We’ve been soaking up the softer side of rock all year and it’s been like the mid 80s all over again. Again.
From AOR gems to melodic rock masterclasses, chorus-driven, solo-laden anthems have been a staple of the Rushonrock diet.
But did your favourite record make the cut in our Top 10 Melodic Rock Albums of 2023?

10. Houston — Relaunch III (Frontiers)

New to AOR? Let Houston bring you up to speed by channelling the genre’s flamboyant forefathers.

In the third of the band’s thrillingly unapologetic throwback compilations, Hank Erix and co. dug deeper than ever before to bring us some long-lost melodic rock magic.

Glossy covers of Atlantic’s Power Over Me and Running Back — originally by Urgent — allowed Houston to underline their status as the gatekeepers of vintage AOR.

9. Eclipse — Megalomanium (Frontiers)

Ten albums in and Eclipse somehow maintained their upward curve on the majestic Megalomanium.

Frontman Erik Mårtensson insisted the title was tongue in cheek but this ambitious album was huge in its sound and scope.

The ‘does what it says on the tin’ drive of Anthem and the stunning One Step Closer To You put Eclipse’s melodic rock rivals in the shade.

8. Winger — Seven (Frontiers)

A one-time Record Of The Week and a wonderful reminder of the band’s storied past, Seven straddled the decades and stayed true to Kip’s vision.

Reb Beach rolled back the years with a series of killer solos and chunky riffs befitting the one-time hair metal heroes.

It All Comes Back Around was steeped in nostalgia but Winger steered clear of cheesy imitation on a record that managed to sound fresh and relevant.

Read the full review here.

7. L.A. Guns — Black Diamonds (Frontiers)

Produced by founder Tracii Guns, this hotly anticipated follow-up to The Missing Peace didn’t disappoint.

Influenced as much by the 70s blues rock scene as the band’s own Sunset Strip inception, Black Diamonds was a kaleidoscopic rock and roll ride.

Frontman Phil Lewis has matured like a fine French red — the veteran vocalist shone brightest on Shame and Shattered Glass.

6. Wig Wam — Out Of The Dark (Frontiers)

Do You Wanna Taste It won Wig Wam a new army of fans as the theme tune to DC Comics spin-off Peacemaker.

And the Scandi stars followed up on that fresh flush of success with their best effort since 2010’s iconic Non Stop Rock N Roll.

Ballad The Purpose sounded like Mr Big-meets-Poison and there was even a Satch-style instrumental in the shape of the sublime 79.

Wig Wam went from Peacemaker to rabble rousers in the space of a few months and we couldn’t have been happier.

Read the full review here.

5. VEGA — Battlelines (Frontiers)

Music was the last thing on the minds of the VEGA boys following an incredibly tough end to 2023.

But the bullish Battlelines reinforced the band’s status as the self-appointed saviours of British melodic rock.

There’s little doubt sleek six-stringer Wil Taylor has enhanced a sound rooted in classic Leppard, Winger and Europe

And frontman Nick Workman sounded wonderful on Killers and the nostalgia fest 33s And 45s.

4. Grand Design — Rawk (GMR Music)

Six albums in and AOR titans Grand Design ripped up the melodic rock rulebook with an appropriately hook-laden homage to the rock and roll lifestyle.

Frontman Pelle Saether did his best impression of peak Vince Neil on screamer of an opener Tuff It Out.

And there was more of the same as the sleaze-tinged Swedes swaggered through 11 diamante-studded stunners. 

Carry On My Wind — featuring Månegram’s Erik Grawslö and Dawn Of Destiny’s Veith Offenbächer — kicked up a storm.

3. Tempt — Tempt (Better Noise Music)

Mentored by much-missed super agent Steve Strange, Tempt took their time dropping this hotly anticipated debut.

But when it finally arrived it became clear that the retro-fuelled New Yorkers were the future of powerful pop rock.

Dorothy collab Living Dangerous was an edgy addition but Tempt were at their best channelling Dan Reed Network on funky album opener Welcome Me In.

2. Cassidy Paris — New Sensation (Frontiers)

Did what it said on the tin: if there’s a newer sensation in melodic rock right now then we missed the memo.

Aussie firebrand Cassidy Paris was snapped up by Frontiers after being schooled in chart-busting AOR by ex-Danger Danger man Paul Laine and her fret-burning father — The Radio Sun‘s Steve Janevski.

Lessons learnt, the 20-year-old crafted a debut as dangerous as it was dazzling and backed it all up with her best run of UK shows yet.

We loved Rock N Roll Hearts and fan favourite Stand.

Read the full review here.

1. The Defiants — Drive (Frontiers)

It’s like time stood still in 1987 and The Defiants knocked off Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Europe as the poster boys of pop rock.

Drive cruised through the gears on the back of prime chorus-driven fist pumpers including Go Big Or Go Home and What Are We Waiting For.

That man Laine (see above) was at it again alongside fellow Danger Danger alumni Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello — the tried and tested trio treating fans to melodic rock tour de force.

Leppard-esque vocal harmonies paced ballad of the year Miracle but there was nothing surprising about the quality of this sensational record.