Top Rock Albums of 2020

2020 was probably the strangest year yet.  With the Covid virus running rampant, many new releases were either postponed until late in the year or we never saw the release at all.  There were a flurry of albums at the beginning of the year, then basically nothing for a few months until we got to the Fall and now there are too many to get through.  But there were some great releases and I am sure I missed a number of great albums and if you look around the web, there will be tons of Top Album lists you can get a pretty good idea of what you should check out in case you missed any of these.

This list will be my favorite “Rock” albums of the year.  All other types of music will be for another post tomorrow.  I am going to leave this one to my favorite genre.  It is a broad genre, but these are the albums that I consider to be ROCK!!

Also note, these are MY FAVORITES!!  These are not the most popular or trendy albums.  You won’t find the cool trendy bands, because they are usually here today gone tomorrow.  These are the albums that I connected with during the year and I kept coming back to again and again.  And without further adieu, here are the Top Rock Albums of 2020:

#10 – Storm Force – Age of Fear:

81HSuWcovgL._SY355_ Thanks to some fellow bloggers in the name of LeBrain and SuperDekes, I was introduced to this Canadian band that unapologetically brought us a classic 80’s rock album full of songs that rocked you out and songs that were actually relevant to the events going on in the world which is amazing considering this song came out prior to the Covid shutdowns.  I believe these guys can see the future and with music like this, I can see their future being very bright.  You need to hear the songs “Breathe”, “Because of You” and “Dirty Vegas because once you do, you will be caught in the Storm!!

#9 – Passion – Passion:

R-14695087-1579801202-1607.jpeg The album is a blast from the past and brings back the fun in rock that is surely missing nowadays.  I needed that lift this year with something that reminded me of old times, but still grounded enough that it sounded fresh to me.  Passion is a total blast.  They are a little of a parody of the genre and that is okay because I know they are for real.  The songs “Trespass in Love”, “She Bites Hard”,  “Lost in the Dark” and “Too Bad For Baby” all sound like Danger Danger, Dokken and Damn Yankess all rolled in to one. What more could you want.

#8 – Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons – We’re the Bastards:

400x400The former Motorhead guitarists has a band with all his sons except for Neil Starr on vocals.  The album is what you would expect from a former Motorhead alum.  It is a great blues rock album full of blues guitar sound to it and Neil sounds fantastic vocally.  It has grit, it has balls and it is as dirty as they come and it is stunning.  If I would’ve had more time with it, it would probably be much higher in the Top 10 as well.  Check out “Born to Roam”, “Desert Song”, “We’re the Bastards” and “Waves”.

#7 – Corey Taylor – CMFT:

8113W3kGqYL._SY355_ I am not a fan of Slipnot, Stone Sour are okay, but Corey Taylor is amazing.  This was the surprise of the year for me that I would like one of his albums, but dang it…I DID!!  It is not just a straight up rock album as there are elements of hip hop, blues, punk, country and there are so many shining moments that there are too many to count.  The songs to hit up first are “Hwy 666”, “Black Eyes Blue”, “Culture Head” and “CMFT Must be Stopped (Feat. Tech N9ne and Kid Bookie)”.  What a blast of a record.

#6 – Smith & Myers – Volume 1 & 2: 

Smith&Myers-Vol1-cover2020Brent Smith and Zach Myers from Shinedown have a little side acoustic project and they finally released not one, but 2 albums.  I picked up the 2LP set on vinyl and it is sublime.  Yes, it is all acoustic and consists of 10 new tracks and 10 covers and all are amazing.  The new tracks that are outstanding are “Not Mad Enough”, “Panic”, “New School Shiver” and “Bad at Love” and covers, will Billie Eillish’s “Bad Guy”, Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and INXS “Never Tear Us Apart” are some shining moments but the covers are cool, different choices.

#5 – Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man:

Ordinary_ManThe album is dark, heavy and yet full of melodies, hooks and some killer guitar work.  The album is so accessible and harkens back for me to ‘The Ultimate Sin’ in catchiness and how radio friendly it is.  The guests on this album are immense with Duff McKagan, Chad Smith, Slash, Tom Morello, Elton John, Charlie Puth, Post Malone, Travis Scott, Andrew Watt and even daughter Kelly Osbourne on backing vocals.  A mix of old and new with the musicians and it comes across in the music.  Check out “Under the Graveyard”, “Straight to Hell” and “Eat Me” just to name a few.

#4 – Hollywood Undead – New Empire Vol. 1:

HUNewEmpireVol1cover The first album that I have gravitated towards in the year and it stuck with me all year long.  The production of the album is slick and the mix is top notch as everything sounds nearly perfect. I’m really drawn to the melodic sound on most of the choruses.  The hooks have grabbed hold of me. I’m not a rap guy personally, but what these guys deliver is something that holds my attention and mixes well with the heaviness of the music enough to make this rock guy to sit up and pay attention.  Check out “Time Bomb”, “Already Dead” and “Empire”.

#3 – AC/DC – Power Up:

220px-ACDCPowerUp In what might be the best AC/DC album since ‘Razor’s Edge’, no, it is the best since!! AC/DC gave us an album the world needs right now. It is obvious I wasn’t alone in that thinking as the album went straight to #1 in the U.S. and many other countries. Musically, what do you get? You get 12 songs and 42 minutes of blistering AC/DC. I mean, come one, it is AC/DC, you know what is going to sound like and there is no surprise it will be a riff-ridden, guitar blasting, explosive album and that is exactly what you get.  Listen to “Through the Mists of Time”, “Shot in the Dark”, “Demon Fire” and “Realize” to whet your whistle.

#2 – Bush – The Kingdom:

220px-Bush_-_The_KingdomGavin Rossdale has given us an album that could be a pinnacle in the career of Bush.  It is one of the band’s heaviest sounding albums, the production is polished and lays out Rossdale’s vocals front and center, it is melodic, accessible, inviting and everything you want in a rock album.  It is as close to perfection as you can get.  The songs you need to hear are “Bullet Holes”, “Flowers in the Grave”, “Undone” and “Slave” just to name a handful.  You can’t go wrong with this one at all.

#1 – H.E.A.T. – H.E.A.T. II:

R-14823320-1583070316-5753.jpeg Swedish hard rock band H.E.A.T. are now on their sixth studio album simply titled ‘II’.  The band unapologetically deliver a melodic rock album that is a throwback to the 80’s hard rock scene while moving straight into the new decade of 2020. From start to finish, the band has returned to their roots and this time around did everything on their own.  They sound rejuvenated and refreshed and attack this album with a ferocity we haven’t seen in some time.  This album has quickly became the new gold standard for today’s Melodic Rock scene.  Listen to “Dangerous Ground”, “Come Clean”, “We Are Gods” and “Rise”.  The bad news is Erik Gronwall, the lead singer, is no longer in the band.  Original lead singer, Kenny Leckremo is back in …not sure yet if that is a good thing or a band thing, but I did love Erik’s vocals!!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

These honorable mentions could have easily been in my Top 10 depending on the day and my mood.  As you know, any list is so subjective to your mood.  What am I digging at that time or who knows what.  So being honorable mention doesn’t take anything away from these albums. They are all worthy.  So here we go…in no particular order.

A1sI208x3UL._SY355_Revolution Saints – Rise:  Jack Blades, Deen Castronovo and Doug Aldrich playing songs written by Alessandro Del Vecchio is pretty much all you need to know. This is the bands third album and they keep getting better and better.  Take a listen to “When the Heartache Has Gone”, “Price We Pay” and “Closer” and you will understand what I am saying.  And can I say Deen sounds so much like old Steve Perry it is scary.

81iqT1T2gSL._SY355_One Desire – Midnight Empire:  I don’t know where Frontiers Records keep finding these bands, but damn these guys are great.  I really love the vocals of Andre Linman as his range is sick. This is the bands second album and they have outdone themselves yet again.  If you like bands like W.E.T. and Eclipse, then what are you waiting for.  Check out “After Your Gone”, “Shadowman” “Heroes” and “Killer Queen” (no not a cover).

Struts-StrangeDays-Cover copyThe Struts – Strange Days:  The Struts third album brings a little more of the same retro glam rock sound and maybe even taken up a notch.  The fact that the guests include Robbie Williams, Joe Elliott and Phil Collens from Def Leppard and Tom Morello was all I needed to hear.  The songs “Strange Days”, “I Hate How Much I Want You” and “Wild Child” are worth the price alone, but not to be outdone you get “Another Hit of Showmanship” and a Kiss cover with “Do You Love Me”.

61KsII3-X5L._SX425_Harem Scarem – Change the World: Their 15th studio album…wow.  That is a lot of albums.  If you don’t know this Canadian band, where have you been.  You have a lot of catching up to do.  What I like about them, is they deliver what you expect.  Great melodic rock. With Pete Lesperance on guitar and Harry Hess on vocals that is all you really need to know. Check out the songs “The Death of Me”, “Change the World” and “Aftershock” and that should hook you in.

R-15125767-1598037574-5924.jpegDynazty – The Dark Delight:  This Swedish Power Metal band is back with their 7th album and I couldn’t be happier.  It is funny that Power Metal isn’t something I gravitate towards but Nils Molin’s powerfully sweeping vocals just bring me right in to the songs.  The band can play and the songs are amazing and I don’t know if I have any complaints with it…heck with hardly any of their albums honestly.  Great stuff.

2020-deluxe-editionVandenberg – 2020:  Adrian Vandenberg is back!!!  The band’s first album in 35 years, yes, you read that right.  This time he has the great Ronnie Romero on vocals, Rudy Sarzo on bass and Brian Tichy on drums…DAMN!!! What a freakingly awesome line-up.  It is 80’s hard rock brought into the 21st Century.  I love the songs “Shadows of the Night”, “Freight Train” and “Skyfall”, but the cover of the original Vandenberg classic “Burning Heart” with Ronnie on vocals is A…Maz…ing!!

R-15492214-1592427151-3329.jpegBPMD – American Made:  I am not a fan of cover albums.  I keep telling myself that but I have 2 on the honorable mentions list and the first up is BPMD who consists of Overkill vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, Vio-lence and former Machine Head guitarist Phil Demmel, and two members of Metal Allegiance–bassist Mark Menghi and drummer Mike Portnoy.  With the exception of them doing “We’re An American Band” which has been done too much, you get “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”, “Toys in the Attic”, “Evil” and “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” that make up for that one song.  It is straight up dirty, nasty rock & roll…awesome!

GUEST_b94680be-eb7b-40f1-9f43-87adffbc3c6fAce Frehley – Origins, Vol 2:  The second covers album is the long awaited follow up to Origins, Vol 1.  This time we have Bruce Kulick guesting as well as Lita Ford and Robin Zander.  Is it his best album, no…but it is Ace and he will always be tops in my book.  I do like the covers of “Space Truckin'” done Ace’s way, The Beatles’ “I’m Down”, the Kiss cover of “She” and “30 Days in the Hole” as they are some of my favorites.

81HgMlUyjhL._SY355_Stryper – Even the Devil Believes: Michael Sweet keeps pumping out so many albums a year and you would think the quality would start lacking, but it doesn’t. Not even close.  It gets better and better with each one.  And that voice, Holy Sh##…I probably shouldn’t say that for a Christian band, but its true.  This one just missed my Top 10 as I love the throwback sound on a lot of songs to very early Stryper.  This thing is hard, heavy and loud and that is perfectly fine with me.  Check out the songs “Make Love Great Again”, “Blood from Above”, “Do Unto Others” and I like “Middle Finger Messiah”.

R-16171054-1604669970-7681.jpegJeff Scott Soto – Wide Awake (In My Dreamland): As you know, I am a huge JSS fan and this album has only recently come out so I haven’t been able to digest it as much as the others.  As a result, I think it is valiant effort and better than his last solo album and might’ve ended up on the Top 10 if I had lived with it for a a while longer.  His vocals sound better than ever and all his outside influences from his other bands can be heard here and what a joy that is.  Check out the songs “Love’s Blind”, “Without You”, “Mystified” and “Lesson of Love” and then you will want to devour the rest.

DISAPPOINTMENT:

Stone_Temple_Pilots_-_PerdidaStone Temple Pilots – ‘Perdida’: Overall, it is a decent effort at trying to do something very different for the band, but they do sound “lost”.   The album has some shining moments, but overall it is too underwhelming.  It might be great for having some background music that won’t distract from what you are actually doing, but that is about it.  I hope that it will grow on me over time as I did end up liking the 2018 album “Stone Temple Pilots” which was Jeff Gutt’s debut with the band.

WORST ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

Bon_Jovi_-_Bon_Jovi_2020Bon Jovi – ‘2020’: The Jon Bon Jovi solo show keeps on rolling despite the fact it is out of gas and the tires are flat.  An album that had a couple cool moments, but overall it was an inflated ego trying to be political and relevant when the ability to tell a good story had left so long ago.  The same old formula keeps getting rehashed to death and doesn’t work anymore.  In a world that has moved on, maybe it is time for the band to do the same.  I know I am being harsh, but the band has lost the plot.  Are there good songs on here, probably, but I have yet to find them.

There you have it.  My rock & roll adventure for the year.  Amazingly, this is only a smidge of what I listened to during the year.  These were just the ones that I enjoyed the most.  I hope you enjoyed the list and maybe found something new to give a listen. Let me know what your favorites were this year or let me know how wrong or correct I was, either way, glad you stopped by.  Can’t wait until next year.

45 thoughts on “Top Rock Albums of 2020

  1. I can’t believe I haven’t checked out the Storm Force or Harem Scarem albums yet, after Kevin, Mike, and Deke talked about them on their blogs, that will change! Also, “Phil Collens”? Sorry, when it comes to bands I like, the spelling errors catch my eye big time. I love the albums you chose though and I see some that I’d like to check out! I don’t care about music trends either by the way haha. In terms of Bon Jovi, they should either get Richie to front the band or David on lead vocals if Richie won’t return ever!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. As much as I’d like Richie to return to Bon Jovi, Jon’s ego irritates me so much, but we’ll see!

        Richie did an interview with People recently about why he left Bon Jovi (link here in case you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAEefrsjDE0). He said it was because he wanted to be there for his daughter, but to be honest, there has to be more to the story, considering the fact that he just left without a warning whatsoever!

        Then there was that drama about Jon saying Richie didn’t have his life together and Richie being upset that he said that.

        There’s a lot of confusion and tension in my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m impressed that you dedicated an hour of your life to listening to the new Bon Jovi. The only reason it’s not my worst album of the year is that I don’t have an hour to spend on it! Not when I can spin Storm Force or Harem Scarem again instead….

    We have three albums in common on our countdowns and I think you will be able to predict which three they are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha!! I was multitasking while I listened to it. As I had it playing when I was working my real paying job. I’m not dedicating an hour of free time to that album!!

      I won’t guess as I will wait and see what they are even though I am pretty sure I know since you mentioned two of the above probably.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A few of your runners up made my list too, but you will see soon enough!

        OK so you dedicated…25% of your brain (let’s say) to new Bon Jovi for an hour. That’s forgivable. Equivalent to 15 minutes. The threshold is 20 minutes so I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt this time. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Cool stuff. I need to check out Passion and HEAT. Andrew will love seeing BUSH high up on your chart. Storm Force and Vandenberg were good to see here as well as OZZY. Kinda funny every time I see that cover of the Jovi record it looks like he’s sucking his thumb. lol
    Cheers pal

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Once concerts are back and everyone hits the road some acts will get creative as the competition will be fierce for dollars as not everyone can go and see 15 acts that are touring.
        Sambora will be back in Jovi which will sell tickets and if Guns wants to due the stadium circuit I’m sure Izzy will be back..
        My 2 cents though

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is at least worth a nickel, don’t sell yourself short. I have to agree, we can’t go see all the acts, so they will need to do something to draw those dollars…at least the big acts. To spend over $100 per ticket is going to be a tough sell going forward.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. For some exactly. That’s why i find it somewhat amusing that this whole Sambora quitting is now in the news. He left 7 years ago!
            by the way this morning here it’s -36! Glad I’m off this week! lol

            Liked by 1 person

              1. There ya go. You won’t feel so bad about being cold as you can think of us Canucks. lol.
                It’s supposed to warm up and if the forecast is right it’s supposed to be 0 on Sunday. I’ll believe it when I feel it!

                Liked by 1 person

  4. Holy smokes, Bush, that takes me back. And ranked so highly, cool! I still need the AC/DC but am now waiting for one more (postponed) Christmas gathering. The CMFT intrigues me most, I think, otherwise. Also, poor Bon Jovi haha! Excellent comprehensive and massive list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right, who’d thought Bush would still be cranking out solidly good music. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed that CMFT. My favorite stuff by him so far. And BJ, yeah…you’d think I would give up hope of a decent album, but I still feel it will happen again one day.

      Like

        1. Oh no. Gavin is the only original member. A couple guys have been there for about 10 years and the original drummer actually left just prior to this album. So it was two original guys for a long time.

          Like

  5. I really like the song you included by Storm Force. I hadn’t heard “CMFT” yet, but liked “Black Eyes Blue” so listened to the entire album, and it’s great. I love “CMFT Must Be Stopped” and “European Tour Bus Bathroom Song”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I got Bush live on my back log…BJ made my list. Liked the acoustic show they did as well. So Soto made this list. I got Yngwie’s magnum opus on my albums waiting to be listened list as well, just got it. Different singer though. Probably get a few of the Frontiers ones when they come on sale.
    On my list were bj, sepultura, bruce, manson, katatonia, blues pills, steve earle, bettye lavette, alcatrazz, hayley williams and jorn.

    Liked by 1 person

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