Friday Top: 25 Artists Whose Final Album Was a Masterpiece

As voted by UG community.

Ultimate Guitar

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the people of UG community discussing the matter of artists whose final album was a masterpiece.

To be eligible, the given act needs to have more than one record in its opus, as well as to no longer be active in the field of making new music.

Anyhow, we received quite a few votes and over 450 comments, all of which were summed up into a Top 25 rundown.

Before kicking things off, this week's honorable mentions are:

  • Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
  • Emperor - Prometheus - The Discipline of Fire & Demise (2001)
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation (2016)
  • Janis Joplin - Pearl (1971)
  • Necrophagist - Epitaph (2004)
With that out of the way, the full list awaits below.

25. Botch - We Are the Romans (1999)

Years active: 1993 - 2002 Genre: Mathcore, Chaotic hardcore

Our very own N-D explained: "Masterpiece by the band that inspired the mathcore and chaotic hardcore movement (including The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge among others)."

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24. Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime (1994)

Years active: 1990 - 1995 Genre: Post-hardcore, Math rock

Active in the early '90s, Drive Like Jehu were among the post-hardcore acts that "impacted the evolution of hardcore punk into emo."

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23. Screaming Trees - Dust (1996)

Years active: 1985 - 2000 Genre: Grunge, Alternative rock

Led by Mr. Mark Lanegan, the Screaming Trees are known as one of the "godfathers of grunge." Their final record, 1996's "Dust," happens to be one of their finest efforts.

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22. Slint - Spiderland (1991)

Years active: 1986 - 1990 Genre: Math rock, Post-rock

With only two studio albums under their belt, Slint were among the late-80s acts that paved the way for post-rock and math rock style.

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21. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (2006)

Years active: 2003 - 2011 Genre: Soul, Singer-songwriter

As another artist with merely two records, Amy Winehouse makes the list with 2006's "Back to Black," a bonafide masterpiece according to the members of UG community.

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20. The Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)

Years active: 1982 - 1987 Genre: Alternative rock, Indie rock

As another act that didn't stick around for too long, The Smiths were previously hailed by the UG community as on of the bands with flawless discographies.

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19. Type O Negative - Dead Again (2007)

Years active: 1989 - 2010 Genre: Gothic metal, Doom metal

joseph51700 noted: "Songs like 'Profits of Doom,' 'September Sun,' 'Dead Again' really make it stand out. All of their albums were good but this was a great album to end on."

OriginOfFeces added: "YES!! This album is SO detailed and arranged in a way that makes it sound as if there are 20 songs on this album. So many great Sabbath and Beatles references and influences on this one as well. This is THE album that shines those two main influences through. Quite a masterpiece to end with, but not THE masterpiece though."

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18. Slowdive - Pygmalion (1995)

Years active: 1989 - 1995 Genre: Shoegaze

TaV0 noted: "'Pygmalion' is such a beautiful album. Listening to Slowdive is always a pleasure but 'Pygmalion' is a completely different experience."

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17. Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)

Years active: 1967 - 1974 Genre: Folk, Singer-songwriter

As another talented soul that left us too soon, late great Nick Drake is up next with his third and final studio record, 1972's "Pink Moon."

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16. Porcupine Tree - The Incident (2009)

Years active: 1987 - 2010 Genre: Progressive rock/metal

Mr. Steven Wilson is still churning out quality music, but Porcupine Tree is no more, leaving us with 2009's "The Incident" as the band's final effort ever. A damn fine one too, according to you folks.

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15. The Police - Synchronicity (1983)

Years active: 1977 - 1986 Genre: New wave

As one of the bands that left us at their strongest point, The Police are up next with 1983's "Synchronicity," the record that brought us "Every Breath You Take," "Wrapped Around Your Finger," "Synchronicity II," and more.

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14. Kyuss - ...And the Circus Leaves Town (1995)

Years active: 1987 - 1995 Genre: Stoner rock, Stoner metal

In related stuff, here's Josh Homme explaining why Kyuss is over and never coming back.

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13. Joy Division - Closer (1980)

Years active: 1976 - 1980 Genre: Post-punk

Before Ian Curtis tragically left us at the age of 23, Joy Division changed the world of music with their small opus of two albums - 1979's "Unknown Pleasures" and 1980's "Closer."

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12. Strapping Young Lad - The New Black (2006)

Years active: 1994 - 2007 Genre: Extreme progressive/industrial metal

Hevy Devy is alive and well, but Strapping Young Lad is no more. At No. 12, it's the final SYL record, 2006's "The New Black."

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11. At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command (2000)

Years active: 1993 - 2001 Genre: Post-hardcore

These fellas seem to be rising from the ashes, but we'll let it slide for now - at No. 11, At the Drive-In and "Relationship of Command."

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10. Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

Years active: 1957 - 1970 Genre: Folk rock

Cracking the Top 10, it's Simon & Garfunkel and their 1970 effort "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

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9. The White Stripes - Icky Thump (2007)

Years active: 1997 - 2011 Genre: Alternative rock, Indie rock 

Marking The White Stripes' sixth studio effort, 2007's "Icky Thump" is apparently the last we'll see of the mighty duo.

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8. Mr. Bungle - California (1999)

Years active: 1985 - 2004 Genre: Experimental rock

garte13 pointed out: "Perfectly eclectic yet consistent all the way through. So many hidden gems on this album: 'Sweet Charity,' 'The Air-Conditioned Nightmare,' 'Vanity Fair,' 'Goodbye Sober Day'..."

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7. Queen - Innuendo (1991)

Years active: 1970 - 1991 (Freddie Mercury's death) Genre: Rock

As the final album Queen released while Freddie Mercury was still alive, "Innuendo" is up next at No. 7.

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6. Death - The Sound of Perseverance (1998)

Years active: 1983 - 2001 Genre: Progressive death metal

Up next, it's the final Death album "The Sound of Perseverance," the record that brought us "Spirit Crusher," "Voice of the Soul," and more timeless death metal tracks.

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5. The Doors - L.A. Woman (1971)

Years active: 1965 - 1973 Genre: Rock, Psychedelic rock

Despite the three post-Morrison albums, "L.A. Woman" remains widely acknowledged as the final album The Doors as we all know them have ever released. This is the record that brought us "Riders on the Storm," "Love Her Madly," and more tunes.

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4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience ‎- Electric Ladyland (1968)

Years active: 1966 - 1969 Genre: Rock, Psychedelic rock

The only music Jimi Hendrix ever released with The Jimi Hendrix Experience came out in just two years - two albums in 1967 and one record in 1968. The latter one, "Electric Ladyland," brings us a step closer to the Big 3.

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3. David Bowie - Blackstar (2016)

Years active: 1962 - 2016 Genre: Bowie

As widely acknowledged, Mr. Bowie turned even his own death into a work of art. At No. 3, "Blackstar."

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2. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

Years active: 1960 - 1970 Genre: Rock

JohnnySardine, who nominated The Beatles classic, pointed out about this one: "Yes, 'Let It Be' was released after 'Abbey Road,' but 'Abbey Road' was the last album they recorded together."

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1. Nirvana - In Utero (1993)

Years active: 1987 - 1994 Genre: Grunge

Hailed by the members of UG community as the finest effort in Nirvana's opus, "In Utero" gets the gold this week, fair and square!

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115 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Genre: Bowie That's awesome, and actually true
    paulstfu · Oct 21, 2016 04:15 PM
    If not for each other, we would all go on not noticing very much wouldn't we?
    Don't forget about Alternative Bowie, Bowiecore, and the saddest genre of them all... Post-Bowie
    I dunno, I'm more old school Bowie, but that's just me. Although the question was "Artists whose final album was a masterpiece" not "....their best album ever"
    This list made me sad. Not because of the choices, no the choices are excellent. But of all the things that seemed to have ended too soon.
    Ooh the fuckin feels, dude. Why'd you have to put things in perspective like that?
    Sorry man, two sides to every story.
    Holy shit, each of the top 7.... Cobain, Lennon, Bowie, Hendrix, Morrison, Chuck Shuldiner, and Freddie, really feelin it.
    Especially with Freddie, he is my all time favorite. And his death was something that is hard for me to believe in. Second only is Bowie, and I am not that much of a fan of his music, but he is just...legendary. If Freddie is ruler of the gone too soon music legends, Bowie is his right hand man.
    It's only right to be a fan of both Mercury and Bowie. They were entertainers cut from the same cloth. But both brought something huge and original to the table. In music and style. If you are a Queen fan and have never really listened to a lot of Bowie I recommend a lot of his records. Of course he's got different eras, many of them, but Hunky Dory is in my top 25 albums of all time.
    Lets just say that I only listened to his older material...whatever was avalible on VH1 Classic...
    Play the whole Ziggy Stardust album then when you have a chance. Plays like a dream. One of the most complete albums of that era (the era in which I believe to be the greatest era of popular music ever) 1970-1977.
    Shit...Gene Genie is from Aladin Sane....
    Further proof how dominant Bowie was in the 70's. He was british Stevie Wonder.
    That's an odd comparison.
    Look at the output man. 72-76 Stevie Wonder released Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fuflingness's First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life in consecutive fashion. The latter 3 all win the Grammy for Album of the Year. All well received. David Bowie from 71-77 put out Hunky Dory, Ziggy, Aladin Sane, Station To Station, Low, and Heroes. (With a couple in between that in my opinion weren't as great) Stevie to America was an ever changing musical being. Regardless of the musical changes, he remained a bringer of knowledge, social awareness, and of course musicality. David to Britain was an ever-changing creature in terms of appearance and musical concept, all the while making the changes effortless and accessible. I'm not comparing them in terms of who's better, but it's worth noting how each figure was important in different, yet the same ways at the same time across the pond from each other.
    Damn me if thats not a good analysis, damn man. Well played on your behalf.
    Thank you. I appreciate that. That's history to me, the Magna Carta and the Gettysburg Address is great but Innervisions/Hunky Dory is much more interesting
    Some great selections for a Friday at my dead-end job.
    It's a very good list - thank you all for voting! It shows your great taste and knowledge! And again - here's the rest of the list: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - In Step (1989) [and/or] The Sky Is Crying (1991) The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls With Sand (2007) Woods Of Ypres - "Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light" (2012) Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Ice Cream for Crow (1982) Pg.99 (aka Pageninetynine) - Document #8 (2001) The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - From the Stairwell (2011) Fugazi - The Argument (2001) Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless (2000) ISIS - Wavering Radiant (2009) Warren Zevon - The Wind (1976) Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998) Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (1998) Nasum - Shift (2004) Sentenced - The Funeral Album (2005) Unwound - Leaves Turn Inside You (2001) Solitude Aeturnus - Alone (2006) Acid Bath - Paegan Terrorism Tactics (1996) Coil - The Ape of Naples (2005) Nevermore - The Obsidian Conspiracy (2010) The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet (2012) Anata - The Conductor's Departure (2006) Bolt Thrower ‎- Those Once Loyal (2005) R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now (2011) Pantera - Reinventing the Steel (2000) 16 Horsepower - Folklore (2002) Motörhead - Bad Magic (2015) Love Spirals Downwards - Flux (1998) Frank Zappa - Jazz From Hell (1986) [and/or] The Yellow Shark (1993) Talk Talk - The Laughing Stock (1991) Dismember - Dismember (2008) Grazhdanskaya Oborona - Zachem snyatsya sny? (2007) Kino - Kino (1990) Scorn - Refuse;Start Fires (2010) Elliott Smith - Figure 8 (2000) The Mayfield Four - Second Skin (2001) The God Machine - One Last Laugh in a Place of Dying... (1994) Agalloch - The Serpent & the Sphere (2014) In Solitude - Sister (2013) Harmonium - L'Heptade (1976) Dissection - Reinkaos (2006) Cream - Goodbye (1969) Free - Heartbreaker (1973) The Human Abstract - Digital Veil (2011) Coroner - Grin (1993) Himsa - Summon in Thunder (2007) Dire Straits - On Every Street (1991) Fugees - The Score (1996) Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011)
    i´ve discovered lots of nice bands through your suggestions and summaries in these WQs. Thanks, man
    Mars Volta is there and I am glad it does, but I seriously hope that they release fresh material
    There's a fantastic new band out called "Good tiger" with very Mars Volta-esq vocals. They're fantastic sounding overall. Give "Good Tiger - Aspirations" a listen.
    Agree about the vocals, but all the rest is totally different from Mars Volta. I really dig it but it a totally different sound. Thanks for the suggestion!
    I love Mars Volta, but that last album was fairly dull. And Good Tiger is nothing like Mars Volta!
    My personal favorite is Frances the Mute (maybe because it was the 1st album I listened from them) but there is no album that I can say that was bad or disappointing
    I've forgotten Nevermore? I guess I am still not reconciled with idea that its their last album.
    Shit, I didn't know Harmonium was nominated! That album is THE BOMB, and I highly recommend it.
    Technically wasn't Zappa''s final album Civiliization Phase III?
    Sort of - you know, it was posthumous - and there are a lot of posthumous albums of Frank Zappa. I think technically "Jazz From Hell" was his final because it was the last studio album written and recorded by Frank during his lifetime.
    How do you do your counts? On the question thread Sublime had 60 votes, Botch 22. Yet Sublime is not in the rundown. Am I missing something?
    so happy to see Nirvana, Slint, Botch and At The Drive-In featured
    Especially Spiderland is a masterpiece. Would have loved to see Talk Talk's Laughing Stock on the list, as the other starter of the whole post-rock genre!
    Horrible picture of the White Stripes there. Jack looks like Michael Cera going out for halloween as Johnny Depp and Meg looks like they took the picture before she could fully transform into a lizard
    Theres some serious nostalgia going on in this list, some of these albums barely make top3 of those artists discography. That said, I couldn't come up with a better list.
    It's a shame Fugazi's Argument didn't make the list, it truly is a masterpiece.
    Pretty sure Queen had another album after Innuendo called Made in Heaven
    Yes, but it is not really a Queen album as it was a post Queen, post humous album. I dont think that these count.
    Why would it not count? Brian, John and Roger were still alive, and Freddie spent the last months of his life recording as much as he could for the album
    I know, I know. But it doesnt feel the same, you know? It is well heard all through out Innuendo that it was Freddie's last hoorah, Made in Heavan just wasnt the same.
    It's still a really good album though. Not their finest, but I wouldn't say Innuendo is either. Although picking Queen's best album is impossible. Innuendo is definitely a masterpiece though.
    "Innuendo is definitely a masterpiece though."- As long as you take out Delilah!
    16 horsepower!!! My favourite band of all time finally appears on ug! (Kinda)
    i only clicked on this to see if Sound of Perseverance by Death would be mentioned. it got 6th out of the 25th. Fuck Yes. oh and jimis Electric LadyLand was great to see on here too.
    Arn't Slowdive currently recording a new album?
    True, but there seems to a be a lot of "blind eye turned" exceptions anyway, so I personally don't mind that it qualified anyway. Also, Slowdive is a seriously underrated band, so it's awesome to see them featured here.
    I don't know enough about all the bands on this list, but how many of these were actually designed to be the band's final album? It seems like most of them just happened to be the last album before a breakup or death. Not that it really matters.
    Renegades was kinda shit though
    It wasn't shit, but it wasn't their masterpiece. Maggie's Farm
    Nirvana beats Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles? WOW! ultimate guitar is awesome!!!
    Axle Starr
    Considering the inclusion of albums like Electric Ladyland and L.A. Woman under similar circumstances, I'm gonna mention Alice In Chains
    in utero isnt't a masterpiece. it's an album full of crappy lo-fi half-assed grunge songs. nevermind was way better
    Hendrix's last album released before he died was BAQND OF GYPSYS so I dunno why ELL is listed here.
    Kinda funny that they chose a video where the Bridge Over Troubled Water album cover isnæt used, but the cover for Bookends
    This would be a very noteworthy inclusion imo. Demented Ted's first and the only final offering, a death/thrash masterpiece from Chicago,Illinois. Though not meant for all audiences, this needs to be heard by everyone anyway
    I thought i'd temper all the fanboyism on here and put forward and objective album for the list.
    Ok well, I wouldnt say Icky Thump is a masterpiece. I love the white stripes, including that album but their other albums surpass it by a long shot.
    "Hailed by the members of UG community as the finest effort in Nirvana's opus..." No, it's not (hailed). It is hailed as a masterpiece, but we said nowhere that it was better than Nevermind.
    I missed the voting round this time but the Raconteurs should be on here, they haven't officially disbanded but their latest album, Consolers Of The Lonely is one of my favourite albums of all time.
    Woulda loved to see some love for Mr. Warren Zevon... "The Wind" is a beautiful record.