Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


A Response To The Metal Albums On Rolling Stone's 50 Genuinely Horrible Albums By Brilliant Artists List

Leave Pantera's weird Metal Magic cat alone.

RS Response

Rolling Stone published their 50 Genuinely Horrible Albums by Brilliant Artists list last week. As you might've guessed, the list features albums that Rolling Stone feels are black marks on otherwise excellent discographies. Or as they put it: "Among the many celebrated masterpieces these artists have given the world, they have also turned in works so monumentally putrid that nothing short of 'a touch of madness' can explain their existence."

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The list featured three metal albums that I'm not too sure I agree with, and for a variety of reasons. They are:

Black Sabbath – Forbidden

I am a huge fan of the Tony Martin-era of Black Sabbath. I am not a huge fan of Forbidden. It just felt half-baked and with some weird choices – we all love Black Sabbath and we all love Ice-T (and Body Count), but "The Illusion Of Power" didn't quite land. Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi is still interested in remixing it, but Tony Martin has gone on record as calling the album "shit." Still, Forbidden was at least a Black Sabbath album that was written and intended to be a Black Sabbath album. It had doom riffs, it felt generally metal, and songs like "Guilty As Hell" weren't half bad. If we're talking about "genuinely horrible" within the context of a band's discography, let's talk about Seventh Star.

Seventh Star was written and recorded as Tony Iommi's debut solo album, but thanks to Warner Bros. Records and Sabbath manager Don Arden, it was released as "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi" (and later Black Sabbath) because everyone thought it would sell more with Sabbath's name on it. Seventh Star is a cheesy hard rock record that really doesn't fit into Black Sabbath's discography and ought to be the "black mark" on Rolling Stone's list. Forbidden has its problems, but Seventh Star is a glitzed-up rock album slapped onto an otherwise doomy heavy metal band's discography all because someone thought they could make a buck. Yuck.

Metallica – St. Anger

Yes, the jokes about St. Anger have been relentless over the past 20 years. Between Lars Ulrich's snare drum and repeating lines from Some Kind Of Monster, we've heard it all… but was St. Anger's sound and style really that much of a shock? Of course external factors played a part like Metallica's members being in a terrible mental space at the time and Jason Newsted having just quit, but St. Anger feels like a (fairly) logical progression from Load and Reload. It's not like Metallica went straight from Ride The Lightning to St. Anger – there was at least a road that led there. I'm not saying St. Anger is a criminally underrated masterpiece, but I am saying it gets dumped on too much.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

All that being said, c'mon. You know Lulu was the one that belonged on this list. St. Anger was the product of a bad time in the band. Lulu was a deliberately-chosen artistic endeavor with Lou Reed that just hurts to listen to. I'm not faulting Metallica for trying something new – that's their artistic journey and everyone deserves to explore new sounds. But Lulu is nearly 90 minutes of artsy monologues backed by ill-fitting heavy metal that's not only difficult to get through, but outright cringey at many points. St. Anger had riffs and bits that were solid. Lulu just made us yell "I am the table" at each other while reading horrendous reviews of the album. At least Metallica likes it, though.

Pantera – Metal Magic

Metal Magic is a rough pick. Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul were still teenagers in 1983 and it was Pantera's first album. Give the guys a break – at least they were making listenable stuff as teenagers. A lot of us can't say the same. It also feels like a strange pick considering the whole Terry Glaze-era of Pantera generally gets ignored and the band only enters the overarching conversation in 1990 with Cowboys From Hell. There are no reissues of the pre-Cowboys From Hell albums and none of those songs really made it to the stage when Phil Anselmo joined the band. I mean, metal hardly even acknowledges Pantera's 1989 album Power Metal that debuted Anselmo behind the mic.

Again, it just feels weird to dunk on glam-era Pantera when that whole period is usually swept under the rug. I know Rolling Stone points out that Metal Magic was "crafted before a band found its true sound," but when was that supposed to happen? It's their first album. It's not a Celtic Frost situation where all of a sudden Cold Lake surfaced in the middle of their career and blemished an otherwise excellent run of albums, you know? The only crime Metal Magic committed was the weird cat-man thing holding a deformed knife on the cover. Pantera should've been left off this list.

Show Comments / Reactions

You May Also Like