Continuing on with our top albums of the year, let’s go through the next 20!
80: Tidal Wave – The Lord Knows
Time for some glorious sludgy/stoner/doom rock. The second album from the Swedish band build and improve on their debut in every aspect. From the excellent riffing to the perfectly fitting vocals to the overall feel of it, the band have really nailed their sound with this one. And, of course, it’s chocked full of incredible tracks.
It’s got a heavier edge compared to a lot of music around its genre, too. It’s like if Queens of the Stone Age and Black Label Society had a beautiful, high baby. It got a very deserving 9/10 From us, and I cannot wait to hear more from this band in the future. If you’re into the sludgy stuff, you may wanna check this out!
Listen to: End of the Line, Marijuana Trench and By Order of the King
79: Darius Rucker – Carolyn’s Boy
The country star has come a long way since fronting Hootie and the Blowfish. He’s arguably become a bigger name since, and this album really solidifies that concept and his sound and position in the music scene. This is a damn good country album. It’s got a very early 2000s country feel to it. Sure, it gets a bit ‘old man yells at clouds’ at times with its lyrics, but that’s practically expected now from any non-new country artist. And there’s still a lot of genuine emotion throughout the release, too. There are plenty of incredible ballads just as much as there are more upbeat stadium-country songs.
Eight solo albums in and Darius is still showing us how incredible his songwriting ability truly is. I gave him a 9/10 when I first reviewed it and after listening back through the album yet again, I definitely agree with that score!
Listen to: Beers & Sunshine, Fires Don’t Start Themselves and Same Beer Different Problem
78: Extreme – Six
One of the biggest names in 90s rock returned this year with their first new album in a decade and a half. The hype was pretty massive for the album, especially after the first couple of singles were released. So, why is it this low on the list? Two words: ‘BEAUTIFUL GIRLS’. I can’t remember the last time one track ruined the credibility of an album quite so much as that song. It’s god awful.
Having said that, there are some all-time great Extreme tracks on this album. I’d put the first three tracks up there with any other popular Extreme song, either. Tracks like ‘SAVE ME’ and ‘THICKER THAN BLOOD’ are also awesome. It’s really the slower tracks that let this album down, trying to still recapture their ‘More than Words’ success, to varying quality. And yeah, fuck ‘Beautiful Girls’. Bad pop tripe.
So yes, a rather mixed bag of a release, which is why it sits lower than it could have. But still, a good half the album is awesome, and if you’re a fan of the band or their style, you need to check it out! It got an 8.5 from me, and I stand by that pretty heartily!
Listen to: #REBEL, RISE and THICKER THAN BLOOD
77: Jelly Roll – Whitsitt Chapel
Though Mr Roll has been around for a few years now, 2023 has very much his breakout year. While a lot of that has been due to his Corey Taylor/Spencer Charnes level of features on other artists’ songs, this album is also a huge part of that. Drawing together his love of country, rock and hip hop into a beautiful blend of music is always risky, but it’s pulled off very well here. And, unlike a lot of country this year, it’s not too long! 13 tracks is perfect.
There is a lot to love here for fans of any of the genres I listed above. And whether it’s Brantley Gilbert, Yelawolf or the incredible Lainey Wilson, the guest’s he has throughout are a perfect fit for his style and the songs. And there is so much variety throughout that it never once gets boring or a slog. This is very much a breakout album, and easily deserves the 8.5 it got from us, if not more! I cannot wait to hear where he goes next!
Listen to: Halfway to Hell, The Lost and Save Me
76: The Black Skeleton – The Rear View
This band have such an interesting and unique blend of styles, it’s impossible to categorize them as anything other than simply ‘rock’. 80s pop rock? Check. 90s Alice In Chains-like grunge? Check. Red Hot Chili Peppers? Check. Stadium rock ballads? Check. And yet, throughout all of that, it still all sounds distinctly like the same band.
I stand by everything I said in my review. The whole album is packed full of incredible, different songs, so as a musician fan (which I’m sure you are if you’re here), you should check this out. The first on this list to get a 9.5/10 and for good reason!
Listen to: Swear, The Rear View and Puppy Run
75: When Rivers Meet – Aces Are High
Some more swaggering bluesy country rock now, this time a married duo out of Essex. As I’m sure you’ll be aware by now, if it’s on this list, it’s a great album! However, the fact that the band can get this much sound from just the two of them is insanely impressive. And the combination of sounds and genres is infectiously enjoyable. Both their vocals are top notch throughout and play off each other perfectly, too.
If you’re into country or rock at all, this is definitely the album for you. And the fact that it’s 10 tight, fourish minute tracks means that it really is all killer and no filler. The band have gone from strength to strength the last few years or so, and this album has really cemented them as a powerhouse in the scene. We gave it a very deserving 9/10, and they’re another band that I can’t wait to see get even bigger in the years to come!
Listen to: Seen It All Before, Golden and Perfect Stranger
74: Arch Blade – Kill the Witch
Time for some more modern NWOBHM-style music, and I for one can’t get enough of the resurgence of the sound recently. At least in the UK and US, anyhow! Plus, they’ve only been together for four years now, so for the band to be putting out this high quality of music, especially as a debut album, is impressive to see.
The band do their sound very well. I know a couple of the members have been around the scene for a good few years now, but the talent of them to come together to make this level of music is undeniable. If you’re into Iron Maiden or Painkiller-era Judas Priest, this album feels like it’s created for you. Whether it’s slower, cleaner stuff or a more thrashy pace, they do it all so well. It was another deserving 9/10 from us!
Listen to: Kill the Witch, House of Dreams, Factory of Sin
73: Rancid – Tomorrow Never Comes
It pains me to put this band so low. I fucking LOVE Rancid. One of the many sounds of my childhood. And their first album in six years is a good one. Hence why it’s on this list. I’d honestly put the title track up their with their greatest hits. I’ve had it on a lot since it’s release. However, the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to that lofty height, in my opinion.
Having said that, it’s still a Rancid album, so it’s still awesome. They are one of the modern kings of punk for a reason, and the album has the perfect mixture of fun and attitude to it. As an album as a whole it’s amazing, I think I’m just disappointed still that so many of the tracks are under two-minutes. But still, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face when you listen. It came out on the busiest week of the year for music and still got an 8.5/10 from me, so that should say a lot! There isn’t much punk on this list (SPOILER), so if you’re into the genre, listen to this!
Listen to: Tomorrow Never Comes, Devil in Disguise and Drop Dead Inn
72: Nothing But Thieves – Dead Club City
I did not expect to love this album as much as I do. I’d never really given the band a chance before, having seen them on Reading and Leeds line-ups and that was about it, so figured they weren’t very ‘rock’. Arguably, they aren’t. But, on the other hand, they are more-so than I had thought coming in. And, regardless, this is a great album. I’ve described it before as how I wish Twenty One Pilots had evolved, and I stand by that comment whole-heartly. It’s electro-infused pop rock, and it’s awesome.
I know this album and style overall certainly isn’t for everyone. However, it’s a solid album and more than deserves to make it onto this list. It’s full of great tracks that pretty much all vary, making for an interesting, fun listen. And there’s enough rock in here to keep everyone but the die-hard metalheads happy, I’m sure. It was an easy 8.5 from us, but it may be even higher now!
Listen to: Welcome to the DCC, Keeping You Around and Pop the Balloon
71: HARDBALL – Self-Titled
A rare modern grunge album now, and a damn good one at that. The band are the perfect blend of Nirvana and Seether, for the most part. I say that because the longer the album goes on, the heavier it gets. There are not only hints of metal, but of doom, which is a lot of fun and really interesting merged with grunge. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I really loved listening to it and have checked it out multiple times since it was first released. We gave it a whopping 9.5/10 in our review. But honestly, being someone who was raised on Nirvana from an early age, it’s hard to deny how not only great this album is but hopefully how important to the genre it will be moving forward!
Listen to: Just a Tree, Chili and Talk to Me
70: Electric Boys – Grand Explosivos
Goddamn, I love this band. They deserve to be so much bigger than they are. The funky bluesy rock Swedes proved that yet again with another incredible release. They’ve been one of the most consistently great 80s bands in terms of releases since their reunion in 2009, and this may be the best of them yet. Every track is a lot of fun, it’s 35 minutes of bouncy, swaggering awesomeness. They’re an effortlessly cool band, even at their age, and should be absolutely massive. It got a 9/10 from us, and I’ve not stopped listening to it since September.
Listen to: When Live Treats you Funky, Domestic Blitz and The Great Believer
69: Liv Sin – KaliYung
Time to boarder on power metal now, this album being a very epic heavy metal offering. It’s got a very European style to the sound (which makes sense given that they’re Swedish), giving off a blend of Doro, Powerwolf and Scorpions. And honestly, the heavier bits are where the album shines the most. The big riffs and screams are INCREDIBLE and won me over to this band on their last release, building on it perfectly with this one.
The album is chocked full of amazing songs, there not being a bad one on it. Much like a lot of this list, I really wish I could put this higher up. It’s an amazing release and really feels like the culmination of what they’ve done until this point. It got an 8.5/10 from us way back in January when we reviewed it. However, I’d easily push it up to a 9 now, as I still listen to a lot of it now, months later.
Listen to: King of Fools, Virus and Forget My Name
68: Miara – Hungering Inside
Somehow it’s been a little while since we’ve gotten this heavy on this list. However, this year has really been a resurgence of my love of melodeath/metalcore, and this album is one of the big reasons for that. Yet another phenomenal debut album on this list, the Italian band have found their sound immediately and performed it incredibly well. They’re one of my favourite new heavy finds of the year, and I think they’re going to be massive sooner rather than later if this release is anything to go by. It was another VERY easy 9/10 from us! Check this out immediately!
Listen to: Hungering Inside, The Gate of Hell and My Will Dominates
67: Green Lung – This Heathen Land
One of the rare entries onto this list that I didn’t write myself, rather my wonderful fiancé Jade did. However, seeing how much she loved it and being a fan of stonery, doomy rock, I checked it out and fully agree with her! It has maybe the best song they’ve done as an opener, channelling the best of Ghost energy. The rest of the album has more of a traditional, slightly heavier sound to it, but there are still elements of Ghost throughout that I love. It’s like theatrical stoner/doom, and I honestly can’t get enough.
Jade gave this album a 9/10 and I feel inclined to agree with her. It’s a solid album from front to back, and their sound is perfected from their previous releases. The band are a staple of the UK stoner rock scene, but I feel this album is set to catapult them across the globe!
Listen to: The Forest Church, Maxine (Witch Queen) and The Ancient Ways
66: Lauren Morrow – People Talk
I first discovered Lauren at the Long Road back in 2022. I became a big fan after that and was pretty hyped for this release. It didn’t at all disappoint, either. It’s the perfect chilled-out, old-school country album. Think a slower, more emotion-filled Dolly Parton. It’s very similar to Cam, who is easily one of my favourite artists of the year.
If you like your slower, more stripped-back country/folk music, this is the album for you. I gave it a 9.5/10 when I reviewed it back in March, and fully stand by that score today!
Listen to: It’s You, Looking for Trouble and Leona
65: King Abyss – Snake Oil
Thrash time, and this time a band from the same city as us, which is always exciting! These guys have had one hell of a year, and this album is very much a testament to that. It is an incredibly impressive thrash/death album. The riffing is incredible, the screams heavy and the production thankfully great. And, it’s so refreshing to hear a slower track like ‘Distain’ on a modern trash record. So many bands go balls-to-the-wall through, while this is a dark, Slayer-like masterpiece. we gave it an easy 9/10, and it’s one of the best heavy debuts of the year!
Listen to: Distain, Eyes Always Watching and Weapons of Mass Destruction
64: Degenerator – The Abyssal Throne
Maybe the most recent album on this list, being released only last month. It’s a masterpiece of atmospheric prog rock, though. It transitions from quieter, Tool-like parts to fuzzy desert rock to moody 2000s post-grunge with ease, the sounds surprisingly made for each other here. It may sound cheesy, but honestly this album is an experience. It’s made to be listened to in full while sat in a dark room on your own. I should know, I tried it. It’s one of the most atmospheric albums I’ve heard, end of, and honestly most of it isn’t even that proggy. It’s dark, brooding alt rock, and I love it. No matter what music you like, stop what you’re doing (wait, no, read our content first, of course) and listen to this album! We gave it a very easy 9/10.
Listen to: Finality, Hiraeth and The Day that Never Comes
63: Krashkarma – Falling to Pieces
More awesome metalcore, and this time from an insanely talented duo. It’s an incredible feat to write and perform all this between them both, especially when it’s all rather technical and insanely well written. There is plenty of heaviness throughout, while the melodic nature of the genre makes for a pretty catchy nature throughout. It’s equal parts In This Moment, Static X and bands like Fit for a King or Wage War.
For those of you into the more accessible side of heavy music, this is definitely for you. The duo have been going for a while now but this is my favourite release from them yet. I gave it an 8.5 when I first reviewed it but it’s easily gone up now!
Listen to: Falling to Pieces, Survive the Afterlife and Shut Up
62: Theory of a Deadman – Dinosaur
What a return to form this album is. After a rather badly received and generally poor previous release, Theory are back with a vengeance with Dinorsaur. For a start, the band return to their original heavier radio-rock sound, and the album is just packed full of great tracks. And it was nice to hear the return of their tongue-in-cheek more lighthearted bitchy songwriting on a few of the tracks, like ‘sick’. Sure, some of it is a tad cringy, but I feel like that’s kinda the point.
I was a big fan of this band in my teens and hearing them get back to this sound and quality just makes me happy. Sure, we gave it a 7.5, but it’s my list and I can do what I want, so it’s here! It’s a good album, I’d highly recommend checking it out!
Listen to: Dinosaur, Medusa (Stone) and Ambulance
61: Evile – The Unknown
The final entry in this week’s part is more amazing UK thrash. When the band reformed a few years back, I was massively excited as I was a big fan as a kid. I have to admit their return album didn’t do a whole lot for me. This however… fuck, it’s a damn good metal album. The band almost step away from the genre for parts of this, it all having more of a doom/sludgy metal vibe. It’s a really cool sound and a phenomenal evolution. And yet there is still plenty of fast paced stuff too for the thrash fans!
If you’re a fan of the band, or of thrash, sludge or death metal, this album is a must for you to check out. It got an easy 9/10 from me back when it was released, and I haven’t stopped listening to it since!
Listen to: The Unknown, When Mortal Coils Shed and At Mirror’s Speech