25. Greta Van Fleet — “Age of Man”
Anthem of the Peaceful Army
Sounds Like: An epic journey of self-realization that offers hope in a time of darkness.
Key Lyric: “Beauty lives in every soul/ The more you love the more you know/ They pass the torch and it still burns/ Once children then, it’s now our turn”
Why It Matters: The easy thing to do is dismiss Greta Van Fleet as a Led Zeppelin sound-alike, but a deeper dive into the music shows intricacies and layers to their sound that extend well beyond the young members’ years. “Age of Man” is the strongest song on the band’s debut album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, opening the disc in grand fashion. —Spencer Kaufman
24. Parkway Drive – “The Void”
Sounds Like: A fist-pumping anthem that takes the listener into a world of pain.
Key Lyric: “Answer no master, never the slave/ Carry your dreams down into the grave/ Every heart, like every soul, equal to break”
Why It Matters: Parkway Drive have evolved from their early metalcore sound, offering up a a more radio-ready sound that still retains the power of their past works. “The Void” and the rest of the band’s Reverence album provide a statement that the Australian act is ready to take their music to new heights. —Spencer Kaufman
23. Ministry – “Victims of a Clown”
Sounds Like: A literal breathing exercise to fall back on as the US political landscape goes up in a blaze.
Key Lyric: “Wake up/ Take it in/ Exhale/ Repeat/ Fire up/ Freak out/ Let it go … Remember to exhale”
Why It Matters: Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen is mostly known for his outsized persona and production chops, but behind the carnival-barker/studio-rat image he’s always been just as dedicated to the art of crafting songs and guitar riffs. “Victims of a Clown” balances the slinky, dance-tinged metal of latter-day Ministry with the spartan proto-thrash of the band’s groundbreaking industrial output from the ‘80s. —Saby Reyes-Kulkarni
22. Sevendust – “Dirty”
All I See Is War
Sounds Like: Ruling the dance floor on a Saturday night at a club that bangs only hard rock and heavy metal. (Side note: Why can’t there be a place like that near me?)
Key Lyric: “What makes us human / Becomes a ghost / I can barely breathe in (all I see is war)”
Why It Matters: “All I see is war” is not only a lyric in Sevendust’s “Dirty”, it’s also the name of the band’s latest album. “Dirty” sets the listener up for this hard-hidding concoction from the Atlanta metallers, which is classic Sevendust — brutally intense instrumentals and Lajon “LJ” Witherspoon’s crystal-clear vocals. —Anne Erickson
21. Sleep – “Marijuanaut’s Theme”
Sounds Like: The ideal test case for anyone who has spent the better part of their lives doing nothing but listening to crackly Black Sabbath between vape hits.
Key Lyric: “Through the hashertoid fields/ A transmission yields/ Now riff beacon signal is received”
Why It Matters: From the opening sounds of a bong rip to the monstrous stomp of its closing moments, this is Sleep encapsulated. The six-plus minutes are the template for every stoner rocker or doom metal band to follow from here until eternity. The Iommi references and Matt Pike’s lawn-torching guitar solo are the icing on this weed brownie. —Robert Ham