Without a doubt the year 2014 had some incredibly exciting rock albums from a myriad of different sources. As the genre of rock is quite expansive, this list may dip into some unexpected sub-genres. Underground Examinations is always open to exploring new music. This list is an attempt at bringing together the top five rock albums of 2014, all suggestions are accepted via comments at the bottom of the article. These top albums are in no particular order.
The Hunting Party – Linkin Park
Once Linkin Park released Minutes to Midnight fans became worried, or most of them at least. The hard rock driven tracks had taken a backseat to more slow and ambient ones. The change was not necessarily a bad one, but it was the first step that would lead them away from their roots. The Hunting Party is closer to Meteora and Hybrid Theory compared to any other album they have done.
The album is a contextual metaphor because Linkin Park is a party, hunting to find and bring back the soul and energy of rock. The album features guest appearances by Page Hamilton, Daren Malakian and Tom Morello. Mike Shinoda does take to the vocals occasionally on this album but mostly as a singer instead of a rapper. This is not a complaint, as his verses are mostly quite authentic. Fans of the band should give the whole album a listen.
Pale Communion – Opeth
The old school Swedish heavy metal godsend Opeth has released their 11 studio album, Pale Communion. This album takes place after the departure of Per Wilberg and is the first album with Joakim Svalberg on keyboard. It may catch some by surprise because the album is devoid of scream or growling vocals. Greg Kennelty described it as “the missing link between Damnation and Ghost Reveries” which is a spot on observation. Haunting melodies propel the album through the entire 55 minute smooth cruise.
Kindly Bent to Free Us – Cynic
The first Cynic album in six years. Eight tracks set the stage for an emotional and insightful journey. Although not as hard as previous album, Kindly Bent to Free Us offers a progressive metal experience unlike most. It manages to intermingle jazz fusion with progressive metal. Each new album marks a new musical direction for the band and Kindly Bent to Free Us is no different.
Issues – Issues
The self titled and debut album Issues, from Atlanta, Georgia is sure to surprise. Something unique and odd, the band combines themes of metalcore with R&B. Realistically it is more nu metal with emphasis on clean dancy vocals. The album holds a lot of potential replay-ability. Where is the new generation taking musical themes? Everywhere.
Clear – Periphery
This EP Clear takes place after the band’s second album, before their two-part release Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega. What makes Clear so special is due to what it is composed of, each track is written by a different band member excluding the introduction track, which includes sections from the other songs and acts as a callback for the final track.
The album is called Clear and as a reflection of that, has no official artwork. It is rare to see a band with so many talented songwriters in one place. Each track shows its different inspirations, but as a whole the album works as a short (just less than 30 minutes) united project.
The musical genre of Rock is fairly vague and massively expansive. The year held a lot of different types of rock in fresh and fun ways, The Foo Fighters actually focused on specific environments to educate and inspire their music. This article is only one opinion, feel free to include yours down below as I am sure many great albums did not get referenced in this list of the top 5 rock albums of 2014. Honorable mentions include Pink Floyd, The Endless River, Cloud Nothings, Here and Nowhere Else, Foo Fighters. Sonic Highway and Chevelle, La Gárgola.
Photo by Rock Planet Productions – Flickr Licence