Here we go! Part 2. Once again, I plan to introduce you to 15 more bands in an attempt to win you over and transform you into a Rock & Metal enthusiast. If you haven’t looked at my first list, I strongly suggest you do. Because this week we’re cranking it up a notch. The bands featured in this list will be a teensy bit heavier than the previous ones – but if you listened to the artists from Part 1 and have taken a shine to a few of them, then I believe you’ll grow to like these bands as well.
Before I jump in, I would like to make one thing clear. This blog series is not me listing out the best artists of all time. If it was, you’d undoubtedly find the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Guns N’ Roses here. Instead, I’m suggesting various bands that I think you should listen if you want to get into Rock & Metal. I feel that if you grow to like these bands, then you’ll go on to enjoy plenty more within this broad and diverse genre.
What’s more, these suggestions are based on my own experience of music. Although I do everything I can to broaden my music library, I’ve not listened to every Rock & Metal band on the planet. For this reason, I can only draw from my own experience. I’ve done my best to take every music artist into consideration; however, I’m certain to miss out a few that people like. If I have, I apologise in advance and urge you to suggest the band you think deserves a mention. The comment section for this is below – how handy!
Right, then. Let’s get this week’s show on the road. The first band for Part 2 is …
(FYI: Like last time, only artists that have toured in the last ten years can make this list.)
Suggested Album(s): Fortress (2013), Blackbird (2007), AB III (2010)
What happens when you combine the unquestionable prowess of guitarist Mark Tremonti with the born-to-be frontman Miles Kennedy? Alter Bridge is what happens. Kennedy lends his style not just to thrilling thrash numbers like Addicted To Pain and Ties That Bind, but also emotional ballads like Watch Over You and Life Must Go On. And he does so with such grace and finesse, it almost makes you jealous that he can be that good. But you can forgive him, because Alter Bridge are an incredible band to experience – both live and on record. While 2007’s Blackbird is the album that set them on course, it’s the flawless track list of Fortress that showcases their work to perfection.
Suggested Album(s): Dead Silence (2012), Billy Talent II (2006), Afraid Of Heights (2016)
A lot of good things have come out of Canada over the years. But as far as Rock & Metal is concerned, Billy Talent has got to be among the best. Benjamin Kowalewicz’s vocals are wonderfully unique to say the least. Moreover, they’re complemented by some of the best backing vocals since ever. You’d think that great backup singers might overshadow the lead singer in a band; but here, they don’t. They only make Kowalewicz’s more prominent for tracks like Red Flag, Viking Death March and Devil In A Midnight Mass. What’s more, they’re latest record, Afraid Of Heights is proof that they’re still going strong. You could almost say that they’ve become Louder Than The DJ.
Suggested Album(s): Somewhere In Time (1986), Powerslave (1984), The Number Of The Beast (1982), Brave New World (2000), Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
Here’s Iron Maiden in a rather condensed nutshell; the band’s skeletal mascot, Eddie, is featured in some of the greatest album artwork known to man; they’ve released sixteen studio albums since their formation in 1975; and their lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, is considered to have one of the best voices in the genre. To say these guys have had a fruitful career is putting it lightly (they have a fricking plane now!). Nevertheless, it’s truly well deserved. Just a few stand out songs include Wasted Years, 2 Minutes To Midnight and Hallowed Be Thy Name. But considering their range of albums, you’re better off exploring Iron Maiden for yourself. On an unrelated note, they’re branded craft beer, The Trooper is also very, very tasty. If it happens to be on draught at your local pub, I highly recommend it.
Suggested Album(s): Filthy Empire (2013)
Heaven’s Basement exploded onto the Rock & Metal scene a few years back and made a lasting impression. Although frontman, Aaron Buchanan has since moved onto other endeavours, you can still get a taste of his charisma on Filthy Empire. This is about as a great as a Hard Rock album gets, boasting fast-paced singles like Fire, Fire, while throwing sing-along tunes into the mix, such as Lights Out In London and Nothing Left To Lose. You’re bound to love Buchanan’s trademark “Yeyah!” as well; whether you do so ironically or not, though, is down to you.
Rage Against The Machine
Suggested Album(s): Rage Against The Machine (1992), The Battle For Los Angeles (1999), Renegades (2000)
New to rap metal? Well get ready to hear it full on. As the name suggests, no one gets more furious about the establishment than Rage Against The Machine. Their 1992 debut became an instant classic upon its release thanks to both its relevance at the time and because Killing In The Name, Take The Power Back and Bombtrack all offered fans something to shout about – literally. Meanwhile, The Battle For Los Angeles offers energetic numbers like Guerrilla Radio and Testify; and cover album Renegades is a masterful take on others’ work. How I Could Just Kill A Man is particularly hard-hitting, in the best of ways.
Suggested Album(s): Runnin’ Wild (2007), Black Dog Barking (2013)
Imagine AC/DC, but younger, faster and heavier. Airbourne is what you’d get. It’s blatantly clear that this Aussie group is directly influenced by Angus Young’s juggernaut band, but that’s what makes Airbourne so enjoyable. When you listen to the likes of Runnin’ Wild, Live It Up and Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll, you realise they’re here to have a good time – and all you want to do is grab a can of beer, crack it against your head and have fun with them. It’s comforting to know that when AC/DC are no longer able to tour, Joel O’Keeffe and the rest of Airbourne will be here to keep their spirit alive.
Suggested Album(s): The Strange Case Of … (2012), Into The Wild Life (2015)
It’s high time a female artist had a say in this whole Rock & Metal malarkey, do you think? I’m glad you agree. Enter Lzzy Hale. Fans of Paramore and Evanescence are sure to draw similarities with this four-piece from Pennsylvania – but Halestorm are far from novel. 2015’s Into The Wild Life is a solid effort, introducing suitably tough riffs into songs like Apocalyptic. They’re earlier stuff can get a bit corny, sure – yet it’s evident from The Strange Case Of … – with favourites like Love Bites (So Do I) and I Miss The Misery – that Hale’s gruff screams do justice to some excellent Hard Rock material. What is there to lose?
Suggested Album(s): Tenacious D (2002), The Pick Of Destiny (2006)
“What? Jack Black is in a band?” Yes, he is. Granted, much like the acting roles he takes on, Tenacious D are immature and preposterous in every conceivable way. But somehow, it works. The debut album of this comedy rock duo can barely be called an album – as it mainly consists of the pair arguing – and yet it does have some actual songs on it. Good ones too! Like the hilarious Tribute and F**k Her Gently. And while The Pick Of Destiny is indeed a soundtrack from the comedy movie of the same name, this too has tracks that – if you have a silly sense of humour – will definitely get you smirking. Kickapoo. Break In City (Storm The Gate). Beezleboss (The Final Showdown). Tell me I’m wrong.
Suggested Album(s): The Sound Of Madness (2008), Threat To Survival (2015), Amaryllis (2012)
This Hard Rock band is one of the first I ever got into. And when you discover Brent Smith’s vocals for yourself, it’s easy to see why. I won’t lie to you: they’re pretty naff live. Smith’s earnest, preachy monologues in between songs get a bit too much even for me. But that doesn’t matter. Not when you have an album like The Sound Of Madness under your belt. This record has the ideal balance of exhilarating head-bangers (including Devour, Cry For Help and the title track) and softer tunes, such as Second Chance and Breaking Inside. They’re newest record, Threat To Survival also digs deep and treats us to gold, in the form of Cut The Chord and Asking For It. Shinedown sure have a knack for writing catchy choruses. Finally, although Amaryllis is much lighter in tone (perhaps too light), the group still manages to leave an impression with Adrenaline and Enemies. What are you waiting for? Get your earphones now.
Suggested Album(s): I Get Wet (2001)
Does anyone remember that Android ad with that awesome song on it? Did you always wonder who it was by? It’s time I shed some light on this mystery. That song was called Party Hard, and it was off I Get Wet by Andrew W.K. This artist actually has five studio albums. But honestly, this one is the only one worth listening to. I Get Wet is a heart-pounding thrill ride that consists of songs entirely about partying. Hard. There’s Ready To Die, She Is Beautiful, It’s Time To Party … what more could you want in life? Better rest your neck muscles, because your head’s going to be rocking to the max when you listen to this one. You have been warned.
Suggested Album(s): Psychic Warfare (2015), Blast Tyrant (2004), Earth Rocker (2013)
“Let’s pour some gravy on these biscuits!” This is what Neil Fallon, the frontman of Clutch, said to the crowd at Download Festival in 2015, before jumping straight into their set. I wish, wish, wish I could have been there to see that. Regardless, this funky rock band is becoming more superb with every album they release. I’ll always have a soft spot for Blast Tyrant, if only for the intoxicating The Mob Goes Wild. Yet, in 2013, they gave us Earth Rocker, which provided everything from fast-paced numbers (Crucial Velocity) to mellow ballads (Gone Cold). Thanks to this – by the time last year’s Psychic Warfare came out – they managed to blow expectations out the water yet again. The whole thing is just brilliant, and I for one can’t wait to see what direction Clutch take next.
Suggested Album(s): Getting Away With Murder (2004), Infest (2000), The Paramour Sessions (2006), F.E.A.R. (2015), The Connection (2012)
Papa Roach have evolved so much over the years, moving from Rap Metal to Hard Rock to Punk Rock. One thing that always stays the same, though, is Jacoby Shaddix’s gel-soaked hairdo. I love this band. They may not be the most well-known or even unique artists around, but they sure make some damn catchy tunes. Infest gets you pumped with Last Resort, Dead Cell and Between Angels And Insects; and on the rockier side of things, you have The Paramour Sessions, which features show-stoppers like Time Is Running Out, Crash and …To Be Loved. F.E.A.R. and The Connection actively cater to newer audiences. They manage this by incorporating more electronic elements into Face Everything And Rise, Falling Apart and Where Did The Angels Go to great effect. But Getting Away With Murder is the crown jewel for this band. The title track alone blends rap and metal seamlessly, but Be Free and Take Me both do equally well to cause a fuss. Papa Roach has earned they’re place in my books. Why not yours?
Suggested Album(s): All I Was (2012), Cauterize (2015)
If you took a liking to Alter Bridge, then the same thing is bound to happen when you listen to Tremonti. How do I know this? Mainly because both lead guitarists are the same person (the clue’s in the name). Although the two bands draw many similarities, Mark Tremonti takes front-stage, treats us to a surprisingly clear-cut vocal style, and elevates an established sound that step higher. As a result, All I Was is an excellent album to call your debut. So You’re Afraid and You Waste Your Time place heavy emphasis on power-driven riffs, while New Way Out and Decay provide some much-needed depth to the record. While Cauterize is also a well-executed outing – sporting numbers like Arm Yourself and a very brisk title track – All I Was is definitely the one to go for.
Suggested Album(s): Heroes (2014), The Art Of War (2008), The Last Stand (2016)
Allow me to define Sabaton: A Swedish power metal band that always bring a massive tank on stage and play songs about famous historical battles. Who could say no to that? But if you’re still dubious and want to get a feel for the music itself, Heroes is a fitting place to start. The opening track, Night Witches is epic beyond measure, and is followed up by heavy anthems like Smoking Snakes, To Hell And Back and Resist And Bite. Lead singer Joakim Brodén may have limited vocal range, but damn it’s still great to listen to. The Last Stand, released this year, is another consistently badass effort from the band. The album with the most fervour, however, has got to be The Art Of War. If you can’t see yourself marching into war with Ghost Division blasting from speakers in the background, then you should probably reconsider your application for the Army.
The Devin Townsend Project
Suggested Album(s): Addicted (2009), Transcendence (2016), Accelerated Evolution (2003), Epicloud (2012), Sky Blue (2014)
There are criminally underrated bands; then there’s Devin Townsend. Remember when I was talking about good things to come out of Canada? This guy is undoubtedly near the top of that list. His music is unlike anything that’s been done before. It’s niche, yet the sheer variety of styles and genres Townsend delves into means there’s certainly something for everyone. But this variety also means he owns a humungous catalogue of albums. For someone new to his stuff, it’s impossible to know where to start. My suggestion is that you begin with the main band he tours with today: The Devin Townsend Project. While he does include the odd scream every now and again, he makes plenty of use of his melodic vocals, as well as the talent that is Anneke van Giersbergen. Together, their voices complement the music beautifully. The band’s latest record, Transcendence, demonstrates this better than ever. 2009’s Addicted also borders on perfection from start to finish. And although both Epicloud and Sky Blue are bold, majestic collections, Accelerated Evolution could well be the best place to start your search. Slow Me Down. Track 9. Listen to it. Love it. And with that … cut to black.
There. Part 2 is over – which means there’s only one list left. Like I’ve mentioned, these bands have been a bit heavier than the last ones – and next time, we’re bringing out the big guns. For now, check out the bands on this week’s list, get a feel for the inner workings of the Rock & Metal genre, and maybe you could end up becoming a true metal head by the end of this blog series. My fingers are already crossed. Stay tuned for the encore … Bye for now!