Based on its title alone, hard rock is a genre that prides itself on its tough-as-nails presentation. In the minds of most fans, hard rock isn't complete without the loud guitar riffs and gravelly vocals. So, where does the variety come in?
Most rock bands tend to include various softer songs in their repertoire to show their versatility behind their instruments to break up the monotony of playing the heavier riffs over and over again. These songs tend to be more stripped-back with an emphasis on songwriting rather than blaring volume.
The best of these ballads are those that show a different side to the band, whether it be from a lyrical or melodic perspective. A ballad can also divide the fanbase into sections, those who love them and those who see them as the highest hard rock treason a band could venture into. Regardless, the ballad as a whole affirms that under all the heavy riffs and other gimmicks, there is a fantastic musical mind with the capacity to write beautiful melodies.
These are the bands that took the musical leap of faith and came through with tracks that will live on long after the distortion and feedback fade.
10. Aftermath - Muse
After a few album's of sonic experimentation, Muse's 2015 release Drones focused on the band getting back to basics as a lean, mean, rock power trio. From the aggro stomp of "Psycho" to the mix of electronic and hard rock on "Dead Inside," the album was an absolute scorcher across every track. However, the band had a few more tricks up their sleeve for the end.
Opening with a moody guitar passage, "Aftermath" is the perfect image of world-weary beauty as the narrator longs for the comfort of his love one. With the album centered around a post-apocalyptic world overtaken by drone strikes, this song sounds like a man walking through the wasteland, surveying the carnage that has unfolded before him.
The chorus of the song brings a sense of hope that even though things look grim around our protagonist, at least he has his love with him to survive and thrive into the future. Even if the struggle back to stability will not be easy, at least there is someone there so it is not such a lonesome journey. In an album drenched in bleak darkness, "Aftermath" is the musical flower rising through the concrete.