20 metal bands with no bad albums

Photos of System of A Down, Tool, Mastodon, Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden performing live
(Image credit: System Of A Down: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA | Tool: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images | Mastodon: Steve Jennings/Getty Images | Rage Against The Machine: Chiaki Nozu/WireImage | Soundgarden: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Most of metal’s biggest bands have made an outright stinker of an album. Metallica have St Anger, Iron Maiden have Virtual XI, Megadeth have Risk, and so on and so on. This is why it’s so impressive when, somehow, other artists defy the odds and sustain a career of nonstop sonic excellence. Although it’s a herculean feat, names from practically every subgenre and level of popularity you can picture have pulled it off. So, in celebration of the geniuses that stay musically perfect, Hammer’s compiled a top 20 of metal bands who’ve never once let their fans down.

Metal Hammer line break


Although Alexisonfire’s self-titled debut dragged the burgeoning screamo sound to the Great White North, they didn’t stick to the genre for long. The Ontario rabble have grown increasingly song-orientated over the past 20 years, with later albums becoming paragons of post-hardcore and, in the case of last year’s Otherness, dusty hard rock.


Amenra’s 2005 debut, Mass II, built a wall of claustrophobic, blackened hardcore around the wails of frontman Colin H. Van Eeckhout. Since then, the Belgians have continued to emphasise their crushingly atmospheric potential, resulting in a collection of five hellish masterpieces. Also, their shows are among the most intense you’ll ever see.


After crawling from the swampy backdrop of Savannah, Georgia, Baroness have increasingly added beauty to their sludge metal music. Purple – with its Grammy-nominated single, Shock Me – and the band’s two albums with singer/guitarist Gina Gleason announced louder than ever how well they balance metal’s heaviness with ethereal melody.

Cave In

Cave In emerged from the same metalcore scene as Converge, with their debut album Until Your Heart Stops being an unsung classic of the genre. Since then, the four-piece have smashed convention over their knee, dabbling in everything from radio-friendly post-grunge to expansive, progressive metal. And each of these adventures has yielded incredible results.


Death shaped three genres of metal across their seven albums. Their debut, Scream Bloody Gore, was the first death metal album. Then, 1991’s Human was one of tech-death’s preeminent works, before Individual Thought Patterns and Symbolic joined the burgeoning melodic death metal movement. Their brilliance made leader Chuck Schuldiner’s 2001 passing all the more heartbreaking.

The Dillinger Escape Plan

When The Dillinger Escape Plan shockingly split in 2017, guitarist Ben Weinman said they did it because they wanted to go out while they were still on top form. Mission accomplished! The American dynamos left behind six masterclasses in twitching, unpredictable mathcore when they went their separate ways after 20 years.

Emperor / Ihsahn

During a spectacular seven-year run, Emperor unloaded four albums of symphonic black metal sophistication. The band split all too early in 2001, but at least their leader, Ihsahn, has maintained that spotless form with his solo career. Eremita and Das Seelenbrechen especially are standouts in a stacked prog metal oeuvre.


Gojira’s 2001 debut, Terra Incognita, introduced the French behemoth as a fusion of Machine Head grooves with Morbid Angel’s technical precision. Their following 2000s material added richer, progressive textures on top of that foundation, then 2016’s Magma started them down a more accessible path. At the end of it was well deserved arena status.


Most bands, even those with flawless discographies, have albums their fans broadly agree upon as standouts. However, there’s still no consensus on which of Isis’ five releases is the best. Whether it’s the post-metal classic Oceanic, progressive followup Panopticon or the intricately melodic swan song Wavering Radiant, everything makes a strong case for supremacy.


The saddest sons of the Stockholm scene, Katatonia began as a blackened, doomy option for death metal aficionados. Then, in 1998, singer Jonas Renkse was struggling to scream, so he charted the band down a goth rock route. Their music is still as morose 25 years on, albeit with extra prog on top.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.