Most of the greatest hard rock bands tend to just leave you with the greatest riffs and leave it at that. Since all you're coming for is some great tunes to hang your hat on, having a ripping guitar and a singalong chorus should be enough, right? Well it should, unless you decide to go a little further down the rabbit hole.
Outside of the great hooks, a lot of the greatest rock albums are a lot darker than you remember, oftentimes taking on subjects that most people would be too scared to sing about. Considering most of these bands were critical darlings at the time, it's a miracle they got so many of these songs past the major labels at the time.
In between the regular songs about having a good time, there are more than a tracks that delve into everything from drug addiction to suicidal thoughts and everything else in between. Hell, if they were feeling devious, the best of these are when the album starts to hide the message, making you do some deeper digging only to come back completely scarred from the experience. Compared to the usual fun rock songs that you'd find in bands like Aerosmith and Zeppelin, these are like looking at a musical open wound.
10. Thirteenth Step - A Perfect Circle
Most of the darkest albums in rock don't always need to scare you to death from the opening few seconds. It's like the jump scare that you get in movies; if you're left with just a jolt, there's nothing else to grab onto. No, if you're looking to get something disturbed in an album, you're going to need to let that idea of terror sink in a little more.
Even though a Perfect Circle felt more like a side hustle for Maynard James Keenan in between his stints with Tool, Thirteenth Step is in its own unique lane, being a dissection of what it's like to live with addiction of any kind. It's not even about drugs half the time, with songs like Weak and Powerless talking about just how low you will go to satiate your habit.
As you listen further into the record, it's almost like you start to develop the same habits of the characters in these songs, being almost in a dream state without realizing that you're trapped inside your own head. In fact, the darkest songs are the ones that actually sound the sunniest, with The Nurse Who Loved Me serving as the most crazed love ballad ever produced. This isn't the kind of sickness that people like to indulge in. They've practically shut the door on your sanity and are holding you hostage.