Here’s the thing about Rock & Metal music. As a self-confessed, massive fan of the genre, I’m more than familiar with society’s attitude towards it. While the people who have enjoyed bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Machine Head for many years couldn’t have better things to say about it, the folks that refuse to listen to Rock & Metal tend to foster an incredibly negative opinion towards it. Like it’s a feral dog who hangs around the estate at night. But while I agree that it certainly isn’t for everyone, I think the genre gets a bad rep.
Some of my closest friends and family members have openly expressed their views to me about Rock & Metal music – and it’s nearly always the same comment: “It’s too loud for my liking. It’s all just noise.” At one point in my life, I would’ve agreed with this. Until I turned fifteen, my iPod shuffle (remember those??) primarily consisted of artists from my sister’s laptop. Justin Timberlake. P!nk. Mika. Calvin Harris. The stuff you’d spot in the charts each week. Although I was fine with it, I never felt like it was for me. Sure, I’d get a song in my head every now and again – but that didn’t necessarily mean I wanted it there in the first place.
Then I found rock. I was honestly shocked that I’d made it this far without even giving it a chance. But once I did, I never looked back. Over time, I came to listen to heavier and heavier bands, venturing from indie rock through to soft rock, before exploring hard rock, metal and eventually the music I love today. I admit, it was quite a leap to go from the Now That’s What I Call Music! CDs onto fast-paced head-bangers. That’s probably why my sister still posts shocked comments on Facebook whenever I upload pictures of the gigs I’ve attended. “You’re mad!” she regularly states. “You sound surprised,” I reply.
My point is, I once hated the idea of Rock & Metal music. I’d catch distant echoes of its presence throughout my childhood and every single time, I would mercilessly disregard it – and I would do this for the exact same reason mentioned: it was all just noise. To me, there was nothing distinguishable about it. Nothing you could truly call music. But now, seven years on, I can’t get enough of it. So, if someone like me can turn into a devoted rock and metal fan in such a short period, then maybe – just maybe – you could too. If you just gave it a chance.
For this reason, I propose an experiment; one that anyone who isn’t already a metal head can attempt, if they so choose. The challenge is this. I’m going to post three separate lists via this blog in the coming weeks – and each list will have 15 artists that I think you should check out. As the lists progress, the bands will get “heavier”. If you end up taking a shine to music I propose this week, then I’ll suggest you move on to the next list. My guess is that if you’re interested in taking part, you’ll already have a curiosity for rock music. However, by the end of the step three, I believe you’ll come to love rock – and perhaps even consider looking into a spot of metal.
To those of you on board, a hearty pat on the back to you. Let’s do this thang! To those of you turning your nose up in uncertainty, what’s the matter? Afraid you’ll like it? Don’t panic, you won’t find anything like Slipknot or Lamb of God or Dying Foetus on this list (and no, I didn’t make that last one up). Instead, I’ve handpicked these bands with careful consideration. I’m well aware that everyone’s taste is different, but I’m sure that if you’re already starting to get into rock, then you’ll find at least a couple of bands here you’ll enjoy. You ready? Then in no particular order, let’s kick off Part One …
(FYI: Only artists that have toured in the last ten years can make this list. Sorry Queen. You’re on a list for another day.)
Suggested Album(s): American Idiot (2004), Nimrod (1997), 21st Century Breakdown (2009)
We begin with a staple (if not the staple) of American punk rock. Sporting Billie Joe Armstrong at the helm, this band is a great starting point for any rock enthusiast. Nimrod contains an eighteen-track collection of anthems like Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), while 21st Century Breakdown includes iViva La Gloria! and 21 Guns, a phenomenal anti-war ballad. Regardless, any fan of Green Day is bound to say American Idiot is the undisputed masterpiece of their career – and they’d be right to say so. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. Holiday. Wake Me Up When September Ends. You can’t go wrong.
Suggested Album(s): The Colour And The Shape (1997), Wasting Light (2011), In Your Honour (2005), Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)
It seems that, as far as the music industry is concerned, Dave Grohl and his full, dark fringe can do no wrong. Foo Fighters is solid proof of this. Time after time they’ve delivered songs like Best of You, The Pretender, Walk and Monkey Wrench, repeatedly wowing mainstream listeners without fail. It’s fair to say their headlining slot at festivals is well-deserved. What’s more, last year they released Saint Cecilia, a very free EP that anyone can download. Bonus!
Suggested Album(s): Let There Be Rock (1977) Back In Black (1980), The Razer’s Edge (1990), Highway To Hell (1979)
Where would the world be without Angus Young and this ground-breaking band? I hate to think. Still going since 1973, AC/DC have a wealth of records for you to choose from – the ones I’ve selected above, however, are a decent place to start. Whether you prefer Brian Johnson’s distinctive screech, or the softer delivery of Bon Scott (their original lead singer), you’re bound to fall in love with bangers like Highway To Hell, Thunderstruck, Back In Black, Whole Lotta Rosie … the list goes on.
Black Stone Cherry
Suggested Album(s): Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea (2011), Kentucky (2016)
These guys seamlessly combine solid riffs with Chris Robertson’s easy-going vocals. While their latest outing – aptly named after their hometown – is a fine addition to their track record, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is definitely the album of choice. There are feel-good tracks like In My Blood and Like I Roll, or slightly heavier additions like White Trash Millionaire and the surprisingly dark Such A Shame. It’s certainly worth a listen.
Suggested Album(s): Weekend Man (2016)
I’ve only recently discovered this band, so unfortunately I cannot vouch for any of their earlier stuff. What I can do, though, is tell you about how fricking amazing Weekend Man is. Drawing parallels with bands like Electric Six and Faith No More, their quirkiness is a dominant presence throughout. And you’ll be glad it is. Notable songs include High Times and People Say That I’m Over The Top. But there’s one thing I can absolutely guarantee: if you listen to When I See You Dance With Another, you’re bound to get it in your head. Multiple times. My girlfriend can safely back me up on this.
You Me At Six
Suggested Album(s): Sinners Never Sleep (2011)
Here’s one thing I’ll say about You Me At Six: the majority of their stuff is either forgettable or just a bit meh. Having said that, Sinners Never Sleep is by far their best work. Don’t be put off by the surreal choice of guest vocalists throughout, because the record is still chock full of varied and enjoyable songs. My personal favourites are Reckless, Loverboy and No One Does It Better, but you’ll be sure to find your own somewhere among the track list. It has plenty to offer the casual listener.
Suggested Album(s): Only Revolutions (2009), Ellipsis (2016), Puzzle (2007), Opposites (2013)
The fact that I haven’t yet seen this band live is criminal. But if the studio outputs of this Scottish trio are anything to go by, the moment I finally do is going to be Biblical (for those of you that got the pun, I regret nothing). The Conversation Is … is quickly becoming one of my all-time favourite tunes; the title track on Opposites is a powerful, emotional song to chill out to; and their latest album, Ellipsis, is yet another powerhouse of memorable singles like Howl and Friends And Enemies. If you dug through the vaults of their career, however, Only Revolutions is the treasure you’d come across with awe. Be sure to look out for The Golden Rule, Bubbles, and … you know what, just check out every song on it. It’s all great.
Suggested Album(s): The Stranger EP (2016), The Callous Heart EP (2015), Creeper EP (2014)
Creeper are yet to release a full studio album and have only surfaced in the last few years; yet they are rapidly making an impact in the Rock & Metal community. In stand outs like Honeymoon Suite, Valentine and We Had A Pact, Will Gould‘s vocals carry dedicated fans into a state of sheer bliss with every listen. But the star of the show, by a country mile, is Misery. Give yourself to the chorus of this soft, catchy ballad, and you’ll be gladly reciting it for months, even years to come.
Suggested Album(s): Anthems (2013)
A bit of a sappy name to go for, I know. But don’t be fooled. The lead vocalist, Frank Carter may have gone on to heavier solo ventures since this band’s break up, but before this sad occasion, they treated us to Anthems. This gem delivers several feel-good numbers, including Handsome Devils Club and Riot Song. Yet Bury My Bones is the most enjoyable of the lot. An overall fantastic album to stick on in the summer time.
Fall Out Boy
Suggested Album(s): Infinity On High (2007), Save Rock And Roll (2013), Folie à Deux (2008)
The moment I listened to Thnks Fr Th Mmrs, I knew Fall Out Boy were the real deal. Fans of Panic! At The Disco’s early stuff might draw similarities with the frontman, Patrick Stump’s voice – but this is far from a bad thing. While they seem like a quiet bunch on stage, the antics Fall Out Boy members get up to outside the limelight are testament to this amusing and talented group. Infinity On High is my favourite album of theirs, as it’s filled to the brim with outstanding singles such as The Take Over, The Break’s Over and This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arm’s Race. But you’d be equally safe going for Folie à Deux or Save Rock And Roll. I Don’t Care and Where Did The Party Go are definitely worth your time.
Suggested Album(s): Pinkerton (1996), Weezer: The White Album (2016), Hurley (2010), Make Believe (2005)
Where do I start with this band? I think a fitting place is the album cover they picked out for 2010’s Hurley. There’s no other way of putting it – it’s a face shot of Jorge Garcia from Lost. Why? Because the lead guitarist Brian Bell claimed, and I quote, “all we wanted was his amazing face.”  This sums up Weezer perfectly. They’re the definition of random. But shockingly, they also make some damn good music too. Make Believe is worth a listen just for Beverly Hills; Ruling Me from Hurly is truly intoxicating; Pinkerton is simply marvellous from beginning to end; and their latest release isn’t too shabby either. Girl We Got A Good Thing is the one for me. I’m certain it’ll be the one for you too.
Suggested Album(s): Royal Blood (2014)
If you tune into BBC Radio One on a regular basis, you’ve likely heard Royal Blood songs on numerous occasions. With only one album out, this duo seemingly came out of nowhere and propelled themselves to festival status in a way that most up-and-coming bands would be infinitely jealous about. Although I consider them a tad overrated, no one can deny that they know how to pull off a solid rock tune. Using deep, bass-fuelled riffs, tracks like Little Monster, Out Of The Black and Figure It Out are all wonderfully executed and a sight-to-see when played live.
Suggested Album(s): Permission To Land (2003), Hot Cakes (2012), One Way Ticket … To Hell And Back (2005)
The music brought to us by these Suffolk boys is not for the faint-hearted – or for people with tinnitus. But that’s beside the point. Justin Hawkin’s signature voice brings high-pitched glory to every song The Darkness churns out. Permission To Land is a phenomenal album, with favourites like Growing On Me, Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman and Friday Night making it so engaging. You’ll undoubtedly be familiar with I Believe In A Thing Called Love and their Christmas number one single, Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End). But this band has plenty of other magnificent tunes that most people are unaware of. Listen to She’s Just A Girl, Eddie and One Way Ticket, and you’ll surely be itching for more.
Suggested Album(s): White Crosses (2010)
If there’s one thing you take away from this list, I strongly suggest it be White Crosses. It’s a fantastic record that doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it deserves. I Was A Teenage Anarchist is the clear champion on the track list, but you’ll also indulge in High Pressure Low, Because Of The Shame and Bamboo Bones. You’ll find that it’s mostly Laura Jane Grace’s voice that carries the music into greatness. All in all, Against Me! is a fantastic band to sink your ears into.
My Chemical Romance
Suggested Album(s): The Black Parade (2006), Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004)
That brings us to our final band – and boy, is it a grand one. If you haven’t heard of My Chemical Romance, then you need to listen to them. The Black Parade is utterly brilliant in every way. From Dead! to Welcome to the Black Parade to Teenagers to Famous Last Words, you are bound to fall for this album. But it doesn’t stop there. Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge also boasts stellar tunes, just a couple being Thank You for the Venom and I’m Not Okay (I Promise). The only quarrel I have is that they aren’t touring anymore. But who knows, somewhere on the horizon, a reunion might be on the cards. Here’s hoping.
There you go. Those are the fifteen bands. Go away, stick a couple of their albums on. If you like them, I urge you to come back for Part 2 of Rock & Metal: Just Hear It Out (I make it sound like a TV show!) Did I miss out any bands that you think should be here? Let me know in the comments section below. Who knows? Your suggestion might pop up in a later list. Come back to my blog in a couple of weeks to see if you have the stones to become a rock fan. Until then, thank you and farewell.