The best melodic rock albums of 2023

Segments of melodic rock album cover by Steve Overland, Tempt, Winger and Angel
(Image credit: Escape Music/Frontiers/Better Noise/Cleopatra Records)

The mainstream might be as sniffy as ever about melodic rock and AOR in 2023, but the scene remains as vibrant and exciting as ever. Everyone from veteran acts to thrilling newcomers released albums that should rightly have been glued to every rock fans’ turntable (or at least showing up in their end of year Spotify Wrapped list). Here are the 10 best melodic rock albums from the last 12 months.

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Art Nation – Inception


After imploding following 2019’s Transition album, Scandi-AOR kings Art Nation have picked themselves up, patched up their differences and returned with renewed vigour. Their first album in four years is a reminder why hard rock fans fell for them in the first place, with Alexander Strandell’s versatile voice balanced guitarist Christopher Borg on stormers such as Superman, Fight Fire With Fire and the unashamedly poppy Break Up. Hopefully they’ll keep it together this time.

Buy Inception online

Angel – Once Upon A Time


Still including original frontman Frank DiMino (in remarkably good operatic voice) and guitarist Punky Meadows, glam-pop pomp legends Angel’s latest comeback is a little slice of heaven. From the immense swirling dramatics of Psyclone to the menacing nursery rhyme Once Upon A Time An Angel And A Devil Fell In Love (And It Did Not End Well), it’s a more-than-worthy late-career addition to one of the most underrated back catalogues in rock.

Buy Once Upon A Time online

Creye – III Weightless


Since releasing their debut album in 2018, Creye have tinkered with their sound without radically changing its core: an exciting modern twist on the great melodic rock of the 80s, rammed home via robust rhythms. Singer August Rauer is equally distinguished on harder numbers like Spreading Fire, Air, In The Shadows and the sensational title track which falls somewhere between power ballad and a chugging, fist-in-the-air anthem.

Buy III Weightless now

Kent Hilli – Nothing Left To Lose


Having seemingly arrived out of nowhere five years ago with his band Perfect Plan, expectations were high for Kent Hilli’s second solo album. It didn’t let anyone down. The singer’s Jimi Jamison-esque voice provides the perfect focal point for an album that is beautifully assembled and bristling with melodic power. And as if the record’s defining moment, Nothing Left To Lose, wasn’t already noteworthy enough, the soaring guitar solo that delivers its climax is pulled from the top drawer.

Buy Nothing Left To Lose online

Steve Overland – Six


The FM vocalist and guitarist continues to celebrate a lifelong heritage in soft rock on his sixth album. With guitars and keyboards from Work Of Art and W.E.T’s Robert Säll, Overland reels back the years with Six, notably on the silken anthemic poise of Disconnected, the bump ‘n’ grind of Together Alone and the ballad Things Will Never Be The Same. Overland is now his early sixties, but the nickname The Voice is well deserved.

Buy Six online

Tempt – Welcome Me In


They may look like fashionably dressed hipsters, but New York’s Tempt know where the party is. Their melodic hard rock comes with a deliciously contemporary twist, brimming with 21st century energy, pop-adjacent production and the kind of confidence that propelled Def Leppard to stardom all those years ago. One of the great debut albums of 2023, irrespective of genre.

Buy Welcome Me In online

Ten – Something Wicked This Way Comes


The British hard rock institutions’ 16th album – a rapid follow up to 2022’s Here Be Monsters – is as rich and alluring as we’ve come to expect. Beautifully written and produced, it’s a genteel, English-sounding album that surrenders its charms gradually. Up-tempo moments abound, but Something Wicked This Way Comes is an album of delicate sophistication

Buy Something Wicked This Way Comes online

Romeo’s Daughter – Slipstream


The fifth album from British AOR aficionados Romeo’s Daughter – still fronted by the excellent Leigh Matty – is the best since their self-titled 1988 debut (co-produced by ‘Mutt’ Lange and John Parr) which heralded a return to the band’s classic guitar-driven rock. From Over You, How Does It Feel, Inseparable and Good Man Gone Bad, each and every track represents a soft-rock master class.

Buy Slipstream online

Vega – Battlelines 


On this eighth Vega album there’s a new-look line-up behind singer Nick Workman, but the band’s actual MO hasn’t changed one iota: channelling peak-era Def Leppard and Bon Jovi into a throughly contemporary style. As Workman puts it, Battlelines is all about “songs with massive choruses”. It also proves how Vega have developed a distinctive signature sound, as illustrated by the album’s emotionally charged title track and the euphoric 33’s And 45’s, a celebration of the life-affirming power of vinyl.

Buy Battlelines online

Winger – Seven


The days of Winger being the punchline to Beavis And Butt-head’s jokes haven’t quite faded, but the US hard rock veterans run of post-reunion albums have all been top-notch. Despite a nine-year lay-off, Seven keeps up the quality levels with the arena-ready choruses of Heaven’s Falling, It’s Okay and Time Bomb, the galloping melodrama of Proud Desperado and the pomp-rock-esque Tears Of Blood. Proof that trends may come and go but quality endures.

Buy Seven online

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