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Classic Rock's 26 best albums of 2016 so far

Man listening to music
A Hawkwind fan, this morning (Image credit: Getty Images)

Note: this article was updated in September 2016 to include albums released since the post was originally published in June.

What’s most notable about the Year So Far is the absence of many of the big, traditional names. Ritchie Blackmore might have returned to rock and Slash to Guns N’ Roses, but there’s no sign of a Rainbow album yet, or anything new from The Gunners. AC/DC and Iron Maiden have toured their latest albums, but neither came out in 2016, and there’s been nothing new from UFO, or Scorpions, or Saxon, or Rush, or Metallica, or Kiss, or Sabbath, or Foo Fighters, or Aerosmith, or Van Halen, or many other big names that might otherwise appear.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been a bad year. Because it hasn’t. It’s been a great year. And here’s the evidence…

The Temperance Movement – White Bear

We said: “The Temperance Movement do what they do with a rare and exquisite panache. They’re no mere barroom honkers.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Brian Fallon – Painkillers

We said: “From its chiming, classic melodies, to Fallon’s warm rasp, to the fist-pumping, everyman, aspirational lyrics, this is Bruce-patented, anthemic classic rock at its most finely honed.” Read review on TeamRock+.

David Bowie – Blackstar

We said: “A daunting musical monolith at first, this dense sonic tapestry reveals more and more treasures with each listen…. Bowie’s achingly emotive vocal is terrific.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Ginger Wildheart – Year Of The Fanclub

We said: “Gentle acoustic tracks are booted aside by hard-rock riffs (Ostracide) so the album packs a solid punch, with choruses that’ll glue themselves to your auditory cortex for days”. Read review on TeamRock+.

Hawkwind: The Machine Stops

We said: “Dave Brock has long used his artistry with Hawkwind to entertain yet also to get us to think. This is among his most effective blows.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Iggy Pop – Post-Pop Depression

We said: “A quintessential Iggy album … a magnificent testament to a man who has been scarred and damaged by his journey, but whose lust for life remains gloriously intact.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Zakk Wylde – Book Of Shadows II

We said: “He [Zakk Wylde] has remembered how to croon properly again, and it’s a wonderful, soulful thing to behold… He’s back, he’s all grown up and he’s never sounded better.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Cheap Trick – Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello

We said: “It would be hard to name another band of Cheap Trick’s vintage with this much vitality … Their best since Dream Police”. Read TeamRock+ Review.

The Struts – Everybody Wants

We said: “it’s a fairly safe bet to say that rock has finally found its new heroes.” Read TeamRock+ Review.

Megadeth - Dystopia

We said: “This sounds fucking monstrous, fervently modern and precise but underpinned by several fuck-tons of the kind of oomph that only emerges when bands are in the zone and high on passion.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Tax The Heat – Fed To The Lions

We said: “All killer, no filler: outstanding debut from the Bristolians.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Purson – Desire’s Magic Theatre

We said: “Purson are moving forward into a brave new world that’s actually the old world reimagined… Prepare to lose your mind in the best way possible.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Virginmarys – Divides

We said: “Well into the second term of David Cameron’s NHS-raping, poor-trampling, pig-molesting regime, the alt.rock ‘rebels’ are still shrugging at their shoes. So thank God for the likes of monster-rock trio The Virginmarys stepping up to torch the lectern… one of the punchiest swagger-rock albums of the year”. Read review on TeamRock+.

Rival Sons – Hollow Bones

We said: “It’s seriously impressive, bolstered by a hyperreal production and edge-of-the-seat performance… respectfully updating the past with a considered modernity and their own flair.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Eric Clapton – I Still Do

We said: “[Producer] Glyn Johns has given this album a shape and purpose, bringing out the full range of Clapton’s guitar tones.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway

We said: “…a tightly woven affair, never messy or maudlin or self-indulgent; a dreamcoat of many colours, a marble rye of genres.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Black Stone Cherry – Kentucky

We said: “This is a heavy, dark record, owing little to the rangy swing of their Allmans and Skynyrd heritage. Instead, it’s hard rock for the hard world they find around them.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Steven Wilson – 4 1⁄2

We said: “There’s no asking where Steven Wilson can go after this – he can go anywhere he wants.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Babymetal – Metal Resistance

We said: “Sometimes overwhelming, mostly exhilarating and occasionally jaw-dropping, Metal Resistance may well be the greatest album ever made.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Sixx AM - Prayers For The Damned

We said: “Not sure what Crüe fans might make of it, not that Nikki will care. He might write about it, but he doesn’t live in the past anymore.” Read review on TeamRock+.

Heart - Beautiful Broken

We said: “A fine album that’s more imaginative than reimagining”. Read the full review on TeamRock+.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel

We said: “Wonderfully loose and instinctive, as liable to meander into a cosmic jam as it is to splash around with psychotropic keyboard licks or slide into the swampy cool of a slide-guitar groove.” Read the full review on TeamRock+.

Blues Pills - Lady In Gold

We said: “It may sound picky, but they still tend to sound like the product of people with impeccable record collections, so there remains a sense that they’ve yet to find their definitive voice. Until they do, this’ll do quite nicely.” Read the full review on TeamRock+.

The Cadillac Three - Bury Me In My Boots

We said: “Chunky but not over-egged at 14 tracks, Bury Me In My Boots is packed with honed tunes, new ideas and loveable old tricks.” Read the full review on TeamRock+.

Meat Loaf - Braver Than We Are

We said: “The good news is that these are all Jim Steinman songs – which means over-the-top lyrics, grandiose bombast and, in an uncommon phrase, songs previously recorded by Bonnie Tyler and The Sisters Of Mercy.” Read the full review on TeamRock+.

Ian Hunter - Fingers Crossed

We said: “Why should he want to rely on his past when he’s having the time of his life giving maturity a good name in a business once built on youth? On this evidence, nothing’s going to touch him in these golden years.” Read the full review on TeamRock+.

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