We’ve previously looked at bands who changed up their sound and made genre-defining works – but what happens when a band changes things up and it just plain sucks?
Shifting your sound is a bold move and takes guts, but that doesn’t guarantee success. And more than a few bands, even legendary ones, have proved it. Here, Metal Hammer has picked out 10 artists who went for that big style change, and totally fucked it. These are the times that maybe, just maybe, it’s better to stick to what you know instead of trying to nail something new.
Kiss – Music From “The Elder” (1981)
Want to know how bad Music From “The Elder” is? Kiss, a band that never passed up a chance at self-promotion, didn’t even tour in support of it. A marked departure from their outlandish glam rock into infinitely worse territories, Music… tried to bring orchestras and a fantasy short story into the mix. Everyone hated it, including the band.
Slayer – Diabolus In Musica (1998)
In 1998, Slayer weren’t content with having released some of the most evil thrash ever and having an enviably consistent back-catalogue – they wanted in on the nu metal craze! And so Diabolus In Musica was born. Attempting to shoehorn what was “hip” and “edgy” at the time into a sound so well-established went down exactly as well as you’d expect: fucking terribly.
Machine Head – Catharsis (2018)
Everybody loves The Blackening. Most fans also agree that Machine Head have remained consistent since, with the glaring exception of Catharsis. Rap metal, nu metal, forced songwriting that tries to sound progressive but ends up being bad slam poetry – this truly hits every mark on the awful album bingo card and then some. At least Robb Flynn and the fellas have redeemed themselves since.
Mötley Crüe – Generation Swine (1997)
When Vince Neil rejoined Mötley Crüe in 1997, they attempted to recapture the magic of their ’80s glory days. However, channelling Trent Reznor with nascent industrial alt-rock was not the way to discover relevance anew. Not only was Generation Swine dated the second it came out, but it’s so incredibly bad that even the band hate it in retrospect.
Trivium – The Crusade (2006)
Ascendancy put Trivium on the map, its thrashy metalcore launching their career – then The Crusade almost ended it. While the album has been reappraised in recent years and does have some bangers, Trivium swerved into unrefined prog and Metallica worship so hard that they jettisoned everything people loved about them. The band aren’t even that fond of it nowadays.
Suicide Silence – Suicide Silence (2017)
A self-titled album is meant to be a statement of focus and identity for a band. Instead, Suicide Silence’s meander from deathcore into nu metal with squeaky “singing” inspired nothing but memes and derision. The Californians thought they needed to change gears after 2014’s You Can’t Stop Me, their first with Eddie Hermida, but this devolution derailed them entirely.
Celtic Frost – Cold Lake (1988)
Celtic Frost are one of heavy music’s most pioneering bands, influencing a myriad of extreme subgenres, which made their pivot to hair metal for Cold Lake all the more confusing and infuriating. A new lineup, a new look, all to pursue glam’s five minutes of fame and none of the success. Cold Lake isn’t just bad – it’s an insult to Celtic’s legacy.
Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus (2011)
When you’re one of the longest tenured death metal bands in the world, change is always going to be tricky. The return of David Vincent to the Morbid Angel fold was exciting news – less so was the utter steamer they presented fans with afterwards. From the uninspired industrial music to the incessant drum machines, Illud… is a truly diabolical insult to fans.
Entombed – Same Difference (1998)
Entombed are beloved for bloody good reason, but Same Difference ain’t it. The weird cover art choice is probably the least baffling thing about it – musically, it’s abominable. The band responsible for Wolverine Blues pursued alt-metal and rock ’n’ roll stardom and managed to shit the bed so completely that even the ordinarily buoyant LG Petrov couldn’t stand it.
Destruction – The Least Successful Human Cannonball (1998)
Putting the phrase “least successful” into an album title is just tempting fate, isn’t it? In the eight years between Human Cannonball and predecessor Cracked Brain, German thrashers Destruction endured three lineup changes and went from state-of-the-art speed to clunky, of-its-time groove metal. The detour backfired disastrously and now the band don’t even consider it a part of their canon. Pun intended.