We’re currently counting down the best tracks of the year. We started ten days ago with number 100, and today we reach an explosive climax. One rule has remained constant throughout: only one track is featured per artist.
10: Halestorm – Amen
Laden with giant pop hooks but still snarling (just like the rest of the Into The Wild Life album), Amen marks the precise point on the great Venn diagram of rock where Lady Gaga gleefully intersects with Joan Jett.
9. Von Hertzen Brothers – New Day Rising
The Finnish siblings struck gold with the title track from their latest record – their rockiest, most stadium-y to date. A rousing, fist-pumping affair, it sounds victorious yet characterful from start to finish.
8. Ghost – He Is
The highlight of Ghost’s excellent Meliora album, this gorgeously melodic hymn of praise to The One With Horns sounds like Brian Wilson collaborating with Abba on the banks of the Styx.
7. Biters – 1975
“I need strong men, with beards!” declared frontman Tuk, pre-crowdsurfing at London’s Borderline this year. They already had everyone partying like it was 1975 with this slab of unironically retro rock, so support wasn’t in short supply. Huge, huge fun.
6. Def Leppard – Dangerous
Leppard returned, and this time it was poppy – really poppy. Thankfully their (self-titled) new record was also brilliant, as this driving, uncompromisingly joyous highlight confirmed. Big and not particularly clever, but would you honestly have it any other way?
5. Thunder – Wonder Days
An insistent riff, persistent melody, Danny Bowes’ clamouring vocals… Typical Thunder, as they power out an anthem bathed in the nostalgia of their youth. It’s become something of a new classic.
4: Blackberry Smoke – Let Me Help You (Find The Door)
Sun-soaked Southern rock that twenty years ago would have had FM playlist compilers eating out of its hand (though they might have had a problem with lyrical references to ‘sons of bitches’ and ‘shit-eatin’ grins’).
3: Faith No More – Superhero
The reactivated FNM pulled no punches on their first new album in 18 years, Sol Invictus, grabbing listeners by the throat with the full metal racket of this percussive avant-thrash monster.
2: Iron Maiden – Empire Of The Clouds
Perhaps the most progressive track Maiden have ever recorded. But while it might be over 18 minutes long it always holds your attention, with masterful changes in rhythm and intensity.
1: Clutch – X-Ray Visions
Goddamn, Clutch know how to swagger! With Neil Fallon in full-on bug-eyed Preacher mode, this groove monster introduction to Psychic Warfare is all lips and hips and ‘fuck you’ attitude. Marvellous.