Saying goodbye is hard to do, and some bands have done it way better than others. Some have known that they were creating their swan song at the time. Most had no idea. Either way, final albums are a big deal, the last piece and most recent statement in a great group's enduring legacy. We asked you to pick the single best final album of all time, and you came back with a plethora of excellent choices, many of which fell just short of the top spots. White Zombie's Astro Creep: 2000. Fugazi's The Argument. Joy Division's Closer. See the final five below.
Released three years before Peter Steele's 2010 death, Type O Negative's seventh and final album saw the Drab Four throwing back to earlier days, passing on the drum machine for actual drumming for the first time since 1993's Bloody Kisses and embracing lengthy, zigzagging song structures recalling the experimental meandering of '91's Slow, Deep and Hard. Its standout cut in hindsight is "Halloween in Hell," a somber tribute to rock's fallen heroes that seems now to presage Steele's own passing.
Twenty years after its release, Reinventing the Steel is absolutely worth revisiting. It's uncompromisingly bombastic and hugely self-referential — with many of the songs appearing to be about the band themselves — and it features not only some of Dimebag Darrell's craziest playing, but also a mind-frying guest solo from Slayer's Kerry King on "Goddamn Electric." Rex Brown said it best when he talked to us recently about the record. "To me, it's a great last performance," he told us. "One thing we always said is, 'You're only as good as your last show.' Or your last note, or the last thing you do. Because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. It could all end. And I'll be goddamned if it didn't."
Evolving outside of the confines of death metal and into more expansive, spiritually inclined progressive metal, the seventh and final studio album from pioneering extremists Death fully encompasses the visionary genius of main man Chuck Schuldiner. Sadly, not long after the release of the LP, the trailblazing singer-guitarist was diagnosed with brain cancer, which would take his life — but his mark on the headbanging generations that followed is indelible.
Pyromaniacal time-signature torturers the Dillinger Escape Plan gave us the chance to say goodbye with this 2016 swan song. Prior to dropping the album, the group announced that they would disband at the end of the touring cycle, adding a bittersweet bite to the head-scrambling listen. For a band that lived on the edge to the end, Dissociation is the perfect outro: challenging, sometimes confounding, always confrontational. Long live Dillinger.
Certified platinum five times by the RIAA and selling over 15 million copies worldwide, your No. 1 pick stuck a chord, with a lot of people. Grunge heroes Nirvana's third and final record, 1993's In Utero, is a brilliantly raw and unrefined masterpiece (recorded in just a couple weeks). The trio delivered unforgettable singles in "Heart-Shaped Box," "Rape Me" and "All Apologies," flagellating anthems that eloquently expressed frontman Kurt Cobain's deep discomfort with fame and the public eye — something he would struggle with until his shocking death the following year by suicide.