The Ohio rockers struck radio gold in 2015 with “The Otherside, ” a track that has some of that Alice in Chains-inspired darker melody. The song, from Red Sun Rising‘s Polyester Zeal album, was penned about the universal idea that no matter how you live your life, we all come out on the other side.
Mark Tremonti had success with the first album from his self-titled band, and follow it up in 2015 with Cauterize, which yielded the breakout single “Another Heart.” The track offers a mix of blistering Tremonti guitar licks and a blend of both heavy and melodic moments. The heaviness of the song matched the anguish and longing of the lyrics and proved to be one of the year’s better singles.
“Do You Know Who You Are?”
Welcome back Atreyu! The SoCal rockers returned in 2015 with their Long Live album and the infinitely catchy stomp-clap single “Do You Know Who You Are?” Thanks to the rhythm of the track, Alex Varkatzas’ rough vocals are almost delivered more in a rap-like cadence, while drummer Brandon Saller’s melodic vocals power the anthemic chorus. This song is an earworm that leaves something of substance in its message behind after the catchiness has finally dissipated.
“Coming for You”
The Offspring work at their own pace when it comes to albums, but decided they had a song so good they wanted to share it immediately. That song, “Coming for You, ” is vintage Offspring, with a clap-along beat and Dexter Holland’s easily recognizable vocals. The track has already earned its spot alongside the Offspring’s biggest hits and has us excited for what else the band will provide when their next disc finally arrives.
“Heavy Is the Head”
Zac Brown Band With Chris Cornell
Zac Brown Band are mostly known for their success in country music, but they showed they know a thing or two about hard rock in 2015 when they collaborated with Chris Cornell for a song heavy enough it should never be mistaken for country. The veteran band show they can noodle around heavy riffs with the best of them, and adding Cornell’s highly recognizable vocals alongside Brown’s was a stroke of collaborative genius.
A resonating guitar line, a foot-stomping beat and Leigh Kakaty “go higher, go higher” chorus in Pop Evil‘s monster single “Footsteps” really stick with you. “Footsteps” helped set the bar for the band, who viewed their UP album as a transition to talking about things other than their struggles. It’s an uplifting track that comes with a killer beat and stands as not only one of the biggest radio songs of the year, but also as one of rock’s best tracks, period.
Bring Me the Horizon
Bring Me the Horizon‘s sound continues to evolve and we saw that on display in 2015 with the single “Throne” from their That’s the Spirit album. The uptempo rocker proved to be one of the band’s most accessible songs to date, with its electro keyboard infused opening, Oli Sykes’ Chester Bennington-rivaling vocals and a catchiness that netted the band a whole bunch of more fans along the way.
When it comes to connecting with pure energy and emotion, Nothing More do it as well as any act out there. But there was something even more personal for the band that fueled their single “Jenny.” The track was inspired by singer Jonny Hawkins’ sister who struggles with bipolar disorder. The subject matter is definitely powerful, but musically the track strikes a chord with moments of intimacy and unbridled low end heaviness that make this an all round great song.
Puscifer have raised the bar with their third album, Money Shot, and it all starts with the song “Grand Canyon, ” the first piece of new music we heard from the disc. The meditative track mirrors the beauty of its title, with a slow building musical soundscape, Maynard James Keenan’s trance-like vocals and beautiful complementary vocals from Carina Round.
Dynamite! Clutch returned with an adrenaline-fueled new album called Psychic Warfare this year and the breakout track was “X-Ray Visions, ” a song penned by the band about psychic experimentation. As always, vocalist Neil Fallon delivers a commanding performance, while the band keep their pedals pressed to the metal. You’ll want to turn this up and rock it out.
“Chlorine and Wine”
The hard-hitting Baroness returned in late 2015 with a different focus. Eager not to repeat themselves, the band leaned heavier on their rhythm section and one of the initial results was the standout track “Chlorine and Wine.” The song starts out with a more meditative vibe before increasing the intensity and letting fly with John Baizley’s no holds barred vocals.
“Could Have Been Me”
English four-piece The Struts certainly left their mark on 2015, due in part to the breakout single “Could Have Been Me.” Simply put, vocalist Luke Spiller takes this catchy, upbeat track and makes it a fully triumphant anthem with his delivery. If this one doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.
“The Vengeful One”
First we hear the drums, then the driving guitars and eventually the familiar rhythmic vocal delivery of David Draiman and just like that, Disturbed were back with a new song. But “The Vengeful One” stands out from some of the band’s past work, with Draiman showing off more vocal range and melody, guitarist Dan Donegan showing off more of his playing and the band reminding us how good they can be when all four parts reach a fevered jam midway into the track. “The Vengeful One” was not just a welcome return from the band’s hiatus, it was a signifier that they were as strong as ever.
Breaking Benjamin have been through many highs and lows in their career, including a period of inactivity in recent years as Benjamin Burnley fought his former bandmates for the rights to the group’s name and battled serious illness. But a reconstructed lineup has the band back on the musical map bigger and better than ever. In the ultimate irony, one of the group’s biggest triumphs of their career is the chart-topping song “Failure.” Despite the title, the song is truly motivational and uplifting and will have you singing along by the end.