Desert Island Discs – 10 Albums that almost made me lose faith in metal

Damn this island. After two lists of positive albums, I came up with 10 albums that almost made me lose my faith in metal. In most cases, these aren’t necessarily bad albums per say, especially as I listen to them now and my tastes have evolved and grown, but at the time of their release, […]

by Erik T

Damn this island. After two lists of positive albums, I came up with 10 albums that almost made me lose my faith in metal. In most cases, these aren’t necessarily bad albums per say, especially as I listen to them now and my tastes have evolved and grown, but at the time of their release, deeply affected me, especially considering al of them are follow up albums to classics. Some were highlighted my style shifts, others by line-up changes, but either way, at the time they shook my very foundation as a bright eyed metal fan. Today, some of these albums have grown on me and I have revisited them and accepted them, but as I look back, these 10 albums almost made me lose my faith in metal.

SabbatMourning Has Broken. Noise Records, 1991.
Just thinking about this album puts me into a furious rage. The fact the band has disowned it, not including it on their recent re-issues or on the bands official website should indicate its quality. The happenstance of how I heard this album only cements its place in the pantheons of the crappy. In 1991, I was a teenager living in rural England with limited access to Metal Media, so I actually had no idea that Martin Walkyier had left the band. So when my friend called and said his mother had just come from ‘the city’ and had brought Mourning Has Broken LP, I cycled, 4 miles to his house-in record time. With the legendary Dreamweaver still ringing in my ears, we dropped the needle on the record and…and…. (sorry, I need a moment)… *deep breath*. No Martin fucking Walkyier. Instead, we got Richie Desmond and his Dio-like power metal croons, dumbed down heavy metal and an album that remains a pox on British metal. To this day, it’s still an album leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, and the album on this list I, like Sabbat refuse to acknowledge.

EntombedWolverine Blues. Columbia/Earache, 1993.
Here’s an album that has only just recently ‘clicked’ with me, fifteen years later. Wolverine Blues, wasn’t a bad album, just a victim of the two prior albums’ greatness. Following up the legendary Left Hand Path and Clandestine was a tall order either way, so compound it with a big label deal, a marvel Comic tie in and the return of a more restrained LG Petrov as well as the well documented shift into more death ‘n’ roll style, and the album made waves in 1993-negative and positive. More importantly, for me, in 1993 Wolverine Blues was the beginning of the end for Entombed as the band has never sat with me well after Clandestine, and while I’ve come to accept Wolverine Blues as a fine album, everything they released since, up to the recent Serpent Saints has just not appealed to me.

GorefestChapter 13. Steamhammer Records, 1998
Ugh. Here’s the other album on this list that I simply can’t come to terms with or accept. I, unlike many, actually really enjoyed Soul Survivor, one of the few style shifts of that era I actually liked. However, I’m just not sure what happened here other than it was the swansong of a band that had ultimately called it in. Where Soul Survivor had groove, soul, and heft, Chapter 13 was an abortive experiment on rock based songs, tempered vocals and just plain awful songwriting. Luckily Gorefest stormed back in 2005 with La Muerte, one of the greatest comeback metal albums ever, but Chapter 13 remains a blight on the bands otherwise respectable discography.

MetallicaMetallica aka The Black Album. Elecktra, 1991
Actually, this is a fantastic landmark album in metal and one of the highest selling albums of all time, so why is it here? Well, much like the other bands on this list it signaled the beginning of the end, but when you compare this album to … And Justice For All and Master of Puppets, you can see why its here. Most view it as the album where Metallica sold out, replacing their iconic thrash past with ballads, poppy songs and virtually an album full of singles that would be overplayed by high school students and radio stations through out 1991/1992. But I think what upset me as well as most metal fans is that metal was ‘ours’. It wasn’t meant to be on MTV or loved by cheerleaders, preppies and everyone else in school-and Metallica took ‘our’ metal and over exposed to everyone, making ‘our’ genre no longer so exclusive, personal and special. My wife loves this album. Heck, my daughter loves this album, and back in 1991 it was devastating to think that metal was now ‘out there’ for everyone-including wives and kids to enjoy.

…And OceansA.M.G.O.D. Century Media, 2001.
Here’s where an unexpected style shift utterly perturbed me. After two borderline classic albums in The Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts and Symmetry of I, Circle of O, Finland’s quirkily symphonic, off the wall black metallers became a by the numbers, cyber metal act on Century Media. Granted, the band eventually morphed into a solid Industrial/Cyber act as Havoc Unit and other bands like Covenant and Thyrane made similar style shifts, but under the … And Oceans moniker and after two brilliant, forward thinking, eclectic albums, A.M.G.O.D just didn’t go over very well with me.

PestilenceTestimony of the Ancients. Roadrunner, 1991
To many, this album is a landmark of a technical death metal album and in hindsight I can certainly see why. However, to me, in 1991, Testimony was the Mark Van Drunen less, noodling follow up to Consuming Impulse, one of the very best death metal albums ever. While I’ve accepted this album as more than that since then, it’s still an album I’ve never really taken to or held in high regard despite its ahead of its time complexity and cerebral take on death metal. Luckily, that year, Asphyx’s The Rack gave me some fall back and relief. I still haven’t really gone back and truly revisited this album, but with a reunion album coming up soon, maybe I will.

EmperorAnthems to the Welkin At Dusk. Candlelight Records, 1997.
I know, I know. Anthems is widely regarded and Emperor’s greatest work and one the most challenging black metal albums ever. Today, in my mature and evolved state, I realize this and agree, but in 1997 and three years after In The Nightside Eclipse blew me away, the Halford vocals, the complexity, the dizzying structure were just too much for my tiny brain at that juncture in my metal life. It literally took about 4 years for this album to sink in a and connect with me, and in truth is wasn’t till I heard and appreciated swansong Prometheus in 2001, that I went back to this and Equilibrium IX to experience some of the most impeccably brilliant and challenging music ever made.

Iron MaidenThe X Factor. EMI, 1995.
Blaze Bayley.

Paradise LostShades of God. Music For Nations, 1992.
After the groundbreaking brilliance of 1991s Gothic, Shades of God just gutted me. And while this was a style shift that ultimately saw the band become one of the worlds biggest metal acts, I couldn’t (and still cant-I haven’t purchased a Paradise Lost album since) wrap my ahead around Nick Holmes new vocals, the dreary mopey rock based structures and the overall sense of commercially viable sadness that the band was now, and continues to deliver. With every Paradise Lost album I hope for something to ‘click’, but it never has and probably never will, and it started with Shades of God.

My Dying BrideThe Angel and the Dark River, Peaceville, 1995.
Much like Paradise Lost’s Shades of God, My Dying Bride had a style shift that didn’t sit well with me. The thing is, I actually completely missed, Turn Loose the Swans, the transitional album that hinted at the style/vocal shift between As The Flower Withers and this album. So when Aaron Stainthorpe started his woeful whining, it was even more jarring as the last I heard was the deep growls of As the Flower Withers. Granted, this and subsequent albums have grown on me as darkly seductive, artful metal, more so than Paradise Lost, but at the time, I was truly pissed at My Dying Bride and this album.



  1. Commented by: jk666

    Interesting, I’ll have to give this one some thought. I second X Factor and the even worse Virtual XI which made me laugh out loud when I heard it on a listening post (remember those) in a Tower Records (remember those).

    My Metallica choice would be St. Anger.

    Once in a while I remember to watch Headbanger’s Ball and I shake my head at what gets lumped into Metal. My wife who is something of a closet Metal head once said, “so is this what they’re calling Metal these days?”

  2. Commented by: gordeth

    Very interesting list. But, your description of Shades of God sounds like you’re talking about Icon or Draconian Times. Nick Holmes was still growling on Shades of God so I’m not sure what you mean by “new vocals”. And how can you not love “As I Die”? However, I find most of that album to be too meandering. But I don’t hear the commercial appeal you speak of. My breaking point with them was One Second. But they won me back last year with In Requiem. I think that’s the best thing they’ve done since Icon.

  3. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Hmmm-ill need to verify the paradise lost thing-i was certain that the band made thier more commerical shift on Shades of God, I dont think hes growling at all on shades of god.

  4. Commented by: gordeth

    Here, watch these:
    His vocals aren’t as deep as on Gothic but he’s still growling. He went clean on Icon but I think their biggest commercial shift was on One Second. That’s when they could hardly be considered a metal band anymore.

  5. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Yup-its that album. Certainly not clean vocals but it just wasnt Gothic and signalled the end for me. So i never even gave Draconian TImes, Icon, or One Second a Chance

  6. Commented by: gordeth

    You should check out Icon. There are some great songs on there and I think the album as a whole is way better than Shades of God. The atmosphere is more melancholic and their songwriting improved a lot on that one. True Belief is one of my favorite songs of all time.

  7. Commented by: Kyle

    Carcass – Swansong
    Morbid Angel – Covenant
    Metallica – s/t

    Those are the three that come to mind right away for me.

    For another suggestion how about a list of ten albums by bands by that only produced one good album?

  8. Commented by: SerenityInFire

    As far as bands that only produced one good album, Arch Enemy comes to mind.

  9. Commented by: gabaghoul

    AMGOD is not that bad. I found it an odd shift as well, although not totally surprising, but for a black/cyber album, some tracks like White Synthetic Noise and Odious and Devious still have the same kind of off-kilter tone and songwriting that marked the Gallery and Symmetry albums.

    And truth be told, I think AMGOD is, from start to finish, a much more varied and interesting album than Cypher. Cypher sounds cool on first listen, and for the first few songs, and then you realize that you’ve heard it all before, from Ministry to God Module to Wumpscut.

    And Havoc Unit does zero for me :(

    great blog but you left off Carcass’ Swansong. Horrible.

  10. Commented by: Dismember

    My Dying Bride – The Angel and the Dark River

    I agree a 100%.

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.