10 terrible metal albums with one classic song

Robb Flynn, Kerry King, Matt Heafy and Jonathan Davis
(Image credit: Getty)

Not many bands can write an all-time, classic, total banger of a song, so we tip our hat to those that have. The trouble is, often a band can write a song that is so, so great, it gives them an almost impossible bar to reach when it comes to creating the rest of their album. Here are 10 examples of bands who couldn’t do that, creating perfectly fine records that get completely dwarfed by that one, pure ten out of ten rager.

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Coal Chamber – Fiend (Dark Days, 2002)

To be fair, it’s not like any of the Coal Chamber albums are particularly essential, but they could always be relied on for a cracking nu metal anthem or three on each release. Shame, then, that as the band were on their last legs at the start of the New Millennium, they could only really manage one truly essential tune on their Dark Days album. That’s the bad news; the good news is that Fiend might just be the best song they ever recorded. That chorus!

Machine Head – Bulldozer (Supercharger, 2001)

Even if you think Machine Head’s output throughout their career has been patchy, there’s really only one album from their career that could be considered a real failure. Supercharger is not good; it represents the nadir of MH, but we’re having the album's pounding, crushing second song Bulldozer as a top tier metal anthem. If the rest of the record had been as good, then we’d all have been all over Supercharger.

Trivium – Until the World Goes Cold (Silence in the Snow, 2015)

Even the members of Trivium themselves don’t rate their 2015 album Silence In The Snow all that highly. It was something of an attempt to make a classic, anthemic heavy metal album, which mostly fell flat. But when they got it right, it did give us one of their most beloved songs in the fantastically epic Until the World Goes Cold. It’s still in the set today, and deservedly so.

Earth Crisis – Killing Brain Cells (Slither, 2000)

A lot of bands who, frankly, should have known better jumped on the nu metal bandwagon when it became a commercial juggernaut in the late 90s. Earth Crisis are one of the most important hardcore bands in history - they were truly unique and revolutionary when they arrived in the early 90s - but by the end of the decade they were scrambling around for what to do. They made an album called Slither which gets a little too close to rap metal for most hardcore fans (we're not gonna lie: it’s all a bit of a slog). Luckily, there is one song, the excellent Killing Brain Cells, which sounds like a slightly better produced version of their classic sound and is comfortably the finest thing on the album.

Staind – Mudshovel (Dysfunction, 1999)

Staind, shockingly, got a UK number one album with their 2001 effort Break the Cycle. It’s not great, but it does at least pack a pair of songs that could accurately be described as anthems (It's Been A While and Outside, if you're asking). Their 1999 debut Dysfunction doesn't even have that many; it’s just an earlier version of their patented mopey post-grunge, and you don’t need to listen to that. But, hold fire, there is one very decent song on there, the rumbling bass and sliding riff of Mudshovel. Cheer up, Staind, you grumpy lot! We like this song!

Methods Of Mayhem – Anger Management (Methods Of Mayhem, 1999)

Tommy Lee’s infamous rap-rock project (you know, the one where he started dressing like an LA gangster and rapping about getting his cock out), were terrible. Their self-titled debut album was mostly nonsense, but hear us out: there is one song with a hell of a groove and a killer riff on it. That song is Anger Management; admittedly, Tommy is no Jay-Z, but the song bounces along nicely and, unlike the rest of the album, isn’t offensive at all. Well done guys, you did it.

Morbid Angel – Blades For Baal (Ilud Divinum Insanus, 2011)

Morbid Angel’s eighth studio album is one of the all-time great dropped bollocks in metal history. Monkey chants, sub-par Rob Zombie rip offs, some of the daftest lyrics you’ll ever hear and very little death metal from a band that defined the genre. It’s a mess, and it hammers home just how much Morbid Angel should have stayed in their lane when you hear the classic death metal of Blades for Baal. Do more of that, please!

Korn - Oildale (Leave Me Alone) (Korn III: Remember Who You Are, 2010)

Post-titting about with animal mask-wearing backing musicians (yeah, remember all that?) and right before their wild swing into dubstep, Korn spent a few years struggling to find their identity in a rapidly evolving metal scene. It resulted in two largely forgettable albums on the trot, the second of which, 2010's Korn III, featuring a returning Ross Robinson as producer, felt particularly patchy and disjointed. It's a real shame given that the record starts with an absolute worldie: Oildale is right up there with Korn's finest album openers, a dark, heavy and furious nu metal rager that deserves a return to their setlists soon.

Slayer – Stain of Mind (Diabolus In Musica, 1998)

Yeah, so, if you thought Earth Crisis going nu metal was a bad idea... Diabolus in Musica has been all but disowned by Slayer, and it’s certainly the weakest link in their studio album back catalogue. It’s actually not a truly terrible album, however - mostly forgettable, sure, but the song Stain Of Mind, while not really quite sounding like classic Slayer, is a right bloody banger in its own right.

Powerman 5000 – How To Be Human (Builders Of The Future, 2014)

Powerman 5000 might only be widely known for the odd song here and there, but 1999’s Tonight the Stars Revolt album (the one with When Worlds Collide on) is consistently top quality, industrial rock-club fun and frolics. The same cannot be said for 2014’s Builders Of The Future, which is seriously ploddy, save for lead single How To Be Human, which sees the band roll back the years for three and half minutes. 

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.