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Top 10 One Album Heavy Metal Wonders

Top 10 One Album Heavy Metal Wonders

Some bands have but one shining moment in a lengthy career. Some bands put out but one magical release whose effects are felt long after the band's demise. We've come up with a top 10 list of one album wonders that while is not scientifically accurate, does reflect the opinions of many of us on staff here at Metal Rules. Even internally, not every writer would agree with every single album on this list, but we've tried to develop a list that comes close. Here is the criteria we used in making the selections:

  • Bands that released just one amazing album and broke up or...

  • a band that has one magical album from their multi-album discography that totally overshadows everything else they've done. This is not to say their other albums are crap, but that they just do not come close to matching the brilliance of their one godlike album.

  • This covers all styles of metal from glam metal to black metal.

  • Bands who have released one awesome album but whose second one is coming soon do not count.

  • This is not a list of one HIT wonders. Metal isn't about "hits". We take the whole album into consideration.

#1. Cynic - FOCUS

Cynic's one and only album, FOCUS, has achieved cult status amongst fans of technical/prog death metal and thrash. Members of the band went on to contribute their skills to many other bands and projects. Tampa, Florida’s Cynic was formed in 1987 and after a couple of demos released FOCUS in 1993. The band presented listeners with an unlikely mix of death metal, prog, jazz, along with vocals that were primarily death metal with parts done clean (in a robotic voice no less). Cynic similarly to Atheist, were ahead of their time. Although this album was released 13 years ago, it still stands up against today’s cutting edge artists such as Into Eternity.

#2. Queensryche –

OPERATION: MINDCRIME is perhaps the best concept CD ever created and one of the best metal albums ever recorded. This is also the only truly GREAT Queensryche album by which all other Queensryche is measured. Although the band’s previous material was ok, and EMPIRE had its moments, nothing in the band’s discography comes anywhere close to the brilliance of this 1988 release. From the music to the storyline, everything about this album was perfect. The band will be releasing a concept album follow-up very soon...will it be anywhere near as groundbreaking?


Vio-lence is the first of 2 bands in our top 10 that feature Robb Flynn. Vio-Lence's 1988 release ETERNAL NIGHTMARE is often heralded as the bands defining moment and as one of the best albums from the Speed/Thrash genre.


#4. Machine Head - BURN MY EYES

When BURN MY EYES came out in 1994 there were many bay area thrash metal fans who hoped Machine Head would represent the return of thrash metal. BURN MY EYES was modern sounding, yet not “nu”. With their second album, things were already beginning to unfold. With their third, their disgusting infection with the mallcore plague was complete. Since then they have slightly improved but only to show mere glimpses of the brilliance of their one album wonder.

#5. Possessed - SEVEN CHURCHES

Almost every thrash, death, and black metal band owes some amount of props to Possessed. Nowhere is this more evident with their groundbreaking 1985 debut that many go so far as to call the first death metal album of all time.

#6. Motley Crue - SHOUT AT THE DEVIL

Some Crue-heads will be pissed to see this on the list as it is one of the more controversial additions. Even though they had other albums that were good, and songs on them that rival some of the material on SatD, as a whole nothing else they’ve done is as heavy, dark, and earth shaking as this release.


#7. At The Gates -

For a band whose name is so frequently dropped and instantly equated with cultivating what has become known as the "Gothenburg melodic death metal sound," the one album that stands out from the rest of their short four-album career is the one they left with -1992's SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL. In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Arch Enemy and countless other bands owe the influence of this album to what would eventually shape their own unique sound. After the release of SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL, the various band members splintered off to join such metal luminaries as The Crown, The Haunted and Cradle of Filth but the indelible mark left by SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL remains almost fifteen years later as a landmark in the heavy metal canon.

#8. Cinderella - NIGHT SONGS

This album was definitely an anomaly from Cinderella. The band changed so much after their debut album that most have a hard time even remembering that they started as a metal band. For sure, the image on this album was trendy and typical for the glam era, however, the music on NIGHT SONGS is a mix of classic/pre-sell-out Def Leppard, AC/DC, and a bit of Judas Priest. The less popularized songs from this release like “Push Push”, “Once Around The Ride” and “Back Home Again” are some of the better examples of the material - not the songs for which they did videos. After NIGHT SONGS, Cinderella totally changed gears becoming a blues rock band and left behind almost all vestiges of their past….for shame.

#9. The Crown - DEATHRACE KING

It took The Crown 3 full-lengths to lead into their blockbuster masterpiece. Coming from the original name (Crown of Thorns) playing solid, but rather ho hum death metal, to the slightly rockier and more memorable sound of HELL IS HERE the band never quite hit the mark with merely a handful of songs that truly stood out. When DEATHRACE KING hit in 2000 many were blown away by the power, the energy, the aggression, and riffs that just never quit. Unfortunately, instability and possibly a lack of direction hurt the next two releases before the band called it quits.

#10. Quiet Riot - METAL HEALTH

Quiet Riot burst onto the scene with their 1983 release METAL HEALTH. Though they had already released 2 albums in Japan, it was their 3rd release that put them over the top. Many a metalhead was turned onto the genre because of the metal anthem "Bang Your Head" but Quiet Riot were never able to match the quality or success of this release.

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