15 Best Rock and Metal Albums of 2023


Image of Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Wolfgang Van Halen and James Hetfield of Metallica.

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Wolfgang Van Halen and James Hetfield of Metallica – Author Anne Erickson, live photos by Ken Settle, Wolfgang photo by Travis Shinn

The year is coming to a close, and that means it’s time to look back on the best rock and metal albums of 2023. I’m a radio host and music journalist, so I keep up with all the latest releases. As I’ve listened to new releases the past few years, I have to say that I haven’t been disappointed at all. The past several years have brought a bounty of fantastic records in rock and metal, both from legacy bands and new names. So, what are the best albums of 2023 in rock and metal? As we head towards 2024, let’s look back.

15. Steel Panther, “On the Prowl”

There’s something so fun and carefree about Steel Panther and their tongue-and-cheek, over-the-top 1980s glam-rock sound. The guys are truly the definition of the Sunset Strip, and that sleaze-rock is apparent on their sixth studio album, “On the Prowl.” This is for those who love a little silliness with their huge hair metal hooks and guitar solos.

14. Baroness, “Stone”

Sludge and psychedelic metal is alive and well, thanks to bands such as Baroness. The band’s latest album, “Stone,” boasts a complex and engaging set of music, with thick, deep guitar riffs and sharp, attention-getting vocals. As for the rhythm, it’s massive. The bass and drums also lock in for a very guttural-sounding release.

13. Babymetal, “The Other One”

As silly as the band name “Babymetal” may sound, there’s nothing silly about this band and their talent. “The Other One” is an exceptional album, as it really stands out from the band’s previous releases and shows Babymetal continuing to evolve. While a lot of this record has a pop vibe, they don’t forget the heavy guitars, making this an enjoyable listen for a wide range of music fans.

12. TesseracT, “War of Being”

New TesseracT is always a celebrated happening in the progressive metal and djent world. “War of Being” is the band’s most imaginative release to date, with absolutely epic themes and dark passages that take the listener from aggressive grows to soaring tenor vocals in a blink. Sign me up.

11. Overkill, “Scorched”

Overkill are statesmen of thrash metal, as they’ve been influencers in the genre since its incarnation. On the band’s latest album, “Scorched,” they employ a very live sound, and that suits them well, since they’re known for their aggressive live shows. This is a very ’80s and ’90s-sounding metal album. Check out my interview with Overkill frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth here.

10. Sophie Lloyd, “Imposter Syndrome”

Sophie Lloyd grew her fanbase on social media, with TikTok, Instagram and YouTube videos of her guitar playing that went viral. However, she’s not an overnight sensation. Lloyd has been working hard on guitar since she was a child, and lately, she’s been touring as the lead touring guitarist for Machine Gun Kelly. This year brought Lloyd’s debut solo album, “Imposter Syndrome,” which cements her as a force in rock and metal guitar. The album features vocal collaborations from Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, Michael Starr from Steel Panther, Brandon Saller of Atreyu, Trevor McNevan from Thousand Foot Krutch, Tyler Connolly of Theory of a Deadman and more.

9. Sleep Token, “Take Me Back to Eden”

The U.K.’s Sleep Token are one of the most hyped-up new metal bands on the circuit. But, if you listen to their latest album, “Take Me Back to Eden,” you’ll notice that a lot of it doesn’t even sound metal. The mysterious Sleep Token worked in a bounty of pop sounds on this release, from auto-tuned vocals to electronic beats. The result is a very unique-sounding album that’s still metal, but a bit more.

8. Greta Van Fleet, “Starcatcher”

You can compare Greta Van Fleet to Led Zeppelin all you want, but when it comes down to it, these guys write great songs and execute them near-perfectly. “Starcatcher” is packed with classic sounding rock ‘n’ roll, but with tons of energy and fire, making it a very youthful album, too.

7. Nita Strauss, “The Call of the Void”

Nita Strauss released her sophomore solo album, “The Call Of The Void,” this year. It was a major break from her debut, “Controlled Chaos,” because this was her first record to feature vocals. Strauss didn’t sing, instead enlisting an A-list crew of rock and metal vocalists to take over vocal duties, including Alice Cooper, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm and more. “The Call of the Void” truly solidifies Strauss as one of the greatest guitarists of her generation.

6. Elegant Weapons, “Horns for a Halo”

Plenty of bands use the phrase supergroup, but Elegant Weapons is a real supergroup, as it features a bevy of major metal names. The band’s debut album, “Horns for a Halo,” features A-list band members Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest, Ronnie Romero of Rainbow, Dave Rimmer of Uriah Heep and Christopher Williams of Accept serving up a collection of thick, fast-paced and riveting metal music. This is Judas Priest 2.0. Find my interview with Faulkner here.

5. Sevendust, “Truth Killer”

Atlanta metal titans Sevendust churned out a fantastic album this year in “Truth Killer.” On it, LJ Witherspoon and company drum up the kind of melodic heavy metal that fans have come to know and love from Sevendust. This is one of their most melodic and soulful records, but it also features that Sevendust bite, so it’s not mellow at all. It’s a gem. Find our recent interview with Sevendust vocalist LJ Witherspoon here.

4. Mammoth WVH, “Mammoth II”

If there was any doubt in any rock fan’s mind that Wolfgang Van Halen is one of the most talented musicians of his time, that doubt was put to rest with this year’s “Mammoth II.” Mammoth WVH’s sophomore studio album is a banger, featuring super catchy hard rock and metal that sounds perfect on rock radio. Wolfgang also wrote and performed everything on this record, making is a true example of his breadth as an artist.

3. Foo Fighters, “But Here We Are”

“But Here We Are” is a really special album, but sadly, it’s not for a great reason. This album is the Foo Fighters’ first since original drummer Taylor Hawkins passed away. I’m surprised frontman Dave Grohl still had it together to put out a new release in the wake of the passing of Hawkins, plus Grohl’s own mom. Perhaps doing this album was therapeutic for Grohl. Either way, it shows Grohl’s strength and resilience.

2. Iggy Pop, “Every Loser”

The godfather of punk rock, Iggy Pop, is alive and well, and all is right with the music world. His latest album is an opus, featuring Pop’s beloved underground punk sound, produced by the Grammy-winning Andrew Watt. The album also features some great guests, including Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Travis Barker of Blink-182 and more.

1. Metallica, “72 Seasons”

I know there are a lot of metalheads out there who don’t like to give Metallica props. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I get that many metal fans thought “The Black Album” was the beginning of the end of Metallica. But, I disagree. Metallica brought metal to the masses, and on top of that, they are one of those bands that just keep going and going. It will be a sad day when Metallica retires, but the good news is that day isn’t coming soon. Metallica still make new music, and their latest album, “72 Seasons,” is a monster. It really reminds me of classic Metallica, when they were more a thrash band than a mainstream metal band. It’s also really heavy. How great is it that the kinds of metal are still releasing new music and touring the globe? Metallica is also Audio Ink Radio’s No. 1 musical artist of the year, which you can read about here.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music, Rock