8 Albums by Classic Bands With Poor Production

For better or worst, the production is not the strong side here.

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For better or worse, there's a solid chunk of albums released by iconic bands known for poor production values. Some folks insist that such production is a part of the charm, while others bash it as the factor that ruins a perfectly fine record. It's up to you to make the call, check out 8 albums by classic bands that suffer from poor production below.

Metallica - "Death Magnetic"

Representing one of the most prominent casualties of loudness wars, Metallica's "Death Magnetic" is very often criticized for being severely produced. It was recently branded the "loudest" album of all time, and not in a good way.

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Rush - "Vapor Trails"

Another casualty of loudness wars - 2002 Rush effort "Vapor Trails." 11 years later, the error was corrected with the official 2013 remix.

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Megadeth - "Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!"

"In 1985, Combat Records gave the band $8,000 to record and produce its debut album. After spending $4,000 of the budget on drugs, alcohol, and food, the band fired the original producer and finished the recording themselves."


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Exodus - "Bonded by Blood"

Early thrash classics aren't exactly an example of polished production gems. And although it is easy to argue that the raw element is what gives the album its charm, Exodus debut "Bonded by Blood" could have definitely used some better production.

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Iggy and the Stooges - "Raw Power"

Featuring the infamous David Bowie production, "Raw Power" is a fine example of what happens when the band and the producer are thinking in different directions.

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Dream Theater - "When Day and Dream Unite"

Production and vocals is what made Dream Theater's debut album drastically inferior to the rest of their opus. Some neat stuff you can still find here, but the production quality is still low.

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Death - "Scream Bloody Gore"

It's raw to the max, and if that's your thing, you'll dig it. But the low-quality production element still remains.

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Nirvana - "Bleach"

Another representative of going too raw, but then again, it is very easy to argue how this gritty little thing was the beginning of a mini musical revolution.

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Got more to share? Do it in the comments.

106 comments sorted by best / new / date

    what was wrong with bleach?
    Seriously. I love the production work on Bleach! I mean it's not as great as day Nevermind or In Utero. But it's not bad.
    That's what i was thinking, it was recorded on what, $600 total budget? The fact that it turned out so well is amazing.
    I never thought Death Magnetic was badly produced, not at least anywhere near St Anger.
    The Tempest
    I came here expecting ...And Justice for All on here.
    To think UG, mfkr and you expected to see 3 different albums says a lot about Metallica's choices in the studio...Was expecting ...And Justice too, by the way.
    We should get a remastered version of ...And Justice for All with bass. Imagine how much heavier Blackened and Harvester of Sorrow will sound.
    You could fill this list with only Metallica albums. They just can't seem to figure out this production thing...
    Really? It is so compressed that the snare is distorted. It is terribly produced. I think St Anger is (slightly) better produced.
    I'm sorry but St. Anger was by far better produced! Bob Rock would have saved Death Magnetic production wise and (all else ignored) would have given it the production it deserved!
    matteo cubano
    it amazes me how people writing for this site don't understand the difference between production and engineering. mixing on death magnetic was awful, production on st. anger was awful. I imagine Rubin just wasn't as involved as he shoulda been in listening to mixes and just trusted the engineers he hired so in that way you could blame production but its two different processes.
    I guess you could consider Death Magnetic to be worse master, and St. Anger to be the worse production (as production is more than just the levels).
    This, exactly. Death Magnetic was produced just fine, but it got screwed up later in the mastering process. The problems on St. Anger (snare drum sound, arrangements) happened in production.
    The mastering engineer claims he got distorted mixes. The problem, to my knowledge, was the individual stems being distorted before the mixing or mastering even occurred.
    In the industry Death Magnetic is used as an example of badly produced. The mastering engineer even refused to put his name on it because the mix he received was so distorted and wrecked that he didn't want to be associated with it.
    Even calling Death Magnetic a classic...
    It's albums by classic bands, not classic albums, but you know they wrote the title to imply classic albums.Also, Death Magnetic's production is horrible. It's one of the only albums where I really get the "loudness" bitching. ...And Justice For All has that inaudible bass, which is also bad, but it's still listenable. Edit: Just reread the first paragraph, it does say "classic albums." My bad. I'd say the least classic album on here is Vapor Trails, IIRC it's the only Rush album not to go gold.
    Metallica's poorest produced album is "Kill 'em All" - the overall sound quality (which is where production lies) is horrible
    Compared to the latest two albums, Kill 'em All sounds bloody amazing. I do agree that it could sound better, but it is not nearly as bad as St. Anger or Death Magnetic.
    Californication is another good example of the loudness wars taking it's toll.
    Odd, it's one of my favourite albums. I guess I don't tend to be the best judge of production, but each to their own!
    Nirvana's Bleach album had the closest sound to what Kurt originally intended...it is not "too loud", just too raw-sounding for some people.
    The only "problem" - and I read an interview with Encino relating to this - is that there was only one guitar amp available for Cobain to use. I tend to agree, had there been one or two more it would have increased the diversity of the sound through the record. Other than that there's nothing "atrocious" about the recording at all. Especially considering it was made for marginally more than $600.
    Bubonic Chronic
    After drums are done someone needs to take an ether-soaked rag and drag an unconscious Lars Ulrich into "Protective Custody" until the mixing and production (basically everything leading up to and maybe including the tour) has occurred. On second thought, fire Lars!!
    no black metal albums?
    They are all made with poor production (stop hitting your screen it's a troll)
    That is one of the cornerstones of Black Metal. It's not only intended to be an inversion to the 'clean' production of "mainstream" Rock/Metal but also to be a tribute to the Black Metal pioneers Bathory, who's albums were poorly produced on account of Quorthon having to record and produce them himself in his garage or wherever. It's said you can even hear his neighbors mowing their lawn on a track here or there.
    The title says "classic bands".
    There's plenty of classic bands in Black Metal if you're into metal. If you're not, you won't find any.
    I like Scream Bloody Gore's just fine. The rawness works perfectly on that album. Could be a personal taste thing, like you said, though.
    Born Again by Black Sabbath has atrocious production. Still can't take away from the awesomeness of Gillan + Iommi
    ug team: confirmed for worst taste of all time
    Why Bleach? Honestly, the only Nirvana album with production I dislike is Nevermind, and it's not even bad production, Butch Vig know just what he's doing, just in comparison to Endino and Albini's work it pales.
    I don't agree with the raw power being badly produced I know Iggy turned everything up to clipping.. but that whole side with "seek and destroy" "penetration" is just jamming and the production doesn't really hurt it too bad either. If you can just put an album on then leave it on repeat for hours at a time. I'd say the production isn't as bad as you make it sound.
    the mantle by agalloch is amazing but the production is aweful
    i agree, although the band hates the production on ashes... more as its too clean and 'bon jovi' like
    ...And Justice for All as well as Death Magnetic could have been so easily fixed if they weren't mixed horribly, that's the shame of it. They both have good songwriting, but are hard to listen to, for me. And Justice for Jason is a remix with pumped up bass (too much, IMO) that shows what it could have been.
    Lamb of God - New American Gospel deserves a mention, although id argue that the band production is a huge part of what made the album stand out.
    Raw power if fine. It's iggy pop's early 2000's "remaster" that is notorious for beingawful.
    Surprised to see Killing Is My Business on there...I guess I must have a remixed reissue?
    I really like quite a few of the songs on death magnetic, but it is a bitch to listen to, the live versions are much easier on the ears.
    Kiss - Hotter than Hell I know Kiss gets a lot of hate here, most of it well deserved, no doubt about it, but the songs on this album are not that bad but the production completely killed them.
    That's my favorite studio album by them - the songs & performances are great. I really do wish they could remix it. For all of the BS re-packaging and compilations that Kiss puts out, it's a shame they haven't done that one.
    Raw Power's poor production is not David Bowie's fault. The band gave Bowie tapes that they've recorded on their own: "Out of 24 tracks there were just three tracks that were used. He said 'see what you can do with this'. I said, 'Jim, there's nothing to mix'. So we just pushed the vocal up and down a lot. On at least four or five songs that was the situation, including "Search and Destroy." That's got such a peculiar sound because all we did was occasionally bring the lead guitar up and take it out."
    Anyone else here familiar with Pentagram? Their debut album (re-released later as "Relentless") has god awful production, some of the songs actually get quieter halfway through.
    I can't really agree that Charlie Dominici's vocals on DT's debut were bad, they definitely weren't as awesome as James', but he did a fine job and simply had a different style. But yeah, the production could have been much better (LISTEN TO A FORTUNE IN LIES ON LIVE AT LUNA PARK. GOD.)
    Live At The Marquee is short, but it's definitely James LaBrie's best live album. After hearing the vocals on that record, it's hard to listen to the other live DT records
    Death Mgnetic(2007) = poor production | Kill em all(1983)=?
    I think Metallica have more albums that are poorly produced than albums that are not.
    I'd agree. I like the sound on Master of Puppets, but it's definitely not mixed well. I'd say the Black Album might actually be the only Metallica album with good overall sound quality and production value.
    Since when was did metal albums get classed as "too loud"? Metal fans are turning into a bunch of girls
    It's not the actual volume that's the issue, it's the total lack of clarity and dynamics due to over-compression.
    Nah, people shouldn't blame their deafness on made up shit like overcompression, I got Death Magnetic in flac, tune the equal and the record sounds just fine everything is audible, specially papa James' downpicking.
    I think Annihilator's "All for you" sounds even worse than Death Magnetic. The loudness is cranked up way too much, the whole album is one uber-compressed, distorted mess-up.
    Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power got remixed by Iggy some years later. After the listening to his mix against Bowie's I prefer Iggy's. Yeah I get it is called "Raw Power" and he is the Godfather of Punk...but some of the songs on Iggy's version sound way better. Listen to both versions of Penetration. Iggy's is better.
    I love Bleach and would absolutely hate for that album to have been any less raw. Best Nirvana album hands down.
    Californication and American Idiot are two other ones. AI recently got remastered at a lower level though, and it sounds AMAZING
    War to End All Wars - Yngwie Malmsteen, the last album he made with Mark Boals, should've been his best album, songs are killer but it's unlistenable because of the production. Yngwie said a couple of years ago that he might remix it.
    "The production on this album was shitty but then again it made it amazing."
    When Dream and Day unite isnt that bad, but I agree the sound level on that album need serious work. You can hardly make out the guitar in some songs. It all seems so fuzzy.
    If you're gonna bash an album, at least get its name right: "When Dream and Day Unite", not "When Day and Dream Unite". It's correct in the video they post right below it, pretty lazy mistake. Also, being their debut album, it's not really a major surprise that it's not too well produced.
    No mention for Pearl Jam's Ten?
    That album sounds fantastic...
    If it did they wouldn't have needed to remaster it in acknowledgement of the over production on the original.
    I like Bleach. Controversially I do not like how pristine Nevermind sounds in comparison to the others.
    I disagree - I never got, and still don't get the moans of "Nevermind is too cleanly produced" - In comparison to Bleach and In Utero, yeah it's not as gritty, and doesn't have the "recorded-in-a-bathroom-for-60-bucks" sound, but it's by all means nowhere near a clean nor pristine glossy production. In fact, IMHO, its production for me sounds somewhat near the type of production one can hear in shoegaze records, but either way, yes it's slightly more tidy than the others, but it's still got a pretty raw sound to it, almost certainly in comparison to contemporary records from other big grunge bands like AIC's "Dirt", Soundgardens "Badmotorfinger", and PJ's "Ten".