Best 16 Rock Songs of 2016

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The year 2016 has been a bumper one in rock music history. So much so that I had a hard time choosing the Top 16, normally there aren’t so many to choose from. We had releases from major bands, like Metallica, Alter Bridge, Skillet and a few newcomers I Prevail and Kaleo. A few songs made the list as 2016 was nearing its demise. A variety of different sounds can be heard and there is something here every rock fan can appreciate. Rock music is alive and well, if anyone needs proof of that 2016 is the evidence.

16. Kaleo – No Good

The relative newcomers from Iceland, formed in 2012, you just can’t deny the foot-tapping deliciousness of this song. JJ Julius Son’s vocals and the bluesy feel that is pulsing throughout “No Good” is sure to garner the band many new fans.

 

15. I Prevail – Stuck In Your Head

A little punk mixed with metal core is how I would describe “Stuck In Your Head” and it just works. The way Brian Burkheiser (clean vocals) and Eric Vanlerberghe (unclean vocals) feed off one another is captivating. I really enjoyed stumbling across this band this year, what a treat.

 

14. The Pretty Reckless – Take Me Down

The Pretty Reckless doesn’t disappoint, but I was surprised to see a tame release as the leading single from their new album. Taylor’s husky and soulful vocals envelop the song along with some solid drumming from Jamie Perkins. The song is infused with that undeniable Mississippi vibe.

 

13. A Day To Remember – Paranoia

A rock-fuelled injection for the aggressive rock fanatic. “Paranoia” doesn’t let up for one moment and A Day To Remember does not disappoint. This will be the song that concert goers live for. I will let the lyrics speak for itself, “I’m like a time bomb ticking in your head”.

 

12. Beartooth – Hated

I love the message of this song about how you should not allow people to belittle and walk over you. It is one of those songs that you want to hear blasted in a stadium to a massive audience. Beartooth hit this one out of the park.

 

11. Gemini Syndrome – Remember We Die

Aaron Nordstrum’s voice really shines on this track, it creates a sonically pleasing ebb and flow to the song and the guitar work is great. “Remember We Die” serves as a reminder to live each day as if it was your last.

 

10. Papa Roach – Crooked Teeth

“Crooked Teeth” is aggressive and hits you like a hurricane through the first listen. The lyrics describe a person who is reliving a terrifying event. I like how they incorporated the electronic sounds into the song and used it strategically. We can look forward to their new album in 2017!

 

9. Of Mice & Men – Real

This song really surprised me when I first heard it, because it is not what I expected from the band. I find it interesting that this is basically a duet between Austin Carlile and Aaron Pauley and the clean vocals surprised me too. The song deals with someone that’s been hurt by someone they love before and is trying to get through it.

 

8. Art of Anarchy – Madness

Scott Stapp took over the role of lead vocalist when Scott Weiland passed away. I love this song as I feel all the members of the band have combined their talents to create something unique. The song is based on Scott’s personal breakdown he had in 2014, which is why I believe the lyrics are so poignant .

 

7. Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage

Avenged Sevenfold surprised us all with the release of their latest album “The Stage” which happened unannounced. The title track is an 8 minute long epic journey describing humanity and the way we have treated one another throughout history. The intro slowly introduces each instrument and then they gradually combine until M.Shadows steps in with the vocals. Synyster Gates’ guitar skills will leave you in awe if it hasn’t already. I decided to post the video of their live performance atop the Capitol Records building, because I enjoyed it so much.

 

6. 3 Doors Down – In The Dark

I love the vibe of this song and the subject matter. A good rock song which you can dance to and it is great to have the band back after 5 years between their latest album and the previous one.

 

5. Twenty One Pilots – Heathens

I understand that there might be some dispute about what genre this song belongs to, but I believe that almost each Twenty One Pilots’ song falls within a different genre. Josh’s performance on the drums are impeccable and the bass guitar glues the whole song together. A hauntingly unique song indeed.

5. Skillet – Undefeated

Although this is not one of the singles off their latest album “Unleashed”, it is the heaviest rock song off the album in my opinion. A motivating song that you can definitely add to your workout playlist. The backing vocals add to the power of the song and the talents of Jen Ledger on the drums is undeniable.

 

3. Alter Bridge – Crows On A Wire

My favourite band is back with their first album in three years “The Last Hero”. “Crows On A Wire” is an epic track and the lyrics serve as a warning for all those who believe fame and fortune is a ticket to happiness. Brian Marshall shines on the bass guitar, but the whole band gels together effortlessly on every track.

 

2. Metallica – Moth Into Flame

Normally a Metallica song has to grow on me before I like it, but not this song. I fell in love with this song from the get-go. They really come out of the gates swinging on this one. James has been quoted as saying that “Moth Into Flame” was inspired by the documentary about Amy Winehouse titled “Amy”. Thrash metal at its best.

 

 

 

 

1. Disturbed – Sound of Silence

I was torn when I was picking the number 1 rock song for 2016, because this song was such an obvious choice, which automatically made me not want to choose it. I thought about it some more and I realised how much this one song on its own has done for the rock music genre this year.  I’m sure it garnered Disturbed some new fans and if it didn’t, more people were at the very least exposed to Disturbed’s music. When I first heard the song on the album, I actually went to check the song credits to see if it was really David Draiman’s voice I was listening to. It is one of the best cover songs I have ever heard and I’m sure I’m not alone when I make that statement. There is something to be said for a song that gives you chills every time you listen to it. A musical masterpiece.

2016 was indeed the year for rock fans to revel in, I mean even Guns ‘n Roses reunited!

Here is to a rocking 2017!

Cheers!

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

https://twitter.com/MusicMonkey14

 

Skillet – Unleashed Album Review

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SKILLET
“Unleashed”

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(Atlantic/Word)

01. Feel Invincible
02. Back from the Dead
03. Stars
04. I Want to Live
05. Undefeated
06. Famous
07. Lions
08. Out of Hell
09. Burn it Down
10. Watching for Comets
11. Saviors of the World
12. The Resistance

Skillet is one of those bands that allow you to feel astonished when you look at their discography which is equally as impressive as it is lengthy. Two of their past three albums have gone platinum and 2013’s Rise reached Gold status.

Unleashed is truly the most apt name for this album, because you feel that the band poured all their energy into this record. You can really appreciate the fact that every song on this album has the potential to be a single. There are quite a few songs that smack you in the face with its explosive energy and I love it!

“Feel Invincible” is the perfect first single off the album it grabs the listener by the collar and doesn’t let go up until the last note. It is a battle song and a reminder to not give up even when you can’t see the silver lining.

“Back From The Dead” is an unapologetic song about being reborn or reinvented and the possibilities of such a resurrection. The song is the rush of adrenaline when you need it most.

“Stars” in my opinion is the most apparent Christian song on the album and I’m sure it will resonate with a lot of Christian fans of the band. I like how Skillet incorporates religion in their music, if you need it it’s there, but if you don’t you can still appreciate it for the rock music it is. “Undefeated” has amazing energy and dynamics combined in a head-banging track. I dare you not be taken with this one!

“Famous” is a little more upbeat and based on electronic sound than their other tracks.”Lions” is an inspirational song where Jen and John join forces to deliver the message of perseverance and hope. “I Want To Live” is the pick-me-up you never knew you needed.

“Out of Hell” is a song that will make your average hard rock lover happy, due to the frenzied drums and heavy guitar riffs. “Watching for Comets” is a beautiful ballad performed as a duet by Jen Ledger and John Cooper.

“The Resistance” is a call to defend and stand-up for what you believe in, instead of apathy.

The entire album feels like the rush of adrenaline it is meant to be. An intense injection of energy and pure rock music.

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

The band’s latest music video for “Feel Invincible” off of their latest album “Unleashed”.

 

Six Videos You Have To Watch… NOW!

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Recently I had the pleasure of watching a few interesting rock music videos, I just had to share them with my readers.

Enjoy and vote for your favourite video below!

Videos numbered in no particular order.

1. Pop Evil – Trenches ft DMC

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I just had to share this explosive collaboration between rock band and rapper, quite a combination!

 

2. Lindsey Stirling – Shatter Me ft Lzzy Hale

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Another interesting collaboration between Lindsey Stirling, American violinistdancerperformance artistcomposer and Lzzy Hale lead vocalist for rock band Halestorm. A visual treat which will not disappoint the viewer.

3. Adelitas Way – Dog On A Leash

Adelitas Way will be releasing their third studio album “Stuck” on the 29th of July 2014 and the first single off the album titled “Dog on a Leash”, the band released a video for. It has a creepy, dark feel to it and it is just plain awesome!

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4. Of Mice & Men – Would You Still Be There

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An adrenaline fueled song accompanied by a perfectly executed concept makes for an explosive video. The shot of the ballerina in the video is pure brilliance, view it below.

5. Black Stone Cherry – Me and My Mary Jane

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A sexy music video filled with tons of good-looking women, featuring BSC with their trademark twang, southern rock attitude and enthusiasm. A solid hard rock song which you can dance to.

6. Skillet – Not Gonna Die

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An empowering rock song that will make you gather the courage to face the hardships in your life with more conviction than before. A visually stimulating video which will linger in your mind for a while after you have watched it.

Enjoy your week, can’t wait for the weekend!

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

 

Band of the Month – We As Human

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All photos belong to the photographer who took them, as credited in the caption.

If any of you have read my tweets recently, you will know I have developed yet another obsession and I would like to share it with The Rock Riff’s followers.

We As Human is a Christian rock band from Sandpoint, Idaho and they formed in 2006. They have been signed to Atlantic Records record label. They moved to Nashville, Tennessee in September 2011 and still live there.

The band consists of:

Justin Cordle-Vocals
Adam Osborne-Drums
Jake Jones-Guitar
Justin Forshaw – Guitar
Dave Draggoo-Bass

The band had an interesting story to tell starting with the band who discovered them, Skillet. Skillet was playing an arena show and their road manager was working at the show. Their road manager handed the band an EP that We As Human had produced. Front man for Skillet, John Cooper listened to it that night and he loved it saying that it punched him in the face. He called his band manager,  Zach Kelm and he said to him, ‘I think you should work with this band.'” From there on an introduction to Atlantic Records wasn’t far off. Now, with their self-titled debut-album being released through Atlantic Records via Hear It Loud, a partnership helmed by John Cooper, Zach Kelm and attorney Todd Rubenstein. We As Human arrives at a place where their future looks exciting and promising.

With We As Human’s thrilling collection of songs together with rock-renowned record producer Howard Benson it can only serve to amplify the band’s already massive, juggernaut sound.

For Justin Cordle it was absolutely thrilling that Howard Benson produced  P.O.D.ʼs “Satellite,” an album that Cordle played countless times on its release. He held that record in high regard and he knew their record would come out better because of  Howard Benson.

We As Human’s debut album stays true to the core of their sound and adds an unrivaled intensity and energy to each song. In my opinion this album is by far one of the best debut albums by a rock band that I have heard in a very long time. Most bands take a few years to really find their stride and their signature sound. Some familiar faces appear on the record, such as John Cooper from Skillet on the track “Zombie” and Lacy Sturm (previously from Flyleaf) on ” Take The Bullets Away”.

The inspiration for the record was generated by the band’s own lives, experiences and stories.

“Sever” is an extremely personal song for lead singer Justin Cordle. His nephew was fighting cancer at the tender age of 3 he passed away. Justin wrote the song after his passing.

“Finally Cordle found the inspiration he needed in Tyler’s mother: “She said something that will stay with me forever: ‘People are really sorry about Tyler losing his battle with cancer. But I don’t think he lost his battle with cancer; he won his battle, and he’s with his creator, and the cancer is dead.ʼ To hear that from a woman who had just lost her son was amazing to me. It was really heavy.” – Sourced from We As Human’s Official Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/weashuman/info)

We As Human made a video featuring a tribute to Justin Cordle’s nephew and played an acoustic version of “Sever”. During this performance Justin’s passion for music and dedication to his religion became clear to me. His voice is extremely versatile, it can go from silky smooth to gruff in an instant.

“Strike Back” is the first single from their debut album and has a hard-hitting chorus that grabs you by the collar and doesn’t  let go. That is exactly the band’s intention with their first song. It is their statement and declaration of courage.

For the band the ultimate pay-off for their hard work is not money or fame, but an intimate relationship with their fans.

I discovered the band when I watched the Cover-Tune Grab Bag video on YouTube which is a Roadshow tradition and different bands come together to cover a popular song. Justin Cordle started to sing the first few lines of Katy Perry’s Roar and the manner in which he delivered those first few lines got me interested.

Watch the video below:

So I watched some of their other videos on YouTube and eventually listened to their track “Zombie” on iTunes. I decided there and then that I have to own the entire album.

I never regretted that decision. There is enough content on this album to satisfy any rock music lover. From the heavier tracks like “Strike Back”, “Dead Man”, “Take The Bullets Away”, “Zombie” to the more tender “Fall Apart” followed by the more mainstream rock songs “Bring To Life”, “Let Me Drown” and “Sever”.

I have never been so infatuated by a band that I have just started listening to.

Check out the official music video for the band’s first single “Strike Back”:

Justin Cordle is very proud of their live shows and that they work hard at perfecting their art, while still delivering intense, energetic performances.

We As Human’s thought-provoking lyrics coupled with their unbridled energy and enthusiasm combines to create an explosive package. The band has incredible potential to go as far in the music industry as they are willing to venture.

You can follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/weashuman

You can follow Justin Cordle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JustinC_WAH

You can follow Dave Draggoo on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dave_WAH

You can follow Jake Jones on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jake_WAH

You can follow Justin Forshaw on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JustinF_WAH

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

5 Rock Songs To Get Your Week Off To A Good Start

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We all know that Mondays’ are generally not a good day for a lot of people, so The Rock Riff has decided to be the silver lining to your Monday blues. Here are 5 rock songs to headbang to on your drive to work or on your drive home from work depending on where you live. Get rid off all that pent-up frustration!

1. Alter Bridge – Cry A River

This song never fails to get my blood pumping, its one of my favourite tracks to come from “Fortress”, Alter Bridge’s fourth studio album. Myles Kennedy puts in some stellar vocals as usual and the band pulls the song together effortlessly.

2. The Pretty Reckless – Heaven Knows

Combine Taylor Momsen at her best, an interesting concept for a music video, a great band and an infectious chorus, the result will be “Heaven Knows”. The video has already accumulated 1,235,903 views within only 5 days, you can see why by clicking below.

3. Skillet – Sick Of It

I feel this song describes my state of mind on some days perfectly and what is better than a band smack in the middle of a mosh pit? Nothing, is my answer. Whenever you had a bad day listen to this song and it will make you feel better instantly!

4. Korn – Spike In My Veins

I’ve only recently started listening to Korn (believe it or not!) and I love their recent singles that they have released off of their latest album “The Paradigm Shift”. I particularly found their music video for “Spike in My Veins” interesting, I found the video quite creepy. It depicts the messages that we are exposed to by the mass media on a day-to-day basis. The chorus is amazing and the slow-motion shots in-between the TV footage is fantastic.

5. Pop Evil – Deal With The Devil

A music video that might make your skin crawl, but will have you cranking up the volume at the same time. A fist-pumping chorus combined with some killer guitars and bad-ass drumming. This will give you an adrenaline injection to make you survive the rest of your week.

I hope you have a rocking week and before you can blink its the weekend, baby!

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Band of the Month – Skillet

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Skillet is a Christian rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996 and the band is based in the USA. The band now consists of husband and wife couple John (Lead Vocals & Bass) and Korey Cooper (Rhythm guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), along with Jen Ledger (drums, vocals) and Seth Morrison (Lead Guitar). Founder John Cooper is the only remaining original member in the band.

Skillet was formed in 1996 by two members John Cooper (former vocalist for Tennessee progressive rock band Seraph) and Ken Steorts, former guitarist for Urgent Cry. The two bands met while touring together, but the bands disbanded soon after, so the pair’s pastor encouraged them to form their own band as a side-project. Both of them came from different styles of rock music, so they named the band Skillet. According to John Cooper the initial reason Skillet was formed, was to do outreach for his church. He thought they would do a couple of outreachactivities and that he would still play in his other band. Trey McClurkin joined the band as a temporary drummer. Skillet was only together for a month before they piqued the interest of major Christian record label ForeFront Records. In 1996 they released a self-titled debut Skillet. It was well-received and the trio continued to write new material while touring through the USA. Apparently the band members still joke among themselves about the band’s name, John still claims that he does not like the name. Skillet recorded the follow-up to their debut album throughout 1997 titled “Hey You, I Love Your Soul” which was released in April of 1998. With the second album the style of the band changed from their first release, abandoning their post-grunge style and changing to a lighter alternative rock. John’s wife Korey was recruited to play the keyboard to lighten John’s live performance duties.

Shortly before the band started recording for their third album, Invincible, Ken left the band to be with his family and he launched the Visible Music College, a modern music ministry college located in Memphis. Kevin Haaland joined the band as the new lead guitarist. Korey Cooper joined the band permanently and played keyboard for the recording of the third album. This caused the third studio album to have a more electronic sound. Soon after the release of Invincible in 2000, Trey McClurkin parted ways with the band and Lori Peters assumed the position of the drummer.

The band released their fourth album and first live album titled “Ardent Worship” in late 2000. The band had little time left between recording and touring, Skillet released “Alien Youth” on the 28th of August 2001, retaining the same style and sound from “Invincible”. It was John Cooper’s first time taking over production duties. Before Alien Youth was released Kevin Haaland left the band and Ben Kasica took over on guitar. The first single the title track was a major hit in the Christian market and allowed Skillet to headline their own shows for the first time.

On the 18th of November 2003, the band’s sixth studio album “Collide” was released by Ardent Records. The album became extremely popular and grabbed the attention of Andy Karp,  the Head of A&R of Lava Records. In 2004 Lava Records, an imprint of “Atlantic Records” bought the rights to Collide. On the 25th of May 2004, Collide was re-released by Lava Records with an added track called “Open Wounds”. The album was nominated for “Best Rock Gospel Album” in 2005. John Cooper cited P.O.D as the inspiration on the band’s musical shift on “Collide”.

Skillet’s seventh studio album “Comatose” was released on the 3rd of October 2006. This was the band’s first album to become gold certified. On the 7th December 2007 the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel album. In January 2008, it was announced that Lori Peters will be retiring from the band, as she felt it was time to start a new chapter in her life. She performed with Skillet for the last time on the 31st of December 2007. During the 2007 Christmas season she took time to train Skillet’s new drummer Jen Ledger. On the 21st of October 2008, “Comatose Comes Alive” was released, a CD/DVD combo featuring live recordings of the band’s May 9, 2008 concert in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Skillet announced that they will be entering the studio on the 12th of January 2009. They entered the studio with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson. They added two songs from their new album to their setlist (“Monster” and “Hero”) on the 2nd April 2009 in Evansville, Indiana as part of their “Comatose” tour 2009. Skillet’s eighth album “Awake”, has 12 songs and was released on the 25th of August 2009. It charted at a staggering No 2 on the Billboard 200 selling around 68, 000 units in its first week. “Monster” was released as a single on the 14 July 2009. “Awake” was one of only three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, along with the  Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. They later released a deluxe version of the album with bonus tracks “Dead Inside”, “Would It Matter” and a radio edit of “Monster”. “Monster” and “Hero” were used many times in the media by the WWE, Football stadiums, TV shows, video games etc. Skillet was nominated for six Dove Awards for the 41st Annual GMA Dove Awards. “Awake” was certified Gold on the 2nd of July 2010.

On the 14th of February 2011, Skillet announced that lead guitarist Ben Kasica would be leaving the band. Up until that point Ben had been part of the band for 10 years. Ben planned to play his last concert with Skillet on the 20th of March. The band announced that they had chosen solo artist Jonathan Salas to be their new lead guitarist, but Salas confirmed via Twitter that he had left the band on the 9th of April. Ben returned and continued touring until a new guitarist had been trained. On the 16th of April Seth Morrison replaced Kasica as the lead guitarist.

Skillet announced the release of Awake and Remixed EP in early March 2011. The remixes were mainly done Korey Cooper and Ben Kasica. The four-song EP was released on the 22nd of March 2011.

“Awake” was nominated and won the “Top Christian Album” Award at the Billboards Music Awards 2011.

On the 21st of June 2011 John Cooper posted a tweet saying that the band had been busy rehearsing new music for the first time and preparing for a new album. The band planned to start recording in January/February 2012, but the band was scheduled to headline the Winter Jam tour. In January 2012, the band announced that they will not be touring for the most of the summer so that they can record the new album.

During an interview with on the 18th of July 2012 with RadioU, John Cooper stated that the band now had written 61 songs and would be heading to the studio in October to record the album with Howard Benson for an early 2013 release.

In an interview on the 26th of January 2013 in Beaumont TX, John Cooper announced that the new album “Rise”, would be coming out in May 2013, but was later scheduled for a 25 June 2013 release. In an interview with Noisecreep, John Cooper stated that the first single and music video “Sick of It” is scheduled to be released late April.  The album debuted at No.4 on the Billboard 200 and No.1 on the Top Rock Chart and Christian album charts selling 60, 000 copies in the US alone during the first week of release. “Rise” received critical acclaim, despite some negative reviews, the general consensus seems to be that the band had improved on their earlier release “Awake”.

Skillet was nominated and won a Dove Award for Rock Song of the Year for their sing “Sick Of It”.

The bands’ fans are humorously and affectionately called “Panheads”.

The band’s main goal is to write songs that speak to people about what they were going through and encourage them. John has always been deeply affected by Christian music and he knew that this would be his calling since he was 15. In an interview with CMCentral John says that the best thing about his job is to write a song which could change somebody’s life.

It’s refreshing to see a Christian band do well, despite the history of rock bands that has been ridiculed for their Christian label in the past. I think the key ingredient to Skillet’s recipe is the way they convey their message and the presentation of their material. Most people who listen to the band’s material for the first time will probably not even realise that they are a Christian inspired band. The listener can take from their music what they need without feeling like they are being preached to.

You can follow Skillet on Twitter: https://twitter.com/skilletmusic

You can follow John Cooper on Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnlcooper

You can follow Jen Ledger on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenLedger

You can follow Korey Cooper on Twitter: https://twitter.com/koreycooper

You can follow Seth Morrison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorrisonSeth

Rock Regards,

Lauren Kruger