (“Hollow”) was featured on Hard Rock Daddy’s Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014.  The band returns this year with their follow-up single, “Over And Done.”  With a name like Message To Venus, it stands to reason that “Over And Done” has a cool, atmospheric vibe at the onset beneath Jandre Nadal’s vocals.  The intensity grows as the song builds towards the melodic chorus, highlighted by John Feliciano’s crunchy guitars.  If you liked “Hollow,” there is no doubt that you’ll be a fan of “Over And Done,” and these “21stcentury rockers” in general.

 

 

56 – IN FLAMES“Paralyzed”

Anyone who discovered In Flames after hearing “Paralyzed” on stations like SiriusXM’s Octane might be surprised to learn that the band was actually formed 25 years ago.  It’s common for American audiences to learn about European bands long after their formation.  With “Paralyzed,” this Swedish melodic death metal band continues its shift towards more clean vocals, and a more radio-friendly sound.  This dynamic track shifts from driving rhythms to more atmospheric tones throughout the song, with haunting verses weaving between melodic hooks and choruses.

 

 

57 – FALLING IN REVERSE“God If You Are Above”

There is a fascinating backstory to the writing of this song, and the rest of the Falling In Reverse album for that matter.  “God If You Are Above” is a high-energy track that captures frontman Ronnie Radke’s torment, as he passionately delivers thought-provoking lyrics.  Because Radke has had his share of issues beyond the stage, the lyrics to the song take on a whole new meaning.  Radke’s story is too long to share in this forum, but if you like the band and the song, it’s worth doing a little research to read more about him.

 

 

58 – STELLAR REVIVAL“Watch You Walk Away”

One of the more confusing stories of hard rock bands in recent years surrounds Stellar Revival.  There was a buzz around the band in 2012 when they started getting radio traction with their debut single, “The Crazy Ones.”  Apparently, a shakeup at Capitol Records (the band’s original label) caused the band’s debut album (Love, Lust & Bad Company) to be shelved and the band to breakup before ever getting started.  In 2015, bassist Daniel Uricoli obtained the rights to the album to be released on mp3 format on iTunes in America, but European fans will have the chance to purchase the CD.  Although “The Crazy Ones” was written before their bizarre dealings with Capitol Records, you can make the argument that it was foreshadowing what life would be like with their future label.  It’s a shame that this album didn’t see the light of day back when the single was hot, because this band had real potential.  Like their debut single, “Watch You Walk Away” is insanely infectious with a huge hook.  Fans of bands like Sixx: A.M. and Hinder will love Stellar Revival (for what it’s worth at this point).  Uricoli and guitarist Ryan Spears have since moved on to form a three-piece band called Southern Gentlemen.

 

 

59 – HANDS LIKE HOUSES“I Am”

Australian rockers Hands Like Houses describe themselves as “Rock/Experimental” on their Facebook page, which may be one of the reasons that their single, “I Am,” was such an attention-grabber when it was played on SiriusXM’s Octane during the year.  Although the song contains elements that make it a good fit for Active Rock radio, it also has a unique quality that is somewhat difficult to pinpoint.  In a day and age where there is so much similarity in the format, there is an even greater value on finding songs that rise above the din and inspire you to instantaneously turn up the volume.   Although this track has somehow managed to fly below radio’s radar, it has certainly captured the attention of music fans (over 1.6 million YouTube views as of January of 2016).  “I Am” dynamically straddles the line of powerful, intense rage and infectious melody.  If this is what the “Rock/Experimental” genre sounds like, then we need more bands to classify themselves as such and take a chance to push the creative envelope.

 

 

60 – OTHERWISE“Coming For The Throne”

Inspiration and motivation in life come from different places.  Music is a powerful, emotional tool that can connect with people on a deep, often times, personal level.  “Coming For The Throne” falls into this motivational category if you listen to the lyrics.  The song, which starts out with a Zeppelin-esque riff, before transitioning to the signature sound that the band has honed over the years, is all about grabbing the bull by the horns and taking charge of your life.  There’s a powerful message about living your life to the fullest, ignoring detractors and not becoming your own worst enemy.

 

 

61 – AUDIOTOPSY“The Calling”

You can never say never when it comes to rock and roll reunions, but it seems that the chance of Mudvayne getting back together is fairly slim at this point.  With frontman Chad Gray firmly entrenched in Hellyeah, former Mudvayne/Hellyeah guitarist Greg Tribbett has once again joined forces with Mudvayne drummer Matt McDonough to form Audiotopsy.  Tribbett refers to the band’s sound as “progressive hard rock.”  Though Audiotopsy is different than Mudvayne (and Hellyeah for that matter), this new sound is a good fit for Active Rock.  The band showcases a variety of influences on “The Calling,” creating a powerful sound that ranges from a haunting Alice In Chains vibe to the mystique of Tool to the tortured growls.

 

 

62 – STITCHED UP HEART“Finally Free”

Heavy, pulsating rhythms converge with beautiful, hauntingly melodic vocals on Stitched Up Heart’s single, “Finally Free.”  This female-fronted outfit offers little detail about the band on their Facebook page, but they are building a nice fanbase just the same.  “Finally Free” has been getting played on Active Rock radio in recent months.  Stitched Up Heart is still not widely known, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them enjoy success similar to other heavy, female-fronted bands as they progress and continue to build their fanbase.

 

 

63- POYNTE“Take Control”

Like many hard rock artists today, Poynte has had to deal with challenges to get to where they are today, not the least of which is finding the “right” lineup to move forward as a unit.  It took a while for the current lineup to come together, but it was worth the wait.  With a solidified lineup, Poynte is poised to build upon the success that they have already achieved.  The band won the 2012 Ernie Ball Battle Of The Bands, and in that same year, also won Cabo Wabo Your Shot to Rock.  From the band’s latest release, Discreet Enemy“Take Control” offers a taste of what the solidified lineup is capable of creating together…an edgy sound featuring big hooks, vocal harmonies and meaningful lyrics. (MATT BRYANT discusses “Take Control”)

 

 

64 -BURNOS“Syndrome Of Decay”

When you think of hard rock, two things that probably don’t come to mind are the Miami Dolphins and The Bee Gees, but both have a connection to Melissa Burnos.  Burnos’ first exposure to the public came as a Dolphins cheerleader, not as a musician.  She credits her former profession with helping her to develop an ability to work a crowd.  Also giving her a boost of confidence was her association with the late Maurice Gibbs (Bee Gees).

Burnos’ latest single, “Syndrome Of Decay,” got some attention on Octane, but she still remains under the radar to a large degree.  Her powerfully melodic, sultry vocals are delivered over a sound that is reminiscent of Alter Bridge and Tremonti, which makes sense given the connection to each (Producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette, Eric Friedman and Garrett Whitlock). (MELISSA BURNOS discusses “Syndrome Of Decay”)

 

 

65 – THE BLOODLINE“With Fire (Comes Absolution)”

There are more than a handful of hard rock bands on the scene that have a familial connection between members.  The members of The Bloodline are not blood-related, but they consider themselves brothers just the same.  “The name is all about family.  We are one with each other, our fans and our friends.  We want everybody to feel like they’re a part of this,” states guitarist Shaun Glass in the band’s bio.  Vocalist Travis Neal adds, “When you break it down, we all bleed the same color.  We’re all human.  We wanted to build a strong Bloodline of our own that would last through centuries.”  Centuries might be a bit hyperbolic, but there is a sincerity to the band that comes across in their brand of groove-oriented, melodic hard rock.  Their debut single, “With Fire (Comes Absolution)” tastefully uses some well-placed growls to highlight the lyrics, without ever going over the top to the point where the melody gets overshadowed.

 

 

TOP 45 CLASSIC/MAINSTREAM ROCK SONGS.  

{Song list and write-ups listed below the YouTube playlist}

 

NOTE:  See Top 25 Hard Rock Songs (above) for write-ups and links for songs 1-7.

 

1-THE WINERY DOGS“Oblivion”

 

2-RICHARDS CRANE (f. MYLES KENNEDY)“Black & White”

 

3-JOEL HOEKSTRA’S 13 (f. JEFF SCOTT SOTO)“Scream”

 

4-BUMBLEFOOT“Little Brother Is Watching”

 

5-SCORPIONS“We Built This House”

 

6-MAGNUS KARLSSON’S FREE FALL (f. JOE LYNN TURNER)“No Control”

 

7-IRON MAIDEN“Tears Of A Clown”

 

CLASSIC/MAINSTREAM ROCK SONGS 8-45

 

8-SOTO“Break”

Did you know that Jeff Scott Soto was the actual voice of Steel Dragon from the movie Rock Star?  Did you know that JSS has fronted Journey, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and toured with Trans-Siberian Orchestra (the most popular hard rock Christmas show in the world)?  If the answers to these questions was “no,” you’re not alone.  Despite the fact that JSS is known by many as one of the best hard rock singers in the world today, he is not nearly the household name that he should be based on talent alone.  With more than three decades of experience, JSS should be known to the masses.  If you haven’t yet discovered his work, make sure to check out “Break.”  A powerful rhythm and funky groove lay the foundation for JSS to showcase his dynamic, soaring vocal abilities.  After you listen to “Break,” go back and check out the rest of Soto’s vast catalog (including his work on Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – featured above).

 

 

9-UGLY KID JOE“She’s Already Gone”

After a hiatus that lasted for nearly two decades, Ugly Kid Joe is back, and they are “Uglier Than They Used Ta Be” (if you take their latest album title literally).  The band, known for their tongue-in-cheek songs, is not actually uglier, unless of course, you find evolution unseemly.  The former five-piece unit of young rockers has returned as a seasoned, “Seven-Headed Monster” with three guitarists and two drummers (including Godsmack’s Shannon Larkin) to deliver their most cohesive sounding record to date.  “She’s Already Gone” – the band’s most recent single – starts off with a soft picking guitar intro before running you over like a freight train with a driving rhythm.  Frontman Whitfield Crane is at the top of his game, as the passage of time has taken him to another level.  With a smooth, soulful vocal delivery that perfectly complements the intense new sound of the band, Crane may finally get the recognition that he deserves.  The iconic Ugly Kid Joe logo remains intact, but is no longer an indicator of the music that lies beneath the packaging.  Like the rest of the album, this song features depth and nuance that comes with life experience. (WHITFIELD CRANE discusses “She’s Already Gone”)

 

 

10-STRYPER“All Over Again”

Very few bands that began in the early ‘80s are still around today, much less putting out albums that are as relevant as the ones that they put out during their heyday.  Even though the hard rock scene is alive and well in 2015, most artists never consider recording a power ballad these days.  Thankfully, for those of us who look back on the power ballad days with tremendous nostalgia, Stryper delivers one for the ages with “All Over Again.”  Just as he has done for decades, Michael Sweet brings the lyrics to life with his beautifully emotive delivery, highlighted by memorable backing vocal harmonies.  “All Over Again” is one of the best power ballads to be released in many years.

 

 

11- ADRENALINE MOB“Dearly Departed”

Adrenaline Mob made the news earlier this year because of the sudden passing of legendary drummer, A.J. Pero, who passed away suddenly just hours before the band was scheduled to play a gig with Drowning Pool.  Filling the shoes of original drummer Mike Portnoy was no easy task, but Pero (the driving force behind Twisted Sister) was up for the challenge.  At the age of 55, he was still one of the most punishing, skilled drummers in hard rock today, as evidenced by his work on “Dearly Departed.”

“Dearly Departed” has a definite Foo Fighters quality to the song, albeit with a unique Adrenaline Mob twist.  If this song was actually a Foo Fighters track, it would most likely rocket up the charts just as “Something From Nothing” did when it was released.  Some parting words from his bandmates in Adrenaline Mob…

“We write this with tears in our eyes & our hearts broken to pieces…our beloved brother AJ Pero peacefully passed away in his sleep this morning on the bus.  We are in complete shock & our hearts & prayers go out to his family.  It has been nothing short of an honor to have shared the stage with such a beautiful soul & legend!  We love you AJ, rest in peace.

We will cherish this last picture we all took together on tour forever! What a great night we had…we’ll miss you buddy!”

RIP A.J.! \m/

 

12-ART OF ANARCHY“Til The Dust Is Gone”

Born out of an 18-year friendship between Bumblefoot and the Votta Brothers (Jon and Vince) that began on the New York music scene, featuring the distinct sound of Scott Weiland’s vocals and John Moyer’s melodic bass playing, this supergroup aimed to “eradicate musical borders in pursuit of something brilliant.”  With their first single, “Til The Dust Is Gone,” they were off to a strong start to achieving their goal.  It wasn’t long before issues began to arise with the supremely talented, but troubled frontman, Scott Weiland.  Those feel insignificant in light of Weiland’s passing, which seemed as inevitable as it was tragic.  Despite his troubles, there is no denying the chemistry that Weiland had with this band.

“Til The Dust Is Gone” features an incredibly beautiful Spanish guitar blended with moody, emotive vocals and intense driving rhythms.  There are influences in this track that might draw some unexpected comparisons, but rather than point them out, it is suggested that you give this one several listens to peel back the layers.  Bumblefoot’s production skills are equal to his vast skills as a guitarist.  Many supergroups “fall to pieces” after only one album, but few for reasons as tragic as this one. RIP Scott! \m/

 

 

13-MOTORHEAD“Sympathy For The Devil”

On December 13th (two weeks before Lemmy Kilmister’s 70th birthday), a celebration took place on the Sunset Strip at the Whisky a Go Go, with fellow rock and roll brethren coming to pay tribute to one of the most influential and revered figures in the history of metal.  During the celebration, Zakk Wylde joked on stage about what kind of world the rest of us are going to leave for two seeming indestructible rock legends – Lemmy and Keith Richards.  Little did he know that the world would say goodbye to this larger-than-life figure just a few short weeks later.  Lemmy died just days after turning 70, but he died doing what he loved after living life on his own terms.  What more can anyone ask for?  Bad Magic, the final Motorhead studio album to ever be released, features an inspired cover of the Rolling Stones classic, “Sympathy For The Devil,” one that Richards must have surely appreciated.  Musically, the song doesn’t stray too far from the original, but Lemmy’s cool, gruff, signature vocals make the song unique.  He was one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, and his loss will leave an unfillable void in the metal world.  It’s hard to think of anyone else that could have made a Mick Jagger song any cooler than Lemmy did with “Sympathy For The Devil.”  RIP Lemmy! \m/

 

 

14-LESLIE WEST“You Are My Sunshine”

Legendary Mountain guitarist returns with his latest solo release, Soundcheck, an album that features some high profile guest musicians (including the late Jack Bruce) and a mixture of original songs and covers.  As expected, there is a great deal of impressive guitar work on the album, but the song that stood out most for me is Leslie West’s haunting interpretation of the classic, “You Are My Sunshine.”  The song (which was first recorded in 1939) has been covered numerous times, but never like this.  With bluesy guitar parts that are simultaneously beautiful and forlorn, and West’s soulful vocals, this version of “You Are My Sunshine” (featuring Peter Frampton) would have been ideally suited for a dramatic scene in Sons Of Anarchy if it were still on television.

 

 

15-BLACK STAR RIDERS“The Killer Instinct”

In 2012, Black Star Riders arose from the ashes of Thin Lizzy.  Well…sort of.  While the band is comprised of members of Thin Lizzy, the decision was made to record new material under a different moniker out of respect to the departed Phil Lynott and the legacy that he left behind.  Although this band won’t release new material as Thin Lizzy or do extended tours, they will still play some dates under their old moniker.  Diehard Thin Lizzy fans may be able to detect the difference between the two bands, but the casual fan certainly cannot.  Lynott may be gone, but you would think that he was reincarnated in the body of Ricky Warwick, whose vocal delivery is almost indecipherable from the legend that he replaced.  That being said, Black Star Riders have accomplished an impressive feat with “The Killer Instinct”…creating new music that is as relevant today as it would have been at any point over the past four decades.  If you’re a fan of Thin Lizzy’s music, it’s impossible not to also be a fan of Black Star Riders.

 

 

16-INGLORIOUS“Breakaway”

It takes some pretty big balls to describe yourselves as “the future of British rock” and “a young Deep Purple,” but when you have the chops to back it up, it’s just good marketing.  From the first note of “Breakaway,” Inglorious grabs you by the throat and never lets go with their brand of high-energy blues rock.  If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear that David Coverdale was working on a side project under the pseudonym Nathan James.  When the band refers to themselves as “a young Deep Purple,” you have to assume that they are talking about the Mark III lineup.  While your attention is naturally drawn to James’ soaring vocals, the rest of the band delivers in a huge way throughout the song.  We can only hope that Inglorious is, in fact, “the future of British rock.”  If they are, the future is looking pretty bright for the next generation of classic rock.

 

 

17-CHRIS CORNELL“Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart”

Outside of a handful of top artists, most that were considered part of the “Seattle sound” grunge movement are nothing more than a memory.  Chris Cornell always seemed to transcend any label because of his versatility, which continues to shine through to this day.  The emotive shrieking that he was once known for is now complemented by a beautiful, more subdued presence with acoustic work that few can rival.  If you’ve heard Cornell do incredible acoustic covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” and Prince/Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” it won’t come as a surprise that “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” is another masterful performance.  In fact, the music is reminiscent of some of Zeppelin’s legendary work.

 

 

18-VOODOO HILL“Waterfall”

With all due respect to Glenn Hughes’ recent work with California Breed, his work with Italian guitarist/record producer Dario Mollo is simply on another level.  “Waterfall” is a fairly straight-forward blues rock tune that is brought to life by Hughes’ incredible vocal performance, hitting ungodly notes in his mid-60s.  This song is about more than impressive vocal showcasing though.  What really makes the vocals stand out is the dynamic range and emotion that Hughes taps into throughout.  Mollo’s guitar work makes you wonder why he isn’t a household name.  This duo just works on all levels.

 

 

19-SWEET & LYNCH“Dying Rose”

George Lynch lets it rip with his signature guitar sound from the opening note, and proceeds to add Dokken-esque riffs and tasteful fills around Michael Sweet’s huge melodies throughout the song.  On “Dying Rose,” the inspired duo brings you back to the days when hard rock music left you feeling uplifted, while masterfully avoiding falling into the trap of sounding dated.  For those who grew up on ‘80s metal, “Dying Rose” is a timeless classic.  The current generation of hard rock music fans would be well served to listen to this track, and then delve deep into the respective catalogs of both Sweet & Lynch.  (MICHAEL SWEET discusses “Dying Rose”)

 

 

20-RADIO EXILE“No Pity On The Highway”

Earlier this year, Hard Rock Daddy presented the exclusive video premiere of “No Pity On The Highway,” Radio Exile’s debut single.  You can feel the groove from the opening drum beat.  When the rest of the band joins in, the groove kicks into high gear, leaving you powerless to refrain from bopping along to it (even if you’re listening to it on headphones in a public place, as I was when I was hearing the song for the first time).  After numerous subsequent listens, this track remains fresh and grows on you even more.

‘80s hard rock is often times lumped together under one generic hair metal umbrella.  What gets lost when this happens is the fact that it is also the decade that featured some of the best musicianship in the history of the genre, with many of the songs being as relevant today as they were back in the day.  While there’s no shortage of great hard rock today, it isn’t often that a song feels like an instant timeless classic.  By adding a modern touch to a classic rock sound, Radio Exile has written just such a song.

Ironically, this killer track may fall into the category of “radio exile,” which is an indictment of the state of radio (at least in America) and a sign of the times, not the music.  This is why it is so important to help spread the word to other hard rock music fans virally.  Music this good deserves to be heard, and not be at the mercy of a medium that rarely gives bands like this the attention that they deserve.

Radio Exile is a powerful unit, featuring some veteran rockers with vast experience.  The band lays the foundation for frontman Chandler Mogel to deliver some impressive old-school, blues-rock vocals.  At times, you’ll hear shades of Joe Lynn Turner, Michael Sweet and Dennis DeYoung, but Mogel’s sound is definitely his own.

If you’re a fan of classic, blues-rock, make sure to check out “No Pity On The Highway.” (CHANDLER MOGEL discusses “No Pity On The Highway”)

 

 

21-W.A.S.P.“Scream”

It is said that a leopard can’t change its spots, but can a W.A.S.P.?  Based on much of the band’s catalog, you wouldn’t think so, but the man who brought us buzz saw blade codpieces and “Animal (F**k Like A Beast)” is now a born-again Christian.  While Blackie Lawless’ newfound faith is reflected in the lyrics, musically, the band once again delivers its unique, signature sound with “Scream” (the first single off of their latest album, Golgotha).  If you were a fan of W.A.S.P.’s earlier work, you will be a fan of their latest work as well (unless, of course, you were drawn to the band for outrageous lyrics and not outstanding melodic rock with an edge).

 

 

22-KID ROCK“First Kiss”

On a brutally cold winter day, it’s natural to start longing for the summer, but it takes a certain kind of magic to actually put you in a summer frame of mind.  Enter Kid Rock with the title track from First Kiss, the kind of song that you crank up with the top down as you bask in the glory of a summer wind hitting you in the face.

One of the most fascinating things about Kid Rock is his ability to transcend genres, and yet, still hold the same appeal to fans with polar-opposite musical tastes.  “First Kiss” is good, ole fashioned rock and roll with a country flavor that holds the same mass appeal as the classic, “All Summer Long.”  Like “All Summer Long,” “First Kiss” takes you on a nostalgic journey, perfectly highlighted by Kid Rock’s soulful, raspy vocals.

For those who long for the simpler times of a bygone era, “First Kiss” is especially poignant.  The song is as much about reveling in a carefree youth as it is about reminiscing about an actual first kiss.  It also exemplifies how life has a way of changing your perspective as time goes by.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of hard rock or country, from the same generation as Kid Rock or not; “First Kiss” is an instant classic that hooks you in with its infectious melody and leaves you feeling uplifted and ready for summer.

 

 

23-OPERATION: MINDCRIME“Re-inventing The Future”

After an illustrious career with Queensryche, and an unfortunate court battle with his former bandmates, Geoff Tate has taken the first official step on his next path with “Re-inventing The Future,” the debut single from Operation: Mindcrime.

From the band’s debut release, The Key“Re-inventing The Future” is one of 12 tracks included in the first installment of an epic musical trilogy.  Finally able to write without the constraints of other band members or the expectations of fans, Tate truly is free to “reinvent the future.”

It can be argued that Tate might actually be better off making a fresh start under a new moniker.  His last album, Frequency Unknown, would most likely have been met with much more enthusiasm if it was released as Operation: Mindcrime, rather than being one of two Queensryche albums released within a few months of each other from different bands.

Although you can never say never when it comes to band reunions, there is likely too much water under the bridge for the original members of Queensryche to share the stage again, much less record.  It’s probably for the best, since Tate and his former bandmates are no longer headed in the same musical direction.

“Re-inventing The Future” features shades of Queensryche, but there are also enough unique elements to show that Operation: Mindcrime is an entity unto itself.  The song features Tate’s signature vocals and unique writing style, heavy guitars nicely complemented by keyboards, a solid rhythm section and interesting time changes.

Queensryche fans who love immersing themselves in Tate’s incredible storylines and characters will embrace the next step of his concept album journey.

Rather than trying to recapture the past, Tate should be commended for “Re-inventing The Future” with Operation: Mindcrime. (GEOFF TATE discusses “Re-Inventing The Future”)

 

 

24-AC/DC“Rock The Blues Away”

Unlike most classic, hard rock artists, AC/DC has managed to carve out a place for themselves on Active Rock radio, which is somewhat surprising given that their sound is largely the same as it has always been (which is why they are featured in this section).  There is a beauty to AC/DC’s consistent approach.  They know who they are, who their fans are and what they want.  Perhaps the current infatuation with the band across formats stems from how close we came to not having them around anymore after Malcolm Young’s diagnosis.  Like many of their songs, “Rock The Blues Away” features the word “rock” in the title (in fact, this is the second single in a row that has it).  “Rock The Blues Away” offers something unexpected and different.  Although AC/DC isn’t known for “feel-good” melodies, this song shows that there are layers to their brand of “rock,” with a fun, summer vibe in the vein of Kid Rock.

 

 

25-WHITESNAKE“Burn”

In 1974, Deep Purple released Burn, the first of three studio albums that David Coverdale recorded with the band.  Born out of a desire to reunite the Mark III lineup of Deep Purple by friend and former bandmate Jon Lord (before his passing), Coverdale attempted to reach out to Ritchie Blackmore to bring the reunion to fruition.  When Coverdale and Blackmore couldn’t find common ground, and with work on the songs already in progress, Coverdale’s wife suggested that they move forward with the project under the Whitesnake moniker.  All of the members of Whitesnake were very enthusiastic about the prospect of recording updated versions of the songs that Coverdale wrote in his youth, and it shows in this inspired re-creation of “Burn.”  If you mixed the colors white and purple, you would end up with a light shade of purple.  However, this blending of Whitesnake and Deep Purple is anything but light.  This mixture offers the best of both worlds…the soulful, bluesy sound of Deep Purple and the energetic, dual-guitar assault of Whitesnake’s Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach.  There is an inherent risk in trying to recapture the magic of a classic original, but on “Burn,” Whitesnake has done so with flying colors!

 

 

26-BITERS“Restless Hearts”

It isn’t often that you hear a Cheap Trick influence in music today, so when you do, it makes you stand up and take notice.  The band that is finally getting their just due by the enigmatic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be smart to help expose Biters to the world as a supporting act.  This is not to say that Biters are a Cheap Trick clone; they are not.  “Restless Hearts” is straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll with just the right amount of punk swagger to showcase the band’s edgier side.  The swagger (in a fun way) is also apparent on the band’s Facebook page, describing themselves as “Electric Playboys in the Disposable Age.”

 

 

27-THE V“Again”

From his legendary releases with Stryper, to his collaboration with George Lynch to his solo work, there is one thing that you can count on when Michael Sweet is involved – outstanding songwriting.  While Sweet was the one delivering the vocals on all of the aforementioned work, this time around his song is being brought to life by Benedictum vocalist, Veronica Freeman.  Sweet wrote, produced and played guitar on “Again,” which appears on the debut album from The V (Freeman’s solo project).

Often times, fans of ‘80s metal favor the “glory days” for nostalgic reasons.  While some of the music may not be as relevant today as it was back then, the truly great songs with depth have a timeless sound.  Sweet and Freeman have achieved that with “Again,” a song that gets better with each listen.

You could easily see “Again” being released as a Stryper song, but if Sweet wasn’t going to sing it himself, it’s hard to imagine him finding anyone that could have done it better than Freeman.  In fact, with a delivery very similar to Sweet’s, you have to wonder if Freeman would be considered to front Stryper if Sweet ever steps back and focuses on guitar because of his admitted challenges with hitting all of the high notes…

“So I can’t hit all the high notes like I used to.  I try and ‘choose my battles,’ but unfortunately, gravity has taken its toll.  How would it go over if we found some young lad who can hit all the high notes and I just play guitar and sing from time to time?  Don’t go crazy, just wanted to ask out of curiosity…”

Sweet never mentions a possible female singer, so this suggestion is pure conjecture on my part, but Freeman would be an interesting choice just the same.

Much like Slash’s early solo work, The V is a project that features numerous contributors.  It’s way too early to speculate about future collaborations between Sweet and Freeman, but based on this song, you have to imagine that the two will work together…“Again.”

 

 

28-DEVIL CITY ANGELS“Boneyard”

The ‘80s brought us some of the greatest hard rock in the history of the genre.  Many of the acts still perform to this day, and there is always a chance that those who broke up will reunite at some point in the future.  A growing trend in recent years is the formation of “supergroups” featuring ‘80s rock stars.  Devil City Angels fall into that category, but they have a sound that is so organic, that you feel like this is a band with the potential to shed the “supergroup” label and just be looked at as a band on the rise.

This hard rock outfit features all-stars Tracii Guns, Rikki Rockett and Rudy Sarzo (who replaced Eric Brittingham).  What sets Devil City Angels apart from other “supergroups” is the freshness that lesser-known frontman/guitarist Brandon Gibbs brings to the table, giving the band a current sound that is built on a foundation of hard rock from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

“Boneyard” gives a taste of what Devil City Angels has to offer.  If you’re a fan of straight forward, melodic rock and roll, you’re in for a treat.  From the riffs to the pounding rhythm to Gibbs’ vocals (which sound like a modern-day Paul Rodgers), all of the pieces of this rock and roll puzzle fit together perfectly. (BRANDON GIBBS discusses “Boneyard”)

 

 

29-LYNCH MOB“Testify”

Like his other recent release (Shadow Train), George Lynch’s latest Lynch Mob single – “Testify” – takes a step away from the upbeat, melodic anthems and signature shredding to explore a side that is a bit darker and more emotive.  In an interview with Bravewords, Lynch stated…“With Rebel (the band’s latest album), we allowed ourselves to move outside our normally imposed self-restraints and tread some forbidden sonic territories.”  Everything that Lynch does with frontman Oni Logan works, including this new exploration, which also features fellow Dokken alum Jeff Pilson on bass and Brian Tichy on drums.  “Testify” is not what you might expect from Lynch Mob.  While many bands from the ‘80s tend to follow the formula that has always worked for them, Lynch and company reinvent themselves on this powerful single that will appeal to all fans of bluesy, hard rock.

 

 

30-SHADOW TRAIN“Fallen”

Shadow Train is much more than another project featuring the stellar guitar work of George Lynch.  This two-CD set is the culmination of Lynch’s musical aspirations and his fascination with the human condition meeting to form one cohesive message.  A number of the songs from this double album appear in Lynch’s movie, Shadow Nation, a documentary about the trials and tribulations faced by Native Americans in today’s world.  What’s most interesting about this project is the fact that the band is fronted by Gregg Analla (an unknown singer who happens to be a descendant of the Isleta Pueblo Indian Tribe).  With lyrics that are clearly personal to Analla, it’s no surprise that the end result is a passionate, at time tortured, delivery.  Everyone knows that Lynch can shred with the best of them, but “Fallen” is more about the message than guitar wizardry.  It’s unlike anything that you’ve come to expect from Lynch, but it works.

 

 

31-THE DEAD DAISIES“Mexico”

The Dead Daisies are one of the more fascinating acts in hard rock today.  This music collective – which features a veritable who’s who of rock – recently became the first U.S. artists to tour Cuba since travel and trade restrictions were lifted.  As guests of the Cuban Ministry of Culture, Cuban Institute of Music and the Cuban Rock Agency, the band spent a week performing electric and acoustic shows.  They regularly rotate high profile members, and their sound is probably best described as “classic rock” (even though they were formed in 2012), but The Dead Daisies have the talent and songs to be mentioned in the same breath as the legendary bands that they’ve supported on tour.  From their June release, Revolución (the first album with John Corabi fronting the band), “Mexico” is a fun, bluesy, rock ‘n’ roll party song with a big hook that showcases Corabi’s vocals (which are reminiscent of Ian Gillan at times).  If you haven’t checked out The Dead Daisies yet, make sure to give “Mexico” a listen.

 

 

32-U.D.O.“Pain”

To many, Udo Dirkschneider will always be thought of as the frontman of Accept.  He played a pivotal role in turning the band into a household name before departing in 1987.  Although Dirkschenider had some reunions with Accept, for the most part, he has been actively releasing music for nearly three decades under the U.D.O. moniker.  “Pain” – off of the band’s latest album, Decadent – is as good as anything that he released with Accept.  His distinct, gritty, ballsy delivery literally has not changed a bit through the years.  The beauty of “Pain” is that it easily could have been released in the ‘80s and been just as relevant as it is today.  Because U.D.O. has had numerous lineup changes through the years, and because the band bears his name, it feels like solo work, but rest assured, this current lineup is much more than just hired guns.  In fact, if you didn’t know any better, you might think that “Pain” is an unreleased Accept track from the Balls To The Wall / Metal Heart era.  Aside from Dirkschneider’s outstanding vocals, the infectiously melodic guitar work is particularly noteworthy on a song that would have been a huge hit if it was released in the ‘80s.

 

 

33-MOTOR SISTER“Fork In The Road”

Hard rock supergroups are all the rage in recent years, but it’s hard to think of one that has a backstory as cool as Motor Sister.  Scott Ian (Anthrax) wanted one present more than any other for his 50th birthday – a reunion of Mother Superior (one of his favorite bands) with him in the lineup.  Since Ian’s wife, Pearl Aday (Meat Loaf’s daughter), had been working on her solo career with Mother Superior frontman Jim Wilson, things came together fairly easily.  Joined by Joey Vera (Fates Warning / Armored Saint) and John Tempesta (White Zombie / The Cult), Ian’s dream gig of playing his favorite Mother Superior songs at his birthday party came to fruition.  Industry veterans attending the party raved about the performance, and the band loved the chemistry that they shared.  With Metal Blade records on board, the members of Motor Sister got together in L.A. and recorded an entire album in two days.  Wilson’s work with Mother Superior may have flown beneath the radar of most hard rock fans, but one listen to “Fork In The Road,” and it’s easy to see why Ian, Vera and Tempesta were such fans.

 

 

34-MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK“Let The Devil Scream”

Legendary guitarist Michael Schenker relives his days with the Scorpions, teaming up with Herman Rarebell and Francis Buccholz, along with Wayne Findlay (MSG) and Doogie White on Temple Of Rock’s 2015 release, Spirit On A Mission. The guitar work on “Let The Devil Scream” is intensely raw, dirty and angry, as are White’s Ian Gillan-esque vocals, not surprising given the challenges that the band faced in getting this album released.  The whole album had to be re-recorded after the original tapes were stolen (along with guitars).  If you’re a fan of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Scorpions and MSG, this is a must-listen!

 

 

35-STRIKEFORCE“All About The Money”

Strikeforce’s career spans over three decades.  Through the years, they’ve shared the stage with some big names in hard rock, but have still remained largely under-appreciated.  Founding member and guitarist Duke Jackson cites legendary guitarists Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen and Ritchie Blackmore as his influences.  Jackson’s gritty, in-your-face riffs and shredding on “All About The Money” show that he is a force to be reckoned with (even if he doesn’t have the name recognition to match his talent).  “All About The Money” is an anthem of the working man that will (lyrically) appeal to those who live their lives stretching a dollar from paycheck-to-paycheck.  “All About The Money” is in the same wheelhouse as another song with similar subject matter – “For The Love Of Money” by Bulletboys, albeit with an edgier, more raw sound in the vein of classic Skid Row.

 

 

36-CRUCIFIED BARBARA“Lunatic #1”

For over a decade, this quartet of Swedish badass women has been delivering ballsy, punk-infused hard rock.  Although they have started to garner some attention as a supporting act in the United States, they are vastly underrated here, which is somewhat surprising given the rise of female-fronted bands being played on Active Rock radio.  The band’s latest single, “Lunatic #1,” showcases what Mia Coldheart (vocals/guitar), Klara Force (guitar), Ida Evileye (bass) and Nicki Wicked (drums) have to offer – unrelenting, kick-ass, anthemic hard rock.  A driving punk rhythm lays the foundation for Coldheart to shine with her haunting, defiant vocal style.  You would never know by listening to this song that she was ever reluctant about taking over the lead vocals for the band.  The gang vocals are as good as it gets, and the guitar shredding and harmonies harken back to the glory days of metal.  Coldheart is a rare talent that makes you stand up and take notice for not only her vocals, but also her lead guitar play. (MIA COLDHEART discusses “Lunatic #1”)

 

 

37-ARMORED SAINT“Win Hands Down”

A tragic death that led to a tenuous future for Armored Saint was the first domino to fall in the band’s breakup a decade after their formation.  Unsure of the future of the band, and with an opportunity to front Anthrax, frontman John Bush departed.  Seven years after the breakup, with Anthrax on hiatus, Bush returned to Armored Saint in 1999.  After releasing two albums, the band once again went on a long hiatus, before releasing an album in 2010.  It’s been five years since the band’s last release, but it was worth the wait.  “Win Hands Down” – the title track of their latest album – is a throwback to the glory days of heavy metal.  It features the thrash intensity of Anthrax, an Iron Maiden-esque chorus and impressive dual guitars.

 

 

38 – 220 VOLT“Through The Wastelands”

You would expect a band that dates back to 1979 to have a vast catalog of albums, but that is not the case for Sweden’s 220 Volt.  From 1983 – 1988, the band released four studio albums, and then didn’t release another one until 1997 (even though they weren’t active at the time).  Founding members/guitarists Mats Karlsson and Thomas Drevin have been reunited since 2002, but they didn’t release their sixth studio album (Walking In Starlight) until recently.  Featuring Anders Engberg (Therion, Lion’s Share) on lead vocals, “Through The Wastelands” straddles the line between hard rock and melodic metal.  At times, reminiscent of Dokken and Rainbow, “Through The Wastelands” is an impressive, high-energy track that leaves you wondering what might have been if this band had remained intact through the years.

 

 

39-THE RADIO SUN“Caught Between Heaven And A Heartbreak”

If you long for the glory days of feel-good ‘80s hard rock, look no further than The Radio Sun, a four-piece unit from Down Under.  “Caught Between Heaven And A Heartbreak” has an heir of familiarity from the first note to the last, but remains original because they infuse influences from everything that you loved about the ‘80s.  If you had to pick one influence that is the most notable in the song, it would have to be Dokken.  Like “In My Dreams,” “Caught Between Heaven And A Heartbreak” begins with a huge, vocal harmony intro before Steve Janevski launches into a riff that is reminiscent of classic George Lynch.  As the song progresses, you can hear moments of Steve Perry, David Coverdale and Rik Emmett influence in Jason Old’s vocals.  “Caught Between Heaven And A Heartbreak” is a journey back in time that pays homage to the soundtrack of many peoples’ lives.

 

 

40-THUNDER“Wonder Days”

Rock music may never produce the paydays or fame that it once did, but anyone who thinks that rock is dead should listen to bands like Thunder.  Unfortunately, timing prevented them from ever achieving the success that they deserved in the U.S., but that speaks more to the missteps made by the industry than the talent of the band.

In retrospect, the decline of the hair metal movement was inevitable; not necessarily because of the music, but rather the image that ultimately seemed like a parody of itself.  The rise of grunge created a paradigm shift, but also resulted in metaphorically “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”  Thunder’s debut album featured one of the best power ballads of all-time (“Love Walked In”), but there was something much deeper to their sound than many of the formulaic ballads of that era.  While the band has remained largely unknown in America, these vastly underrated British rockers have released new music with regularity from 1990-2008.  After a seven-year hiatus, and a cancer scare for guitarist, Ben Matthews, Thunder is back with music that is much more Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Whitesnake than it is anything resembling “hair metal.”  Bluesy, soulful and nostalgic, “Wonder Days” (the title track off of the band’s latest album) offers further proof that rock is alive and well.  Like fine wine, frontman Danny Bowes seems to get better with age.  If you haven’t yet delved into what Thunder has to offer, “Wonder Days” provides an excellent introduction to the band.

 

 

41-SCREAMING EAGLES“Save Me”

The first single off of Stand Up And Be Counted sets the bar high for the rest of the sophomore effort from Northern Ireland’s Screaming Eagles.  If “Save Me” was released two decades ago, it would still be played today as a killer classic rock track.  There are enough elements that would also make it a great fit for Active Rock radio… most notably, the stellar vocals of frontman Chris Fry, who most resembles Chris Cornell on this track, but also adds in other influences to create a unique sound.  Bluesy guitar riffs and a powerful, driving rhythm help to create a song that, sonically, is a throwback to past decades.

 

 

42–DIEMONDS“Over It”

Canadian rockers, Diemonds, follow the growing trend of female-fronted hard rock bands.  The sultry Priya Panda delivers a powerful, melodic performance, with just the right amount of sex appeal, on the band’s single, “Over It” (off of Diemonds’ third album, Never Wanna Die).   The rest of the band has a classic Twisted Sister vibe on “Over It” (think “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n Roll”).  It is said that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  The same advice holds true for Diemonds’ latest album, which has a considerably more beastly cover than the beauty that lies within.  If this song was released exactly as-is by Halestorm, it would undoubtedly soar up the Active Rock charts.  It’s too late to be one of the early Halestorm adopters, but you’re right on time to become a “Die-Hard” (the fitting name bestowed upon the band’s loyal following).

 

 

43-SLEAZY WAY OUT“Wasted Chance”

You have to appreciate the way that Sleazy Way Out left nothing to the imagination when deciding upon their moniker.  They are what you would expect them to be, and they wear it on their sleeve.  The band’s list of interests and influences (sleazy hard rock, heavy metal, booze, fast cars, girls and tattoos) shows what these Canadian rockers are all about.  Listening to “Wasted Chance” is like a journey back in time to the early days of Motley Crue and W.A.S.P. when sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll reigned supreme.  With Crue about to end their long and sordid journey and W.A.S.P. now headed in a more pure direction now that Blackie Lawless has found religion, there is a torch that needs to be passed.  There’s no doubt that Sleazy Way Out would take that torch and run with it if given the opportunity.

 

 

44-WAMI“Wild Woman”

Imagine, for a moment, being a young guitarist in a band opening for a rock legend, and having one of the members of the headlining act suggesting recording together because he was so impressed with your work.  That is exactly how WAMI was born.  Thin Lizzy bassist Marco Mendoza approached guitarist Iggy Gwadera (Anti Tank Nun) with the idea, and the rest (as they say) is history.  Little did Gwadera know at the time that he would end up being a member of a supergroup that includes Vinny Appice (drums) and Doogie White (vocals).  Gwadera more than holds his own with his notable bandmates on “Wild Woman,” a classic rock/hard rock song with a groove that keeps your feet tapping and your head bobbing.

 

 

45-EUROPE“The Second Day”

Fans of ‘80s hard rock were well-aware of “The Final Countdown” long before Europe started performing it in a Geico commercial.  As a result of the commercial, the song has reached greater heights than ever before.  Far fewer people are aware of Europe’s 2015 release, War Of Kings, which features songs like “The Second Day,” the polar opposite of “The Final Countdown.”  This is a song with substance, soul and sorrow.  Joey Tempest’s vocals are still impressive, but in a much more subdued way.  John Norum’s guitar cries out in pain.  There is no bombastic closure to the song; it simply fades mournfully into the ether.  “The Second Day” is mature blues rock that more closely resembles Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple than ‘80s hair metal.  It’s a totally different side of Europe, but it works well.

 

 

TOP 20 PROG/POWER/HEAVY METAL SONGS OF 2015

{Song list and write-ups listed below the YouTube playlist}

 

1-CRYSTAL BALL (f. NOORA LOUHIMO)“Eye To Eye”

Crystal Ball is the perfect example of a band that is a force to be reckoned with in Europe, but totally flies under the radar in the United States (largely due to the fact that the opportunity for radio exposure is basically non-existent).  One of the reasons that Music Discovery Monday was launched on Hard Rock Daddy was to give exposure to bands like Crystal Ball who don’t have a radio outlet.  Starting out as a cover band in 1995, the band released its first studio album in 1999.  This year, Crystal Ball released their eighth studio album entitled LifeRider.  With a new energy courtesy of German frontman, Steve Mageney, these Swiss rockers are poised to once again make their mark in the hard rock genre.  “Eye To Eye” is pure power metal at its best.  Mageney’s vocals are such an ideal fit with the vocals of Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) that she feels more like a part of the band than a guest vocalist.

 

 

2-GUS G.“Brand New Revolution”

Gus G. became well-known in the same manner as many before him, as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne.  Although he has name recognition, his 2015 solo release has still flown largely under the radar, which is a shame, because it is better than much of what is getting radio attention these days.  “Brand New Revolution,” the title track off of Gus G.’s latest album combines the raw, aggressive riffs that fit perfectly with Ozzy’s solo material, and dials it up a notch with the help of the soaring vocals of Jacob Bunton (Adler, Lynam).  Everything is big – the riffs, the vocals, the hook, the melody, the heavy bottom, and of course, the shredding guitar work.  It all comes together in spectacular fashion to produce a killer heavy metal song that doesn’t get nearly the attention that it deserves.

 

 

3-THE NEAL MORSE BAND“The Grand Experiment”

The title of the song also describes the manner in which the song (and album of the same name) was written.  Rather than having all of the material prepared before entering the studio, all of the songs were created with the entire band together.  In addition to Neal Morse, the band features Mike Portnoy (drums), Randy George (bass), Eric Gillette (guitars) and Bill Hubauer (keyboards).  Says Morse, “I wanted to see what it would be like to create freely in the room with no preconceived notions.  It was quite a risk!”  The risk clearly paid off.  Even though this is a prog album and will undoubtedly appeal to prog audiences, “The Grand Experiment” will also appeal to a wider audience as well.  Classic rock fans who like Kansas, Styx and Yes should definitely check this one out.

 

 

4-METAL ALLEGIANCE“We Rock”

In 1985, Ronnie James Dio helped gather a group of heavy metal artists to record a song called “Stars,” to help raise money for famine relief in Africa.  Fast forward 30 years to 2015.  A group of metal musicians banded together under the moniker Metal Allegiance, recorded their first album, and closed it with a killer version of the Dio classic, “We Rock.”  While this is not a charity project, the impact of having so much talent recording together made for a memorable tribute to one of the greatest metal musicians to ever walk the planet.  The core group on the album is made up of Alex Skolnick (guitar), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) and Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, The Neal Morse Band, Flying Colors).  On “We Rock,” they are joined by vocalists Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), Chris Jericho (Fozzy), Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest), Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Chuck Billy (Testament) & Steve “Zetro” Souza (Exodus), in addition to guitarists Andreas Kisser (Sepultura), Phil Demmel (Machine Head) and Gary Holt (Exodus).  Together, this metal army does Dio proud with an inspired, heart-racing version of “We Rock.”

 

 

5-ELVENKING“Black Roses For The Wicked One”

Epic power metal with influences ranging from prog to folk (amongst others) is the foundation upon which Elvenking is built.  The band uses this formula to “spread mystic tales of fantasy and imagination,” and it works perfectly.  One listen to “Black Roses For The Wicked One,” and you’ll be left wondering how music like this manages to fly under the radar outside of Europe.  It’s just that good!  Soaring vocals and beautiful harmonies provide an anthemic, feel-good vibe that brings back memories of ‘80s heavy metal, while the arrangement and keyboards are reminiscent of the best that Kansas ever had to offer.  Elvenking should be a worldwide sensation, not an act that is somewhat contained by geography.

 

 

6-KISKE / SOMERVILLE“City Of Heroes”

It’s been several years since Michael Kiske fronted Helloween, but it is still his best known work to date.  Kiske has kept himself busy with other projects that showcase his immense vocal talent.  Teaming up with Amanda Somerville (who has fronted several bands) was an inspired decision.  Hard rock duets are fairly commonplace, but less so in power metal.  “City Of Heroes” is an incredibly melodic, theatrical collaboration that highlights the vocal prowess of two great power metal vocalists.  In fact, it has such a theatrical feel to it, that it wouldn’t be a surprise if a movie was written based on the song.

 

 

7-SYMPHONY X“Without You”

You have to wonder where Symphony X would be if the band had launched in the mid-‘80s instead of the mid-‘90s.  Other than timing (and maybe luck), there is very little separating them from the hard rock and heavy metal bands that rose to stardom and carried that momentum forward when the grunge movement began.  If their timing was better, it’s easy to imagine them being mentioned in the same breath has Queensryche and Dream Theater.  Vocalist extraordinaire, Russell Allen, gets his fair share of attention from other artists and fans in the know, but it’s fair to say that his talent exceeds his fame by leaps and bounds.  The same can be said for founder/guitarist Michael Romeo, bassist Mike LePond, keyboardist Michael Pinnella and drummer Jason Rullo.  “Without You” showcases the immense talent and chemistry of this powerhouse quintet.  From the outstanding vocals and vocal harmonies to the subtle nuances that are best heard though headphones and the interesting arrangement, “Without You” is everything that you want in a song from this genre.  Sadly, this American band has a sound that is appreciated much more by overseas audiences than right here at home.

 

 

8-LEVEL 10“Cry No More”

Often times these days, I find myself being thankful for Serafino Perugino for having the vision, connections and finances to bring some of the best musicians in the world together.  Included in this category is the inspired joining of forces of vocalist extraordinaire Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob, Allen/Lande) and Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner).  With the prompting of the Frontiers Records president, this power duo got together to blend their individual styles into a powerhouse melodic metal band that features members of Primal Fear, ex-Helloween and Hardline.  “Cry No More” is nothing short of brilliant.  It has everything that you want in a power metal song and more.

 

 

9-VALOR“The Crown Of Evermore”

“Epic Heavy Metal” is how this Greek band describes themselves, and they are not exaggerating.  Valor’s sound is larger-than-life, intensely melodic and powerful.  The energy of speed metal juxtaposed over beautiful piano on “The Crown Of Evermore” is something to behold.  The prog inspired leads and fills are tight and virtuosic.  The lead vocals and harmonies are emotive beyond words.  This kind of talent should be celebrated by hard rock fans around the world.  Valor has been around since 2002, but learning about the band on Hard Rock Daddy’s Music Discovery Monday earlier this year, it’s clear that talent does not equal exposure (particularly in America).  America may be known as the land of opportunity, but that idiom certainly does not hold true for a multitude of great metal acts that enjoy success in Europe and barely get noticed in this part of the world.  Valor most certainly falls into that category.

 

 

10-ANTHRAX“Evil Twin”

Anthrax fans will have to wait until the end of February for the band’s first album release in five years.  However, the band recently released the first single from For All Kings.  “Evil Twin” features the classic thrash sound that Anthrax is famous for, infused with a modern metal sound that makes it an interesting crossover fit for Active Rock radio (think Slipknot’s “Custer” without the growling).  This track would absolutely stand out on most Active Rock playlists, providing a massive shot of testosterone to a typical rotation.  Any song that takes terrorists to task in a meaningful way should be supported in this day and age.  To not do so would be simply un-American!

 

 

11-MEGADETH“The Threat Is Real”

Megadeth will be releasing Dystopia (their 16th studio album) in January.  Though there has been a recent shakeup in the lineup, Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson keep the ball rolling with “The Threat Is Real.”  The song opens with a haunting chant before launching a metal assault that hits you like a ton of bricks.  Mustaine has never been shy about sharing his political views.  “The Threat Is Real” is a powerful look at the world that we’re living in today, where terrorism is no longer something that happens to other people.  The song embraces the thrash roots that defined Megadeth early on, which only serves to enhance the story being told, especially in the video.  Though the video is in cartoon form, it is graphically violent and disturbingly real.

 

 

12-GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS“In Dreams”

Ghost Ship Octavius is a NYC-based band that describes their sound as “Melodic Progressive Heavy Metal,” an accurate description given all of the elements that they bring to the table.  Whereas some progressive metal can be so intensely chaotic that it only appeals to a very specific audience, Ghost Ship Octavius incorporates enough mainstream components to have more of a mass appeal to hard rock and metal fans in general.  However, this is not to say that their music doesn’t have its fair share of complexities that will appeal to diehard prog fans.

With “In Dreams,” Ghost Ship Octavius has masterfully blended catchy, melodic hooks, virtuosity and interesting, unpredictable time changes without ever wandering into sensory overload territory.  Featuring Matt Wicklund (God Forbid, Warrel Dane, HIMSA) and Van Williams (Nevermore, Ashes of Ares), the band is rounded out by Dagna Silesia (Warrel Dane, The People Now) and up-and-coming frontman Adon Fanion.

 

 

13-NEXT TO NONE“Blood On My Hands”

The current generation of teenagers has grown up in a different world, one with the threat of terrorism on American soil, and mass shootings (particularly in schools) occurring with regularity.  Most bands are either too old or too immature to write about this subject from a meaningful, first-hand perspective.  Next To None does not fall under the category of “most bands.”

Aside from the familial connection that Max Portnoy (drummer) has with Mike Portnoy, the band is made up of fellow musical prodigies: Ryland Holland (guitar), Kris Rank (bass) and Thomas Cuce (keys and vocals).  Ranging from ages 15-16, these teens are not only skilled beyond their years, but wise as well.

In an interview with Bravewords, Cuce discussed the inspiration for “Blood On My Hands” and the carefully planned writing process for the song…

“At the time [I wrote the lyrics] it seemed like every day there was a different person going crazy somewhere and shooting up a building or whatever, and I would ask myself ‘Why does this keep happening? What was that person thinking? What led them to do this?’ So I tried to put myself in this person’s head. I created a character and started from the aftermath of the event, which is where we first hear about it in the news.”

Of the song’s extended arrangement, he says, ‘It took us months to write this song and then months to learn it. We had a big dry erase board that we used to chart out all the parts with the time signatures until we had them memorized.”

With thought-provoking lyrics and complex song structures, the younger Portnoy and his bandmates are well on their way to becoming this generation’s Dream Theater.

 

 

14-HELLOWEEN“Lost In America”

Is it a Freudian slip that inspired Helloween to write a song called “Lost In America,” or just a sad reality bemoaning the band’s lack of exposure in the United States throughout a career that spans more than three decades?  Thankfully, the world is now global, so bands like Helloween aren’t truly “Lost In America,” but they are still under-appreciated in this part of the world.  The song, from the band’s 15th studio album (My God-Given Right) offers further proof that America has been missing out on some outstanding power metal.  There’s something intriguing about hearing a song called “Lost In America” being sung in Andi Denis’ German accent.  If your familiarity with Helloween is limited to 1988’s “I Want Out,” do yourself a favor and spend some time exploring the band’s vast catalog.

 

 

15-SIGNUM REGIS“Living Well”

Slovakian power/neoclassical metalers Signum Regis are a whirlwind of melody on “Living Well.”  The guitars shred, the bass pulsates like an adrenaline-infused heart alongside thunderous drums.  Mayo Petranin, who was a guest vocalist on the band’s third studio release (Exodus) – a concept album about the Children of Israel fleeing Egypt – is now the lead vocalist for the band.  Petranin’s vocals are a natural fit for Signum Regis.  After a melodic musical assault this intense, you’ll need to take a break and catch your breath, as “Living Well” packs quite a punch.

 

 

16-PRIMAL FEAR“The End Is Near”

What’s the next best thing to landing the gig as Rob Halford’s replacement in Judas Priest?  Launching your own heavy metal tour de force in the same vein as the one that got away.  That’s exactly what Ralf Scheepers did in 1997 with Mat Sinner, Tom Naumann and Klaus Sperling.  Fast forward nearly two decades, and Primal Fear is now a six-headed, three-guitar, metal monster getting ready to release their 12th studio album.  Not a bad consolation prize for Scheepers if you ask me.  “The End Is Near” grabs you by the throat from the first note with the crunch of heart-pounding riffs and a driving rhythm.  Scheepers takes the Halford influence and adds  Udo Dirkschneider-esque aggression, a formula that works perfectly with Primal Fear’s sound.

 

 

17-MIKE LePOND’S SILENT ASSASSINS“Apocalypse Rider”

Symphony X bassist Mike LePond dials it up a notch on “Apocalypse Rider” (from his debut eponymous solo project), a song that has the same pulse-racing feel as Metallica’s “Motorbreath.”  The band features fellow Symphony X member Michael Romeo (guitar), in addition to vocalist Alan Tecchio (Watchtower, Hades, Non-Fiction) and guitarist Metal Mike (Halford, Testament).  Though much more straight-forward metal than his work with Symphony X, the band manages to weave some melodic vocal harmonies into “Apocalypse Rider” without ever slowing the freight train momentum that starts with the first note.  This is pure, timeless heavy metal.

 

 

18-KAMELOT“Insomnia”

With a name like Kamelot, it’s no surprise that the band is known for neo classical metal.  What may come as a surprise to those not familiar with the band is that they have been around since 1992, and that they formed in Tampa, FL not Sweden, Finland or other European nations that are hotbeds for the genre.  Kamelot’s most recent release, Haven, is the 11th studio album of the band’s career, and the second with frontman Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) at the helm.  “Insomnia” has all of the elements that you would expect from songs in this genre…an epic arrangement, virtuosic leads, heavy synth and dramatic vocals.  What it also has is the type of melodic hook that is customary to more mainstream hard rock.  The fact that this blurb was written during the 3:00am hour of a typical night of “Insomnia” seems very fitting.

 

 

19-STRATOVARIUS“Shine In The Dark”

Lineup changes are fairly commonplace in the hard rock and metal genres, especially for bands with a long history, but Finnish power metalers Stratovarius have a lineup history that is more unique than most.  Formed in 1984, the longest tenured member of the band is frontman Timo Kotipelto (who joined in 1994).  Despite the revolving door that is a part of the band’s history, they have managed to soldier on and remain one of the top acts in the genre.  In September, Stratovarius released their 16th studio album, Eternal, which features the lead single, “Shine In The Dark.”  This epic song is a chilling story written from the perspective of speaking to someone close to you who has passed on, but never really leaves your side.  Anyone who has lost someone close to them will relate to this melodic power metal song (rife with vocal harmonies) in a meaningful way.

 

 

20-TAD MOROSE“Forlorn”

Some days, you just need to lose yourself in the music and let metal be your therapy.  Amazingly, Tad Morose has been around for over 20 years, but like many Swedish bands, has not broken through in the U.S.  The lack of radio opportunities for bands like Tad Morose is a story for another day.  For today, the story is one of melancholy, and an impassioned vocal delivery by Ronny Hemlin that makes you feel the despair, yet somehow feel uplifted at the same time.  “Forlorn” features Yngwie-esque guitars and vocals that are reminiscent of Graham Bonnet’s early work with Alcatrazz.  Simply put, this is pure power metal that deserves to be heard by an audience well beyond the borders of Europe. (RONNY HEMLIN discusses “Forlorn”)

 

 

 

TOP 5 SOUTHERN ROCK SONGS OF 2015

{Song list and write-ups listed below the YouTube playlist}

 

1-OUTLAWS & MOONSHINE“Whiskey”

The rise of grunge in the early ‘90s is often credited as the death knell of ‘80s hair metal.  However, few people talk about the collateral damage that happened around the same time…the decline of Southern Rock.  Although southern influences can be found in some modern hard rock bands, pure Southern Rock bands are few and far between these days.  Enter Indiana’s Outlaws & Moonshine – a trio that aims to blend the past with the present with their brand of “back beat boogie woogie” infused Southern Rock – with their debut single, “Whiskey.”

As the acoustic guitar intro fades, Outlaws & Moonshine launch into a down home, southern sound that takes you on a journey back in time.  The twang of the guitar and the blue-collar gritty vocals of the verses build up to an anthemic chorus that will undoubtedly have fans singing along as they hoist a few in a live setting.  There’s a beauty to the simplicity of this feel-good party song, and the overall stripped-down, straight-ahead sound of Outlaws & Moonshine (think AC/DC with Southern Rock sensibilities).  “Whiskey” gives a nice “taste” of what this “new Southern Rock” band has to offer. (BEAU VAN discusses “Whiskey”)

 

 

2-ROYAL BLISS“Drown With Me”

Like Outlaws & Moonshine, Royal Bliss hails from an area (Utah) that isn’t predominantly known for Southern Rock, but you’d never know it based on the band’s latest single, “Drown With Me,” a feel-good song with just the right amount of Lynyrd Skynyrd influence.  Another modern band with “royal” in the name gets most of the hype these days, but Royal Bliss is the band that should be getting the attention.  More than likely, they are still underrated because of the influences that they infuse into their music from other genres, but that is what makes them so unique.  Kid Rock has proven that you can simultaneously appeal to fans from all walks of life, so hopefully, Royal Bliss will eventually become the household name that their music warrants.  Check out “Drown With Me,” and then go back to dig into the band’s catalog.  You will not be disappointed!

 

 

3-BLACK TOP MOJO“In Color”

Earlier this year, Chris Cornell joined forces with Zac Brown to create a song that brought two unlikely genres together.  Back in the early ‘90s, no one would have imagined that the Seattle sound could ever be melded with country music, but “Heavy Is The Head” made a huge impact on Active Rock radio.  Admittedly, my knowledge of country music is minimal at best, so I was unfamiliar with the original version of “In Color” (by Jamey Johnson).

Matt James shows his diversity, and a mature sound that goes well beyond his years, on “In Color,” a song that captures nostalgia in a manner very similar to Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long.”  It’s natural to look at an old black and white photo and think that life was somehow less colorful than it is today.  The vivid lyrics of “In Color” serve as a reminder that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but the real story can only be told with context.

If you didn’t know any better, you would think that James was telling the story as his grandfather told it to him as a boy.  It’s challenging enough to make a cover song your own, much less delivering someone else’s incredibly personal memory with such authenticity.  James does so with flying colors, supported by beautifully moving backing vocals and a band that knows just when to let the song breathe, and when to let loose.  Lead guitarist Ryan Kiefer highlights the song with a solo that features shades of Neal Schon on the Journey classic, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” (MATT JAMES discusses “In Color”)

 

 

4-FALL TO JUNE“Delta Breakdown”

What do you get when you add Shinedown, Cold, Fuel and Saliva?  A hard rock band with an unexpected southern sound, and a message.  Confused?   Fall To June’s name was inspired by a time and place, according to an interview that vocalist Ben Badger did with PureGrainAudio…“If you consider that in the fall, the school year begins, and in June it is typically done for the summer.  We want to learn something new every day, both in life and in general about ourselves.  So, Fall To June is exactly that, our education in being us.”  As far as the aforementioned bands are concerned, the members of Fall To June (and their producer) have connections to each of them.  This isn’t exactly the formula that you would expect to add up to true southern rock, but Fall To June is as down-home as you can get.  The band’s first single, “Delta Breakdown,” features an ideal mix of twang and shred, to go along with Badger’s soulful, melodic delivery.  If you’re a fan of southern rock, make sure to check out Fall To June.

 

 

5-FAR FROM GONE“Set It Free”

From the ashes of Soulicit and Transmit Now rises Far From Gone, a D.I.Y. southern hard rock band that brings to the table a lifetime of experience from both inside and outside of the music business.  Like most hard rock artists nowadays, both Darick Parson (Soulicit) and Kevin Parrow (Transmit Now) have had their share of highs and lows trying to make a living in an increasingly challenging environment for rock bands.  “Set It Free,” from the band’s debut album, is part of a collection of songs that “echoes a lifetime of being exposed to the music business and all of the ups and downs that life itself brings.”  The song itself has a Shinedown meets Seven Mary Three feel, highlighted by impassioned vocals and a cool, lyrical, storyteller vibe.  With Parson and Parrow both having enjoyed successful moments in the music business, along with the inevitable bumps in the road, “Set It Free” feels like an inside look into the personal journals of each.  Seeing how this band develops should be interesting, as the quality of their songs is already at a level above most newer artists.

 

Top 50 Active Rock Songs of 2015: HRD Radio Report

HRD Radio Report - Top 50 Active Rock Songs of 2015

It’s been an interesting year for Active Rock radio, due in large part to the number of high-profile artists releasing singles in 2015.  These artists dominated the Active Rock Top 50 Songs of 2015.  When you factor in that nine artists account for nearly half of the Top 50, it’s easy to see why there are so few newer artists featured on this list.  However, there were a handful that made their presence felt with singles that were just too good to be ignored.  Of course, the opportunities were also lessened because Active Rock programmers continue to inexplicably waste spins on songs and artists that are not a fit for the format.

Using the actual spins that each song received while featured in the Top 50 of the Active Rock Mediabase Charts (compiled by AllAccess.com), HRD Radio Report ranks the Top 50 Active Rock Songs of 2015 (below).  It should be noted that this recap is based solely on spin totals, not editorial opinion.  To see editorial opinion, check out the Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015 Active Rock fans should also check out the Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2015.

NOTE:  To read song reviews, click on the hyperlinked song titles, and to read album reviews, click on the hyperlinked artist names.

RANK ARTIST SONG TITLE TOTAL SPINS (TOP 50)
1 POP EVIL “Footsteps” 34,121
2 BREAKING BENJAMIN “Failure” 32,007
3 BREAKING BENJAMIN “Angels Fall” 31,226
4 SHINEDOWN “Cut The Cord” 31,130
5 PRETTY RECKLESS “Follow Me Down” 30,436
6 THEORY OF A DEADMAN “Angel” 27,876
7 ZAC BROWN BAND (f. Chris Cornell) “Heavy Is The Head” 26,504
8 DISTURBED “The Vengeful One” 25,427
9 RED SUN RISING “The Otherside” 25,141
10 HIGHLY SUSPECT “Lydia” 25,072
11 ROYAL BLOOD “Little Monster” 24,156
12 BRING ME THE HORIZON “Throne” 23,872
13 FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH “Jekyll And Hyde” 23,564
14 FOO FIGHTERS “Congregation” 23,437
15 HALESTORM “Apocalyptic” 23,042
16 OFFSPRING “Coming For You” 22,672
17 THREE DAYS GRACE “I Am Machine” 21,849
18 PAPA ROACH “Gravity” 21,618
19 SLASH “Bent To Fly” 21,125
20 CHRIS CORNELL “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” 20,630
21 NOTHING MORE “Jenny” 20,417
22 THREE DAYS GRACE “Human Race” 19,396
23 HALESTORM “Amen” 18,642
24 PAPA ROACH “Face Everything And Rise” 18,378
25 BRING ME THE HORIZON “Drown” 17,765
26 DISTURBED “The Light” 17,461
27 GHOST “Cirice” 16,999
28 SAINT ASONIA “Better Place” 16,578
29 FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH “Wash It All Away” 16,116
30 SIXX A.M. “Stars” 15,767
31 HALESTORM “I Am The Fire” 14,840
32 SEETHER “Nobody Praying For Me” 14,267
33 SEETHER “Same Damn Life” 14,237
34 FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH “Wrong Side Of Heaven” 13,368
35 SLIPKNOT “Killpop” 13,317
36 MARILYN MANSON “Deep Six” 13,082
37 FOO FIGHTERS “Something From Nothing” 12,556
38 THREE DAYS GRACE “Fallen Angel” 12,537
39 THE STRUTS “Could Have Been Me” 12,507
40 AC/DC “Rock Or Bust” 12,469
41 SEVENDUST “Thank You” 12,204
42 HELLYEAH “Hush” 12,047
43 FOO FIGHTERS “Outside” 11,736
44 AWOLNATION “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)” 11,735
45 TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT “Take It Back” 11,692
46 ASKING ALEXANDRIA “I Won’t Give In” 11,139
47 ALL THAT REMAINS “This Probably Won’t End Well” 11,051
48 SEETHER “Save Today” 10,882
49 STARSET “Halo” 10,791
50 WE ARE HARLOT “Dancing On Nails” 10,621

Top 13 Hard Rock Songs for Thanksgiving

Top 13 Hard Rock Songs for Thanksgiving (2)

1 – LED ZEPPELIN – “Thank You”

A month before Thanksgiving of 1969, Led Zeppelin released the ultimate song of romance and gratitude with “Thank You.”  No song has come close to delivering such an impassioned message in such a poetic way in all of the years that have passed since.  The song title never appears in the song, but it doesn’t matter.  With such powerful mental imagery created by the lyrics, the message comes across loud and clear without ever having to say the words “Thank You.”  True gratitude comes from the heart and is displayed by actions, not words.  It’s no wonder that one of the greatest songs of all-time is still used as the wedding song for so many to this day.

 

2 – TESLA – “What You Give”

“It’s not what you got, it’s what you give…it ain’t the life you choose, it’s the life you live.”  Grammatical liberties aside, “What You Give” truly encapsulates the meaning of Thanksgiving.  Each year on this holiday, people take time to show their gratitude.  Sadly, for many, that show of gratitude is short-lived as they quickly shift their focus towards acquiring more material goods.  Black Friday was bad enough, but shopping has now taken over Thanksgiving itself.  We would be better off as a society if we were more influenced by this classic Tesla song than retail stores.

 

3 – SAMMY HAGAR – “Give To Live”

“Give To Live” is from the only solo album (I Never Said Goodbye) that Sammy Hagar recorded during the Van Halen years.  This is one of two Hagar solo songs that Van Halen played in concert, and features Eddie Van Halen playing bass.  Very few singers can tap into the emotion of song the way that Hagar does on “Give To Live,” an incredible power ballad about love and compromise.

 

4 – KISS – “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II”

“God Gave Rock and Roll to You” was originally recorded by Argent in 1971.  The more well-known version emerged two decades later when KISS covered the song to be included on the soundtrack to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.  It was later included on the band’s 1992 release, Revenge.  With all due respect to Argent, KISS made the song their own and brought it to another level.  Anyone who has ever relied upon rock and roll as an escape from reality can appreciate what a powerful gift it is, and should be thankful for the gift on Thanksgiving (and every other day).

 

5 – SEVENDUST – “Thank You”

Representing the current generation of hard rock, Sevendust delivers a powerful, intense message with the first single from their latest album, Kill The Flaw.  Unlike Led Zeppelin’s song with the same title, Sevendust’s “Thank You” is not a touching love song, but it does show gratitude for providing a reality check, and offering up the realization that sometimes you need a new beginning.

 

6 – THE GUESS WHO – “Share The Land”

In 1970, The Guess Who optimistically looked forward to a time when there would be peace as we all shared the land.  Fast forward to 2015, and that concept seems as realistic as unicorns.  The problems of the world aside, this song captures the spirit of Thanksgiving and brings to mind images of the pilgrims and Native Americans.  Sadly, this concept seems as unlikely to happen (figuratively) in the United States as it does in places like the Middle East (literally).

 

7 – SUPERTRAMP – “Give A Little Bit”

Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit” is a classic example of the mood of the song saying more than the lyrics.  The lyrics, while fairly simple and repetitive, are about giving and receiving love, sharing, caring and a feeling of home.  The true spirit of Thanksgiving is captured in few words.

 

8 – SCORPIONS – “You Give Me All I Need”

From the Scorpions hit album, Blackout, “You Give Me All I Need” is a high-energy love song about second chances and starting anew.  It’s not the kind of giving that is usually associated with Thanksgiving, but with limited quality hard rock songs about gratitude and generosity; this underrated track fits with the theme closely enough.

 

9 – ZZ TOP – “I Thank You”

The original version of “I Thank You” was recorded by Sam and Dave in 1968, but most rock fans are more familiar with the ZZ Top version which came out in 1979.  The soulful tone of the song and the title make it seem like an ideal fit for Thanksgiving.  A closer listen to the lyrics when compiling this list reveals that the song is probably a bit more sexual than most people realize.

 

10 – ROGER DALTREY – “Giving It All Away”

This song (written by then-unknown Leo Sayer) was released as a solo single by The Who frontman in 1973.  It is Roger Daltrey’s highest-charting solo single in the UK, but never charted in the U.S.  As he has done so many times with The Who, Daltrey delivers an emotionally stirring performance on “Giving It All Away.”  Although the lyrics are somewhat cryptic, the song captures the melancholic feeling that many feel during the holidays.

 

11 – PETE TOWNSHEND – “Give Blood”

Giving blood saves lives.  Unfortunately, it usually takes a tragedy for many to make the effort to donate, and then it is done en masse, which causes waste because of the shelf life of donated blood.  This is more of a personal observation and Thanksgiving soapbox moment than a true reflection of the song’s intent.  Click here to read the fascinating story behind the creation of this song by The Who’s legendary guitarist.

 

12 – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – “Give It Away”

With the exception of questioning “material excess” and a few other references, it’s not exactly clear what Anthony Kiedis is giving away, but he and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are doing so with authority.  Kingpins, paupers, hoosegow and Bob Marley are all squeezed into this Chili Peppers track that features their signature rock/funk/rap sound.

 

13 – RATT – “Give It All”  

Rounding out the Top 13 Hard Rock Songs for Thanksgiving is a song that isn’t about traditional giving, but then again, this is a genre that isn’t known for being wholesome.  This is what “giving” was all about during the decade of decadence that was the ‘80s.  You have to find a way to burn off all of those Thanksgiving calories somehow, so why not “give it all” Ratt-style?

 

NOTE:  Each song can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyperlinked song title.  See below for the full Top 13 Hard Rock Songs for Thanksgiving playlist.

 

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014

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 AmericaHowever, 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.

 

 

#51 – 75

 

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.”

 

 

#76 – 100

 

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/

RELATED POST:

TOP 135 HARD ROCK SONGS OF 2015

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2014

Top 30 Octane Big 'Uns Countdown Songs of 2014

The Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2014 takes the place of the regular countdown as the year comes to a close. Hard Rock Daddy will be publishing the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of the 2014 later in the week, including a handful of songs from this list, and many others as well.

The Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2014 video playlist (below) can also be found on www.HardRockDaddyNetwork.com (the HRD YouTube channel), in addition to archived weekly playlists from 2013 (including the Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013).

Click on the hyper-linked song titles below the video playlist to read the reviews that were featured on Hard Rock Daddy during the year.

  1. “This Is The Time (Ballast)” – NOTHING MORE
  2. “The Devil In I” – SLIPKNOT
  3. “Wrong Side Of Heaven” – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
  4. “My Demons” – STARSET
  5. “Words As Weapons” – SEETHER
  6. “Breaking Skin” – NONPOINT
  7. “Room To Breathe” – YOU ME AT SIX
  8. “Torn To Pieces” – POP EVIL
  9. “Something Different” – GODSMACK
  10. “Drop Dead Cynical” – AMARANTHE
  11. “Moth” – HELLYEAH
  12. “Moving On” – ASKING ALEXANDRIA
  13. “The Last One Alive” – DEMON HUNTER
  14. “Villainy Thrives” – TRIVIUM
  15. “Painkiller” – THREE DAYS GRACE
  16. “Take The Bullets Away” – WE AS HUMAN (featuring Lacey Sturm)
  17. “Stars” – SIXX: A.M.
  18. This Means War” – AVENGED SEVENFOLD
  19. “Darker Side Of The Moon” – OTHERWISE
  20. “Hater” – KORN
  21. “Would You Still Be There” – OF MICE & MEN
  22. “Sick Like Me” – IN THIS MOMENT
  23. “Drown” – THEORY OF A DEADMAN
  24. “Reincarnate” – MOTIONLESS IN WHITE
  25. “Wish You Hell” – LIKE A STORM
  26. “Respect” – DEVOUR THE DAY
  27. “Take Out The Gunman” – CHEVELLE
  28. “Doc Holliday” – VOLBEAT
  29. “Hail The Apocalypse” – AVATAR
  30. “Drown” – BRING ME THE HORIZON

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014

Billboard Top 50 Hard Rock Albums of 2014

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013

Top 52 Hard Rock Songs of 2013

 

Top 15 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs: January 2014 – June 2014

Octane Big 'Uns Countdown - Top 15 Songs - January 2014 to June 2014

To paraphrase Aerosmith, “half the year is in books written pages,” so the time has come to look back on the Top 15 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs for the first half of 2014.

2013 was a stellar year for hard rock music, and 2014 is shaping up to be just as good, if not better.  While a number of the top Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown songs for the first half of 2014 were actually released in 2013, in recent weeks, songs released this year are starting to make a real impact, and should have a big presence in the year-end recap.

Each week, Hard Rock Daddy features a recap of the Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown.  Since its launch in March of 2013, HRD has become the go-to destination for Octane fans to track both current and archived recaps of the countdown, in addition to each week’s playlist, which is also featured on the Hard Rock Daddy Network.

Tracking the Big ‘Uns Countdown from the first week of January of this year to the last week of June, HardRockDaddy.com has created a unique formula to rank the songs heard on the countdown.

The following 15 songs have made the biggest impact in the first half of 2014.  Click on any hyperlink to read Hard Rock Daddy reviews of the song/band.

 

 

[1] “Stardust”Gemini Syndrome

The top song of the year has had a somewhat puzzling run on the Big ‘Uns Countdown.  It was featured on the countdown for the first 20 weeks of the year, spending several weeks at #1, and never dropping below #4, before inexplicably dropping off the countdown entirely and never returning.

 

 

[2] “My Demons”Starset

In recent weeks, Starset’s song “Carnivore” has started to make an impact, however “My Demons” is the song that put them on the Octane map, having spent the first 22 weeks of the year on the countdown.  Aside from the first few weeks of the year, the song was a mainstay in the top 5, peaking at #1, before also having an inexplicable drop off of the countdown entirely.

 

 

[3] “Love The Way You Hate Me”Like A Storm

It’s safe to say that Like A Storm is the only band on the list with a song that features a didgeridoo.  Then again, they are also the only band from New Zealand making an impact on the countdown.  “Love The Way You Hate Me” has been a mainstay on the countdown.  Before dropping off this week, the song had spent 24 consecutive weeks on the Big ‘Uns Countdown, peaking for several weeks in the #1 position.

 

 

[4] “Torn To Pieces”Pop Evil

Onyx has been a huge album for Pop Evil when it comes to being represented on the countdown.  Following in the footsteps of “Trenches” and “Deal With The Devil,” “Torn To Pieces” is the latest song to become a Big ‘Uns Countdown fixture.  The song has spent the past 14 weeks on the countdown, peaking at #1 and spending several weeks in the top 5.

 

 

[5] “Shepherd Of Fire”Avenged Sevenfold

Saying that Avenged Sevenfold is revered on Octane would be a tremendous understatement.  The title track off of Hail To The King basically owned the Big ‘Uns Countdown in 2013, and the two follow-up singles have spent significant time on the countdown in 2014.  During the first 14 weeks of the year, “Shepherd Of Fire” took over for “Hail To The King,” peaking at #1 before yielding to “This Means War” in the 15th week of 2014.

 

 

[6] “Strife”Trivium

“Strife” has had perhaps the most puzzling run on the countdown.  After its initial 4-week run, it dropped off for a week then returned for a five-week run before dropping off for two weeks.  Making a striking re-entry, the first week back on the countdown (after a two-week hiatus), “Strife” reached its peak position at #1.  It spent three more weeks on the countdown before dropping off permanently.

 

 

[7] “Would You Still Be There”Of Mice & Men

The first song in the Top 15 from a 2014 album release, “Would You Still Be There” has been a juggernaut in recent weeks.  With the exception of one week, the song has been featured on the Big ‘Uns Countdown for the past 18 weeks, reaching its peak position this week at #3.

 

 

[8] “This Is The Time (Ballast)” – Nothing More

Anyone who has listened to Octane in the past week or so has definitely heard the push that they are making for Nothing More (an Octane Accelerator band).  In addition to replaying their fascinating interview throughout the week, the station has also been playing several songs off of the band’s self-titled label release, which just came out last week.  “This Is The Time (Ballast)” has come on like gangbusters, spending the past six weeks in the top 5, and the past three weeks in the #1 position.  Unless the song gets replaced on the countdown by a follow-up single, this may end up being the song of the year on the Big ‘Uns Countdown by the time December rolls around.

 

 

[9] “This Means War”Avenged Sevenfold

As was previously mentioned, “This Means War” took over where “Shepherd Of Fire” left off.  After an 11-week run, the last six of which were spent in the top 5, A7X finally dropped off of the countdown.  The song spent two weeks in the #1 position during its run.  As the only band with two songs in the Top 15, A7X and Big ‘Uns Countdown have become synonymous.  This week is the first week in a long time that they weren’t represented on the countdown at all.

 

 

[10] “House Of The Rising Sun”Five Finger Death Punch

Like a handful of other bands, Five Finger Death Punch has been well-represented on the Big ‘Uns Countdown over the past year or so.  “House Of The Rising Sun” enjoyed a 13-week run over the course of 14 weeks on the countdown.  While it didn’t dominate the countdown the way that “Lift Me Up” (featuring Rob Halford) did, the song peaked at #5, a similar path to the one taken by the second single (“Battle Born”) off of FFDP’s epic double album – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell (volumes 1&2).

 

 

[11] “Immortal”Eve To Adam

“Immortal” finished 2013 strong and carried the momentum into 2014 with a 13-week run on the countdown, peaking in the #3 position.

 

 

[12] “Dead But Rising”Volbeat

Volbeat is another band that always seems to be represented on the Big ‘Uns Countdown.  While not as impactful as the previous singles off of Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies (“Hangman’s Body Count” and “Lola Montez”), “Dead But Rising” enjoyed a 14-week run over the course of 17 weeks, peaking in the #2 position.

 

 

[13] “Weak”Seether

In a somewhat unorthodox move, Seether featured “Weak” (from their new release Isolate and Medicate) on their “best of” album 2002-2013 in the fall of last year.  The first “official” single from the new album, “Words As Weapons” has been making a big impact on the countdown as of late, but before it entered the Big ‘Uns Countdown, “Weak” had a 14-week run and peaked in the #4 position.  “Words As Weapons” looks to have an even stronger run, and will likely be one of the top songs of the year when all is said and done.

 

 

[14] “Always”Killswitch Engage

Like Eve To Adam’s “Immortal,” Killswitch Engage’s “Always” carried its 2013 momentum into a 12-week run at the beginning of 2014.  The follow-up song to “In Due Time” peaked in the #4 position.

 

 

[15] “Painkiller” Three Days Grace

In one of the most surprising band departures in recent memory, Adam Gontier (Three Days Grace’s former frontman), parted ways with the band just as they were about to embark upon a tour in support of their hit album, Transit Of Venus.  With the tour already booked, Three Days Grace turned to My Darkest Days frontman, Matt Walst (TDG bassist Brad Walst’s brother) to front the band.  Shortly after the tour, Matt was named the permanent replacement for Gontier.  The band will be releasing a new album later this year.  The first single off of the album, “Painkiller,” has spent 9 of the past 11 weeks on the Big ‘Uns Countdown (peaking in the #3 position).

 

Check out 6 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs to Watch as we move into the second half of the year (below the Top 15 Playlist – January 2014 – June 2014)…

 

  1. “Pittsburgh”The Amity Affliction (8 consecutive weeks, peaked in the #8 position)

 

  1. “Sangre Por Sangre (Blood For Blood)”Hellyeah (6 out of 7 weeks, peaked in the #7 position)

 

  1. “All Rise”Wovenwar (3 consecutive weeks, peaked in the #11 position)

 

  1. “Room To Breathe”You Me At Six (3 weeks total, peaked in the #4 position)

 

  1. “1000hp”Godsmack (past 2 weeks, peaked in the #6 position)

 

  1. “Bloody Angel”Avatar (past 2 weeks, peaked in the #13 position)

Top 20 Modern Hard Rock Love Songs

Top 20 Modern Hard Rock Love Songs

There was a time when every hard rock band had at least one song about love, and usually much more than that.  Of course, the world was a different place back then.  The classics will always have a place in the hearts of fans from past generations, but what about those who are looking to discover more modern hard rock love songs?

While hard rock love songs have become something of a lost art, there are still a number of them to be found if you know where to look.

On the first Valentine’s Day since the launch of the site, Hard Rock Daddy presents the Top 20 Modern Hard Rock Songs.  All of the songs on this list were released in the 2000s.   A song-by-song breakdown is listed below the playlist of songs, which can also be found on the Hard Rock Daddy Network (HRD’s YouTube channel).

 

[1]     HALESTORM“Here’s To Us”

Real love happens to real people in real life, and it usually isn’t anything like the romanticized version that is created for entertainment purposes in film and television.  Almost every long-term relationship has to endure the curveballs that life throws at you from time to time.  It is at those moments that you learn the true strength of your bond.  “Here’s To Us” celebrates real love happening to real people in real life in an unusual way.  Like many classic power ballads of days gone by, the song vacillates between moments of emotional sweetness and powerful ballsiness.  However, unlike any other hard rock love song in memory, it is filled with the salty language that is often times used in real life.  Halestorm vocalist, Lzzy Hale, obliterates any stereotype that one may have about female hard rock singers with her perfect delivery of “Here’s To Us,” a song that clearly illustrates the two most important opinions in any relationship.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“Here’s to us…here’s to love…all the times that we messed up…here’s to you, fill the glass…cause the last few nights have kicked my ass…if they give you hell…tell ‘em go f**k themselves!”

 

 

[2]     SHINEDOWNI’ll Follow You

“I’ll Follow You” is one of the most unique hard rock songs in recent memory.  Brent Smith singing with piano accompaniment is eerily reminiscent of classic Elton John, not exactly what you expect from one of the premier bands in hard rock today.  Of course, when you have a brilliant vocalist like Smith, you can stretch your musical boundaries and still appeal to a dedicated fanbase.  At times, the lyrics to “I’ll Follow You” (like the ones below) directly illustrate the love story being told.  At other times, the lyrics are somewhat cryptic, yet incredibly poetic.  Like most great songs, you don’t necessarily need to know the exact meaning of the lyrics to be emotionally moved. This is one of those times.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“I’ll follow you down, through the eye of the storm…don’t worry, I’ll keep you warm…I’ll follow you down, while we’re passing through space…I don’t care if we fall from grace…I follow you down to where forever lies…without a doubt I’m on your side…there’s nowhere else that I would rather be.”

 

 

[3]     ALL THAT REMAINS“What If I Was Nothing”

All That Remains has a history that dates back to the late 90’s as a melodic death metal band, eventually evolving into a melodic metalcore band.  With the most recent album, A War You Cannot Win, the band has evolved into more mainstream metal, gaining traction on radio with songs like “What If I Was Nothing.”  The song shows the surprising vulnerable side of frontman, Phil Labonte, an outspoken, self-proclaimed troublemaker.  By wearing his heart on his sleeve and admitting that he is nothing without the girl that he is pining for, Labonte and All That Remains have effectually modernized the traditional power ballad and created an incredible hard rock love song.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“What if I was nothing?…What if this is true?…What if I was nothing, girl, nothing without you?…So what if I was angry…what did you think I’d do?…I told you that I love you, girl…I’m nothing without you.”

 

 

[4]     APOCALYPTICA (feat. Brent Smith)“Not Strong Enough”

Apocalyptica is an eclectic, Finnish metal band that has over a 20-yr history.  The band originally started out as four classically trained cellists playing Metallica covers on cello at Sibelius Academy.  Through the years, they have evolved to include guest musicians on their recordings, most of which are purely instrumental.  “Not Strong Enough” is one of four songs (out of 12) with vocals from Apocalyptica’s album entitled 7th Symphony.  With Brent Smith’s distinct voice and style, “Not Strong Enough” sounds more like Shinedown with strings, which is the likely reason that it received regular airplay on stations like SiriusXM’s Octane.  Smith’s passionate delivery is a perfect complement to the beautiful and powerful musical arrangement.  Lyrically, the song addresses the challenge that many people face at one time or another…the battle between heart and mind.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“And I know it’s wrong, and I know it’s right…even if I try to win the fight…my heart would overrule my mind…and I’m not strong enough to stay away.”

 

 

[5]     STONE SOUR“Say You’ll Haunt Me”

“Say You’ll Haunt Me” is far from a typical hard rock love song.  It has a haunting quality that makes it both melancholic and intriguing at the same time.  Corey Taylor is one of the best vocalists in hard rock today, and his ability to write infectious melodies is on full display with “Say You’ll Haunt Me.”  At first blush it may seem like the song is about a desire to spend eternity with the one you love.  However, in addition to his unique songwriting abilities, Taylor readily admitted in his book, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Heaven, that he has had several paranormal experiences, so this song appears to be more than just poetic license.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“Say you want to stay…you want me to…say you’ll never die…you’ll always haunt me…I want to know I belong to you…say you’ll haunt me…together, together, we’ll be together…together forever.”

 

 

[6]     BUCKCHERRY“Sorry”

Buckcherry made their debut in 1995, a challenging time in hard rock to say the least.  With grunge all the rage on the heels of Nirvana’s success, there wasn’t much excitement about traditional hard rock bands.  Although the response to “Lit Up” was very positive, Buckcherry was victimized by their timing.  After seeing the band in a small NYC club, and witnessing Josh Todd up-close-and-personal, there was little doubt that they would become the next big thing.  They’ve had their share of success, and have managed to stick around longer than most bands, but they are still largely underrated.  Like many of the top hard rock acts that came before them, Buckcherry has an amazing ability to straddle the line between debauchery and romance, which is why they deliver songs like “Sorry” with as much passion as songs like “Crazy Bitch.”

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“I love how you kiss…I love all your sounds…and, baby, the way you make my world go round.”

 

 

[7]     THE LAST VEGAS “Apologize”

Chad Cherry – The Last Vegas frontman – embodies everything that made the 80s arguably the best decade for hard rock music.  However, the band didn’t make its debut until 2003, and “Apologize” didn’t come out until 2009.  Yet, if you heard the song on the radio, you would swear that you were listening to a hidden gem from the 80s that inexplicably managed to elude you.  This song is an instant classic with a timeless quality that would have made it just as relevant three decades ago as it is today.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“And you’re an angel…you’re perfection in every way…you’re the one that turns my darkness into light.”

 

 

[8]     TOM KEIFER“Thick And Thin”

Tom Keifer has had his share of challenges since the Cinderella days, most notably a partially paralyzed left vocal cord that almost caused him to never sing again and led to emotional and personal battles.  His most recent release, The Way Life Goes, took nearly a decade to complete.   The inspired album is a true testament to perseverance.  Keifer has undoubtedly had his share of failed relationships as evidenced by songs like “Cold Day In Hell,” “It’s Not Enough” and “Ain’t That A Bitch.”  However, he eventually found peace and happiness with his wife, Savannah, who co-wrote and sang on the album.  The chemistry between the two is undeniable.  Her inspiration resulted in “Thick And Thin,” a truly great love song about always being there for someone.  Keifer shows impressive range on the song, showcasing at times, a Rod-Stewart-like raspy quality that perfectly captures the emotions of the lyrics.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“I’ll walk with you until our souls got no skin…cause we can’t lose…we’ll only win…thick and thin…dry your tears when you are crying…thick and thin…be the truth in a world that’s lying…thick and thin…give up my last breath if you were dying…I’ll stand by you…thick and thin.”

 

 

[9]     W.E.T.“Love Heals”

Released in 2013, “Love Heals” is a throwback to the glory days of heavy metal power ballads.  Frontman extraordinaire, Jeff Scott Soto, has thirty years of experience, and his bio reads like a who’s who of hard rock history (Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, etc.).  He even provided the vocals for the fictional band, Steel Dragon, in the movie Rock Star (with Mark Wahlberg).  While W.E.T. is a relatively new project, Soto hails from the hard rock love song era.  If you are fan of 80s power ballads, you will absolutely be a fan of W.E.T. and “Love Heals.”

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“Love heals…love feels alive…cause love’s here when you’re by my side…and love frees…love’s real this time…and love sees the man here inside….love heals, love heals.”

 

 

[10]  BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE“Hearts Burst Into Fire”

Bullet For My Valentine may be the least romantic band name in hard rock history.  Factor in songs like “Temper Temper” and “Riot,” and you get the feeling that they are all about anger, but they’re not.  The truth of the matter is that, despite their penchant for aggression, their music is incredibly melodic, and “Hearts Burst Into Fire” shows that they have another side to them.  Make no mistake, this song is not a ballad, or even a power ballad for that matter, but it is about love.  Crunching guitars, driving drum beats and powerful guitar harmonies provide the backdrop to a love song that addresses the issue that many touring musicians face…long distance relationships with long periods of absence.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“My bed’s so cold, so lonely…no arms, just sheets to hold me… I’ve been far away…when I see your face…hearts burst into fire”

 

 

[11]  SLASH (feat. Myles Kennedy)“Apocalyptic Love”

Hard rock love songs generally address the same subject matter, albeit in a variety of ways.  The dynamic duo of Slash and Myles Kennedy have taken an entirely different approach to creating their version of a hard rock love song.  Whereas most typical love songs focus on the concept of long-lasting love, “Apocalyptic Love” is a song about a relationship that has one night left as the world comes to an end.  In its own way, it may be the most romantic song on this list because it is setting the stage for eternal love by looking at the end of the world as a beginning rather than an end.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“We’ll dance under the burning sky…watch it die…no sorrow, no sorrow…together as the fires rage…and erase tomorrow, tomorrow….and when it’s all said and done…we will have love until the very end of time.”

 

 

[12]  SIXX: A.M.“Smile”

As a side project, Sixx: A.M. is already becoming one of the best hard rock bands around.  If there is a silver lining to Mötley Crüe’s recent retirement announcement, it is the possibility that Sixx: A.M. will become more than just a supergroup side project.  To date, the band’s albums have been soundtracks to accompany Nikki Sixx’s books:  The Heroin Diaries and This Is Gonna Hurt.  James Michael is well-known in hard rock circles as a producer, songwriter and mixer, but his vocals on “Smile” (and Sixx A.M. songs in general) should get him mentioned with the great singers of today.  In Mötley Crüe’s heyday, love songs and hard rock music went hand-in-hand, so it’s not surprising that Sixx: A.M. has delivered a hard rock love song for the ages with “Smile.”

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“And all my life, I’ve been waiting for someone like you…to make me smile…to make me feel alive…and you’ve given me everything I’ve ever wanted in life…you make me smile, and I forget to breathe…what’s an angel like you ever do with a devil like me?”

 

 

[13]  BLACK STONE CHERRY“Hell & High Water”

The heyday of southern hard rock has long since passed, but thanks to this Kentucky-bred quartet, it is very much alive and well in modern times.  Inspired by the likes Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band, Black Stone Cherry creates their magic within the confines of a rundown Kentucky farmhouse, dubbed “The Practice House.”  Chris Robertson’s soulful voice is on full display in this southern-fried love song.  The band has a true appreciation for the simpler things in life.  Perhaps their lack of burning desire for material possessions is what fuels their down-to-earth lyrics and timeless rock and roll sound.  “Hell & High Water” is a great introduction to those who have not yet discovered this band on the rise.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“I’ve seen a million faces…been to a million places…but, girl, there’s no one quite like you.. I’d walk through hell and high water…wash away with the tide…I can lose a damn war all by myself, if you were on the other side.”

 

 

[14]  RED“Best Is Yet To Come”

When a relationship hits a bump in the road, the natural reaction is to want to go back to the point in time when things were at their best.  But the answers to the problems of today don’t lie in the past, and we can’t stop time from putting distance between yesterdays and tomorrows (“an hourglass we can’t rewind…holding back the life that I’ve denied for so long”).  “Best Is Yet To Come” is a song of hope, that there is always a chance for a new beginning in a relationship.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“I still believe our lives have just begun…cause now the past can be outrun…and I know you are the reason…I still believe the best is yet to come.”

 

 

[15]  PAPA ROACH“No Matter What”

Papa Roach songs are nothing if not passionate, regardless of the subject matter, which is not surprising given frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s battles with addiction and suicidal thoughts.  What makes Papa Roach stand out is their ability to seamlessly incorporate various music styles into songs based on the subject at hand.  If you’ve ever seen Shaddix with his son, you can easily tell that, despite his troubled past, he is loving and dedicated.  “No Matter What” has some dark undertones, but ultimately, it is a love song that speaks from the heart.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“No matter what…I got your back…I’ll take a bullet for you if it comes to that…I swear to God, that in the bitter end…we’re gonna be the last ones standing.”

 

 

[16]  SAVING ABEL“I Need You”

With their hit songs, “Addicted” and “The Sex Is Good,” Saving Abel showed that they have a knack for writing songs about the physical aspects of relationships.  “I Need You” shows that they also value the emotional aspect of relationships, and what it takes to overcome obstacles to make them last.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“I need you, like the sun needs the rain…can’t think of any better way to say…I need you…say you need me too.”

 

 

[17]  ART OF DYING“Falling”

“Falling” is an upbeat, catchy love song with a great hook that poetically addresses the long odds of finding the perfect person with lyrics like… “a grain of sand, how did I find you?”.  This Canadian quintet, led by Jonny Hetherington (vocals), was the first act signed to Intoxication Records (David Draiman and Dan Donegan’s label).  In their relatively short existence, they have put out a number of great songs, “Falling” being one of them.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“I keep falling in love with you every day…you’re the one that I knew I’d find…and every moment we spend is another away…this love’s for life.”

 

 

[18]  WAYLAND“Reason To Love”

As a relative newcomer on the hard rock scene, Wayland is just starting to draw attention with a sound that is reminiscent of Journey.  The band, managed by Jackyl’s Jesse James Dupree, stands out because they don’t sound like most of today’s music, largely because of Mitch Arnold’s stellar vocals.  “Reason To Love” is a timeless love song that is likely just the tip of the iceberg for these Michigan rockers.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“Baby I was born to love you…and give you all you need and that’s the truth…you hold my heart…now you’re lifting up my soul…you give me a reason to love.”

 

 

[19]  MY DARKEST DAYS“Without You”

When you find the person that you want to spend your life with, your whole world changes.  But sometimes, things happen in life that make being together challenging.  In “Without You,” a love is professed, and a plea to stay together is made, even if it means uprooting a life and starting anew someplace else.  As the saying goes…home is where the heart is.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“If I had my way, I’d spend every moment right by your side…and if I could stop time…believe me, I’d try for you and I…and each moment you’re gone…is a moment too long in my life.”

 

 

[20]  HINDER“The Love I Live For”

There is a nostalgic romanticism that we all attach to first love, which is probably why there are numerous songs about the subject, in addition to television shows, movies and books.  However, most people don’t end up spending their lives with their first love.  Most of the time, someone’s first love is someone else’s destiny.  Austin Winkler’s raspy vocals capture the emotion of finding the last love, the one that makes all other relationships pale by comparison.

LYRIC SAMPLE:

“Looked all my life…and, baby, here’s the truth…been around the world, and ain’t a girl that could even come close to you…girl, you got me forever…it couldn’t be any better…and I promise to grow old with you.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2016

Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015

Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014

Top 52 Hard Rock Songs of 2013

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2016

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2015

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2014

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013

Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013

Top 30 Octane Big 'Uns Songs of 2013

Each week, hard rock music fans around the world tune in to SiriusXM’s Octane to listen to the fifteen songs that make up the Big ‘Uns Countdown.  For the final week of the year, Octane released the Top 30 Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013.  Many of the artists featured on the list were also included on Hard Rock Daddy’s Top 52 Hard Rock Songs of 2013 (although the songs were not always the same).

The Top 30 Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown Songs of 2013 playlist (below) can also be found on www.HardRockDaddyNetwork.com (the HRD YouTube channel), in addition to archived weekly playlists from 2013.

Click on the hyperlinked songs below the playlist to read the reviews that were featured on Hard Rock Daddy during the year.

 

  1. “Lift Me Up” – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH (w/ Rob Halford) (SXM Poll WINNER:  Song of the Year)
  2. “Hangman’s Body Count” – VOLBEAT
  3. “Whore” – IN THIS MOMENT
  4. “That Day” – NONPOINT
  5. “Do Me A Favor” – STONE SOUR
  6. “Stardust” – GEMINI SYNDROME
  7. “With Me Now” – BLACKLITE DISTRICT
  8. “Hail To The King” – AVENGED SEVENFOLD (SXM Poll WINNER:   Epic Album of the Year)
  9. “What If I Was Nothing” – ALL THAT REMAINS
  10. “My Demons” – STARSET
  11. “Die For You” – OTHERWISE
  12. “Light Up The Sky” – THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH
  13. “Trenches” – POP EVIL
  14. “America” – MOTIONLESS IN WHITE (SXM Poll WINNER:  Best Artist Discovery)
  15. “Vilify” – DEVICE
  16. “Beyond The Stars” – EVANS BLUE
  17. “Misery Loves My Company” – THREE DAYS GRACE
  18. “Adrenaline” – SHINEDOWN
  19. “Good Man” – DEVOUR THE DAY
  20. “Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake” – BRING ME THE HORIZON (SXM Poll WINNER: Best Song Discovery)
  21. “Freak Like Me” – HALESTORM
  22. “In Due Time” – KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
  23. “Decay” – SEVENDUST
  24. “Immortal” – EVE TO ADAM
  25. “Strike Back” – WE AS HUMAN
  26. “Mama Said Knock You Out” – FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH (w/ Tech 9) (SXM Poll WINNER: Best Cover Song)
  27. “In The End” – BLACK VEIL BRIDES
  28. “Never Never” – KORN
  29. “Born To Rise” – REDLIGHT KING
  30. “Temper Temper” – BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE

RELATED ARTICLES:

Top 52 Hard Rock Songs of 2013

Rock and Roll Children: Top Hard Rock Songs of 2013