There are some sad facts of life. Cows and pigs, for example, are extremely intelligent animals that experience a wide range of emotions, but they’re delicious. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at a cow right at its big, fat head, but it’s a harrowing experience. Their eyes are deep, like a galaxy of pain and sadness. We still eat them, which at a fundamental level really is a bit daft, but with fascist organisations like PETA running around murdering strays and making videos about how eating chicken will make your baby have a tiny doodle (seriously, that happened), then you have to step up and do your part.
Another sad truth of life is one-album wonders. Some bands really are only built for one good release. They either hit their peak with their debut and spend the rest of their careers trying to regain the glory, or around their third or fourth album, they finally hit the mark they’ve been desperately trying to reach the entire time, only to descend into mediocrity with subsequent releases.
You certainly can’t blame bands for staying alive, though – it’s hard to let go of a dream, especially when bound by bad decisions, like five album contracts with Sony as is the case with Bullet For My Valentine. The bands forever say that their next album will be ‘the one’ and more often than not, it’s just ‘one’ more shithouse album that should have gone in the bin.
The list is obviously massive, so here’s five (and one bonus) to start with.
Escape The Fate – Dying Is Your Latest Fashion
Escape The Fate are the kings of cringe. Craig Mabbitt is a wildly average frontman and about as inspiring as a glass of milk, and the rest of the guys are part of the tragic LA/OC metalcore aesthetic which emerged in the early 2000’s, with bands such as Atreyu, Eighteen Visions, and Avenged Sevenfold.
The aforementioned bands did it well, but ETF missed the mark entirely with basically everything they’ve done – aside from their debut, Dying Is Your Latest Fashion.
The only album to feature the highly-punchable Ronnie Radke, it was a massive hit when released, more or less encapsulating the entire emo/metalcore love affair of the mid-2000’s. Radke was young and humble, yet to have created the violently unlikeable persona we know him for today. With ol’ mate getting locked up shortly after its release for his alleged involvement in conspiracy to murder, he later went on to form the equally terrible band Falling In Reverse once he was released from the slammer. With the exception of literally three or four songs, everything ETF has done since has been pure rubbish. Fact.
Alien Ant Farm – Anthology
I can’t help but feel that if poor old Alien Ant Farm had some better luck then they would have released more cracking albums, alas, it wasn’t to be the case. They had the simultaneous blessing and curse of being the band behind one of the biggest hits of the 2000’s, with their cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ – a move which unfortunately planted them firmly in the ‘novelty’ category of alternative rock by the masses.
The song featured on Alien Ant Farm’s second album Anthology, which, while it was a big hit for its time (this was back when people bought CD’s for the one song, kids), it was never recognised for the sheer genius that it actually was. Bassist Tye Zamora and drummer Mike Cosgrove showcased some of the finest cohesion and groove ever, and the entire album was filled with top-notch songwriting.
With an array of member, financial, and record company issues, the band has struggled to release a few albums since, all of which have been underwhelming yawn fests. All the ingredients are there, but with the exception of Anthology, it just comes off lazy and uninspired. If you haven’t listened to this album then you straight up haven’t lived.
Bullet For My Valentine – The Poison
Bullet For My Valentine were just the coolest band out when The Poison was first released. They hit right at the peak of the metalcore boom, they could shred like absolute madmen, and they were from the U.K. – something relatively exotic in the overtly American dominated scene.
The album was literally front to back bangers, from the aptly titled ‘Intro’ through to ‘The End’ and showed huge promise from one of the most exciting bands of the era. They gained mainstream airplay and a huge following as a result, playing world tours, and opened for both Metallica and Guns n’ Roses – bands which they spent years covering in their previous incarnation Jeff Killed John.
Much like a lot of bands on this list, they fell victim to the debut-curse. It’s incredibly hard to top an iconic first album – there’s a lot of pressure, especially when you’ve gained some certified mainstream success. Their follow-up, Scream Aim Fire, lost the metalcore touch and steered towards a more old-school metal feel, and it just didn’t click like The Poison did. It felt directionless and clunky and set the stage for their blaring mediocrity which we suffer to this day.
The Used – Self-Titled
This album was the tits. It really was truly original and unique, and it somehow managed to transcend all punk and metal subgenres into a league of its own. The Used were being called the new REFUSED – a band to take up the punk/experimental screamo torch and carry the genre to the next level. The album wasn’t perfect in any regard, but it was bursting with pure creativity and potential, and its numerous flaws only added to the mystique of probably the most exciting band in punk at the time, which is important to note; they were showered with praise within the punk world, both by elitists and casuals.
Then, In Love And Death happened. It alienated the The Used in the punk scene while simultaneously gaining the band millions of new mascara-laden edgy teens as fans. To be fair, they always were that band, with their self-titled being one of the rare cases of accidental genius. Every album from In Love And Death onwards has been wildly average at best.
Attila – Rage
I know. It’s hard to believe they have even one. But credit where credit’s due, Attila have managed to release at least one really great album within the other five respective clusterfucks.
Rage is simply a fantastic metalcore album, filled with banging riffs and surprisingly impressive vocal lines. Flogzilla is actually a really good vocalist – his cadence is on point and he’s diverse as all hell, and the rest of the band are solid musicians in their own right.
Unfortunately, it’s the personas they’ve adopted which has subsequently shaped their sound that makes Attila go in the running for the most irritating band of our time. This was probably the last album before Fronz completely cooked the goose and turned all metalcore-wigga on everyone. It’s a damn shame the violently unlikeable band decided to go full potato with their ‘just don’t give a fuck’ attitude, who knows what Attila could have done.
Honourable Mention: ISMFOF – You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter
This is a bit of a tough one considering they only have one other album to compare it to, but Astral Rejection is such a huge stinking pile of absolute horror, You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter just makes the cut. It’s no classic by any standards, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable album with all killer, no filler (with the exception of the woeful cover of Soulja Boy’s song ‘Crank That’). I Set My Friends On Fire were another band who seemed to be bursting with endless potential, but with the departure of founding member (and obviously the main songwriter) Nabil Moo shortly after its release, the follow-up was so bad it’s borderline un-listenable. The fellas are touring again and have released a teaser of some new material, and it seriously sounds just as shit-tier as Astral Rejection. Sorry.