Top 10 Worst Albums By Great Bands

Your nominations have been counted, and we can officially reveal the worst releases by the band you would normally die for. Does it get any worse than this?

Ultimate Guitar

We always celebrate the best of music on a Friday, but this time we decided to flip the top 10 format on its head.

On Wednesday we asked you:

What is the worst release by a great band?

We left it open to singles, albums and even merch (we thought the crazy dildo set from Rammstein might make the list, but thankfully not).

The results remind us all how even the best musicians around can make fatal mistakes and release some truly awful music.

Thanks for all your nominations and votes. If you think other readers missed any worthy entrants out, or if you disagree and want to defend one of the acts, let us know in the comments.

10. Green Day "21st Century Breakdown" (2009)

It was always going to be hard for Green Day to top the success of its wildly popular "American Idiot". Critics poked fun at the directionless storyline but most fans just wished it sounded better.

9. Megadeath "Risk" (1999)

Lars Ulrich once said Dave Mustaine should take more risks with his music. The result was Dave taking a risk, and a bunch of fans decided it sucked and that he should play it safe next time. The same could apply to his press strategy.

8. Iron Maiden "Virtual XI" (1998)

The final album to be recorded with singer Blaze Bayley. Allmusic put it best: "On the surface, there's nothing terribly wrong with the record, as it delivers all the crunching riffs and demonic horror of their best records. The problem is that there's nothing memorable about the hooks, riffs, or songs, and there's little visceral energy to the music or production. As a result, it sounds lifeless to all but the most devoted fan."

7. Linkin Park "A Thousand Suns" (2010)

This multi-concept album about nuclear warfare. Some critics loved the album, with one outlet going as far as saying it was the equivalent of Radiohead's "Kid A" (Ha! Not a chance!) but others called it over-indulgent, melodramatic and full of recycled ideas. Classic Linkin Park then! Trololol.

6. Lou Reed "Metal Machine Music" (1975)

Lou Reed deserves praise for his early career. Those Velvet Underground tracks are rad, but this is something completely different. It's a bunch of buzzing, wild, machine-driven art, and there's something commendable about that approach, but ultimately music has to sound good for a lot of people to enjoy it. Whether it's worse than his collaboration with Metallica is debatable.

5. Guns N' Roses "Chinese Democracy" (2008)

You'd expect the most expensive album ever produced to sound better than this. $13 million dollars and 14 years of production, and it still disappointed everyone. What do you expect when you indulge someone like Axl Rose for that long?

4. Chris Cornell "Scream" (2009)

Chris proved his worth as a vocalist with Soundgarden, but his pop collaboration with Timbaland was totally uncalled for. Some people liked it, but they probably weren't rock fans. Like Billboard said: "Sometimes it's good bizarre, other times it's bad bizarre."

3. Spinal Tap "Shark Sandwich" (1980)

"Sh-t sandwich," said one review. Alright, so it's a fake album by a fake band, but the reviews speak for themselves. Watch the classic Spinal Tap clip here to find out why this is their worst release.

2. Metallica & Lou Reed "Lulu" (2011)

We still can't get over how bad this was. You know, before that first sample came out, we at UG thought it could turn out to be something special. That was until the first demo came out with James Hetfield shouting something about being a table, and Lou Reed sound fifty times worse than even the harshest critic imagined. This should have been number one.

1. Aldous Snow "African Child" (2009)

Another fictional entry. Does this even count? Was Aldous Snow any good before his ill-fated release of "African Child"? Meh. It's funny, and your winner. Enjoy.

That's the end of our roundup of the worst releases by great bands. Did we miss anything? Who would you give a special mention for letting down their fans? Let us know in the comments.

381 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Props to Lou Reed for making the list twice! LOL
    Before reading this, I actuallu thought St. Anger would be here too..
    it should have been on there before lulu tbh.
    Darth Crow
    St. Anger wasn't really that bad. Actually, if the sound quality wasn't so shitty, songs like Frantic would be quite memorable. Actually, they are, anyway. Lulu, on the other hand, was a failure on so many levels that it's almost impossible...
    I actually think that it's their most recent decent album. They failed to bring back their old flame on Death Magnetic and mixed with the sound quality on that, made it a worse album for me. St. Anger has actually probably been their most creative and best album since Justice or black album.
    What's really good about it is the lyrics and the music. They really capture the feeling of rage and depression that the band was going through. However, the production was awful. Lars' snare drum being the major gripe. The guitar sounds could have been a little more refined, and I felt the clean guitar parts could have been a little less...convoluted? Muddy? I don't know what to say, it just sounds like there's too much going on (Listen to the clean parts in "St. Anger" and "All Within My Hands" to see what I mean). Another thing is James' vocals. He was mediocre at best, and it sounded like he was trying too hard to hit high notes, resulting in voice cracks and straining. If he was trying to do that, again, to highlight the panicked and angry tone of the album, then he shouldn't have. The lyrics and music were enough for that. In my opinion, St. Anger is a good album, but you have to be in the right mood for it.
    Too many teenie boppers on here that love St Anger for some reason.
    link no1
    Maybe because it is their opinion? Or maybe because St.Anger isn't that bad of an album, it's just bad for metallica. If it was released by some lesser known band it would probably have been well recieved.
    Just like how Chinese Democracy wasn't an Appetite clone and old GnR fans were superbutthurt. It would have been a good album by any other band, in fact it's a good GnR album if you think of it as an overproduced-Use Your Illusion III
    I don't believe Megadeath released Risk. Or any other albums for that matter.
    how could a guitar site that focuses on rock and metal misspell MEGADETH!!??
    cause nobody when to school. u ever turn on closed captioning while watching TV? its pretty messed up a lot of times lol
    PRS Fan 97
    Ug was probably using spell check for once, and it auto-corrected Megadeth to Megadeath.
    Risk it a terrible album, but I still think Trust is a good song. Megadeth has released some shit albums and shit songs, but their worst doesn't compare to Metallica's worst. Even excluding Lulu, Load and Re-load are pretty poopy.
    Trust isn't on Risk, it's on Cryptic Writings, which is a pretty good album. However, I wouldn't put Risk here. It's got good songs, really. Sure it doesn't really sound much like Megadeth. So that's why it's fair to have it here on the list.
    megadeath? really UG? for a site that rips on dave mustaine as much as it does, you'd think they'd get his band's name right
    I don't care what any of you think; Chinese Democracy is a great album, and I wasn't disappointed by it. I'd bet that most people who voted it up here never gave it a fair chance, if they even listened to it at all. Most people write it off immediately because "it doesn't have Slash" or the rest of the original band, some people judge it with the time and money it took to release in mind(sidenote: Axl had most of those songs done for years , but the record label kept making him rework them), but have you ever listened to it with no biases or preconceived notions? If you still don't like it after that, fine, but most people who give it a fair shot see it as a collection of songs that are decent or better, with a few tracks that probably could have been left off (or at least not reworked a thousand times).
    By the way, the song they put up here is a great choice from that album, and I bet most people here haven't heard it. I don't see how you can like the stuff like November Rain from the Use Your Illusion albums and not like Street of Dreams.
    It would be better if they had linked to the studio version of the song, seeing as how that's what they're talking about -- the album, not the live performances.
    Amen sir, I am a huge Guns Fan and right now it's probably my favorite album by them, the solos alone are excellent. So many great moments on that album but no one is willing to give it a chance, their loss.
    Yeah, well who do you think you are? The LAW? *ahembecauseavatarahem*
    Well, who do you think YOU are? God? Nah, I kid. Have a balloon. They all float down here..
    Yeah, I had the "old timer" philosophy of "it's not the original band so it has to suck!" before and its poor sales didn't help sway me, but I think the new GN'R has some great talent (personalities and attitudes are something else entirely). Like, I used to disown the little-known "other Aerosmith(s)" from 1979-1984, but when I gave it a chance I realized Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay were still really great guitarists with a unique style.
    Too true dewitt. I passed it off at the start, waited until it was in the bargain bins before picking it up. As a long time Gunners fan I'm not afraid to say that I love the album. Sure it's not classic Guns n Roses, but once you get over the realisation that it's more Axl Rose's solo album than anything else it's an awesome rock album.
    I totatlly agree! IMO, Oceania was a great Smashing Pumpkins album even though Corgan remained the only original member. Same goes for Chinese Democracy, again in IMO.
    I think I personally didn't like it because it didn't sound like Guns n' Roses..
    But it does sound like Guns N' Roses. Like it or not, that band is GN'R now, and they have been for years. However, beside that point, half of the stuff on here sounds closer to a lot of the ideas Axl brought into the Use Your Illusion albums than anything else in the band's catalog. It sounds nothing like Appetite For Destruction, sure, but neither did Lies, Use Your Illusion, or "The Spaghetti Incident?". I think that UYI is the perfect bridge between the sound of AFD and Chinese Democracy. However, again, beside that point, if you're listening to it expecting it to sound like the original GN'R, that's one of those prejudices that I was talking about. You don't listen to x , expecting it to sound like y .
    well you're completely right in saying that I went in with a pre decided judgement, but i was also looking forward to seeing what Axl had with (or too) the GnR name and style, and to be perfectly honest: I didn't like it.. not as a GnR album and not as any other kind of album..
    It funny how if a band loses original members through death, people still love the band. But if they lose members through disagreements, fights, etc., then people trot out the "it's not even the same band" arguments. The result is the same though; it's not (technically) the same guys. I realize there are exceptions, like those who say Metallica was never the same after Cliff died, but you get my point. Lynyrd Skynyrd still tours and people go out to see them, even though only one guy remains from the original line-up. I don't ever recall anyone saying, "oh that's not Lynyrd Skynyrd anymore", or throwing as much hatred toward that band. A lot of people point at the G'n'R vitriol being directed at Axl because he's kind of a Richard. Perhaps if he were a nicer guy, everyone would accept the new line-up better?
    Guns N' Roses = Axl Rose. There are no other original members than him (and by original members I mean AFD members). And really, you expect a band have their sound. Like when Metallica released Load and Reload, people didn't like them because they didn't sound what people thought Metallica sounded like. Same with Lulu and St Anger. If those albums were released by some new band, they might be better in people's mind. A band should always do something new on their albums but still not completely lose their sound.
    I hate when people defend chinese democracy, you sound like a half wit GnR fan boy. That album is terrible. GnR is now terrible. Stop comparing one of the greatest rock bands in history with this new axle and buds show. Axle wrote almost none of the best songs from GnR (most were Izzy actually), and (big shocker here), he still can't write a good song.
    Actually, Axl Rose had part in writing almost all of their material (including most of their best material). Izzy wrote some great ones by himself, but the majority of their material was written by Izzy and Axl together/collaboratively, before being further developed by the whole band. Axl Rose was (and still is) a great lyricist and songwriter, but I don't think anyone claims that he was the sole entity behind any Guns N' Roses material, aside from the bare bones of November Rain and Estranged. They were one of those bands that, while everyone in the band is/was great at what they do, they were so much better together than they could have been on their own. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, if you will.
    You could not be more wrong. I've been a GNR fan for 25 years, and I liked the Chinese Democracy album. If they'd tried re-writing AFD everytime they put out a new release, they would fail. Yes, Izzy did a lot of the writing on the AFD album which just listed the writing credits as "Guns N Roses", but on the UYI albums all contributors were listed and Axl wrote just as much, if not more of those albums than Izzy did. Appettite for Destruction is good. Use Your Illusion I & II are good. Chinese Democracy is good. They are all very different, but they are all good.
    Yup it was decent. The only problem I had was some overuse of auto tune that went into robot territory. Sure his voice might not be what it was, but that live performance of street of dreams sounds better than the auto tuned album version. Still once you get past that, there are some good songs on there.
    I'm not completely sure that there was any auto-tune on that album, and if there was, it was likely used purposefully as a vocal effect. Axl Rose is what you would call a perfectionist, and he wouldn't take a bad vocal track and manipulate it until the pitches were right; he would do it over and over until he got it right. The only real problems I had with it, aside from a couple songs that I just don't like, was the overuse of the synthesizers and drum filters, etc. (i.e., overproduction - which according to Axl, was mainly the fault of the record company for making him add to the songs and rework them so many times).
    Well, no need for me to comment anymore; this guy just said what I was thinking.
    I listened to it 5 times. Once when i got it, I HATED it. The next year i gave it a chance, still hated it. The third time was on a dare, got through 4 songs. the fourth time i listened completely just to analyze how buckethead could put some great riffs down. the fifth time was just the only time ienjoyed it. it took me 4 years to like this album, so i say it pretty much sucks
    Guitarus Rex
    Caution: Axl Rose is posting under the name: "dewitt." Dude, teasing... Chinese Democracy wasn't THAT bad, but there was no way it would ever live up to the hype that preceded its release. Slash's post-GnR releases were certainly much better... I have no idea who wrote all of the songs, but I know I've practically "worn-out" my copy of his 2010 "Slash" album...Freaking Iggy Pop on that last song is killer! "...we're all gonna die, so let's get high..." Good post...
    His 2010 album is good, but I bought Apocalyptic Love when it came out and to be honest I would much rather listen to Chinese Democracy than that one
    I hate it how a lot of Chinese Democracy-fanboys automatically assume that most haters never gave it a fair chance. "Most people who give it a fair shot see it as a collection of songs that are decent or better"; How the hell do you know that?!