Greatest Rock Albums Of All Time

Sep 07, 2021Ionut

Welcome to our list of top rock albums that broke records, and maybe even shattered the establishment a little with what they stood for at the time. A list of favorites that most of us admire and still listen to this day and future generations will most likely enjoy them very much as well.

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The Clash: London Calling

The album London Calling was neither a sell-out nor an attempt to break America. It can be seen as a natural and mature musical and political response to British pop culture. The Clash contributed to its transformation along with bands like the Specials and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. The band was at its peak, which encouraged them to try and paint a richer picture of rock history. 

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Metallica: Ride The Lightning

Metallica’s second album is, with no doubt, a masterpiece. When it comes to songwriting, dynamics, musicianship, and lyrical depth, Ride The Lightning is a welcomed transition from the raw aggression of Kill ‘Em All, which makes it look like the album could have been done by a different band altogether. 

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Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run

Born to Run was the album that saved Bruce Springsteen’s career after sales of his first two releases were very disappointing, and also proved he could write anthemic rock music. While the title song and Thunder Road have always been live wonders, the more romantic, orchestral songs like Backstreets and She’s The One are the album’s overlooked gems. There are only eight tracks on Born To Run, but Springsteen worked for two years on them. The result is a pure masterpiece.

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Iron Maiden: Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

For many Iron Maiden fans, both big and small, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, their seventh studio album is viewed as the greatest record Iron Maiden ever recorded. There are people who would disagree, of course, but even they would most likely accept that it's one of the most notable of their releases. 

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Pearl Jam: Ten

To listen to Ten in one sitting is an immense pleasure, like eating too many chocolate liqueurs at once. It plays like a Greatest Hits album and still sounds big and substantial. The album is one to make your neck bristle and your fists clench, and it raised the status of Pearl Jam from a band to a treasure, right out of the blocks. 

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AC/DC: Let There Be Rock

In January 1977, AC/DC entered Alberts Studios in Sydney and had worked for two weeks recording the album what came to be known as Let There Be Rock. The band was quite unhappy with their label in the US, who didn’t really appreciate the band’s previous release and were about to drop them. The result was an album that sounded exactly like what it was. Written and recorded fast, before all the vibe had time to fade away. 

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Radiohead: OK Computer

A great album that brought us the nostalgia of Britpop, sold millions of copies, and turned Radiohead into global angst-rock superstars. The album OK Computer is not quite the flawless masterpiece, but it holds up incredibly well. It still sounds rich, beautiful, mysterious, romantic, anguished, and innovative. We surely enjoy this album very much, and we seem to not be the only ones considering its success all over the world. 

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Queen: A Night At The Opera

A Night At The Opera wasn’t really where they found the most success as the previous year’s Sheer Heart Attack was the album that showed their songwriting skills. But this was the release where the public finally caught up, thanks to the greatest calling card of all time, in Bohemian Rhapsody. 

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Megadeth: Rust In Peace

Rust In Peace is really one of those albums: a masterpiece with no visible flaws, not a trace of filler or flab, and some of the most incredible moments in all of recorded metal history. We admit that there are a few songs on this that stand more than the others, but Rust in Peace still sounds great as a whole many years later. 

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Slayer: Reign In Blood

In the autumn of 1986, Slayer released their third album titled Reign In Blood. Only three years previously, the band had unveiled their debut disc, the lightweight, and thoroughly unconvincing Show No Mercy. Slayer, at this point, was not taken seriously by the nascent thrash metal scene. With the release of Reign In Blood, they've started to build a legacy in the metal genre that lives up to this day. 

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Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon

One of the most listened rock albums ever recorded, Dark Side of the Moon was an ambitious, groundbreaking project that has managed to become a timeless classic. It is centered around the pressures of modern life and the insanity that it can provoke. The entire album is one of those musical gems that you just can't get enough of. 

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Nirvana: Nevermind

Nevermind isn’t just a sales record. It’s not even just a memorable collection of songs. With its 12 songs on the album, Nirvana defined a generation, and they came close as anyone could possibly expect in the 90s to transforming the rock genre. And to make it more incredible, the album seemed to have come out of nowhere, and it really raised their game. 

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Tool: Lateralus

To put in simple terms, Lateralus is one of the greatest albums of any genre ever created in the vast history of popular music. A genuine and flawless near 80-minute-long piece of music that feels like it’s been brought to life by some kind of higher power, even 17 years after it was released onto this world. Lateralus is a landmark in the band's career and a genuine classic.

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The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street

The Rolling Stones is one of the most famous rock bands to ever exist. The album Exile On Main Street is the loosest, funkiest and most soulful album that the band had ever made. And reflecting Keith Richards’s health issues at the time, the whole album has an eery decadent air, punctuated by the lazy rolling style of Tumbling Dice, which was a hit single.

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Led Zeppelin: II

On October 22, and less than 300 days after their first album, the band released Led Zeppelin II. It was a heavy and structured album that far outstripped the success of its predecessor. Their attached label, Atlantic, received an advance of orders worth 400,000 copies, which was almost ten times as many as their first album. It reached No.1 in both the UK and the US, and the musical revolution they had started had now expanded worldwide. 

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Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

If we take it simple, Rumours is a collection of brilliant songs, beautifully played. And that alone was enough to make it the thirteenth-biggest-selling album of all time. If we look at it on a deeper level, these bitter-sweet, autobiographical songs showed the complex emotional turmoil that was the heart of this uniquely dysfunctional band. John and Christine McVie’s marriage was falling apart at the time, and Lindsey Buckingham had just broken up with vocalist Stevie Nicks. 

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Kiss: Alive!

With painted faces, outlandish costumes, and giant heeled boots, Kiss arrived in the 70s like some sort of superheroes straight out of a comic book. They had superhero nicknames, and in concert, they presented what was called The Greatest Show On Earth, with explosions, blood, fire-breathing, a rocket-launching guitar, and more. In the band’s vast catalog, there are some of the best and most influential rock albums of all time, with one of them being Alive!

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AC/DC: Back In Black

Back in Black contains so many of the band's awesome creations. It has so many classic songs like Hells Bells, Rock, and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution, Shoot To Thrill, What Do You Do For Money Honey, and obviously the genius title track, which was built on an awesome riff that sounds purely amazing. 

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Faith No More: Angel Dust

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Is Angel Dust the finest rock album of the 1990s? Quite possibly. Faith No More’s follow-up to the highly successful The Real Thing album is, without a doubt, one of that decade’s darkest, most bitter releases, and probably one of the most nihilistic releases of a major label. Faith No More carved themselves in the rock's history forever with this incredible album. 

Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath took only a day to record. The producer on this project was actually making his debut. The studio was very small and the whole thing cost less than one VIP ticket for a Bon Jovi show in London. But, in 1970, this rather low-key debut album changed the world of rock music as we knew it. This was where heavy metal was lit on fire, and it never stopped burning to this day. 

Image Credits: Flickr/badgreeb RECORDS

Def Leppard: Hysteria

Def Leppard was very clear about what they wished to do: their goal was to become the biggest band in the world and were prepared to do whatever it took to achieve this dream. Only if they’d known exactly how much ‘whatever it took’ would turn out to be, they’d have probably given up. It’s a good thing they didn’t because the album that resulted from their struggle turned out to be one of the classic British rock albums. Hysteria is a masterpiece release that really put them on the map of rock. 

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Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here may have marked the end of an era for Pink Floyd, but their ninth album remains one of their most loved ones and sounds as contemporary now as it did back then. It was recorded in increasingly indolent sessions at Abbey Road across half a year. And it actually almost broke the band apart, as Roger Waters admitted in 1999. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/badgreeb RECORDS

Yes: Close To The Edge

The band suffered from some reviews saying that their sound is too overcrowded with notes. The album Close to the Edge follows the same formula, but at the same time manages to stand out as unique and genuine among its peers of the time. In the end, sticking with their own thing did wonders for the band. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Rick Dikeman

Guns N' Roses: Appetite For Destruction

Appetite For Destruction is one of the greatest albums to ever be released, and one of the biggest selling debut albums, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide. The album revolutionized rock music in the late-80s and transformed Guns N’ Roses into famous superstars. It's an incredible achievement considering the environment it's been created in. 

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Metallica: Master Of Puppets

The third Metallica album, Master Of Puppets, is seen as an all-time metal classic, and some people still believe that this is the finest album the band has ever created. It was the first album Metallica released in America on a major label, and it was also the last to feature Cliff Burton, the famous bassist. 

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Led Zeppelin: IV

Sheer impact, shock factor, concision, endurance, innovation, and intrinsic Zepishness, makes Led Zeppelin IV the unbeatable release on their portfolio. Of all their albums, Led Zeppelin’s fourth release, from late 1971, remains their most generally appreciated work. Still fresh to this day, the album is one of a kind in the music history of all time. 

Image Credits: Flickr/Sergey Goryachev

How many of these are among your favorites? Probably quite a few. We basically love all of them, and while the rock music history contains many other gems, these few on our list are bound to be among some of your favorites as well. Let us know which ones do you love the most in the comments section and check out our website for more content like this!

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