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

    21st Century Breakdown was ****ing praised! It was an amazing album! So wasn't A Thousand Suns. D:< Holy ****ing shit, the people who write these articles are idiots.
    pretty much every single album burzum every made, and Seventh Star by Tony Iommi, should have been on this list
    So you hate all Burzum albums... but consider him great because of his time in Mayhem? This is actually the first bad thing I've ever seen/heard about Burzum.
    Id personally put Seventh Star on a list of the most underappreciated albums in Tony Iommis career, i love every second of it.
    Yeah that album by Linkin Park was a HUGE Disappointment. Their new album is ok but it's no Hybrid Theory or Meteora.
    A Thousand Suns and 21st Century Breakdown were amazing albums if ur too lazy to listen to new stuff or ur stuck in 10 year ago its ur problem not the album problem
    Yes it IS the album's problem. Just because the world's shitty doesn't mean we have to follow it. Hey, if some retard were leading you down a cliff, would you follow him?
    funny thing, all these albums are better than today pop and the ****ing gagam shit
    Green Day do not deserve to be on this list since they are not a great band
    yeah they are
    no, they aren't. they have a few decent, catchy songs, but they are a mediocre band. if you think Green Day is a great band, then you don't know the meaning of the word "great".
    jesus, you're avatar name is little boy. you sure as hell are acting like one. or do you like little boys. yeahhh thats probably it,you're probably a pedophile
    lol you're a joke. I won't argue with emotional, butthurt fanboys. grow up and have a nice day
    don't question my intelligence you little prick. green day are an incredibly ambitious rock band who have incredibly well written songs and have sustained popularity for more than 20 years. go **** yourself you dumb mother****er
    "Incredibly well written" Yeah, right? Now how many other bands have you listened to?
    "ultimately music has to sound good for a lot of people to enjoy it." This is utter bullsh*t, mainstream =/= good.
    21st centurary for real?? id personally consider that one of the best, yes i know it had some shite songs but the good ones weigh out the bad ones, if u guys were gonna do green day, id say dookie but thats just me i guess
    The "A thousand suns" album by Linkin Park was the worst album I have ever heard. There was 2 okish songs on the album, and the rest consisted of crappy songs, ambient noise, and speeches.
    Linkin Park and Green Day are not great artists.
    not sure about green day but Linkin Park is great dude ( plz dont an argue about that i dont understand real music because i listen to lots of artists from Bob Marley to As i Lay Dying :L
    green day is a great artist too. by your avatar and screen name, i'd guess you like metal. if its personal taste thats fine, but they are an incredibly ambitious rock band, something that don't seem to be around anymore. the music is well written and catchy and they are insane live. and as the other comment, i listen to a wide range of music, from the beatles to metallica, so i am a legimate music fan, not some fanboy
    Yea dude! It's not like music si subjective or anything like that.
    Falling into Infinity should definitely be on this list. Dream Theater is my favorite band, but that album is atrocious.
    Not their best but the musicianship is great, besides the record company pushed them to release a more radio friendly album which was F.I.I.
    I'm not even a huge Linkin Park fan, but I honestly believe that A Thousand Suns is their best album by far. It's the only album that sounds like they attempted to make something different and that doesn't focus around whiny personal lyrics
    The whole album is whiny personal lyrics "god bless us everyone?" are you kidding me? Linkin park has the same problem as everyone else who has an album in this list. They are nothing but a bunch of bitchy millionaires who write uninspired crap because they have no hardships in their life anymore. Do I buy another lambo or a ferrari this year? hmmmm, rough decisions being rich.
    Are you autistic? Do you not have the ability to understand the meaning of a song or album?
    Lulu definetly earned its spot. You have to remeber though that Lulu is a Lou Reed album featuring Metallica, not the other way around. Even though it was terrible I still respect Metallica for doing it. Not that many bands would go that far out of their genre.
    I expect nothing less than you morons at UG to vote Chinese Democracy to be on this list. The musicianship on this record is outstanding. I'm a massive fan of Slash and original GNR; they are the reason I picked up the guitar. But in all truthfulness it is a blessing Slash wasn't on this record because the intricacy of the guitar work isn't something he could have duplicated. You bandwagoners who never gave that record a real chance make me sick to my stomach. Do yourselves a huge favor: take your ears out of your ass, forget that the name GNR is on the cover, and give it an honest listen. If you are a true guitar player you can at the very least appreciate the guitar work on this album. /rant
    I agree people are just judging cause of the name not the music. This is a ****ing awesome album. And to those who dont know Buckethead co wrote lots of the songs.
    I expect nothing less than a moronic 12 year old like yourself to like an album that is so chock full of crappy shallow, pedantic, and uninspired music. I streamed the whole album when it came out, and didn't like one song. And the guitar work is shit and you know it. So just because it sounds more technical than Slash it's better? Please get over yourself. Slash became the one of the greatest guitar players in the world in the late 80's by not being a technical guitar wanker who just slams his face into his strings. He actually "wrote" good music. Something this whole album lacks.
    Listen here you feeble minded piece of dog turd. Stop putting words in my mouth and listen to what I am saying. Here's some perspective for you: 1) Slash is my all time favorite guitarist. 2) In no way do I award one guitarist prominence over another for technical skill. I find guitarists like Michael Angelo Batio impressive, but boring. Chinese Democracy showcases guitar work filled with soul AND superior technical ability. Here are some examples: (it's funny as I listen to all the songs to show you..I'm having a hard time picking because there are so few that are mainly technically proficient. Literally ALL I can find is solos full of heart stopping soul.
    Oh, and not to mention you guys didn't add the album version which sounds completely different than that crappy live version. I saw him recently and I can tell you his voice sounds much better live these days.
    Risk and Virtual XI, really? Did anyone actually listen to the albums? :p I know that Virtual XI features the dreadful Angel and the gambler, but also cool songs like the educated fool, lightning strikes twice, como estais amigos and The Clansman. Risk is just plain good, defineately a change in direction, but it still features some pretty damn solid songs. Seven, Wanderlust, Prince of Darkness, Time: the end, Ecstacy, The Doctor is Calling and so on. Just my opinion ofcourse, but very surprised to see these two albums featured.
    I think Risk is a good album. It just doesn't sound like Megadeth. So that makes it a bad Megadeth album. If it was released as a Dave Mustaine solo album people probably wouldn't hate on it so much. The Doctor is Calling is one of my favorite songs.
    Futureal is a cool song. Clansman is a GREAT song! Maiden should not be on the list.
    yep, the clansman alone should disqualify it from the list cos it's a brilliant song. makes me wanna go out in a kilt and start slicing people's heads off with a claymore
    21st Century Breakdown, A Thousand Suns, and Chinese Democracy aren't that bad.
    21st CB isn't , A thousand suns is horrible, haven't heard chineese democracy completely
    I'm not a fan of A Thousand Suns, but I expected to fully hate it and thought it to be just okay. Eons better than Minutes to Midnight
    Chinese Democracy is an amazing album if you take it purely for what it is and ignore the "it's not real GnR" take and the expectations that were impossible for anything to live up to. Risk isn't that bad an album either, just completely un-Megadeth. And seriously, African Child? I'm getting tired of every list having a joke at the end.
    totally agree man, it cool to know that we still have Axl fans that care about the music and not the drama
    The same could apply to his press strategy.
    Yeah UG could do the same thing when it comes to make treads related to top 10 of artists and such. Like seriously, its okay that mustaine screws up a lot, but UG screwed up a shitload more of times than him....
    Well, it includes their biggest hit so I wouldn't say it's the worst album by them. The Elder is their worst album if you ask the band and I think their opinion is what matters the most. If they feel like they failed, then they really failed.
    solid point... can't argue that. I can forgive a lot to bands that have done albums that aren't very good or "experimental." But I believe that you cross a line when you a band makes ****ing disco songs. At least the other albums were still Rock/Metal.
    Yes, I got your point. And I have to agree. Dynasty was the album where they changed their style to more pop and it wasn't pure rock any more. It was kind of the album where they lost their balls. Kiss is a rock band, not a disco band. And "I Was Made for Loving You" is soooo overplayed song.
    Guitarus Rex
    But, Ace Frehley's solo on "I Was Made For Lovin' You" was quite catchy... Sometimes, being stoned helps get you through those torturous moments! HA!
    Yeah, I'm not saying it's a bad album. It just was the album where their downhill started. I mean, the song isn't that bad, it isn't just what you would expect from rock band Kiss. It's a disco song and pretty good and very catchy. Just overplayed. And the solo could be a bit longer.
    I'm a big Cornell fanboy but Scream wasn't all that bad, it was a mostly well written album with horrible production. The songs performed acoustically are marvelous. There are some shitty ones for sure (Watch Out and Part Of Me, ugh) but overall it isn't all that bad. I think he had good reasons for doing it too, he had always loved R&B and was influenced by stuff like that, he just had children and wanted something they could listen to and like, and he always changes his style with every record. I'm not a fan of it I don't hold it against him.
    Virtual XI should be taken down - it's a great album. People need to actually LISTEN to the album, and not be biased because of Bruce's absence.
    Having listened to the Virtual XI several times (because I really wanted to enjoy the album, big Maiden fan) I can confidently say that the album is terrible and it's place on this list is just... in my humble opinion ofc....
    WTF 21st century breakdown was a great album, come on It even won a grammy for best rock album. I would agree that the singles chosen were not the best, but the album itself is solid. I honestly liked 16 of the 17 legitimate tracks the album had. If that isn't good , i don't know what is
    grammy aside, that was a great rock record. people just expect great bands to churn out the same stuff they always do. thats probably why this is on here
    Im sorry but I LOVED Chinese Democracy. I do agree that maybe it should be under Axl Rose not Gn R but cmon Buckethead did a hell of a job on this album and i think Axl is a genius besides his craziness, just my opinion.
    Sammy Mantis
    Buckethead contributed some amazing guitar work on this album, as he does on most everything he puts out. Sadly, the Slash fan boys will do anything to put it down, resorting to the usual "he doesn't play with feeling" excuse, which couldn't be more untrue. Their loss really.
    yeah honestly, 21st Century Breakdown is a great record. its really the first time green day used piano and string arrangements to full effect. the lyrics are great as always and the guitars are just as punchy and fast as usual. its just different. i mean yeah it was never gonna outdo American idiot, but it hardly belongs on this list
    Ouch some serious hate on Lou Reed!!! I knew Lulu was going to be on the list, figured it would be number one thought. Not too sure how I feel about the fictional bands as I always saw stuff like Spinal Tap as a HUGE spoof/mockery. Highlight of this thread is buddy using all the big words to sound smart, its the internet man nobody cares so stop trying so hard and dont feed the trolls, it makes life sooo much easier.
    Though "Shark Sandwich" doesn't actually exist, so it is obviously a complete joke entry.
    You're first comment sounded a lot more intelligent than your second. It just screams "self righteous" douche, i say that while agreeing with the point you are trying to make btw.
    While they may not be as big as the bands on this list, Cryptopsy's The Unspoken King could make a serious run at this list.
    -Risk may not be the thrashy album Megadeth is known for but it is a great album. -I guess i am "hardcore" Maiden fan because i like Virtual XI? i dont think so. i do think that i appreciate good maiden regardless. -Listened to chinese democracy 5 time since it came out. each time was a different experience. still hate it all the same.
    Instead of jokey not-real albums by not-real bands, I'd have included the Clash's "Cut The Crap", RHCP's "One Hot Minute", The Velvet Underground's "Squeeze", or Gang Of Four's "Hard" instead.
    What the hell, i loved Virtual XI. i mean yeah, blaze was no bruce by any means, but futereal, lightnings strikes twice, the clansman, and angel and the gambler were all great songs in my opinion. If anything, The X factor (the other blaze album) was much worse than virtual.
    "...a bunch of fans decided it sucked and that he should play it safe next time. The same could apply to his press strategy." LMFAO