Top 28 Bands That Failed Due to Major Lineup Changes

As voted by UG community...

Ultimate Guitar

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the esteemed members of the UG community discussing the matter of bands who flopped due to major lineup changes.

The lineup change didn't have to be the sole factor in the act's failure to reach commercial or artistic success, but it certainly needed to be among crucial contributors.

We received plenty of votes and over 450 comments, all of which were neatly summed up into a Top 28 rundown.

Before kicking things off, honorable mentions include Queen after Freddie Mercury, Stone Temple Pilots without Scott Weiland, Sublime With Rome, White Lion, Def Leppard, R.E.M. after Bill Berry, Bloc Party without Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong, Queensrÿche after Chris DeGarmo, Journey after Steve Perry, Suicide Silence after Mitch Lurker, Helloween without Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske, and INXS after Michael Hutchence's death.

With that sorted out, the full list awaits below.

28. Korn

In 2005, Brian "Head" Welch left Korn, and then drummer David Silveria also left in 2006. The band entered a down phase of weak albums sales and dubstep experimentation, and although two of the Head-less albums actually managed to reach No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, none of them got close to classic Korn.

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27. Lynyrd Skynyrd

The tragic plane crash of 1977 robbed Lynyrd Skynyrd of vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, and while the band had full right to march on, their creative output simply never matched the classic era.

UG user Tha Funkinator noted: "After the plane crash and death of Ronnie Van Zant, they went from a band of Southern boys who drew part of their sound from country but had enough of a outsider wit that would never fit the 'God Guns and 'Merica' mold... to a by-the-numbers bar band that unironically released an album called 'God & Guns.'"

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26. Mötley Crüe

Between 1992 and 1997, vocalist Vince Neil left Motley Crue and the band ventured forth with John Corabi. The gang released their self-titled album in 1994 with Corabi on vocals, scoring merely a gold sales certificate, which is a great flop as a follow-up to 6x-platinum "Dr. Feelgood."

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25. Judas Priest

Between 1996 and 2003, Judas Priest were fronted by Tim "Ripper" Owens, releasing two studio albums to lukewarm reception from fans.

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24. Genesis

While the Phil Collins-fronted Genesis alienated a fair share of prog fans, it did bring the band great success. However, when Phil left in 1996, the band ventured forth and released "Calling All Stations" in 1997, receiving disastrous reviews and resulting with the band calling it quits soon afterwards. Although Genesis are back on track with Mr. Collins since 2006, "Calling All Stations" is still their final album to date.

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23. Black Sabbath

When Ronnie James Dio left Black Sabbath in 1982, the band recruited Ian Gillan from Deep Purple. He didn't fit well and left within two years, releasing "Born Again" with the gang in 1983. Following Gillan's departure, the band hired Tony Martin and entered another commercially unsuccessful stage.

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22. Rainbow

Once again, it's the departure of Ronnie James Dio that led to the flop, but now we're talking about Rainbow. Dio was in the band until 1979, and then significantly dropped in terms of quality in the eyes of UG community. Some of the post-Dio Rainbow singles include "I Surrender," "Since You've Been Gone," and "Street of Dreams."

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21. Boston

Up next is Boston without their late vocalist Brad Delp. Ozzmosis noted: "The 'Walk On' album was alright, considering that Brad Delp wasn't with the band. However, their sound and style completely changed with the last 2 albums. It's more than a feeling... of disappointment."

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20. Metallica

Metallica makes the list with their "St. Anger" era, or the departure of Jason Newsted from the band. To this day, the album remains perhaps the single most bashed 'Tallica effort.

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19. Deep Purple

With the departure of Ritchie Blackmore in 1975, Deep Purple ventured forth with Tommy Bolin on guitar and released "Come Taste the Band" the same year, receiving mixed reviews and weaker sales. Bolin died of overdose in 1976 at the age of 25, marking the end of Purple until 1984.

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18. Slayer

Slayer without Jeff Henneman gets a no-go in the eyes of UG community, bringing the band to No. 18.

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17. Limp Bizkit

With the departure of Wes Borland in 2001, Limp Bizkit marched on with Mike Smith on guitar to follow-up the massively-successful "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water" album with not-so-successful "Results May Vary" in 2003.

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16. Misfits

Michale Graves left in 2000 and Jerry Only took over the vocals, securing Misfits a spot on the list.

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15. Paramore

The departure of Farro brothers in 2010 brings Paramore to No. 15. Boreamor noted: "They went to clinical pop rock, that was more pop than anything. It just lost so much power and reality."

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14. KISS

As Bedside Shred pointed out, "After Ace, it wasn't worth it." Also worth pointing out, however, is that Ace leaving the band hardly stopped the commercial success of the band.

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13. Avenged Sevenfold

When The Rev died, Avenged Sevenfold marched on, but failed to reach the status of their classics with "Hail to the King."

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12. Drowning Pool

Original Drowning Pool vocalist Dave Williams passed away after the release of the band's first album, and the group never managed to match its success.

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11. Wolfmother

In the words of schecterhellraz, "They were great before it just became Andrew Stockdale." Jebordini added: "First album, as a power trio was great and they were set to be a hell of a band. Then bassist/keyboard player [Chris Ross] and drummer [Myles Heskett] left and Stockdale kept changing line ups and releasing just okay albums."

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10. Three Days Grace

After longtime frontman and Three Days Grace founder Adam Gontier in 2013, the band opted to take on the difficult task of venturing forth, and failed to meet the expectations with 2015's "Human."

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9. Skid Row

Skid Row never recovered from Sebastian Bach's departure, and to this day many fans pretty much don't even recognize any of the band's eras apart from the Bach stuff.

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8. The Doors

After Jim Morrison died, The Doors tried to venture forth, releasing three studio albums in total. After the first two - 1971's "Other Voices" and 1972's "Full Circle" - severely flopped, the gang officially called it quits. They got back together in 1978 to release "An American Prayer" as their final studio effort and that was it.

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7. Iron Maiden

When Bruce Dickinson left in 1993, Blaze Bayley had some pretty big shoes to fit, and while a solid portion of the fans remembers that the band did release some quality tunes on the Blaze-era albums - "Virtual XI" and "The X Factor" - the whole phase was still very much a flop.

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6. Smashing Pumpkins

Following the departure of James Iha and D'arcy Wretzky, Billy Corgan simply couldn't reach the glory days of The Smashing Pumpkins once again.

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5. Sepultura

When Max Cavalera left, classic Sepultura ended, and the new lineup never got even close to the band's glory days.

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4. Van Halen

Most people only recognize David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar as Van Halen vocalists, but there was also a guy named Gary Cherone fronting the band between 1996 and 1999. The lineup released an album called "Van Halen III" in 1998, and it was greatly unsuccessful.

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3. Dream Theater

The bronze medal goes to Mike Portnoy leaving Dream Theater. A few words from the UG panel on the whole matter:

Undeadson: "Portnoy was the soul of DT and the three albums after him are so bland and clinical."

nicholas72611: "'The Astonishing' is honestly on of the most bland, insipid albums I have ever heard in my life. I made half an hour into that piece of shit until I almost fell asleep. Compare 'Systematic Chaos' to self-titled. It's obvious which is better. DT died after Portnoy left."

travislausch: "As much as I respect Mangini's skills and how well of a personality fit he is for the band, his drumming has left me cold every time. He's such a precise hitter that I can't shake the feeling that I'm listening to a drum machine. Portnoy was a little looser, and his drumming was far more colorful and interesting."

schecterhellraz: "Though it's hard to deny their shift in style after Portnoy left, saying that their recent albums have been failures is simply just wrong. 'ADTOE' was at #8 on the billboard 200 and #1 in a bunch of countries, and they received their first ever Grammy nomination, even though the Grammy's are a joke.. Self-titled made it to #7 on the top 200, marking their 3rd consecutive appearance on the top 10.

"'Astonishing' made it to #11 on the top 200 and #1 on the Billboard rock chart for the first time in band history. Not to mention sold out world tours for all of these albums... If you call this failing, then sign me up!"

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2. Red Hot Chili Peppers

After John Frusciante left in 2009, the Red Hot Chili Pepers ventured on, but many agree that it's simply not the same, securing the boys a silver medal for this week.

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1. Guns N' Roses

At the throne of UG this week, you folks crowned Guns N' Roses as the No. 1 band that failed due to major lineup changes. The major lineup change would of course be the departure of Izzy Stradlin, and then Slash and Duff McKagan.

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130 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think we all forgot to nominate The Who. No Moon, no Entwistle... that ain't The Who.
    It's pretty hard to keep up the same quality of work when you lose the greatest rhythm section of all time.
    Tha Funkinator
    Oh crap, you're right. I thought about mentioning them, though I thought Face Dances wasn't too bad, and I'm not sure even Moon would have saved It's Hard, but they weren't the same band at all without his frenetic tom-heavy drumming. Have they released any post-Entwistle material? If they have, I haven't heard it so I can't judge if it's even less Who than ever.
    That's why i love Rammstein
    More than 20 years without any lineup change, that's some serious understanding and patience between members.
    The same is with Radiohead - they're are all together since 1985 - more than 30 (!) years without the lineup changes!..
    ZZ Top has been around for ~45 years with the same trio.
    Yes! But technically they have 3 former members who played with them before And Radiohead's and Rammstein's lineups haven't changed since the bands' formation dates.
    Depends. I vaguely remember one interview, where Lindeman (?) said recording an album with Rammstein basically means war. Everyone wants to push his own ideas through. Sure, it takes a lot to stay together so long, but I guess they also had their hard times and fights to fight.
    Don't agree with Sepultura being here. Sure, financially worse but every Seps album after 'Nation' shits on Soulfly, and are generally more varied, original and creative stuff! Very under rated band still!
    I actually like Sepultura better now with Derrick on vocals. They've released a bunch of underrated material
    Not a bad list and I'm gonna probably get bashed for this... but I don't think that Slayer should be on this list for 2 reasons: A) Slayer's decline in quality started long before Hanneman passed away and it also didn't have to do with any of Lombardo's departures. After Divine Intervention lazy songwriting (mostly by Kerry King) turned them from a great band to a hit-or-miss band for the next 20 years. B) As much as I love Jeff Hanneman and classic Slayer, let's be honest: Gary Holt is actually a better guitar player. Jeff's songwriting is obviously missed but it's been missed since the late 90's. If Slayer makes another record and allows Holt to write he'll be able to prove himself more.
    I still think world painted blood somehow stands out from the rest of their late work and it would've been interesting to hear new Hannemann riffs, but I agree with you.
    I personally think 'God Hates Us All' is a great album. Maybe a couple of below par tracks maybe, but some heavy hitting classics too!
    Good list, and I somehow managed to make it on the article not one.. but two times!?!?! Finally restoring my family's good name.
    Tha Funkinator
    And it was my first time getting mentioned in a post-Wednesday Question list. Hooray for quotability!
    I honestly doubt Jason leaving is the reason St. Anger turned out the way it did. They wanted to try something different (like Metallica always does, albeit with mixed results).
    Guess we all saw GnR coming as number 1
    I really like Chinese Democracy though
    It's a great album. But definitely shouldn't have been released as a Guns n' Roses one It woulds have had a much better reception under AXL o WAR
    It's just a shame it was a "Guns n Roses" official release instead of "W.A.R." or similar. If you dropped "Shackler's Revenge" and "Scraped" it would be a well produced, great album!
    Shackler's revenge is a killer song, very aggressive and in the vein of perfect crime. But this beast is truly unleashed when they play it live with Axl in top form. I'd really like to hear Slash's take on this one.
    Weirdly enough, after Chinese Democracy, IRS, and Prostitute. I like both of the songs. by far IMO and in my mind it's even like equal with Appetite and Illusions.
    I actually think Chinese Democracy is better than the Use Your Illusion albums, in terms of songwriting and technical playing. UYI had maybe 8 good songs out of 30, CD has a higher ratio than that.
    I disagree, you have to dig through Illusions album to understand it. It took a while to listen to Illusions but it have to take time to love 'em all, That's why a lot of Guns and rock lovers says that Illusions I & II is magnum opus.
    Dream Theater's self-titled album is the best one they're written in over a decade. To say DT died when Mike Portnoy left is just flat-out wrong imo. They're hardly dead when DT is experiencing more popularity now than they ever have done in their entire career.
    What most people don't know is that Petrucci and Rudess have been the main composers behind this band ever since Rudess joined in the late 1990's. In fact, I have read in an interview that one of the primary reasons why Rudess joined was that Petrucci needed a partner to share the creativity burden. Also, Portnoy wrote the lyrics to many songs, but he did not write the songs themselves. Concordantly, while his departure was sad in some ways, it did not affect the band's creativity balance.
    I really like DT's self-titles album, but it would've been better if The Astonishing had never been released. They should've used that creative energy in something a little less embarrassing. However, people claiming Portnoy was the only worthwhile musician or composer for DT... Nah. Portnoy came up with some of the cheesiest and most laughable lyrics of all of DT's career. And his streak continues - he fought to keep Empire on The Winery Dogs's Hot Streak when lyrically it's not as great as the rest of the album (but it's a delight musically speaking).
    I agree with the second part of your comment. Musically speaking, The Astonishing is fantastic, imo.
    I wonder how the new Chili Pepper album would change people's perception. Yeah it's different but I think it's pretty spot on for being a really solid album.
    I'm not a huge rhcp fan myself, but I really have to dig the single of the new album "dark necessities". Beautiful song, excellent musicianship
    So far I've like I'm With You more than Dark Necessities. I will say that Josh Klingoffer is fucking awesome on Dark Necessities. Probably the best piece of the band on those songs.
    Well, one thing's fore sure - RHCP definitely doesn't deserve to be on the lists 2nd place. but besides that, they have simply changed, I don't understand how can so many people not understand that. I'm With You was a solid fucking album.
    It's all from people who are hung up on John Frusciante. He has one of the most closed-minded fan bases you could imagine.
    Honestly some of the new stuff is just fantastic.
    yeah this track was one of my fave off the new album,and that bassline that kicks off at 3:33 and what comes after is just awesome! Really didn't mind this album! Better than I'm with you imo
    I do like "I'm with you" and the singles that have already been out for "The Gateaway" album, but they're very different from Frusciante's era. Although, I think it may not be because of who's playing the guitar, I read somewhere (maybe in here) that they also changed their producer, whom encourage them to try new things.
    Yeah, Rick Rubin produced everything from BSSM to I'm With You. His stuff with the Chilis was a mixed bag (Californication had the infamous compression and I get the impression the more creative elements of Stadium Arcadium's production were as much Frusciante's experimental tendencies as Rubin's work - but Rubin deserves a lot of credit for really dynamic, dry sound on BSSM) but Danger Mouse is a whole other deal. Rubin has production credits on well-known albums, Danger Mouse has production credits on albums that are well-known for their production. I can't lie, I miss the more energetic tracks of Frusciante's time with RHCP, but I also appreciate that there were good artistic reasons for the split, that if Frusciante had stayed it probably wouldn't have done any great favours to the band's discography, and that Josh Klinghoffer is possibly the best person on the planet to replace him for many different reasons. I don't expect the Chilis with Klinghoffer to produce massively recognisable tunes in the vein of Can't Stop, Give it Away, or even Aeroplane, but what they are doing is continuing to make fantastic music, and the number two spot on this list is ridiculous for stuff as good as they're putting out right now. I'm also really fucking tired of the eternal criticism of Josh that he's not John. Of course he isn't, and nor should he be. The Chilis are not the kind of band that should stay the same because people like what they've already done.
    Spot on. Although I'm incredibly biased as I prefer all things Frusciante. Pre-Frusciante the Chili's were a College-house-funk band. Enter Frusciante, Mother's Milk, BSSM, Californication, By The Way (personal favourite) & Stadium Arcadium... there's no denying that their best work involved him. Can't and I won't knock on Josh, I really liked his collaborations with JAF on Ataxia and the tracks on Shadows Collide... He's a talented dude!
    Rebel Scum
    Man I've been listening to a lot of I'm with you by RHCP. Its way better than Stadium Arcadium. Police Station is amazing.
    Shouldn't we consider pre-frusciante era too
    I don't think so. Most of the pre-frusciante stuff sounds like a completely different band. Post-frusciante stuff for the most part sounds like a the same shit they've been doing since Californication
    I don't know if Priest failed because of Owens. In fact, I think Owens is the only reason the band didn't die entirely after Halford left. But there can be no replacements.
    B-but i like St.Anger.. its not ...And justice for all, but hey. Also Smashing pumpkins.
    These guys re-recorded the album with proper drum sound. Trimmed some fat from the songs and it sounds so much better. If Metallica weren't aiming for a purposefully "shit" sounding record, I really think it would have done so much better for them.
    Dude, nothing is gonna replace lyrics like FRAN TIC TIC TIC TIC TOC. I could go on, every track has some cringeworthy lyrics
    If st. anger would have sounded like this, it woulld probably have been one of my favorite 'tallica albums. Fooking awesome
    St. Anger was a fairly solid album, to be honest. I personally love 'The Unnamed Feeling" and "Invisible Kid". It's not their best work, but sure as hell isn't their worst.
    Yea I clicked on the link to their St. Anger album and I don't why I jumped on the hate wagon years ago.
    I listened to a version where someone changed the drum sounds and added guitar solos once somewhere on youtube. Made it sound way more like Metallica, and I didn't really hate the album to begin with.
    I liked the Zeitgeist album too!
    Same! I liked it a lot.. it was better than both Machina albums IMO. Besides, the Pumpkins were/always will be Billy Corgan.
    Glad to see the Misfits on the list although Only was a nice guy and good to everyone who came when I saw them it'll be so much better now he's back with Danzig and Doyle.
    Awh man, I thought Rainbow was pretty damn great even post-Dio, really interested in the "reunion" gig in 2 weeks time, quite looking forward to it.
    I think GNR was in a down period after Slash, Izzy and Duff left, but I'm not sure that the decline was because of that. The musicians that came in to replace them are very talented. The problem was in Axl sitting on an album for over a decade. I think that was down to him rather than who was in the band. Shame, really, as if Axl had put more music out there, and quicker, the Nu-GNR might have come across better. Of course, against the originals they'd always be fighting something of a losing battle, but I think it would have made a difference.
    I loved hail to the king. And cosmic egg.
    Yeah, I enjoyed cosmic egg a lot. I remember listening the hell out of it back in 2009/2010. But I can't help but feeling that they failed to capture the magic and chemistry of the first album. Since then they just went from promissing new band to meh band that looks more like a failed solo project
    Calling THE red hot chili peppers a failure because of one transitional album is insane. The new album is sick AF listen to Longest Wave. Anyone who has also seen them live post-john knows they are still the best. number 2??LOL
    Yeah, in what way have they failed? Their still one of the biggest acts in rock. Not liking their new stuff as much as the old doesnt make them a failure
    I like the new slayer. Not as good as the old stuff, but I really liked "You Against You". I think they get too much hate.
    Great point by schecterhellraz on DT 'fail'. Petrucci IS the heart and soul of Dream Theater, Portnoy was the brain. Just look how many songs wrote each one.
    Dream Theater #3 hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Although I'm not sure why I'm surprised, hardly a new thing a fair part of this site's community is retarded.
    How about Evanescense? After pretty much the whole band left it hasn't been on the spotlight ever since.
    Don't understand what Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold are doing on this list. First of all Newsted leaving isn't even major lineup change cause core is the trio James, Lars, Kirk. Second St.Anger is awsome, it isn't failure, just pseudofans fialed to comprehend the awesomenes of that album. A7X...Rev died a while ago... there was Nightmare before Hail to the King which was great and even Hail to the king is great. It surely is not fail...
    Half of these are bands that lost a member due to an unexpected death, especially a main member like a singer or guitarist. I just think this is kinda fucked up to call them a failure after that, especially in 2016 when musicians have been dying one after another. If I nominated Motorhead on this list post-lemmy everyone would shit their pants. Just cause its been awhile since alot of these dudes died doesnt make this any less insensitive
    6th place for Smashing Pumpkins? Zeitgeist wasn't THAT bad... Haven't heard the stuff released after Chamberlin left the 2nd time, though.
    That's the Way(My Love Is). One of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins songs. I agree, Zeitgeist wasn't very bad at all.
    YES! That's the Way (My Love Is) sounded like a classic Pumpkins tune from Gish-Siamese dream era. I also dug United States (especially live) and Doomsday Clock was a great opener for that album. Worth mentioning "Bring the Light" as well. All-in-all, a solid rock album. Especially considering when it came out, people were expecting the album to be a gigantic disaster. Geez, I can't believe it's been almost a decade since it was released!?
    The major change that failed for St. Anger wasn't Newstead's departure, it was that snare!
    Those post Morrison albums by the Doors are actually pretty decent I thinks. Just got'em recently.
    Yeah I enjoyed "Full Circle"... "Get Up & Dance" was a groovin' tune. Obviously it didn't "sound" the same without Morrison's vocals but it was still very much The Doors.
    I have to say, I absolutely love the Martin-era Sabbath (apart from Forbidden). Many of my all-time favorite Sabbath songs come from that era. If you're not listening for Paranoid 2.0, there is a lot to be enjoyed on those records. Similar applies to the Blaze Maiden albums, with the piss-poor production being another issue there.
    I don't think that the post-Dio Rainbow can be considered a flop - just different. Blackmore was always great.
    I have to agree about RHCP. All of their best work had John Frusciante on guitar, and without him, it feels like they're missing a crucial part of their sound. Also, Josh Klinghoffer's solos are terrible. I shouldn't throw stones, I'm sure the guy's better than I am at many things, but every time I hear him trying to solo on any of the new stuff, it just bums me out.
    1st half of what you said = agreed. 2nd half (Josh) = not so much. He's no Frusciante (this is true) but he does an admirable job. Just like Navarro on One Hot Minute. At the time, I wasn't too enthused about that album but I went back & listened to it again about 3-5 years after it came out and now I like it (more-so then Mother's Milk or anything before it)
    Second Rate
    Sepultura with max from 93 to 96 never got anywhere close to Sepultura from 87 to 91. The decline in Sepultura's music started with Chaos A.D. and has only continued. Of course, Max's music (and his guitar playing ability) since leaving Sepultura hasn't fared any better. The only reason people give a pass to Chaos A.D. and Roots is because late Gen Xers and millennials suffer from a crippling case of classic lineup fetishism.
    Uh, I actually very much like some newer Sepultura. And I very much like Roots. So, yeah....
    I'm not a fan of any Paramore record, but after the lineup change they released their most successful album and highest charting song to date. Some people might not like their new sound, but is it fair to say they "failed"?
    Failed to please their hardcore fans and gained (casual) new fans.
    I think it pleased a good amount of their hardcore fans, at least from what I've seen. Sure some didn't like it, but you can't expect to make a major style change in any way without losing fans.
    Why is the list a Top 28 with a dozen "honorable mentions?" Why not just make it a Top 30...? I mean, UG does it every week. Do they hate round numbers?
    I would like to add "awolnation". The first album was awesome, but all the band members changed and the second album is pretty lame(
    Tip o' the day: KISS always sucked, they just sucked a little more after Ace left.
    I can't believe no one mentioned Alice in Chains. I know as well as everyone else that after Layne Stayley died, the band was entirely different. I kept scrolling expecting to see it. I was certain they were going to be number one!
    Funny how THREE bands from this list contain at least one Deep Purple member
    I dont know about you guys, but Drowning pool, Three days Grace and Wolfmother have been quite successful. Sure cosmic egg and Transit of Venus werent the best albums, but the follow up albums are amazing
    I kinda disagree with Three Days Grace. The first album was really good, but everything after that seemed to go downhill. The lyrics have been noticeably bad and corny, and if you look at Adam's new band Saint Asonia, the trend continues. He shoehorns bad rhymes into his lyrics, makes me cringe. I'm not going to say that the new stuff is amazing, but I'd argue that it's better than what they would have produced with Adam.
    Would maybe not be better with Adam, but it would at least still be Three Days Grace lol
    Smashing Pumpkins "Oceania" from 2012 was one of their best, musically. Sadly the vocals are rather dull. Which is sad. It's all proggy 'n shit.
    Motley Crue with John Corabi was personally one of my favorite albums of theirs