Friday Top: 25 Bad Albums From Otherwise Great Bands

As voted by UG community.

Ultimate Guitar
Friday Top: 25 Bad Albums From Otherwise Great Bands

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the people of UG community discussing the matter of the worst albums released by an otherwise amazing bands.

Based on votes and about 450 comments, we summed this one up into a Top 25 rundown.

And the best prank votes are: "Buckethead - well, one of them has to be bad, right?" and "Infant Sorrow - African Child".

Before kicking things off, the honorable mentions are:

  • Boston – Life, Love & Hope (2013)
  • Judas Priest - Demolition (2001)
  • The Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (2007)
  • The Velvet Underground - Squeeze (1973)

The full rundown awaits below.

25. Helloween - Chameleon (1993)

"Chameleon" name comes from the style changing with each song on this album, with the band adding some pop elements to it. However, the album turned out to be a commercial failure, and it also received negative critics, which led to vocalist Michael Kiske and drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg being fired from the band after the tour in support of "Chameleon".

Another Helloween album that should also be mentioned is "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" from 1991.

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24. Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways (2014)

"Sonic Highways" featured eight songs which Dave Grohl wrote while traveling to eight different cities around the U.S. where he interviewed musicians, record producers, engineers and other people about the musical history of each city. Even though the album had quite an interesting concept, and was accompanied by HBO television series, it just didn’t sit well with both critics and fans.

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23. Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Love Beach (1978)

The 1978's "Love Beach" was met with a huge negative response, with many considering it as the worst album by ELP. At the time Rolling Stone magazine wrote:

"Stale and full of ennui, this album makes washing the dishes seem a more creative act by comparison."

Also, that cover art…

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22. Killswitch Engage - Killswitch Engage (2009)

Killswitch Engage’s fifth studio album, and their second self-titled one, came out in 2009. And as RustedWithin UG user commented:

Yea, that album was weak as fuck. Lots of internal strife with recording the album and HoJo going through his shit made that album DOA

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21. David Bowie - Never Let Me Down (1987)

Commented by SawGuru:

"The man himself even agreed it was problematic. 'Never Let Me Down had good songs that I mistreated. I didn't really apply myself. I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to be doing. I wish there had been someone around who could have told me.'"

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20. Blink-182 - California (2016)

"California" is Blink-182's first album to feature Matt Skiba in the band. And even though the album debuted at top position in the U.S. and few other countries, it was met with some mixed reviews and reactions. As Josh100_3 has put it:

Say what you want about them, at least I can enjoy all their other albums on some level. This one I just find absolutely awful.

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19. Mötley Crüe - Generation Swine (1997)

"Generation Swine" Marked the return of vocalist Vince Neil to the band, and was the first album to feature Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx on lead vocals for songs "Brandon” and "Rocketship" respectively. The album saw the band experimenting with more modern trends for the time, like electronic music, and alternative rock kind of style.

In a review, Jon Wiederhorn of Rolling Stone offered:

A violin-saturated love song like "Brandon" — which is about drummer Tommy Lee's son and features the ludicrous lyrics "Brandon, I love you; I love her; she is your mom" — may touch Pamela Anderson Lee. But the only tears that Motley Crue fans will shed are ones of loss.

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18. Muse - The 2nd Law (2012)

It was the sixth album by Muse, and upon being released it got some positive critical reviews. However, fans got some mixed reactions because of dubstep elements. Gregory Heaney of AllMusic gave this description:

"While this certainly keeps with their tradition of always pushing their sound in new directions, their excursions into dubstep and dance music on tracks like "Madness" and "Follow Me" feel more like remixes than original songs. Songs like these definitely have the spine of Muse tracks, but the production that's built up around them feels almost alien."

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17. Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King (2013)

"Hail to the King" by Avenged Sevenfold was actually pretty successful both critically and commercially, and even reached position no. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. But none the less, there were some mixed and negative reviews of it, even some accusations of ripping off Metallica's "Sad But True". Machine Head's Robb Flynn joked about the album for its similarities with Metallica, Guns N' Roses and Megadeth songs, even calling it "cover album".

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16. In Flames - Siren Charms (2014)

In general, any album by In Flames after 2008's "A Sense Of Purpose" wasn't that good, but this one just really didn't sit well with the fans, as well as some critics. Experimenting is always good, but when you get too close to the mainstream style, true metal fans will not be satisfied…

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15. Queen - Hot Space (1982)

Fans were not really happy with the album's dance-pop sound, and comment by LastHorizon kinda sums it up:

Even though it is a cool disco album and contains "Under Pressure", it is not on par with their other works.

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14. Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus (2011)

User DissonantTimbre mentioned that "it’s the St. Anger of death metal," and some critics actually compared it to the Metallica's album as well. And it's not far from the truth. Many fans felt disappointed with its industrial elements.

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13. Black Sabbath - Forbidden (1995)

Jazz1992 explains:

"Even as a diehard fan of the Martin era I have to agree that album is dogshit."

Even Tony Martin disliked the album, with using the word "crap" to describe it. Although it had some interesting riffs and moments on it, overall it was a huge let down for the fans, with boring songs and rushed production and mixing. It also included kind of a forced rap verse by Ice-T on song "The Illusion Of Power".

However, a few years ago, Tony Iommi stated he liked the album, and that he would like to re-mix it.

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12. Van Halen - Van Halen III (1998)

UG user turkeyjerky214 shared an interesting story:

"My uncle still talks about when he bought that CD, gave it one listen, then returned it to Blockbuster Music. The guy originally wasn't going to let him since it was opened, but the manager came over and was like "yeah, he can have his money back."

Well, your uncle had all the rights to demand his money back.

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11. Iron Maiden – Virtual XI (1998)

The eleventh studio album by legendary Iron Maiden was second, and the last one to feature Blaze Bayley as the lead vocalist in the band. The album has some good tunes on it, like "The Clansman" or "Futureal", which even Dickinson performed when he came back to the band. However, critics and fans didn’t respond to the record so well, and it is considered as one of their weakest albums.

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10. Dream Theater - The Astonishing (2016)

"The Astonishing" is a concept album, with the idea initiated by John Petrucci, and the music written by Petrucci and Rudess. On top of that, composer Campbell helped the band with orchestrating the strings and choirs on the album. However, some fans just didn’t like it, and KBI2113 offered:

"I've tried listening to it 4 times and barely managed to get through it once. I'm a huge DT fan, but this album was a dud in my opinion."

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9. Bullet for My valentine - Temper Temper (2013)

Although some fans found music to be decent enough, the lyrics seem to have put the nail on this album’s coffin. From the official UG review:

"It's hard to believe frontman Matt Tuck turned 33 this year because at times his lyrics read like the diary of a 13 year-old Pantera fan with ADHD."

Even the band wasn’t satisfied with it:

"We got lazy - to be honest - on the last album. We just wanted to go back and enjoy playing music again."

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8. Gorillaz - Humanz (2017)

A comment from our very own N-D describes it nicely:

"Comparing to their previous records it was pretty weak for me - only few good songs while other are sound more like fillers."

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7. Suicide Silence - Suicide Silence (2017)

Suicide Silence's self-titled album enraged many of the fans for parting ways with the band's deathcore style, among other things the use of clean vocals. A review on Exclaim! reads:

On their self-titled fifth album, Suicide Silence sound like a garage band sloppily covering Korn and Deftones through a microphone they found in a dumpster.

Needless to say, the sales were horrible as well.

Here's a nice tutorial video on how to use this album the right way.

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6. Korn - The Path of Totality (2011)

Even though all of their latest albums are not really looked well upon, this one was viewed as the worst one by many. Especially due to dubstep elements.

User Lemorick says:

I give kudos for that album for being a bit risky at the time. The backlash was huge but there are a few nice songs. It's still a meh album overall

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5. Pantera - Metal Magic (1983)

First Pantera albums, as we all know, were pretty much different from the ones starting from "Cowboys From Hell" and onwards. The band's debut album, when compared to Pantera as we know it, is just another… Well, cheesy glam metal record. The cover art confirms that.

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4. Megadeth - Super Collider (2013)

Another one which was suggested for this list was Megadeth's "Risk" from 1999, but "Super Collider" from 2013 made the cut with more votes. Music critics mostly responded negatively to Mustaine’s lyrics and vocals. Whatever it may be, the first single and its music video sure helped this album get on the list.

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3. Chris Cornell - Scream (2008)

Even some of the greatest music legends have some albums we find disappointing. As besnardmax says:

A pool of shame in an otherwise perfect career…

The style of the album just doesn’t go well with Chris Cornell.

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2. Linkin Park - One More Light (2017)

Is there anything to be said about this one that hasn't been said? Yeah, everything except Linkin Park's first two albums is not received well by many, but "One More Light"? There won't be any remarks on it in this article, in fear of Chester Bennington punching somebody.

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1. Metallica - St. Anger (2003)

With "Lulu" also being mentioned as the album that should be on this list, that one was actually a collaboration between Metallica and Lou Reed. It was experimental, they always try to come up with something new, but barely anyone actually liked "Lulu".

However, talking about Metallica and bad albums, one cannot simply avoid their infamous 2003 effort by the name of "St. Anger." Yes it had a different approach, and was kind of their way of trying to experiment and change styles, but this one could have at least had a better sounding snare drum.

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That's all folks! Feel free to post other bad albums from otherwise great bands in the comment section below. And we hope you enjoyed the top, stay tuned until next week for another WQ!

115 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I actually enjoyed the Pumpkins' Zeitgeist (honorable mention). 'Tarantula' is a great song, I love the solo.
    united states is also excellent live. sure wasn't a mellon collie, but not bad really.
    Yeah, I'd say Machina and Machina II were more of a miss than Zeitgeist (still some good songs on Machina though). Zeitgeist obviously wasn't their best, but it definitely isn't a "bad" album. 
    As someone who likes Machina, what don't you like about it?  Other than the last few songs I think it's a pretty solid album.
    Totally agree, never understood the hate for Zeitgeist, glad to see it mentioned here.
    Yes tarantula is actually one of my favourite songs by them. The album does have a few good moments, but wish it was less boring overall.
    I suggested Zeitgeist, although I don't think it was bad per se. I fully agree with you about Tarantula and a couple other tracks though, it's the mixing that lets it down more than anything. I wasn't sure if Machina II would count, but I feel that it was worse songwise than Zeitgeist. 
    All I got from that was "trying new things is bad"
    Try something new doesn't have to be bad always. Just look at Opeth. Even though they leave metal behind we still love them
    Eh, I think if they took the best elements of Pale Communion and Sorceress they couldve made a kickass album, some of the songs feel like they merely serve as 'fillers' so that it counts as an album instead of an EP. Mikael Mike and Lars Ulrich need to attend a seminar on the concept of 'trim the fat'/Less is more sometimes.
    By all means try new things...but don't completely suck at it!
    In my defense, I may have not said it at the time, but I nominated The Astonishing because, in my opinion, it feels so painfully generic by DT standards, instead of complaining of it sounding "new" (doesn't try new things at all other than album structure)
    That's what I meant with the Korn album. If the songs were a bit more well thought, the album could have been great. I'm a fan of Pendulum and this album would be heavier than that with the nu metal style incorporated. It was definitely a nice blend. My issue with the album is that lots of tracks are fillers or seem like it
    I think that St. Anger was a bad album for the public to hear. For the band it represented a transitional and tough phase for all the members. This album has some good moments because this is a great band, but the timing was wrong and this is more about a session recording of releasing some demons on tape, but the production is wrong in ever sense. I feel they felt they could pull this together in some way, i am of the opinion the album should have been left in the vaults for the members to have a time capsule from a moment of change and deep issue resolving. They didn't go in with strong songs, just strong emotions. If it would then had been released years later as a secret recording session, it would have had a different impact 
    Well said.  I remember watching all the DVD versions and that sat better with me like I was watching a home video of them working on songs.  The live feel was better and felt like it was an appendix to Some Kind of Monster.
    It's so pure and honest. They could easily put out an other thrash album and hid what they really felt and probably disbanded years later. But they didn't, they went through all that shit together and came back stronger with DM and now even stronger with Hardwired. I still really like St.Anger for what it is, it's my favourite album for when I'm pissed and need to cool down /,,/
    nice and well rounded response, i adore Hardwired, so thanks for sharing the idea that without this period (St. Anger) we wouldn't have the new era, great take, i like your style!
    "St. Anger wasn't for them, St. Anger was for us. it turned out to be more of a statement than Metallica music that we enjoy playing live. It was more of a purge, just getting that shit out of me, as a catalyst for the next chapter of Metallica." - James Hetfield. Seriously. St. Anger is great, stop hating it.   
    I actually like the drum sound but repetition killed it for me. Songs like Invisible Kid felt 3 minutes longer than they needed to be.
    St. Anger has good elements but the songs go on for far too long and the snares are trash. Literally. There's a great album there if they trimmed the songs down and cleaned up the drum sound. 
    I also feel there were good songs. I've never been a huge 'tallica guy though. The unnamed feeling is one of my favorite songs by them though. It is what it is. Move on. 
    Sonic Highways is not a bad album.  Once all the episodes from the series are viewed, there are these little secrets and tie ins from a ton of sources and references. I personally found it very interesting and entertaining, however I didn't care for it when i first listened, it just takes time and a appreciation for the full scope of the project. I'm glad somebody is still doing something like this, a true treasure of music appreciation, damn give these guys a break. We're lucky to have a band like this with the hogwash of "popular" music right now,
    i'll admit, on first listen it didn't grab me like wasting light, but it got better on subsequent listens. then after watching the mini series multiple times, I think its one of their best.
    I agree, it does take a little time and patience, but its rewarding.
    sonic highways is a great album, shouldnt be anywhere near this list tbh.
    I think that's why a lot of people would call it a "bad album"...because it requires the documentary in order to be good.  If it was truly a good album it would stand on it's own and the documentary would lift it even higher.
    I agree that Sonic Highways isnt a bad album, but It is their weakest for sure. You have to put a lot of effort to "get It", and even so I dont think It worth It. It was a great idea, but the result is dissapointing to say the least. The music should talk for itself, instead of relying on other media.
    I think the thing I disliked about it was it was supposed to have all these influences but every song just sounded like a foo fighters song. 
    I understand that opinion, i expected the same initially, but i think it boiled down to the lyrics, that is where he pulled inspiration the most I think in the different locations. It was also surprising that the guests were not represented as well in the final product. But i still think its a damn good collection of songs
    I didint really care about the back story tbh, I naturally enjoyed the song on SH and liked the guest artist. I just wished the documentary focused more on the actual song recording more
    Korn's 'The Path of Totality' is actually I wicked mix of electronic elements and the original Korn sound. It's also got lots of melodic guitar lines but Metalheads on UG and in general can't handle when a band tries something different it seems. However, trying the Linkin Park approach, where you strip away everything you once were, is not the way to go. And Korn didn't even do that on that record.
    Of all korn's last albuns, Path of totallity is the only one that I listen to once in a while. I dont care for most of the tracks, but some of them are amazing.
    I really don't like Korn outside of a couple of songs. The exception to this is that album, I really love it. The songs were interesting and kind of unique for me. I like the fusion between the metal aspects and the electro element. I find the two compliment each other nicely on that album. I understand why most Korn fans won't like it though.  I don't really get the hate for Muses's The 2nd Law either, i love it and all the other Muse albums too. I guess me liking dubstep probably has some influence over this though.
    Fuck people complaining about St. Anger´s snare sound.  It was on purpose! What´s wrong with that? The sound fits, it makes it St. Anger.  And remind me...which album´s snare sound is still being discussed after 15 years?
    It's probably best if your snare sound is not being discussed 15 years later. If it is, it's because it sounded like banging on pots and pans. I agree with Lars' Dad. The album was pure shit.
    You must be a big fan of the Holocaust. It's likely that we will be talking about that forever, as well. And it was on purpose. 
    Obviously bands that replace longtime and beloved singers aren't going to be well liked but  sometimes they aren't actually bad and are instead just people angry that they would make an album without Bruce Dickinson/Vince Neil/ David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar.  But to my real point, St. Anger is a good album, not the best but nowhere near as bad as people act like it is. Lulu is leagues worse, other than the drums I actually rather like St. Anger. Take a listen to the rerecorded version with better drums.
    TBH, when I listened to both, I still preferred the original one. Yes, the sounds are kind of crap, but the performances themselves are better on the original one, and I would much rather hear a good performance with bad sounds than a performance that's kind of decent but nothing special with good sounds. I think the idea was interesting, though.
    I agree about Follow Me but not Madness. Madness was pretty unique and that perfectly raw guitar solo in it was great. 
    I think St. Anger could have been a great album if Bob Rock (or someone else) tweaked it in a few areas, such as trimming some of the fat and adding solos.
    I can't say I agree with metal magic being on the list. That album actually had some tunes on it. Also, I actually enjoy St anger in small doses. I can't stand the new Linkin Park, or super collider. They should both be above St anger in my opinion.
    They just didnt have the impact of St.anger. But yeah, Super Collider is way worse than St.anger.
    A bit disappointed my nomination of R.E.M's "Around the Sun" didn't make it (just backchecked with the original thread, and it's technically no. 17) - I mean, it was so bad that the band kept going for another ten years, just so they wouldn't retire on that album. But regardless, it's an interesting list anyhow
    the Astonishing should not be on this list, its not DT's best album, but not their worst either.
    True, it's not the worst, they just massively over-stepped the ambition, and spent more time on the concept than song quality and memorable writing, at least that's what i think,
    Definitely agree with you on the ambition part. There is some good writing on that album but it all suffers from easily their worst production since Dream and Day. Honestly, if the album had great production, it probably wouldn't have been hated on quite as much. I saw them live on the Astonishing tour and in that setting, it was an excellent experience. Mind you, I HATED the album when it first came out, and still, to this day, skip ANY Astonishing song that comes on during my ipod's shuffle.
    interesting i had no complaints about the production.  I figured people didn't like it cause it had too many ballads and not enough crazy progressive instrumental sections.  I saw Astonishing live twice and it was great but not as good as when i saw them play a variety of their songs on the along for the ride tour.  Looking forward to images and words tour.
    I'd dare to say it's easily one of their worst Sure it's not THAT bad, but aside from When Dream and Day Unite, I'd easily call it the least good of their discography
    I liked Sonic Highways, not as much as Wasting Light but I liked it in a different way. It was more progressive than garage rock-like
    Strange.. 2nd law is one of my favorite Muse records! How about guitarplayers get their heads out of their asses and start listening to some pop now and then?
    imo 2nd law is just a bit of a mess compared to their earlier works. There are some absolute killer tracks on there, like Animals, Liquid State or the closing track. but then you have those bigger-than-life anthems like Survival which are cool but a bit silly, and THEN you have Madness and Follow Me which, like the artictle said, sound like EDM remixes of Muse songs instead of the actual songs. I personally think that Drones was much worse, but I can see why people don't like 2nd Law too much.
    I Love that the worst Iron Maiden album is actually pretty decent. Signs of a damn great band. 
    I.m the greatest fan of IM..sorry even to me virtual sounded 1Dimensional and uninspired. There are some good moments(solo or a guitar part ) but really was expecting more from a band who in MY opinion didn.t make a single mistake til that one . I love all their phases.. but this one ..i expected more
    If it wasn't for St Anger there would be no Metallica, yes the snare is garbage and the lyrics are less than intellectual, but it was what they needed, and if any other band had put that out it would remember more positively. But because when you have to compare it to Master of Puppets, it just doesn't do it.
    I used to be a huge Maiden fan, was starting to turn away from them in the late nineties.  Virtual XI did it for me, I still like the old stuff but haven't enjoyed anything since then as much.
    A Matter of Life and Death to me is start to finish one of the greatest modern Metal albums of all time and definitely one of Maiden's better full albums. 
    The thing I hate about that album is that a lot of the songs have their chorus consume 40% of their songs on that album and the chorus being the song title sung over and over again.
    Even though "Scream" was very different from literally everything else in Chris' career, there are a couple of great songs on there. "Ground Zero" and "Two Drink Minimum" are fantastic, and "Part of Me" is pretty good too.
    Chinese Democracy?
    Does't really represent the same era of band that released the classics, in other words i don't think you can blame Guns n Roses for a album that is essentially a Axl album,
    And Its not even a bad album when you are not expecting to listen to GnR.
    Yeah, and 'Better', 'Madagascar' and the title track are absolutely brilliant, essential GNR songs.
    I like the new SS too. I prefer Eddies vocals over Mitch's and I love the atmosphere and the lyrics.  
    I for one am tired of the band bashing. Don't like it, don't listen to it. Tell us your opinions and we can debate them.  However, it's been many years since these albums have been released. Are we seriously still complaining about past records when new stuff, much of which we approve, has been released? I'd hate to be any of these bands and constantly get told my effort sucked. Okay, it sucked in 1999, it's 2017. Why are we still debating old albums?
    It's just a fun question to get some discussion going on, don't take it too much at heart
    I'm sorry, but "Smell the Glove" by Spinal Tap beats all these. It's the album that was given the review of "shit sandwich." Which none of these have.
    I will say The Ashtonishing was hard to get through. Every song seemed to blur into the next. The really should have been more picky with what made it to the album and cut it down to one CD. I was excited to go see them on that tour because I had never had the chance to see DT live. When o found out they planned on playing this entire album at every show... I passed. I still want to see them but not if 2 out of 3 hours were dedicated to that album.
    Ride - "Tarantula" their swan song, and desperate attempt to fit into britpop movement
    I have to keep telling myself that this is the internet and that I can still have my own opinions on these things.  I actually liked a handful of the albums from this list but that's just me.  
    Exactly none of these bands is "otherwise great". They've all had other duds than the above releases.
    Judas Priest - Demolition
    Why not Jugulator? Demolition at least has some kind of that "classic" Judas Priest feeling.
    Second Rate
    Because for the most part Jugulator is a good record. Demolition is directionless pablum. 
    Man, I really love Humanz. It's their first album I could listen to all the way through the first time. Now, I love Plastic Beach and Demon Days, but it took me a minute. I think they took where pop music is at right now, and made the best possible version of what's big on the top 40. I definitely think it tops their debut album and Plastic Beach as a whole. Rock the House, Tomorrow Comes Today, Melancholy Hill, and Empire Ants are the only songs on those albums I think are better than, or as good as, something on Humanz.
    Sonic Highways is basically unlistenable to me. It has this awesome concept, but winds up like a high school band rushing to get demos in before battle of the bands.
    St. Anger was cool at first, it hasn't aged well at all -its' brutal after a while - no "shuffle" or "Swing" vibes at all - like listenting to a factory without the Black Sabbath story.  Brutal.  
    Oh fuck off, Hail to The King was fine and The Astonishing is a masterpiece if you're into that sort of thing.