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20 Best Rock Albums

Updated: May 26, 2020

The Top 20 rock albums which most influenced my own music.

A few months ago, inspired by Rick Beato's Youtube videos, I started compiling Top 20 lists of all my favourite music, whether it was best bass lines or guitar solos or drum fills, and I would share the list in a daily countdown with a group of friends on Whatsapp who were all just as nerdy as me about music. A list of bass lines and guitar solos was all very well of course, but the real list--the list to end all lists, the list my nerdy friends were really waiting for--was the Top 20 Rock Albums!

For what it's worth, here is that list:

Top 20 Rock Albums

20. Led Zeppelin - III Some might have chosen IV for their favourite Zeppelin album, but for me there's no better way to start an album, or indeed a Top 20 Album list, than the Immigrant Song.

19. Green Day - Dookie This is one of those albums that you can listen to from start to finish and think, 'there is not one weak song on this album'!

18. Elder - Dead Roots Stirring This is an astonishing album from an astonishing band. If you've never listened to #Elder, go ahead and treat yourself!

17. Placebo - Placebo Perhaps a controversial placing but this is one of the most unique and defining debut rock albums of all time.

16. Black Sabbath - Paranoid No explanation needed here. It's Black Sabbath.

15. Screaming Trees - Sweet Oblivion This is a solid album from the #Grunge Era, one of those albums you just keep coming back to.

14. System of A Down - Toxicity This album represented System at the height of their powers and, though the lyrics can seem a bit nonsensical at times, Serj Tankian is one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time.

13. King Crimson - Red This album has everything. When I first discovered King Crimson, this album went on repeat for a good 12 months. It has also been one of the most influential to my own work, which might be evident in the 5 song structure of my album (#Genus).

12. Tool - Aenima Another album that needs no explanation. It's #Tool and they are amazing.

11. Nirvana - In Utero This is without a doubt the most eagerly anticipated album in history. I was 14 when it was released and, like most boys my age, completely obsessed with Nirvana. In Utero defied my expectations (admit it, we all just wanted another #Nevermind), but it did not disappoint.

10. Queens of the Stoneage - Songs for the Deaf By the end of the nineties I became a little disillusioned by rock music. No new releases seemed to inspire me and I was broadening my tastes at college. When this album came out in 2002, it reignited my love for the guitar.

9. Tool - 10,000 Days I could have put any Tool album in the top 10. They are all superb. But 10,000 Days just wins out for me.

8. Mastodon - The Hunter Probably the best band in the world right now, their 5th album 'The Hunter' is a masterpiece.

7. Soundgarden - Superunknown For me, there are 4 bands that define the Grunge era. Soundgarden is one of them and this album is their greatest achievements and one of my favourite albums of all time.

6. Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness Another band that defined the Grunge era, though themselves not a Grunge band, were the Smashing Pumpkins. I feel their music has declined in recent years but when they released Mellon Collie in 1995 they were the kings of the world.

5. Elder - Lore Another highly influential band to my own work, Elder's third studio album is a masterpiece. Enough said.

4. Pearl Jam - Ten Probably the greatest debut album in history propelled forward with each song by one of the greatest vocalists of the era.

3. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream In the midst of the Nirvana whirlwind, Smashing Pumpkins defiantly released one of the most innovative and ageless albums of all time.

2. Nirvana - Nevermind This album needs no explanation. It is the album that changed the world. Perhaps it should have been number 1. In terms of influence and popularity it definitely is number 1. But I reserved the top spot for what I think is musically the greatest achievement in rock history.

1. Mastodon - Crack the Skye As I said before, Mastodon are probably the greatest band around and Crack the Skye is for me the pinnacle of their music. Rising from the ashes of personal tragedy, this album soars like a phoenix to heights unmatched by any other band before or since. Every song is a masterpiece in its own right, but the crowning glory comes with the final song of the album. Coming in at 13 minutes, The Last Baron, is an epic journey of musical discovery ebbing and flowing like an ocean which reveals Brent Hinds as one of the most visceral and explosive guitarist of the age.

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