This years countdown is into it’s top 10, time to find out who takes home the title, and who’s a dirty rascal…
10) Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart
Franks transformation from the hardcore punk turned touring folk troubadour who would gladly sleep on your floor after a show to the UK’s premier acoustic rock star and all round national treasure has been confirmed. His latest album matches this step up in profile with a packed LP of undeniably huge songs fit for stadium sized singalongs. This is more pop rock than folk but his adept skill at writing both catchy but meaningful songs is still in tact. This is about the most happy sounding breakup album ever! Full of rousing chants, yet the lyrics document a outpouring of heartbreak and lost love. Frank has never lost the ability to pen raw and honest song and here, he is back at the top of his game.
9) The Virginmarys – King Of Conflict
Finally, after many years of circling with excellent EP’s teasing us with unhinged raw blues energy, 2013 saw the Virginmary’s unleash their debut, which was everything we’d hoped for. This trio strip back all of the production gloss and turn the amps up to make gloriously noisy and punchy blues rock packed with killer hooks, boundless enthusiasm and infectious chorus lines. King of Conflict is a rampant riot of a record, which is both exhilarating and exciting!
8) Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
Volbeat have been making great records for a while now, their latest is another to add to their rising credentials as Scandinavia’s finest Hard Rock/Metal band. Musically akin to a hard rock juggernaut armed with metal jagged guitars, yet vocally as soulful and as clean as a whistle, all while walking the line between dark and deep grooves chugged from huge amps to concise and bright pop songs. The mood swing-o-meter pinball’s about which keeps this album interesting, but its their catchy rock numbers (of which there are many) and melodic soaring choruses which kept me coming back. Nice and cleanly produced this is a big album from a bad assed band.
7) Clutch – Earth Rocker
Clutch have cometh once more, and they bring southern attitude. style and massive songs. This is their rockiest record for some time and they reminded me of just how good they can be when they crank their amps and play all out attack rock and roll. Spinning weaves of blues & deep south into their version of hard rock, this truly stands out as a terrific record, full of high octane energy, thrusting tempo’s and the ragged croak of those deep booming vocals. Varied, engrossing and fiery, Earth Rocker just takes the bull by the horn, gives a huge kick and lets you see how long you hang on tight.
6) Coheed & Cambria – The Aftermath Descension
After the loose and proggy pop of The Aftermath Ascension, I wasn’t sure what to expect with 2013′s second Aftermath album, Descension. Like the title suggests this is a brooding and dark album which is as beautiful as any of their previous works. Tuning down the tempo and letting Claudio’s vocals fly like a bird in flight allow for a different side to be showcased, one that has me addicted. The guitars (technical as ever) are still there in abundance but mainly used to bolster the drama and create huge waves of noise at the melody crescendo’s. Taking nods from classic rock, metal, prog and pop, C&C are always able to write brilliantly different songs which are still familiar and composed of the up most emotion and impact. This Descension is pure genius.
5) The Bronx – IV
The Bronx, after doing the totally unexpected and converting (temporarily) to a mariachi band…I’m please to announce they are back doing what we have come to expect of them. Straight talking, no nonsense blasts of punk attitude and a 6 barrels full of lock and loaded energy punk rock. Swaying closer mainstream sound with less abrasive vocals and more melodies than on previous releases this album is a surefire success. Each song produces either a captivating guitar riff, an addictive vocal harmony or thundering melody, each driven along at 100mph by non-stop thudding drums. Like a vice, once it has you in its grips…The Bronx barely relents.
4) Monster Truck – Furiosity
New boys Monster Truck knew they were onto a winner. So much so that they had to invent a new word to describe just how awesome and powerful their debut album! Furiosity is about an apt a description I can think for this rocket fuel powered, nitro guzzling hard rock beast. Equal parts harmony, melody and gruff classic rock vocals yet overwhelmed by the carnage created by the blazing guitar riff destruction derby. Pure simplicity of the good old blues lick and hell for leather fury combine to make a stonking release which looms over all comers like the champion it is. If you love rock, you’ll love Monster Truck.
3) Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature Nurture
Dinosaur Pile-Up’s sophomore effort was created just as number #1, entirely by front man and lead guitarist Matt Bignall. There is no doubt his incredible talent for writing songs and vocal hooks large enough to see from space. Grungy guitar thumping typify their more energetic punked up songs, but more modern rock and foo fighters comparisons can be drawn as the tracks tick by. Honestly there is not a single dud tune on Nature Nurture, plus the album flows so beautifully through rampant rock, to perfect pop on what is a tremendous alt-rock record that deserves to be noticed!
2) Heaven’s Basement – Filthy Empire
Author Bias Alert! After nearly 5 years of following these guys through the underbelly of London’s gig circuit, they finally landed a coveted record deal with Red Bull and boy have they delivered. Heaven’s Basement play ferocious modern rock inspired by the classic exponents. Bulging and pulsating with unrestrained energy and flair. New songs have stood up well alongside the material pulled from their early singles and EP’s, especially when doubling up the vocals and unleashing the mesmerizing guitar pyrotechnics. Riffs are tight, melodies are massive and the production is clean. Sweeping from all out attack to infectious pop-rock catchiness, Filthy Empire is loaded with soaring rock anthems which demand you to raise your fists to the sky, sing your heart out and jump about like you just don’t care! A fine debut, years in the making!
1) Alter Bridge – Fortress
Alter Bridge have returned to set a new career defining standard in Hard Rock, one which blasted all fellow AOTY contenders into oblivion with its epic power. By far their heaviest album to date, the dropped tuning creates immense Richter measurable riffs and melodies which are astoundingly good. In the words of the band, “it’s like dumper trucks falling from the heavens”, who am I to argue. Technical and complex dual guitar work is pervasive throughout and create memorable melodies both challenging and familiar. Lead singer Myles shows why he’s one of the greatest rock vocalists of a generation. Fortress packs the impact of a meteor, the wake of comet and the staying power of a planet. That’s why its DoesItRock.nets Album of 2014!
Let’s hope 2014 is half as good as 2013!
Another year has rolled on by with a fair dose of cracking rock and roll. Only the finest fist pumping, guitar slinging melody madness all cranked up to overdrive have made this years DoesItRock.net Album of the Year countdown. As usual we’re free from critical scoffing and only driven by honest and pure love of guitars, drums and voices.
EP’s) Buckethead – Pikes
Famed for being a supreme technical talent (but more famously for wearing a KFC bucket on his head, the latest in Buckethead’s long and varied discography is the Pike’s collection. Stunningly prolific, he released 30 EP’s of original material in quick succession, each packed with supreme guitar virtuosity, a huge swathe of moods and textures, beautiful leads and brutal metal moments plus cataclysmic of mega-melodies. A sparkling talent whose eclecticism/madness is unparalleled, in this universe or any other.
25) Templeton Pek – Signs
These brummy lads took me by surprise with this their debut full length LP. In a year without a Rise Against release this fills this void nicely with fast paced and confident power punk with soaring sing-along choruses, nifty guitar interplay and frantic drumming. This lustful fist pumping punk and energetic bouncing melodies made this stand out of the 2013 crowd.
24) Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose
Not content with just playing the greatest hits, the amalgam of the few remains of the Thin Lizzy line-up has been given a second bite at the cherry with the Lynott-esque vocals of Ricky Warwick at the helm. Not to dilute the Lizzy name this reformed line-up decided a name change was in order to release new material. To be honest the only thing which has changed in the name. Double guitar melodies, driving riff rock and powerful anthemic tunes which can easily sit alongside some of their former bands highlights.
23) Highwater Or Hell – Begin Again
The side project of Atreyu’s clean vocalist/drummer was a great success. This album moves away from the punk/scream mayhem of his main band and firmly into radio friendly American hard rock. Plenty of adrenaline pulsing numbers which while never re-inventing the wheel, soar with some catchy chorus’s and big ballsy guitars.
22) Stone Sour – House Of Gold And Bones: Pt II
The slipknot side project has always had the promise of greatness in the hard rock circles, with this year’s second part of the House Of Gold And Bones series they accomplish their goal. The deep and down tuned strings show a real statement of intent, giving the darker and slower moments a real sinister clout. Overall the guitar work is impressive as is the vocals from Corey Taylor, combined they create a powerful and thunderous rock epic full. A very well rounded album which varies its tempo’s and moods, providing many different reasons to love it.
21) Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
AiC continue on their return to the top with a sombre but jubilant release of mid tempo rockers which mix between their dreamy grunge sound, thunderous hard rock topped with a strong vocal performance. This lumbers along like the album title suggests but the epic-o-saurus bass riffs and guitar walls are enough to shake the foundations of Jurassic park more effectively than that damn T-Rex.
20) The Temperance Movement - The Temperance Movement
This smells like Creedence Clearwater Revival, sounds like The Black Crowes, but oddly is a British blues band from Glasgow! Fantastic vocals and a debut of great assurance and positive energy. An album for those long summer night drives packed with racy and rawkus upbeat numbers and mellow heartfelt moments. This is how to play the blues with supreme swagger and pure class.
19) The Answer – New Horizon
Still the premium classic rockers The Answer returned in 2013 with another corking album packed with songs you wished you wrote. Simplistic big blues, melodies in abundance and the whisky soaked vocals are a perfect recipe for a rollicking hour of high octane rock and roll. The consistency of this album is its greatest strength, with chorus after chorus of uber catchy lines and hooks, all driven by one of the most the tightly packed guitar arsenals around. If classic blues based rock takes your fancy, my Answer is The Answer.
18) Alkaline Trio – My Shame Is True
A proper return to form for the punk rockers who have created one of their finest ever songs in “She Lied To The FBI”. A catchy, punchy, bouncy, brilliant album opener which sets the tone for the rest of the album which is packed full of short sharp pop-punk anthems. A feel-good album of melody-first powered-up power chords which pump each track full of enthusiasm and energy.
17) Airbourne – Black Dog Barking
Airbourne are never going to shake the Ac/Dc comparisons, hence they revel in its glory and yet again load their classic rock cannon full of flashy guitar solos, snarling riffs and adrenaline pumping melodies to bang your head to. Their beer swigging swagger and strutting temperament gives this a real feel good vibe which is as macho as can be. A tight song writing unit, some of these tunes are sure-fire future classics. Thrilling and exhilarating this is big, dumb and fun at its finest!
16) The Fuzz Drivers – The Fuzz Drivers
Like a shooting star, this band has shone brightly for a very brief moment in time. As by the time I’d spun this bluesy rock behemoth, this Portuguese band had split with their lead vocalist, we’re dropped by their record label and we’re giving it away for free! Packed with infectious riffs and boulder sized rhythm guitar these are responsible for 2 of my favourite romping rock anthems of the year, each seeping with power and passion and a thundering melody. The album is string all the way down the track list, slower bluesy numbers aptly fuzzed in an accessible stoner style and the vocals are totally engaging. Here’s to a quick reformation!
15) Scale The Summit – The Migration
I fell in love at first listen to this instrumental album packed with crushing metallic moments, beautiful melodic highs and impressive guitar slinging. Each song swoops and soars between the peaks of each song, rising and falling between epic atmospheric walls of solid rock power. The sound flicks between clean and crunch with effortless ease and these songs shift tempos in progressive flamboyant style. These compositions are layered with up to 3 guitar sections which intertwine in perfect harmony and technical brilliance, forming epic tunes which flow and flare with captivating effect.
More Norwegian triple guitar madness plundered our ears during 2013. The kings of black n’ roll returned with another album packed with aggression and nitro-fuelled metal carnage. With riffs and melodies sweeping and crashing in a glorious pile-up of noise it’s impossible to ignore their thumping tunes. Foreign lyrics spat in a hostile growl, completes their package. They’re a total blast live too…
13) Enforcer – Death By Fire
Enforcer are Sweden’s answer to old school classic speed metal. Fantastically fast and precise riffs which fly along the fret board at breakneck speed properly harks back to days gone past. For a debut album this is a definitely not new, but yet the vibe is spot on and it’s packed with addictive songs. All the styles elements are here, with the powerful racing drums and a high pitched squealing lead vocalist completing the old school package. If you are an old school metal man, or just a fast guitar lover, Death By Fire is not to be missed.
12) Amaranthe – The Nexus
Euro Pop/Heavy Metal meshing masters Amaranthe return with another album of undeniably addictive songs. It’s slickly produced and the songs are riff heavy with plenty of dark and light moments, fired by chunky metal guitars and beautiful female vocals retrospectively. Aimed less at the heavy metal crowd and more at the commercial rock fans this is easily accessible to all, there is no surprise each song is sublimely catchy.
11) Free Fall – Power & Volume
No other band on this list are as deeply submerged in classic rock as Free Fall, soaked in Zep and floating on Sabbath, this album is not original but it’s so damn good at what it does. The songs are compact and varied with catchy riffs (faintly familiar) which mix between slow burning thudding melodic moment and upbeat raw blues power. The secret here is the vocalist whose vocal chords have a stunning range and a passionate force. Step back in time with Free Fall!
Stay tuned for the top 10!
30th May 2013 @ The Electric Ballroom
A trio of North American acts packed tonight’s bill, all sharing a loose punk connection. It certainly provided a varied night of guitar driven energy.
Canadians Metz occupy the punk spectrum labeled, “I don’t care what you think we sound like…because we like it, and you can lump it!”. With barely any regards to their aural chainsaw guitar attack the profusely sweating front man blasted distorted guitars with no remorse. This was unrelenting and aggressive music making, with the faintly audible screams of probably very decent songs resonating deep inside, desperately failing to escape. Not for the faint hearted, one for the hard of hearing.
The American meat in the lineup’s Canadian sandwich shuffled out, totally unassuming as they tooled up. These guys I had all but written off. As much as I liked their latest LP, I never took to it for a repeat spin beyond a catchy ditty or two. Still, there’s nothing like a good live outing to show me where I’m wrong. Titus Andronicus play melodic rock which doffs it’s cap to Americana through a technical triple guitar attack of multi-melody madness. These weaving guitar lines were not effect heavy but still powerful while occasionally mimicked tin whistle style familiar Americanish marching melodies.
Epic crescendo’s were the general result of the meandering which were lively and resulted in many man turning to their friends partners stating ‘I’ll be back soon’ as they dashed stage wards for some jumping about lunacy. Yet Fans far back were happy reciting these terribly verbose lyrics and the non-simple chorus lines were seemingly rolling off everyone’s tongues right back at front man Patrick Stickles. Oddly he casts a rather Rich Hall shadow in both appearance and vocal delivery. The latter Dour and grumpy with a hint of irony and alcohol. The casual listener would have no clue what he was warbling, but that mattered none! These danceable toe tapping tunes turned on the smile machines which really captivated me in a shared wave of euphoria emanating from the buzzing overexcited masses of onlookers. A brilliant set which totally took me by surprise!
Now after Titus came the Fucked Up crew, trying to earn their headliner stripes this night. Sad to say they failed.
Attitude was ever present though as the vocalist made multiple jaunts amongt the crowd, spitting vocals like a venomous rattler.
Musically though, something was missing. The much revered melodic elements and complex arranges were lost in the crashing waves of energetic guitar onslaught. The static band was at opposites with their absent front man which is not surprising really. Their attire was vastly at odds too with the slimline clean cut blue collar band and the rough unkempt half naked punk singer. A juxtaposition if ever they stood near each other.
The crowd provide a host of entertainment. A guy doing a blocker lemming impression, a stoned/drunk wobbler trying is best to stay vertical and a arm sling bearing chick smashing into the mosh pit!
Titus ruled the night, a sublime show of top notch rawkus energy nonetheless
16th April 2013,
It was a busy night in north London, police lined the streets and the riot gear was out in force. Thankfully the couple of hundred fans of And So I Watch You From Afar were not the reason behind such tactics. An Arsenal home game was in fact the cause of the red and white army moving towards The Emirates for a clash with Everton.
Crowd troubles aside (it took over 10 mins to get ascend to street level from the tube!), The Garage was stiflingly hot and already packed as Antlered Man took to the stage (I do admit to being a tad disappointed that there were no Minotaur’s in the band). This London bunch of alt-rockers plundered the stage with their heaving and hefty whirls of clanging guitar noise. A vast array of odd sounds and warped effects were generated with gusto and frenetic intents. Shame a lot of it was buzz and wailing amp feedback, especially the slide guitar which howled extra-terrestrial whoops and whizzes throughout the set. They were however enjoyable and had a good set of book end tunes with opener and closer being incredible hook heavy eclectic rock chaos. The meat of the sandwich however was a blur of noise which passed primarily unnoticed. However they get extra marks for basing a song on a 4 note riff played on a tin whistle. Not bad, but room for improvement in the depth of quality, time will tell for the Antlered Men.
Next up (well almost) were Gallops, who decided a full 10 minutes before their set time that they were too ill to play. Groans from the busy crowd but having almost slept through their set supporting Maybeshewill, this was fine by me. It did mean an awkward pause ensued, but earlier than planned the instrumental post-rockers …And So I Watch You From Afar took the stage.
And So I Watch You From Afar
ASIWYFA, only have 1 gear so it seems…full throttle! From the very first sombre chords to the highest pinnacle of their epic rock repertoire, they bombarded The Garage with bomb after bomb of explosive guitar power. For a band with no lyrics, they manage a very good job of manufacturing a connection with their audiences, sparking crowd exuberance through bombastic man-rock sections and rising spirits alongside the harmonious crescendos of their muscular and often chaotic tunes. Somehow the music is better for their omission, but that has not stopped ASIWYFA attempting to slip some in on their newest album. While a simple tool, the odd “yeahs!” of yore have been updated with “woos!”, “las!”, and most vexing “Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka” alongside other actual words. Sometimes they word to bring the crowd up in reflected harmony, other times it’s just filling a gap where another corking fret board run could be inserted.
Tonight was special for ASIWYFA as this was their biggest sell out crowd outside of their native land of Northern Ireland, something which could be read from the beaming smiles on the faces of the band. In fact at every opportunity they could not help but thank each and every one of the crowd for being here. Truly genuine and honourable, as this venue is a long way from Shepherds Bush Empire, let alone Brixton Academy or Wembley.
After an extended run of sonic pummelling ASIWYFA retired knowing that each of the crowd would be back for another sample of their intense and exhilarating performance, most probably dragging all their friends along for the white knuckle ride too!
The Datsuns & Free Fall @ DIngwalls, 13th February 2013
Surprisingly it was the first time we’d been to Dingwalls, the venue hidden within Camden market a stone’s throw from the lock and its associated party places. Once inside, it’s a fine setting, with a multi-tiered seating area views were excellent whilst being small enough to remain very intimate to all but the furthest onlooker.
Up as we wandered in Free Fall, the side project of “The Soundtrack of Our Lives” guitarist Mattias Bärjed (who has clearly had enough of mid tempo pop-rock on tonight’s showing), were powering up their amps. Once they begun striking their strings it was immediately obvious these guys worshiped in the church of Page & Plant at the altar of Black Sabbath. Mixing the euphoria of classic rock guitars with heaving blues of zep and Sabbath they managed to craft a sound which was both familiar and at the same time, their own. Vocals were classic Robert plant, powerful and eclectic with howling wails backing the bold and meandering melodies. Another band trying to be zep? Yes…at this they succeeded emphatically! Their nagging choruses were still ringing in my ears as the headliners strutted on stage.
Bias alert! Ever since The Datsuns self-titled debut record hit my ears way back when, I have been totally in awe of their guitar driven garage rock. Many years have passed since that release earned the New Zealand boys proclamation from NME as the best new band in town, some of us have not forgotten. Armed with a sackful of classic blues melodies and frenetic air-guitar anthems I’m ashamed to admit this is the first time I’ve been able to get down to one of their London shows, this one in support of their 5th release, 2012′s Death Rattle Boogie.
Songs from this corking album dominated the early set, adding in more psychedelic side trips alongside their trademark riff fuelled thrust. Early highlights included the fuzzed up Bullseye, thunderous bass melee of Skull Full Of Bones and the bearer of scorching ‘DiR.net riff of the year 2012′ Gold Halo. The small crowd were buzzing as the on-stage energy of the band reflected in a small chaotic pit of over excited rockers. The number of crowd surfer’s be-lied the limited numbers holding them up, obvious casualties and painful drops ensued! Still for that little pocket of mayhem, nothing mattered beyond exuberantly letting the music snare them into the mouth of garage guitar nirvana.
Song after song of incredible melodies were piled sky high by the reigning riff kings, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Sittin’ Pretty, Maximum Heartbreak, MF From Hell and their well known favourite Harmonic Generator. Yet their set was closed out with one of their most revered and rawkus offerings, Freeze Sucker which combines their firecracker blues, frantic vocals and huge melodies with an extended mellow passage and inevitable return crescendo which pushed the crowd above and beyond boiling.
It was such a great show to finally be a part of, an amazing band with a catalogue of awesome rock anthems. Just surprising they are still haven’t graduated above venues of this capacity, still all the better for me!
Rancid @ The HMV Forum, 14th December 2012
After being shipped up to Newcastle last minute, I had a rather longer journey to the Kentish Town forum than originally anticipated (hence lack of decent pics). 5 hours later we nestled in to catch the latter half of the forefathers of Oi!, Cock Sparrer, which without a cockney accent should not be spoken aloud in public places. Especially not by Americans over booming PA systems, ‘Cock Spa..rer’ is just wrong in many ways (bad images).
Despite their advancing years and progression in their genre to more Americanised angles, Cock Sparrer have lost nothing which would have attracted their loyal fan base from their 70′s & 80′s heydays. Straight forward three chord punk with gang harmonies, lyrical themes of the anti-establishment and of good ol’ blighty (see “England Belongs To Me“), each with nagging choruses most modern chart toppers would die for. Professional and exuberant, they have lost none of their spirit as their rejuvenation continues, now with Rancid’s backing a whole new audience is being won over, all over again.
Whilst Tim Armstrong is the mastermind, founder and talented vocalist who steers the Rancid ship on its ever upward course up the punk hierarchy, he also sports a pretty awesome beard! He was the lifeblood of the crew, bouncing about stage slinging his guitar so low it almost reached his bootstraps he epitomized their carefree attitude and high energy punk rock. Short and sharp, blink and you’ll miss them anthems sparked some serious crowd antics from front to the back.
Jumping around their discography they picked out their most energetic and catchiest melodies from their career, each song being met with rounds of crowd rapture before the bouncing started. The pinnacles were their set rounding effort sing-a-long classic Ruby Soho, plus hot foot hoppin’ Fall Back Down and of course the ska, skate-punk mashup, Time Bomb. The sheer amount of material showcased is testament to their no-nonsense, all killer no filler ethos which has brought them so much success. On tonight’s high octane outing, there is no slowing down the rancid train.
New project of Soundtrack Of Our Lives guitarist is a lesson in how to rock hard right…
Free Fall – Power & Volume
There are many hard rocking bands who list Led Zep & Ac/Dc as influences, but none go quite as far as Free Fall in their homage to the lords of Classic Rock as Free Fall. From the energy of the opening rollicking blues guitar riff of the title track to the last gravelly toned wail from Bon Scott’ish vocalist Kim Fransson, Free Fall are soaked in the kind of good times and vintage memories that only get better with age. Rock pedigree was never going to be an issue as their line-up is a true meld of Scandinavian talent from bands as varied as Lead Guitarist Mattias Bärjed (The Soundtrack Of Our Lives), drummer Ludwig Dahlberg (International Noise Conspiracy) with a helping hand from Graveyard’s producer Don Alsterberg.
There are a whole heap of riffs which are instantly memorable, stolen from the rock archives and given a new lease of life here on this brilliant debut record. They are adept at the straight up upbeat hard rock as displayed on both the title track and Top Of The World both sporting racing drums and equally pacy melodies, yet it’s the longer slower tunes where Free Fall have perfected their craft. One such epic is Attila, which begins with a simple palm muted riff which is totally foreboding backed with a bright bass melody with occasional piano chords to add more sparse desert-like Stoner Rock vibes. It rumbles on like a impending storm, which results in an epic crescendo flooded with fiery guitars and shrieking vocals. This simple slowed riff trick is repeated a few more times on World Domination with its louder cymbal crashing wall of rock and Damnation which flies very close to Sabbath’s Haven & Hell completes this trio of big hitting beasts. Production nods firmly at the good old days of rock almost as much as the songs.
There is barely any filler here, with each song either containing another melody to bang head to, a guitar solo to admire or more often a jaw dropping display of vocal talent. If you like rock, you cannot miss this! Having already seen them live, I can report they are just as spectacular!
DoesItRock Overall Score: 9/10
Listen to Free Fall – Power & Volume now on Spotify!