One of the pleasures of this job is getting to write about albums that you love. On the flip side, though, sometimes you have to endure some real dreck. With that in mind, let’s enjoy one last parting shot at the year’s most horrendous sonic offenses. Here you are, folks: the Top 10 Worst Albums of 2009.
Give Puddle of Mudd credit for their amazing consistency: Few bands have managed to put together as many hits this decade as this Missouri quartet. But their new album demonstrates that being commercially successful and creatively interesting are two very different things. Running through the grunge playbook, vocalist and guitarist Wes Scantlin pledges eternal allegiance to the Seattle bands of the 1990s, but Volume 4 will probably make you just want to pop in Nevermind instead.
If you’re going to name your album Life Starts Now, you’d better make sure the songs on it are sufficiently urgent and lively. Unfortunately, the third record from Three Days Grace has a hard time distinguishing itself from a lot of the hard rock out there in the marketplace. The guitars tend to be “aggressive” without ever really conveying any sense of danger or catharsis, and the songs, with their themes of lost love and disillusionment, feel recycled rather than haunted. Maybe life will start on their next album.
Tantric have survived personnel changes and label shuffling, but as their fourth album indicates, this band’s most crippling obstacle is their very dated sound. Emulating everyone from Creed to Alice in Chains, this dull quintet want to be the kings of the post-grunge landscape, but their self-consciously macho songs are more hysterical than powerful. As a result, Mind Control rarely soars or rocks. It just kinda sits there and groans.
A lot of bands have attempted comebacks in the last 12 months, but one of the least successful was Creed’s. Even at their commercial zenith, these guys were hopelessly lumbering windbags, but Full Circle finds the quartet struggling for inspiration. It used to be that Creed wanted to be Pearl Jam – now they’re lucky to aspire to the heights of Nickelback.
Every band has to evolve in order to remain relevant, but Papa Roach’s decision to become 2009’s answer to Buckcherry was especially unfortunate. Buckcherry at least have the courage of their convictions; on Metamorphosis Papa Roach flail around as they try to rawk with abandon. Admittedly, the first single, “Lifeline,” started to sound better after frequent exposure on radio, but the same couldn’t be said for the rest of this sexist, humorless record.
Contemporary rock is so devoid of female lead singers that it’s tempting to give Halestorm a pass because of the presence of Lzzy Hale behind the mic. But then you listen to Halestorm’s self-titled debut, a dull collection of tales about bad boyfriends and kinky sex, and you realize that mediocre is mediocre no matter what gender is writing the songs.
4. Adelitas Way – ‘Adelitas Way’
On their debut album, Adelitas Way try really hard to prove just how bad-ass they are. The guitars are loud, the drums pound, and frontman Rick DeJesus sounds like he’s auditioning to become a PA announcer for a monster-truck rally. Unfortunately, the end result of all this testosterone is a pretty laughable post-grunge effort.
Ever listen to an AC/DC album and wish you could sound as mighty as those guys? Charm City Devils do, too. Are they successful? Not even close. Let’s Rock-N-Roll is this band’s inauspicious debut, and lead singer John Allen is particularly lame trying to channel his inner Bon Scott and Robert Plant. You and your three buddies banging out cover tunes in your garage could probably make a better record than these guys.
Stripper-rock at its basest and stupidest, Burn Halo is all macho posturing and inane bluster. Frontman James Hart sings about his addiction to dirty girls, but he’s such a repellent vocalist that you hope self-respecting women will be smart enough not to give him the time of day.
This was supposed to be their triumphant return to rock ‘n’ roll after dabbling in country with 2007’s Lost Highway. Unfortunately, The Circle was just a reminder of how generic Bon Jovi had become. Where this New Jersey quartet once had an amazing gift for wonderfully cheesy metal-pop hits, now they’re just boring adults complaining about what they see on the news.