Top 10 Best Modern Rock Genres

Check out some of the greatest underground bands of all time in this mammoth playlist, and see if you nomination made the top 10.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
0

What are the best modern rock genres?

Tough call, right? Well, that's what we asked UG readers to nominate this week and they did a sterling job of picking apart modern rock music and sharing their opinion on what is best.

It's been a tough article to write up - everyone's perspective on these genres will be different. If you think you can offer a better definition, or would like to share YouTube examples, go ahead and join the debate in the comments. We think it'll be a lively one.

Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy - this playlist has some of the most credible underground artists we've ever posted about, so there's a lot to discover and enjoy here.

10. Sludge

Sludge was originally a blend of doom metal and hardcore punk, and can easily cross over into stoner metal. Band like the Melvins pioneered the sound, but artists including Eyehategod, City of Caterpillar and especially Neurosis took it forward towards something better known as post-metal.

9. Post Rock

Usually instrumental, and often introspective, this genre rocks through the entire spectrum if delicate clean sounds to the most crushing walls of sound possible. But there are few quiet/loud dynamic changes here; every transition is slow and hard earned. Acts like Mono and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are some of the best known, though Pelican is a good example of a more leftfield variant.

8. Alternative Metal

This is a tough one - almost all metal is alternative, so it seems a little unfair to give credit to it to just a couple of artists. Apparently the voter for this category suggested Breaking Benjamin, so we'll post them here as an example and you can come to your own conclusions about how this should be defined in the comments.

7. Funk Rock

Rock almost lost its groove when digital recording and click tracks were invented. Thankfully, artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Primus were around to keep that funky backbeat alive.

6. Stoner Rock

Here's how to make a stoner rock guitar sound: record a huge guitar amp, and boost 400 Hz with an EQ. Make it as wooly and muddy as possible. Once upon a time, this would have sounded plain wrong - then bands like Kyuss arrived and made it seem normal. The first Queens of the Stone Age album is considered by some to be the gold standard in stoner rock, given that it was written by former Kyuss member Josh Homme.

5. Modern Blues

Rock came from blues, and there's still plenty of artists who stick to its original roots. Jack White is probably the only mainstream representative, though the next category in Garage Rock is often indistinguishable.

4. Garage Rock

There's so many garage rock bands now that it's fruitless trying to list them all. Just mix catchy guitar hooks with a solid beat, then throw some fuzzy vocals over it. I mean, having a good song will help, but that's pretty much it.

3. Alternative Rock

It's weird to call this 'alternative' when it's really just a modern take on classic rock. Think of it as an accessible version of rock with plenty of songwriting integrity. Bands like Foo Fighters and 30 Seconds to Mars lead the mainstream charge, but there's plenty of alternatives - particularly in Britain where alternative rock takes on a more progressive edge with acts like Amplifier.

2. Progressive Metal

The genres that so often captures the hearts and minds of guitar-loving UG readers. Dream Theater are perhaps the guitar geek's dream band with John Petrucci's shred-tastic guitar solos, but Tool's emotional progressive metal sound has become one of the most influential in metal history.

1. Stoner Metal

What happens when you get metal head musicians really damn stoned? They slow down a little, get some groove on, and sometimes give their head banging anthems an intellectual twist. Phil Anselmo's Down are a popular example, but the underground classic act are Sleep. Their album "Dopesmoker," shared in full below, is one riff which loops for an hour with the band jamming around it. Why? They were signed to a major label, then spent the money on weed and spent a year recording the same riff as heavy as possible. The label refused to release it, but its notoriety made it an underground hit - plus it sounds incredible loud. Enjoy.

What do you think of the top 10 modern rock genres? Which artists have you discovered, and what do you disagree with? Give your fellow UG readers a musical education in the comments, and hit "like" if you're a fan of any of the bands on this page.

Trending stories

201 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    leo4sf
    Next weeks list: Best guitarist who lost the tips of his fingers in an industrial accident. Go!
    bustapr
    Anchang from Sex Machineguns Lost his right middle finger in an industrial accident xD
    dmc92484
    How about worst Wednesday question of all time? Although I suppose the list would have to exceed 10.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    This is why I said sludge and stoner should have been counted as one genre, and stoner rock and metal are pretty much the same thing.
    Jonny92
    Yeah cuz Queens of the stone Age are totally like Sleep...
    tonello
    Queens and Sleep have their similar moments, along with Kyuss. To put Stoner Rock and Stoner metal into two different categories is nitpicking
    thrill606
    This is just such a weird idea for a list
    N7Crazy
    I thought it was pretty good - it forced the users out of their comfort zones, and made them actually produce different results than the go-to candidates that we almost always see on every other "best" list (Queen, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Black sabbath, Guns n' roses, etc.)
    EyesWideOpen
    Not a bad list at all. As people have previously said though, this was a pretty naff question. What are they going to ask next week. Best guitar colour? Best Limp Bizkit video?
    TryTheKetchup
    Still better than "Best Metallica Song" every week
    theclassicrock
    I agree with the guy who said they should do best rhythm section.
    nickpluultra
    What about " Best song intro " ? And whatever the instrument involved (if there's only one). That would be cool.
    telephonebear
    best instrumental track would be good, or maybe best song over 10 minutes or something
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    over 20 mins.
    pitch33
    Opeth-Black Rose Immortal. I like Dream Theater but i like Opeth more.
    mop10893
    They would all be Dream Theater.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    Rush - 2112 Sleep - Dopesmoker Pink Floyd - Dogs Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Karn Evil 9 The Allman Brothers Band - Mountain Jam Miles Davis - Pharaoh's Dance Om - On The Mountain At Dawn Kraftwerk - Autobahn Sunn O))) - Wind & Fog top ten no order, no Dream Theater (personally I think their over 20 mins songs, Six Degrees, Octavarium etc are boring as ****.)
    lamnoob
    Nope...the live version of The Day the Music Died is over 20 minutes, the original version of Inagodadavida (probably butchered the spelling but you get the idea), is well over 20 minutes as well.
    Satrianifan281
    "Best Song Outro" would be a good list, Dream Theater's Octavarium and The Best of Times, Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb, Metallica's Fade to Black, there's a lot out there to choose from.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    @Satrianifan they would all be guitar solos or instrumentals parts, lol add Pearl Jam's alive to that, Rush's Working Man, Pantera's Floods (The Arpeggios, I love those at the end)
    third(-)eye
    Primus, Rush, Tool, King Crimson, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers... Yeah, that could be interesting.
    iommi600
    In all honesty, the genres mentioned on the list do no justice to the question. Alternative, garage and progressive metal, for example, are not new at all. I do agree that this was a good question though, at least it pushed UGers beyond the eternal "Led Zeppelin - Pink Floyd - Deep Purple" circlejerk.