Top 50 Rock Albums Of 2018
Who says rock is dead? While guitar-driven rock and roll may not be the dominant force on the radio it once was, it’s quality remains as strong as ever with many bands allowed to explore sounds new and old. All while still finding an audience thanks to the internet making the music industry a sonic free-for-all. This year’s list has many long standing artists exploring different styles, new bands making breakout records, and relative unknowns with gems you won’t find talked about anywhere else. And while there are some bands here that can be considered “metal” we’ve put them here due to their overall rock vibe and leanings. And to separate them from the more extreme or traditional bands on our metal list.
Push Pull (Pop Rock)
Hoobastank sound like they’ve been taking notes from Maroon 5 on this record infusing a healthy dose of funk pop into their alt rock. This is pretty much a pop rock record and the band is putting out some quality work again that fits into the modern music landscape more. And gets the band away from the tired post-grunge sound they began slipping into.
ATTENTION ATTENTION (Hard Rock)
All I See Is War (Alt Metal/Hard Rock)
Never Gonna Die (Punk Rock)
46. Suicidal Tendencies
Still Cyco Punk After All These Years (Punk Rock)
45. Coheed & Cambria
The Unheavenly Creatures (Progressive Rock)
44. The Sword
Used Future (Stoner Rock)
Animal (Arena Rock/Hard Rock)
42. Indigo Storm
Deep (Alt Metal/Alt Rock)
While the band does ape Tool’s sound on a few tracks, Indigo Storm put enough of their own spin on things to sound like their own thing with hints of blues rock mixed with their progressive elements. Not bad for a bunch of kids barely out of high school.
Blooming (Alternative Rock)
40. Orange Goblin
The Wolf Bites Back (Stoner Rock/Hard Rock)
Prequelle (Arena Rock/Prog/Doom)
Ghost digs more into their arena rock tendencies on this album with some explorative instrumentals reminiscent of 70’s prog and the hit singles “Rats” and “Dance Macabre”. It’s a record that will test longtime fans while bringing new ones into the fold. And for those wanting a taste of something heavier the guitar driven doom of “Faith” will definitely satiate.
38. Black Label Society
Grimmest Hits (Southern Rock)
Big Tings (Reggae Rock/Hard Rock)
Skindred’s sound was getting stale on their most recent albums. But this time around frontman and primary songwriter Benji Webbe handed the reigns over to the instrumentalists more on this record and it definitely was for the best. The band sound’s infused with fresh energy and explore new sonic territory into straight up hard rock and driving EDM all while keeping the high energy party vibe the band is known for.
X (Rap Rock/Alt Metal)
35. Bullet For My Valentine
Gravity (Alternative Metal)
While longtime fans of the band likely won’t enjoy this style switch, BFMV get the sound exploration into rock territory right this time that they originally tried to find on Temper Temper. The band has always had a knack for big hooks and they come in spades on Gravity with the glossy production being tasteful rather than overbearing. And the band sound much more inspired than their fan appeasing previous record Venom.
34. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Wasteland (Psychedelic Rock)
Noize In The Blood (Hard Rock)
32. Stoned Jesus
Pilgrims (Stoner Rock/Prog Rock)
Erase Me (Alt Rock/Industrial Rock)
Disease (Melodic Hardcore)
While Disgusting was a quality debut with a clever blend of catchy melody and aggression, Aggressive was an ironically titled quality dip that let the vocal melodies do the heavy lifting. On Disease Caleb Shomo finds that happy balance of instrumentation and hooks once again with an infusion of pure hard rock riffage that evolves the sound of Beartooth for the better.
29. King Witch
Under The Mountain (Doom/Stoner Rock/SludgeMetal)
This probably should’ve been put on the metal list. Never the less, King Witch is a band to watch if for nothing else the power house vocals of Laura Donnelly. Taking influence from Candlemass, Mastodon, and others in the doom and sludge genres, Under The Mountain is as complete and tight of a debut to come around in a while.
28. Of Mice & Men
Defy (Alt Metal/Hard Rock)
Of Mice & Men prove they can stand without their charismatic former frontman Austin Carlisle. And go in a more hard rock direction that compliments bassist Aaron Pauley’s vocal style well. There’s dashes of their old metalcore style on tracks like “Unbreakable” as well as songs nearly built for active rock radio like the title track. It’ll be interesting to see where the band goes from here once they get more comfortable with this roster.
27. Dropout Kings
Audiodope (Trap Metal/Rap Rock)
Dropout Kings move the genre of rap rock forward by blending the current trap rap of today with hardcore. The rapping is much more complex than most rap rock tends to be and they blend that with catchy hooks, plenty of aggression, and youthful energy to sound fresh in one of rock and metal’s most maligned sub genres.
Unscathed (Post Hardcore/Metalcore/Hard Rock)
25. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Tearing At The Seams (Neo Soul)
You Won’t Get What You Want (Noise Rock/Art Rock)
Time & Space (Punk Rock)
22. The Night Flight Orchestra
Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough (Arena Rock/Classic Rock/Classic Prog)
While the novelty of Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid singing gaudy 80’s style arena rock sounds ridiculous on paper, it plays out beautifully well. This album is gloriously cheesy fun in the best way and Strid really gets to show off his melodic singing chops here unrestrained with the need to be heavy like on his metal work.
21. The Amity Affliction
20. Tom Morello
The Atlas Underground (Alternative Rock/EDM)
In quite the ambitious effort, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello brought together rappers, EDM producers, and rock singers into a big collaborative work which reads like a best of the 2018 trendy festival circuit. And somehow it works beautifully to make a fun and diverse record of upbeat rap rock, funk rock and EDM tracks.
19. Myles Kennedy
Year Of The Tiger (Singer-Songwriter/Folk)
18. Alice In Chains
Ranier Fog (Grunge/Doom/Hard Rock)
17. Jonathan Davis
Black Labyrinth (Gothic Rock/New Wave/Alternative)
Korn singer Jonathan Davis gets to explore his gothic and new wave influences to the max with a melodic and brooding record that can still be enjoyed by fans of his main band thanks to the quality drumming from Korn’s Ray Luzier and Davis’ penchant for catchy hooks staying firm.
16. Mike Shinoda
Post Traumatic (Alternative Hip Hop)
Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda turns tragedy into triumph with solo album Post Traumatic. The rapper takes listeners through an emotional trip through his state of mind following the passing of Chester Bennington. And the result is the best work Shinoda has done since Linkin Park’s 2007 album Minutes To Midnight. The production is strong and guest spots from Chino Moreno and K. Flay are highlights of the record.
Void Walker (Stoner Rock)
Daddy (Alt Rock/Indie/Punk Rock)
Quirky duo GRLwood take a garage rock musical base and infuse that with unorthodox song dynamics like shrieking screams and doses of humor. While the band puts forth a feminist and pro-queer message they do it with side-eye sarcasm and light mocking rather than being preachy. It’s a unique take on indie rock that sound fresh and is endearingly entertaining.
13. Screaming Females
All At Once (Alt Rock/Indie/Blues Rock)
Over The Rainbow (Punk Rock/Hard Rock)
28 Days In The Valley (Blues Rock/Hard Rock)
The quality jump from Dorothy’s previous record is incredible. While ROCKISDEAD held hints of the band’s bluesy, retro potential it tried to be too poppy. With 28 Days In The Valley the songwriting is deeper, more heartfelt, and fully embraces its classic rock influences. The style switch beautifully complements front woman Dorothy Martin’s soulful voice and should make listeners excited for the band’s future work.
10. Good Tiger
We Will All Be Gone (Post Hardcore)
Good Tiger put a bigger focus on songwriting this time around while maintaining a strong degree of technical skill in their instrumentation. The screaming from their previous record may have been dropped but heavy music fans can still enjoy the energy the band put into this record as well as the dynamic songwriting and skillful guitar work.
9. Swamp Hawk
Swamp Hawk (Stoner Rock/Doom Metal)
Swamp Hawk run the gamut of all things fuzz rock from the crushing doom of “Ice Titan” to the Queens of The Stone Age-esque “Widows, Witches, & Woe”. Touches of prog and southern rock also highlight the record. Despite being eight tracks Swamp Hawk is only 31 minutes long. Making for a tight record with little in the ways of filler or flaws.
All The King’s Horses (Cello Rock/Indie Rock)
Cincinnati duo Lung push the dynamic limits of their cello/drum/vocal combo with an album that exceeds their debut from last year. Many of the songs are darker and more aggressive this time around but still hold plenty of artsy melody to balance things out. Kate Wakefield’s theatrical vocal style hold’s your attention throughout the album and gives the band as much of it’s unique personality as it’s use of cello does.
Knowing What You Know Now (Post-Hardcore/Alt Rock)
Despite dropping their Converge-esque heavy tendencies for this album, Marmozets sharpened their songwriting skills. The band balance high energy, catchy hooks with driving, buzzy guitars. Giving them crossover appeal that can entertain heavy music fans and alt rockers alike.
Lucifer II (Occult Rock/Doom Metal/Hard Rock)
Lucifer take notes from the best of early and proto-metal from the 70’s like Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and Deep Purple and blend it all into one satisfying package with their sophomore album. From the driving rock and roll of “California Son”, to the dark ballad “Dreamer” this band does 70’s heavy rock justice.
Eternal Return (Stoner Doom)
Windhand delivers unadulterated riff porn via the thickest, bass heavy guitar tones possible. All while the trance-like voice of front woman Dorthia Cottrell provides dreary melody giving the band a dose of psychedelia in their heavy guitar attack. It’s been a winning combination for the band and that trend is continued well on Eternal Return.
4. Long Distance Calling
Boundless (Post-Rock/Instrumental Rock)
Instrumental music can be a small niche but Long Distance Calling are one of the best at the style. Valuing atmosphere and melody over virtuosity, the band creates music that spurs imagery of expansive landscapes and a sense of adventure. Truly fitting their album title Boundless.
3. Cane Hill
Too Far Gone (Nu-Metal)
While nu metal is mostly considered a dead fad of the 90’s and early 2000’s Cane Hill reminds listeners why millions fell in love with the genre in the first place. While you can hear elements of their various alternative and nu metal influences the band is smart enough to put their own spin on things. Delivering groovy riffs, atmospheric industrial samples, and ear worm hooks that are hard to resist banging your head to.
Palms (Alternative Rock)
Thrice have always maintained a high degree of quality with their records but managed to sound a little different this time around with little of their post hardcore past noticeable. Palms is dynamic with emotional ballads and driving rockers in equal manner making for one of the best paced records you’ll hear from the whole year. And the constant switch ups in song style keep the album fresh front to back.
Book Of Bad Decisions (Stoner Rock/Southern Rock)
Clutch have always had consistently strong albums but latest effort Book Of Bad Decisions easily rivals the best of their past. Elements of stoner rock, southern rock, funk, and blues can all be found and it’s put together in a very cohesive manner under the Clutch banner. Each song is a trip through oddball topics and stories delivered with unbridled energy and tasty riffs galore. Clutch is easily one of the best rock bands of today and this album further cements that legacy.