Every band has a best and a worst album. That doesn't mean the lowest record on the rung is bad per se — there're many bands who've managed to succeed on every outing — but there are plenty of incredible acts who've released an album that, for whatever reason, just doesn't connect with their fans the way their other, classic material does.
From awkward sonic experiments, to records that came out of periods of behind-the-scenes rockiness, we wanted to know what our readers believe are the all-time worse albums by their otherwise favorite bands. See the top five vote-getters ranked accordingly below.
For a brief time in the mid-Nineties, Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden to pursue a solo career, and most fans try to forget that period of the band's history. While the frontman's replacement vocalist, Blaze Bayley, is a fine singer in his own right, he's simply not Dickinson — no one is — and his first of two albums with the group, 1995's X Factor, doesn't really sound like Maiden because of it. Even beyond Dickinson's absence, the band just sounds uninspired on these tracks. Luckily, their 1999 reunion with the Air-Raid Siren served as a vital recalibration, and they've been hunky dory since.
Even if you cherry-pick the few good tracks on Chinese Democracy, the end result doesn't come close to justifying the preposterous amount of time (nearly 10 years of recording) and money (a whopping $13 million) spent making this 70-minute behemoth. To be fair, some fans don't even feel comfortable calling it a Guns N' Roses album, given frontman Axl Rose and keyboardist Dizzy Reed were the only two fixtures of the band who were involved during the studio sessions. At the end of the day, unless it was a Fear Inoculum-tier masterpiece, Chinese Democracy was bound to disappoint.
Korn's 2010 album, their first with producer Ross Robinson since 1996's Life Is Peachy, is called Korn III: Remember Who You Are, but sometimes it's better to forget. The nu-metal pioneers were in a weird spot during this era, having just come off a 10-month hiatus; Brian "Head" Welch was still out of the band while drummer Ray Luzier had just joined. Reuniting with Robinson was meant to rekindle the fearsome energy of their early years, but even Jonathan Davis admits that they "failed miserably."
Dave Mustaine has repeatedly said that "if anybody else's name was on Risk, it would have sold." Maybe he's right, but for Megadeth, this 1999 pivot toward grungy hard rock was a backfiring grasp at reinventing themselves that came at the, well, risk of losing what made them special. There're a few experimental moves that have aged surprisingly well (the smoky "Wanderlust" is tuneful and "Crush 'Em" is at least fun) but there's way more that hasn't, whether it be the awkward industrial-metal cuts or the soft-rock picnic ditties. To Mustaine's point: This shouldn't be called Megadeth.
Lulu also received its fair share of tomatoes in the comments, but St. Anger ultimately prevailed as our readers' pick for the worst of the worst — which isn't surprising. Metallica's 2003 LP is one of metal's favorite targets for hate, from fans angrily scratching their heads at Lars Ulrich's trash-can snare sound to heshers bemoaning the record's glaring lack of guitar solos. If you want to know what was going through their heads at the time, the cringe-inducing documentary Some Kind of Monster is there for the watching, and it explains a lot. This is literally the sound of a band in the process of putting itself back together.