Friday Top: 25 Bands That Never Outdid Their Debut Albums

As voted by UG community...

Ultimate Guitar

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the lovely people of UG community discussing the matter of bands and artists that never managed to outdo their first albums in terms of quality and success.

We received quite a lot of votes and suggestions with close to 900 comments, all of which were summed up into a nice little Top 25 rundown.

Before kicking things off, this week's honorable mentions are these boys right here:

  • Korn
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • A Perfect Circle
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Machine Head
With that stuff out of the way, the list awaits below.

25. Drowning Pool

Debut album: "Sinner" Year: 2001

YouTube preview picture

24. Danzig

Debut album: "Danzig" Year: 1988

YouTube preview picture

23. Candlebox

Debut album: "Candlebox" Year: 1993

YouTube preview picture

22. Mudvayne

Debut album: "L.D. 50" Year: 2000

YouTube preview picture

21. Keane

Debut album: "Hopes and Fears" Year: 2004

YouTube preview picture

20. Weezer

Debut album: "Weezer (The Blue Album)" Year: 1994

YouTube preview picture

19. King Crimson

Debut album: "In the Court of the Crimson King" Year: 1969

18. N.W.A

Debut album: "Straight Outta Compton" Year: 1988

YouTube preview picture

17. Ozzy Osbourne

Debut album: "Blizzard of Ozz" Year: 1980

YouTube preview picture

16. Maroon 5

Debut album: "Songs About Jane" Year: 2002

YouTube preview picture

15. The Strokes

Debut album: "Is This It" Year: 2001

YouTube preview picture

14. Rob Zombie

Debut album: "Hellbilly Deluxe" Year: 1998

YouTube preview picture

13. Bloc Party

Debut album: "Silent Alarm" Year: 2005

YouTube preview picture

12. Black Tide

Debut album: "Light From Above" Year: 2008

YouTube preview picture

11. Bullet for My Valentine

Debut album: "The Poison" Year: 2005

YouTube preview picture

10. The Darkness

Debut album: "Permission to Land" Year: 2003

YouTube preview picture

9. Audioslave

Debut album: "Audioslave" Year: 2002

YouTube preview picture

8. Van Halen

Debut album: "Van Halen" Year: 1978

YouTube preview picture

7. Wolfmother

Debut album: "Wolfmother" Year: 2005

YouTube preview picture

6. Linkin Park

Debut album: "Hybrid Theory" Year: 2000

YouTube preview picture

5. Boston

Debut album: "Boston" Year: 1976

YouTube preview picture

4. Pearl Jam

Debut album: "Ten" Year: 1991

YouTube preview picture

3. Spice Girls

Debut album: "Spice" Year: 1996

YouTube preview picture

2. Rage Against the Machine

Debut album: "Rage Against the Machine" Year: 1992

YouTube preview picture

1. Guns N' Roses

Debut album: "Appetite for Destruction" Year: 1987

YouTube preview picture

242 comments sorted by best / new / date

    lol'ed to Spice Girls
    I bet that's the reason there's no commentary about each album... They had no idea what to say about the Spice Girls.
    And again - here's the rest of the list - don't forget that it's just people's opinions: Exodus The Killers Living Colour Silverchair Down Counting Crows Bush Coldplay Norma Jean Wintersun Franz Ferdinand Seether Lynyrd Skynyrd Mayhem Toadies Diamond Head The Stone Roses Gravity Kills Annihilator The Used Limp Bizkit Dr. Dre Dio Sunny Day Real Estate Six Feet Under Stray Cats Flyleaf Tenacious D Dismember Velvet Revolver ISIS Morbid Angel The Cars Taking Back Sunday Angel Witch Suicide Silence The Mars Volta Story of the Year Rick Astley Hootie and the Blowfish Ensiferum Soulfly Snoop Dogg Meat Loaf Candlemass Eagles Of Death Metal Jet Interpol Chris Cornell Yeah Yeah Yeahs The Presidents of the United States of America Adema Ill Niño Kings of Leon Life of Agony The Libertines America Tantric The Dillinger Escape Plan Finch Days of the New Testament The Answer Sixx:A.M. 3 Doors Down Airbourne Creed The Velvet Underground Fuel Television Five Finger Death Punch Blind Melon Metal Church The Sword Cage the Elephant FireHouse Slaughter The Fratellis Static-X Svartsot Avantasia Steel Panther Editors Lost Society The Hoosiers MGMT
    Bush? No way! Razorblade Suitcase is way better than Sixteen Stone just like Silverchair's Freak Show is better than Frogstomp.
    I actually find Razorblade Suitcase to be their weakest album. That album has a surprising lack of drums on it. Maybe I should give it another listen though, because I haven't listened to it from beginning to end in a few years. The Science of Things is my personal favorite album of theirs.
    Yes, love The Science of Things. But I love every Bush album. Btw, my favorite song on Razorblade Suitcase is 'Cold Contagious'. Had to listen to it a few times, but damn! What a song! Oh, and I'm going to upload a cover of 'Out of this World'(Golden State) tomorrow on my youtube channel. If you like it I can send it to you.
    Stone Temple Pilots progressively turned MTV-friendly, teen pop, glam pansies. Props to Scott Weiland's 12 Bar Blues as most people forget about that one.
    I love Living Colour, and I definitely agree that Vivd was their best album. And Candlemass? Nightfall was a lot better than EDM.
    Finch REALLY doesn#t belong there. Sorry purists, but Say Hello to Sunshine was better in just about every way.
    How about Cynic? In some sense no one outdid their debut album.
    It took SEVEN(!)writers to come up with the legendary zigazig-ha line,in the song Wannabe.
    Pretty sure seven people didn't sit in a room together trying to come up with "zigazig-ah".
    Fuck I wish I would have voted, mgmt should be on na na nobody's fault but mine
    The real question is: how did they not discard it as a "joke vote" or make it #0 like they usually do...
    Totally agree about Maroon 5. There was some fantastic songwritnig on that debut. Plus they sounded more like a 'band' not just 'The Adam Levine Experience'
    This is what I keep telling people who listen to their new stuff. Although I was never a fan, it always had that cool band vibe, but now its basically just "Levin and his Sampler"
    i like the first album i'm not ashamed haha it has a stevie wonder vibe and i listen to the other albums and they suck
    I love Maroon 5's live shows... They are pretty good with a solid band playing, there new material is ultra pop but their shows are very good, I mean they sound like a rock band, pop rock but rock after all hehe.
    King Crimson really? Discipline is just as good if not better then In The Court of The Crimson Kng!
    Arfing Thumb
    King Crimson is a REALLY subjective choice. Nearly all their albums are different to each other
    paulstfu · Oct 07, 2016 03:35 PM
    Bedside Shred
    Agreed Red is probably their best album though I'm really fond of Larks Tongue in Aspic and Islands, too. Even Lizard gives the debut a run for its money
    King Crimson should not be be in this poll result. The 1st album was iconic (arguably the 1st prog album of all time) but Starless and Bible Black, Red, Discipline & Thrak are equally as groundbreaking in different ways. The 1st King Crimson album was truly amazing but just a springboard for Fripp & company to continue breaking down new musical barriers and create new music.
    No way was it the first prog album. Before 1969 soft machine already had done two albums IIRC, and pink floyd had done 2 aswell
    I agree though I consider Sgt Peppers the 1st prog album.
    What about pet sounds or freak out? Those two came earlier and I'd consider them prog
    I know Pet Sounds inspired McCartney's writing for Pepper and Freak Out came first but honestly they never did much for me. I can see how they could be considered the first prog though
    hell, even The Power to Believe is great and groundbreaking in its own way. Level Five is a masterpiece!
    I have no clue who the hell thought King Crimson was eligible for this list. The only way you'd be able to say KC didn't outdo their debut album would be because they instead focused on reinventing themselves in each iteration instead of doing a certain "mode" in a better way.
    Doesn't really make much sense considering how Crimson has operated throughout its life, not to mention the sheer brilliance of the material they've created spanning multiple decades... Personally LTIA is pretty much my all time favorite album, so yeah, their inclusion here doesn't quite make sense to me.
    Them Crooked Vultures never surpassed their debut album. *stares at Grohl, Homme, and JPJ and coughs pointedly*
    Maybe next week there can be a poll about bands whose debut album is their worst. A poll about the biggest sophomore slump would also be a neat idea. Also, I was a little disappointed at the lack of commentary for each entry. I always read those.
    Too many bands had rather poor early albums before picking it up and having a breakthrough album. Good idea, but itd be hard to narrow down. Nirvana, Avenged Sevenfold, Skillet, and honestly even Metallica come to mind. Note: I personally like every Metallica album, however based on popularity and commercial success you kinda have to admit their first was their worst.
    A lot of Nirvana fans like Bleach and some think Nevermind is their worst. Very few Metallica fans think KEA is their worst too with Load, Reload, and St. Anger out there. I think for a lot of bands, their debut album resonates with a lot of people. Plus bands often run out of steam at some point in their career. The number of bands with weak debut albums really isn't any larger than the number of bands with great debuts
    I think it was Gene Simmons that said (and I'm not 100% on who said it) "You have your whole life to write your 1st album, and 6 months to write your 2nd"
    Google says it was Aaron Mullan. Amazing quote though, thank you for sharing!
    Perhaps Gene "borrowed" the quote haha. I'm certain I've heard him say it in an interview before.
    Robertus Prime
    Van Halen, really? I'm pretty sure their debut album gets BTFO by 1984.
    I nominated Van Halen. Van Halen 1 is waaayyyy better than 1984. 1984 is a great record, great hits and album cuts like Drop Dead Legs, but VH1 has On Fire, Ice Cream Man, and Atomic Punk man come on.
    We could start a whole thread talking about VH, I effin love the Fair Warning album, and even the covers-laden Diver Down. That being said, the first album has a firey intensity that hasn't been matched on any subsequent albums. Michael Anthony deserves more cred for keeping up and laying down my favorite backing vocals
    When I started listening to them I thought they had a choir or something for the harmonizing at first. Michael Anthony is hands down the best backing vocalists of all time.
    yeah, I mean outside of Queen, no one is that distinctive in backing vocals. It truly is a great fit for the band
    Then let's talk Van Halen, bro. Thank you for giving Michael Anthony some credit. Anyone could have laid down most of those bass parts for the first Van Halen record, but it's the attitude behind them, the tone of the bass, and of course the backing vocals that makes Michael Anthony the straw that stirs the drink on those early records. Alex Van Halen was also instrumental. His Bonham-esq tone and feel made him my first favorite drummer, in large part to the first record.
    It would be great to hear VH 1 with the production quality of Balance. It might be great but it might not!?
    Sorry for the late reply, I was at work and did't think to check this until just now. Alex is a great drummer in his own right, he's very bombastic but not in the sense he slams on everything but the energy he puts into his work. I give MA special credit not only because he deserves it, but because his backing vocals is what got me into the band. My parents used to play the first 2 VH albums in the car a lot when I was a little kid. I didn't care for the music so much but I did find a great liking to the background vocals, especially on tracks "Runnin' with the Devil", "Dance the Night Away" and "Jamie's Cryin'". Ten years ago I found VH II cd just lying in the garage and I played it when I went to bed. I fell in love with Van Halen's music right away and the rest is history. MA's vocals were such a perfect match with Roth's vocals, I wish there was more than what already exists. Thanks for talking some VH with me, and btw, I sometimes re-read your American Psycho themed comment on that Tool album you once posted. It was fucking hilarious!
    ImmortanJoe, much love. You would not have the opportunity to read my American Tool comment had I not gotten into Van Halen 8 long years ago, my first favorite rock band. I was watching the "Top Ten Van Halen videos" on then VH1 Classic hosted by the one and only Mark Goodman. Yeah, I was watching and listening to Eddie and Dave, but Alex really caught my attention. He demanded the viewer's attention by being so deep into the pocket but nonetheless being a rock n roll showman. I went downstairs to my dad's drum set that night and tried to re-create some of those Van Halen parts. I failed miserably, but that drum set is now mine and I take it to gigs almost every week. So I always see it as a special treat to talk about them. There's really nothing I would change about the first 6 Van Halen albums. Peace, love, and Who's High Pitch?!
    Totally agree! Definitely their best! Completely demonstrates there full range of sounds!
    VH always gets the plaudits because it was a bombshell that came out of nowhere and sounded like nothing else on the planet, but in terms of songwriting and actual music, there's no contest-1984 is a better and more consistent album.
    VHII kicked ass, so did 5150. One could make an argument on that one.
    I really liked OU812, may be my favorite of the Hagar era, but you can barely hear any of the bass guitar on that whole album. It's a real shame
    Calling BS on the Weezer. Pinkerton was by far the best album!
    Yea man...I love the Blue album and love is an understatement but man, Pinkerton is a better album.
    Admiral Petty
    Disagree, their debut was pop rock perfection. The kind of thing that Rivers Cuomo has been trying to replicate without success for most of his career since then.
    Totally disagree with Guns N'Roses. AFD has a lot of solid songs, but as an album UYI is just pretty insane.
    AFD and UYI are both excellent albums. AFD is a legendary album, it made history, it broke all rules and I think nobody can argue with that. But as a result, the Illusion albums may be a little bit obscured by the legendary status of AFD. It doesn't mean that the Illusion stuff is not as good, the issue here is that history was already written by the very same band.
    Fully agree
    With me or the article x) ?
    With you
    Awesome ! I feel a bit less alone :p
    I'm sure we are not alone with our opinion, as you said AFD is great, but contains only 4-5 solid ones while the UYI I-II is just a god damn masterpiece as it is. (Except the My World which is just a piece of shit )
    I accidentally upvoted this, but this comment is where you lost me. AFD is great front to back. The weakest songs on there (Think About You, Anything Goes) are still not bad songs. UYI is just more diverse and overall more mature than the gritty hard rock they pretty much exclusively stuck to for the debut.
    Extremely unpopular opinion time. I adore "My World" just imagining Axl in the studio making that gives me a chuckle. Also the fact that none of the other members knew about it before the album came out is classic Axl.
    Haha you're totally right ! Also on my opinion AFD was an awesome ablum, but it was somehow "another hard rock album" from the 80s. Meanwhile UYI was much more creative and also very representative of the final musical style of GNR.
    My world is not a piece of shit, it's a joke. Axl was on mushrooms and recorded it in 4 hours. Then he decided to put it on the album without permission from other band members. "There was one song on that record that I didn't even know was on it until it came out, 'My World' (the closing song on Illusion II, written and sung by Rose)," Stradlin continues. "I gave it a listen and thought, 'What the fuck is this?' "
    Your explanation doesn't change the fact it's a piece of shit. Especially if even Stradlin things that
    Diary of a Madman > Blizzard of Ozz
    Was about to say the same thing! Its ironic that it says: " terms of quality and success", see, Diary as a whole was better than Blizzard in terms of quality, and No More Tears was more commercially successful than both of them.
    Totally agree. Both great albums, Randy and Ozzy were really starting to mesh during Diary. If only we could've gotten just a few more years out of that lineup, I imagine Blizzard would be regarded as an incredible stepping stone.
    Oh come on, Hybrid Theory was great but Meteora was clearly an improvement.
    I just don't understand this. So many people love Meteora, and I grew up with it, but I feel like it's their weakest album, and definitely the only album where they ever played it safe. Every other release shows growth and experimentation. But Meteora is literally Hybrid Theory II. I guess if your motto is "If it ain't broke..." it makes sense, but I loved the new things they brought to THP and A Thousand Suns. Heck, even some tracks on Living Things (Lies Greed Misery, Victimized, Lost in the Echo) blow Meteora out of the water. Also Meteora has the whiniest lyrics. Just sayin'.
    Can't believe they didn't put the CARS on there...
    Not really a Cars fan, but a lot of Cars fans I know rate Candy O right along with the debut.
    That would have been a great addition. I don't think it was even mentioned Wednesday.
    Next Wed question. Which guitarist used the whammy bar the best?
    Guns N' Roses? Appetite was a huge hit and is an all-time classic, but the Use Your Illusion albums are brilliant! I think Black Stone Cherry deserve to be on this list more than most bands here, personally.
    Solid list, agree with most of the nominations for once. Although no love for Puddle Of Mudd??
    Ten is absolutely one of the best debut albums of all time, but Vitalogy or No Code are as good as, if not better albums in some ways.
    In most ways. Hell, I'd throw Vs and Yield into the mix as well. Ten is a great, great album, but Pearl Jam really pushed into new and exciting territory on albums 2-5. Ten's sound, style, and structure doesn't change much. I think a lot of the people who think Ten is PJ's best album aren't big fans of the band as much as they're fans of a certain era of music that PJ quickly left behind.
    The later stuff was far more thoughtful. The only reason they don't get credit for the later albums is that they didn't promote them with music videos.
    Ten isn't even top 3. No Code & Yield is where they really came into their own I'd say.
    I honestly believe Meteora was better than Hybrid Theory. Linkin Park took their sound and perfected it with Meteora. Minutes To Midnight was a fantastic album as well but I will agree that While A Thousand Suns was good in parts their last few albums have been very bad. That coming from someone who could probably be in the running for their biggest fan too. Linkin Park saved my life, introduced me to music and pulled me out of a lot of dark times.
    Robertus Prime
    Was talking to my friend about this last night, Meteora is definitely superior to Hybrid Theory.
    The first album was the exact same as every other album they made.
    I kind of get the feeling you haven’t listened to any Linkin Park outside of their singles. Hybrid theory and Meteora sound similar, but if you put Meteora next to The Hunting Party… it’s VERY different. Listen to the albums before you make snap comments buddy.
    You are either deaf or you only know them from Transformers. As the matter of fact, they often get accused of "selling out" and changing their direction and sound a lot. Just compare Meteora to Minutes to Midnight to A Thousand Suns, three consecutive albums but sound drastically different from each other.
    Overall a decent list, though I strongly disagree with RATM being on there as their later albums were on par or better with their debut imo.
    I tend to disagree with that, I thought their debut album was outstanding and their later stuff doesn't really get me going, except maybe Evil Empire
    Audioslave is here? Really?
    Agree. Their other albums are all superb!! Liken this to the pearl jam vote. 1st album, lots of hits, other albums, not as many hits so won't bother listening to them properly!
    I think it's only here because the rest of their catalog didn't have as many radio hits. The first Audioslave album is brilliant... but Out of Exile was flawless and easily better than the self titled. Revelations was my least favorite of the three, but it wasn't bad by any stretch.
    to me, Oasis. Morning Glory was the biggie - sold millions all around the world, Wonderwall, Don't Look Back in Anger... but Definitely Maybe is still head and shoulders above it. Also, The Stone Roses.
    Artic Monkeys an an honorable mention...hmmmm. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not; is an fantastic debut, but I feel that AM is their best album since (their debut) and is a stronger album.
    They completely reinvented themselves on AM. I'd even say every album since Whatever People Say... has been a giant leap away from that post-punk/garage rock sound for the better, well maybe besides FWN. I loved their move to the darker desert-vibed rock on Humbug (hence username) and even the shimmery laid-back SIAS. And yes, AM totally became a bigger success and outshines their debut even though it was 4 albums later. I really dig how they weren't afraid to change things up immediately after their huge success with the first album.
    Awesome to see Maroon 5 on this list. Song about Jane is such a good album! It was a breath of fresh air when it came out with it's mix of rock, rn'b and pop
    have to disagree with bloc party and mudvayne, think black stone cherry could've replaced either of them
    No, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is as good as their BSC, and Folklore and Superstition has really grown on me.
    I think Mudvayne's 2nd record, 'The End of All Things to Come' is actually far superior than 'LD50'. The songwriting improved vastly on the said sophomore album. It was less chaotic and had more melody. But again, that's just me!
    Not sure I can agree with Weezer on here. Every time I listen to Blue, its my favorite album, and every time I listen to Pinkerton, its my favorite album. I can't and won't decide which is the best of the two.
    Honourable mentions to Machine Head and Arctic Monkeys? MH topped theirs comfortably with The Blackening and AM by Arctics is generally held in the same regard as their debut. What absolute shitfuck nominated those?
    No one nominated Life of Agony-River Runs Red?
    Well, Ugly is as strong as River Runs Red IMO, the songwriting is more polished, kinda came at they own as band in that album. Really underrated band
    I'm surprised that Stone Temple Pilots didn't make this list. Core was such a great album
    As many people that like Core the most, you'll probably find just as many that like Purple more.
    Admiral Petty
    Glad to see Weezer made the list. Their first album is superb stuff. Perfect pop rock tunes. They've been a pretty solid singles band in the years since, but none of their other albums have ever come close to touching their debut.
    Gonna be that guy and say that I really, REALLY don't understand why people love jerking off Sinner and Dave Williams in particular. Yes, it's a shame Dave Williams died barely after hitting 30, we can all agree on that. But I can't STAND Sinner, mostly because Wiliams never seems to care about writing an actual chorus. Bodies, All Over Me, Reminded, Mute, Pity, I Am, Told You So, Sermon, they all have choruses that consist of one or two phrases with the most barebones of variation. I mean, I know nu metal isn't exactly known for its stellar songwriters but Sinners is just lazy.
    Lizard, Islands and Larks Tongues in Aspic was much better than In The Court... (anyway almost every KC album is great)
    The Stone Roses is another one. Their first album was phenomenal and inspired an entire movement in the British music scene. Second Coming was good, but it just didn't do nearly the same as the first album, and neither has the two recent singles they've released this year.
    Disagree with a few here. I think Korn had better albums with Issues and Untouchables. Pinkerton is better than the Blue Album for Weezer. Also, I think Hands All Over by Maroon 5 is their best album. Just my opinion, though.
    Untouchables better?! You're out of your mind.
    Maybe I am, but I think it's much better. More mature sound, while still keeping that raw energy, explosive, catchy choruses, and just more memorable songwriting overall.
    not a big Pearl Jam fan, but I do think that their 3rd and 4th albums are much better than their first. I never liked Ten. Sucked balls in my opinion...
    Binaural is a good album - it's the one that got me into PJ in the first place. I sold my PJ albums after the dick move they pulled in North Carolina, however. I may have to reacquire them.
    So much nope about this list ala Ozzy, Van Halen, Rage... But srsly what the hell happened to Black Tide? Shockwave was awesome.
    While I don't personally agree, I'm surprised Metallica's Kill 'Em All is not here.
    You would be the first person I ever met who values kill em all over RTL, MoP and AJFA. For me, For me, AJAF is still sitting on the throne. But that's a pretty personal preference...
    They were in their prime when they came out with that album...I totally Agree though, AJAF is their best album.
    I loved RTL, and I put MoP and AJFA as a tie for their best albums. Both had great songs, MoP had better bass, leads (except maybe Shortest Straw), and vocal tone from James (I wish he still sang like that). AJFA had better drumming, rhythm guitar and lyrics. But all 3 of those albums are miles above Kill 'em All.
    That would be true if that album didn't sound like it was recorded in a box. There was way too much reverb on KEA.
    Not sure How Ozzy ends up here. The rest I can kind of agree with....kind of. Black Tide is a shame though. That first release was sick, lots of great guitar work. Saw them at Ozzfest that year and they slayed it. Then nothing....
    Mudvayne definitely upgraded on their albums - the end of all things to come was a great album. The rest of the albums weren't as good though.
    One I just thought of: Kid Cudi's "Man on the Moon" Such a wonderful album.
    The fuck is wrong with people adding King Crimson, Ozzy in there? Shitty list. Worst one yet!