The Ten Most Embarrassing Attempts by a Formerly Cool Metal Band to be Hip Again
Update, 6:39 pm: Reader Amanda D. reminded me that I left Celtic Frost’s Cold Lake off the list, which was definitely a dumb oversight on my part. So I guess Metallica actually get a free pass this time. Because Cold Lake is fucking AWFUL. It might even warrant higher placement on the list.
Original story follows below…
Few people manage to stay cool forever, but some age more gracefully than others. And there’s no less-graceful way of aging than to chase a trend in an effort to remain relevant amidst a changing cultural landscape. While some bands manage to allow their sound to evolve in a way which feels both organic and satisfying, some just fall flat on their faces, ultimately entertaining us for all the wrong reasons. For example…
#10. Metallica’s Load & Re-Load
This is an obvious one, but it still demands a spot on the list. In the timespan of just a single album, Metallica went from being a metal band to a Smashing Pumpkins clone, complete with suits, eyeliner, and trendy haircuts, which, to this day, they claim they all got at the same time just by coincidence (coughbullshitcough). Anyone who was a Metallica fan at the time will surely never forget the shock of realizing that the dudes who had written “Master of Puppets” were now covering Salt N’ Peppa.
#9. Damageplan’s New Found Power
This is cheating a little bit, because Damageplan were never cool, and New Found Power was their only album. Still, you can’t blame every fan who bought it for thinking it was gonna sound like Pantera but with a different singer, because, y’know, Dime and Vinnie Paul. Instead, we got a watered-down album that sounded like most of the crappy bands on the second stage of Ozzfest. Every couple of years I try to re-listen to this thing to see if it’s as boring as I remember it being, and, yup, pretty boring!
#8. Soulfly’s “Jumpdafuckup” (featuring Corey Taylor)
Again, kinda cheating here, because Soulfly weren’t ever cool… but, again, the fact that their leader was a metal legend led many of us to believe they’d release a much, much better product. And while Cavalera’s post-Sepultura output has definitely gotten stronger over the years, there’s no getting around the fact that this song makes everyone want to kill themselves every time it’s played.
#7. Mötley Crüe’s Generation Swine
In 1997, Mötley Crüe delighted fans who had never bothered to listen to the album they made with John Corabi by announcing that they’d shown Corabi the door and welcomed Vince Neil back into the fold. Naturally, everyone expected the resulting reunion album, Generation Swine, to be a return to the kick-ass arena rock for which the band was famous.
Instead, Generation Swine turned out to be a laughable mishmosh of then-current trends. The band hired Rob Zombie’s producer, Scott Humphrey, and incorporated elements of industrial and grunge into one of the silliest Nine Inch Nails rip-off albums of the 90s (which is really saying something). There’s no shortage of embarrassments on this future drink coaster, from the opening track, “Find Myself,” on which most of the lead vocals are sung by Nikki Sixx (thereby deflating the excitement of Neil’s return to the fold) in a ridiculous faux-British accent while Neil belts out the ridiculous chorus (sample: “I’m a sweet sucka mutha/ Ain’t no one tougher”)…
…to the Savage Garden-esque “Glitter” (which was co-written by Bryan fucking Adams)…
…to the INCREDIBLY misguided “modernization” of “Shout at the Devil”:
Unsurprisingly, the band now basically ignores this album in their live set, and it seems as though younger fans are as unaware of its existence as they are of the Corabi album (which is like a billion times better than Swine).
#6. Poison’s Power to the People
Much as Mötley Crüe reunited with Vince Neil and somehow still managed to completely fail to give people what they wanted, Poison’s reunion album with C.C. DeVille failed to satisfy on any level. I can’t seem to find it now, but I remember a Metal Edge interview with Bret Michaels around the time of the album’s release where they praised the title track for being so heavy, and Michaels asserted that he had insisted the band bring him something this heavy because “I need it for my soul” or some moronic bullshit like that. And the album would have been horrendous enough, but just to really drive the point home, the band spent three whole dollars making the title track’s video.
Poison course-corrected with a more straightforward hair metal album, Hollyweird, two years later, and then they figured out that they didn’t actually need to release new albums to tour, because all anyone wanted to hear was their old shit anyway. Since then, they’ve released a covers album, a live album, and FOUR greatest hits collections, but no new music. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Metallica could really start taking their cues from these guys.
#5. Machine Head’s The Burning Red
It kills me to include this one, because in the past decade, Machine Head have more than atoned for their sins, and won me — and many others — back as a fan in a massive way. But there’s no getting around how ill-advised this album was. The sight of a rapping Robb Flynn with spikey blonde hair still makes me cringe. I know that there are MH admirers who actually like this album, but I just do not understand them at all.
#s 4 & 3: Morbid Angel’s Ilud Divinum Insanus and Cryptopsy’s The Unspoken King
These are the two most recent releases on the list, and so they’re the ones I feel the least-compelled to discuss… I mean, chances are, if you’re reading MetalSucks, you’re already aware of how horrendous these releases were. King comes off as the superior of the two albums, in part because the band tacitly acknowledged that it was a mistake when they reverted to their old sound on their next album, and in part because Morbid Angel were basically trying to be Marilyn Manson, which means they were chasing a fifteen-year-old trend that wasn’t even really a trend anymore. So they REALLY came off as sad old men.
#2 (tie). Faster Pussycat’s Between the Valley of the Ultra Pussy and L.A. Guns’ American Hardcore
Speaking of trying to be Marilyn Manson: in 2001, Faster Pussycat reunited and released this remix album, which was so abysmal that it made most other terrible remix albums sound like fucking Reign in Blood. To make matters that much more humiliating, the band also started dressing like goth Nazis.
Unsurprisingly, Faster Pussycat went back to playing cock rock in no time flat, and now provide the world with heaps of amusement via their inability to remain sober during performances.
Meanwhile, after three-fifths of L.A. Guns left the band following the release of their (underrated) 1994 album Vicious Circle, namesake/guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Steve Riley decided to continue the band as a hardcore group called “The L.A. Guns” (as though that would fool anyone). Their one album, American Hardcore (see what they did there), is truly unlistenable, in part because the music is just that bad, and in part because new vocalist Chris Van Dahl is just the worst. I’m not sure if he wrote the lyrics or he had help from Guns and/or other members of the band, but whomever it was has truly shamed his ancestors.
L.A. Guns eventually got their original line-up back together, made some pretty good albums about which few people cared, and then splintered into two bands, providing fodder for dickhead bloggers like me for years and years. Oddly, though, none of that has ever been as disgraceful as this one record.
These two albums are such shit that no one has even bothered to legally or illegally upload any of them to YouTube. Talk about a slap in the face.
#1. Hellyeah’s Entire Existence
Again, I’m fudging the rules a little bit here, because this band was never cool… but, again, the players involved make it worth mentioning. A supergroup featuring members of Pantera and Mudvayne should, at the very least, be listenable, but Hellyeah’s output has been nothing but pure drek. Everything they do is a lowest-common-denominator affront to sound, and I’m a little dumber just for having thought of them.
So… did I miss any? Am I being too hard or too easy on any of these artists? Sound off in the comments section below.