The year is mercifully over. While history will undoubtedly remember 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic, political discourse and racial tension, those of us who lived through it got respite from the chaos in the form of new music.

Even though some artists decided to push their release dates back to 2021, many classic rockers opted to unveil new albums in 2020. We searched through everything that came out to assemble the below list of 25 Best Rock Albums of 2020.

Unexpected comebacks, returns to form and new creative directions are all found on our list. Genres span the breadth or rock, with grunge, punk, folk and hard rock among the many music types represented.

Some albums, such as Neil Young’s Homegrown LP, took decades to reach our ears, while others, like Nine Inch NailsGhosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts were written, recorded and released in the shadow of the pandemic. Likewise, Paul McCartney used his time on COVID lockdown to create McCartney III, his third installment in a series of solo releases originally started in 1970.

Bob Dylan even surprised the world with his first album of original material in eight years, proving one of the greatest songwriters of all time hasn’t lost a step, even as he approaches 80.

This also year saw the welcomed return of AC/DC; the hard-rock giants released their first new album since the death of rhythm guitarist and band co-founder Malcolm Young.

Two bands that broke out in the ‘90s – Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins – reconnected with the angst and aggression of their early years to deliver some of their best work in years. Jason Isbell used distinctive Southern rock to offer a moment of reflection, while his former band, Drive-By Truckers, questioned society’s ills on a pair of new albums. Meanwhile, the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, overcame a litany of health woes to create his first solo LP in a decade, bringing several of music’s biggest names along for the ride.

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