The most hated rock and metal albums are something fans of the genre love to talk about. There are albums that, in a way, have betrayed fan’s trust. Rock and metal fans can be highly loyal but if an album is a major diversion from that group, things can get ugly.
Now, it’s perfectly normal that bands want to do something different. It’s even healthy. However, what makes some records the most hated rock and metal albums? Is it the change in style? Is it the quality? These arguments are very important, and the conclusion is often a combination of all of the above.
In that regard, this list focused on the most hated rock and metal albums that betrayed the fans on several different levels. Some albums here were apparent choices, while others are a bit more interesting to analyze.
The most hated rock and metal albums of all time
Tons of albums could be on a list of the most hated rock and metal albums of all time. Several. However, considering that this list only has 12, some metrics are considered.
This list focuses on albums that meant a loss for the band on many levels. This could be creative issues, a financial loss, being panned by fans and critics, or all the above. It is also important to note that this list is entirely subjective, and people are free to disagree.
Which are the most hated rock and metal albums of all time?
- Metallica – Load
- Celtic Frost – Cold Lake
- Iron Maiden – Virtual XI
- Van Halen – Van Halen III
- Mötley Crüe – Generation Swine
- Chris Cornell – Scream
- Emerson Lake & Palmer – Love Beach
- Accept – Eat the Heat
- Black Sabbath – Forbidden
- Deep Purple – Slaves and Masters
- Judas Priest – Nostradamus
- Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
Metallica – Load
Metallica had several choices and it would have been easy to go for St. Anger or Lulu but Load has a bit more story behind it. Many metalheads considered this as the band’s big betrayal of the genre and its humble origins.
It was the mid-90s and Metallica was the biggest metal band in the world after the success of the Black Album. They had toured the world for three long years and decided to change their sound to adapt to the post-Nirvana world radically. But that wasn’t enough.
The album came out in 1996 and James Hetfield and company were looking completely different. Short hair, fancy clothes, etc. They were a far cry from their glorious 80s era, let alone the Black Album. All of that combined led to fans feeling betrayed.
Load itself was influenced by alternative, blues, and modern hard rock. In many ways, it was hardly metal. While some songs like “King Nothing” or “The Outlaw Torn” have aged well, even contrarians don’t rate this album so highly. Sure, Metallica did worse later but this album was the first big treason.
It’s an essential song on a list of the most hated rock and metal albums.
Celtic Frost – Cold Lake
It’s an album so hated that even its own creator hates it. When thinking about the most hated rock and metal albums, Cold Lake always has to be on this list.
Celtic Frost was an underground metal band in the mid-80s. A band that wasn’t afraid of experimenting and mixing extreme metal with other genres. While it didn’t always work, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Tom G. Warrior was praised for his musical diversity.
However, by the time the band released Cold Lake in 1988, things had taken a nose dive in terms of quality. It wasn’t just the switch to 80s glam metal but the fact the songs weren’t good enough. Tom‘s voice was perfect for aggressive, quasi-black metal songs but not for commercial and crisp tunes.
The album flopped, the tour was a disaster, and the fans have hated the record ever since. Tom himself has rejected the album and doesn’t include it in any Celtic Frost special release. The very definition of everything bad happening and becoming one of the most hated rock and metal albums of all time.
Iron Maiden – Virtual XI
Iron Maiden was not having a good time in the late 90s. Metal wasn’t very popular back then and their new singer, Blaze Bayley, struggled to replace the iconic Bruce Dickinson. This doesn’t mean that Blaze wasn’t a good singer; he just wasn’t suited for Maiden‘s sound, and 1998’s Virtual XI proves it.
The first album with Blaze, though, 1995’s The X Factor, was actually quite underrated and has gotten better receptions in recent years. However, most fans at the time didn’t like that slower and more somber direction, so the band went back to their classic sound with the new album. And… it was a disaster.
Virtual XI isn’t a betrayal of Maiden‘s sound or an attempt to adapt to modern times. It’s just painfully average. The band sounds tired, the songs are not exciting or ambitious, and Blaze‘s vocals appear awkward on this record. While The X Factor pushed Maiden forward in terms of sound and songwriting, this album was a massive regression.
It is still one of the most hated rock and metal albums of all time. The years haven’t been kind to this record at all and was the final nail in Blaze‘s coffin with Maiden.
Van Halen – Van Halen III
This Van Halen is among the most hated rock and metal albums of all time for mainly the wrong reasons. Most fans of the band like to blame new singer Gary Cherone for the record’s failure. That he wasn’t cut out for the band and was an ill replacement for Sammy Hagar. The truth of the matter is that this one is entirely on the Van Halen brothers, Alex and Edward.
See, Van Halen had managed the impossible: to be equally successful with two different singers. Sammy Hagar had replaced David Lee Roth in the mid-80s and the band didn’t miss a beat. Great. The problem is that they eventually had a feud with Hagar in the mid-90s and he left, with a failed reunion with Roth taking place afterward.
In comes Gary Cherone. He had been very successful with Extreme and had the pipes and personality to succeed in Van Halen. He even came from a somewhat technical hard rock band, so he could fit musically as well. The problem was something a lot of people didn’t see coming: Edward Van Halen‘s decline.
Edward Van Halen had been dealing with drug addiction and artistic burnout at the time and never fully recovered. This led to Van Halen III being extremely uninspired and Cherone wasn’t a magician for his singing to fix everything. The music simply wasn’t good enough and hasn’t aged that well, either.
It’s a shame because Cherone was a really good singer and could have kickstarted a third Van Halen era. But it simply wasn’t meant to be.
Mötley Crüe – Generation Swine
This is a very interesting situation. It was the mid-90s and there wasn’t another period in music history where Mötley Crüe had a lesser chance of success. It was the era of alternative, sad lyrics, and grunge, which was the antithesis of this band. However, Generation Swine is among the most hated rock and metal albums for something beyond poor timing.
The band had broken up with singer Vince Neil at the start of the decade and hired lesser-known vocalist John Corabi. Their 1994 self-titled album was the only one they did with Corabia and while it didn’t have the success they wanted, it was a very good record. Mötley Crüe had never sounded so heavy, focused, and musical with Neil, and Corabi was a better singer and songwriter to boot.
However, they decided to part ways with Corabi and did Generation Swine, which feels like a shameless cash-in product. They tried to add elements of electronic and alternative to no avail. It’s true that Corabi was involved in the recording sessions and eventually left, which makes Neil‘s comeback all the more awkward when listening to the music.
It’s widely regarded as the band’s lowest moment and one of the most hated rock and metal albums for a good reason.
Chris Cornell – Scream
To be fair, Chris Cornell doing a pop album wasn’t the worst of ideas. He had a very flexible vocal range and the personality to pull it off. The problem is that 2009’s Scream, his third solo album, is simply poor. And that is why people hate it.
It’s true that this record technically shouldn’t be on this list because it is not rock or metal. However, Cornell is a rock legend and this album hurt his legacy a bit. It wouldn’t be until the reunion with Soundgarden in the mid-2010s that he would recover a bit of street cred.
Emerson Lake & Palmer – Love Beach
One only has to look at the cover to know that Love Beach was destined to be on the most hated rock and metal albums list. It was meant to be. The reception was so poor that the band didn’t even tour to promote it and eventually split up. It was that bad.
Truth be told, that was always going to be the case. The band members were not getting along on the previous tour and wanted to break up. However, they still owed their label another record and made this one… with lots of hatred, most likely.
Love Beach felt disjointed and without any desire to make a great album. One can tell that the band members were not getting along. And it proved to be the last everybody would see of this legendary trio for a long time.
Accept – Eat the Heat
Accept‘s progression into glam metal territory had been a long time coming in the 80s. Ever since the success of Balls to the Wall in 1983, they were getting more commercial with each album. However, they were still the German metal juggernaut they had been in the decade so far.
All of that changed with 1989’s Eat the Heat. Vocalist Udo was kicked out and in came American singer David Reece. The band that commercial success that 80s glam bands wanted and that is why this is among the most hated rock and metal albums.
It’s not that Eat the Heat is bad because it has some good songs. David Reece is also a very good singer. It’s that the album is such a massive sellout attempt that rubbed fans the wrong way. And to this day, Accept still doesn’t play songs from this record. It says a lot.
Black Sabbath – Forbidden
Guitarist Tony Iommi had a formidable record until Forbidden came out in 1995. He had managed to keep Black Sabbath afloat and make it a very consistent musical outfit. However, no one defends Forbidden and calls it for what it is: Sabbath‘s lowest moment as a band.
It’s not Iommi‘s fault and neither vocalist Tony Martin‘s nor drummer Cozy Powell‘s fault. Heck, it’s not even Ice T’s fault for his cameo since he is a huge metal fan. It’s the fact that the album lacks musical direction.
Forbidden feels like Sabbath fulfilling a contract duty… and it kinda is. This was their last contract with their label and just wanted to get it done. It’s only a shame that the final Martin-era album is such a letdown. Black Sabbath shouldn’t be on a list of the most hated rock and metal albums but here it is.
Deep Purple – Slaves and Masters
This was the era of Deep Purple where legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had full control of the band. Vocalist Ian Gillan had been let go due to running issues with Blackmore and Joe Lynn Turner replaced him. Turner had played with Ritchie and bassist Roger Glover in Rainbow in the 80s, which made this version of Purple known as “Deep Rainbow.”
1990’s Slaves and Masters does feel like Deep Purple’s Rainbow album. It has similar structures, beats, Ritchie‘s 80s-focused songwriting, and Turner‘s vocals. The album itself isn’t bad by any means but is very commercial and very dissimilar to what made Purple great.
This is a case of a record being one of the most hated rock and metal albums because of the style and the time it came out. People wanted to see Purple at their best and Gillan leaving wasn’t helping. It’s a case of the wrong album at the wrong time.
Judas Priest – Nostradamus
It’s amazing how 2008’s Nostradamus has surpassed 1986’s Turbo as Judas Priest‘s most hated album. Seriously, go ask Priest fans online and most people will tell you that this is the album they hate the most. And the answer is very simple: the concept and the length.
Judas Priest making a concept album was weird but an interesting prospect. However, making a double album of symphonic power metal was a risky choice and didn’t pay off. Nostradamus is way too long for its own good and half the songs aren’t that exciting.
It becomes a very heavy listen and not in the good sense of the word. A lot of fans have also hated that this album led to guitarist K.K. Downing‘s departure, according to his biography. It’s widely regarded as one of Priest‘s lowest moments and one of the most hated rock and metal albums, for sure.
Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
Perhaps Chinese Democracy shouldn’t be on this list. After all, no album was ever going to live up to the 15-year wait for a new Guns N’ Roses album. Vocalist Axl Rose had put himself into a corner and now had no comeback.
The thing that makes Chinese Democracy one of the most hated rock and metal albums is that this isn’t a Guns N’ Roses album. It’s an Axl Rose album. Yes, he is the leader and main songwriter but the classic era of the band wasn’t just him. There were four other musicians that made a huge difference and this album just reminds people of their absence.
It wasn’t just good enough and the album legacy ever since is a very good example of that.