10 Classic Albums Critics and Fans Hated At First

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Often, it takes time for a classic album to be fully recognized as such. 

It’s not easy to spot a classic out in the wild, but these records have stuck with fans for a reason. 

When these albums were initially released, critics and fans hated what they heard, and didn’t fully understand the artists’ vision. 

Now that time has passed, these albums solidified as classics, despite what critics at the time may have claimed. 

It may have taken a little while for fans to get used to these albums, but nobody is arguing their greatness anymore. 

The Black Album – Metallica

It’s an eternal argument amongst fans when Metallica truly sold out. 

Thrash fans were livid when The Black Album first came out in 1991, thinking the thrash legends had sold out and become a rock and roll band. 

Despite fans initially rejecting the change in sound, the album gave Metallica a second wind. Ballads like ‘Nothing Else Matters’ helped Metallica soar to stadium levels with millions of new listeners in tow. 

This might not have been thrash, but it helped expose heavy metal to people who never heard it in the first place. 

However fans may have treated The Black Album, it’s responsible for pushing metal into the stratosphere. Not a bad trade for a bunch of kickass rock songs. 

Black SabbathBlack Sabbath

Heavy metal was intimidating in its inception and no one was scarier than Black Sabbath

The genre didn’t have a name, most critics thought Sabbath was bastardizing the blues. In Lester Bang’s first review of the band for Rolling Stone, he remarked Tony Iommi’s riffs were “just like Cream…but worse!”

The differences between Iommi and Eric Clapton are night and day, with Iommi’s guitar playing evoking pure darkness. 

There were some blues licks mixed in, but Black Sabbath wasn’t interested in writing about how a woman did them wrong. Sabbath was designed to stomp out the psychedelic sounds of Cream, and their debut may as well have been the death of the Flower Generation. 

This was beyond peace and love, and if Clapton was God, then Tony Iommi was the devil. 

A Thousand Suns – Linkin Park

No one wanted Linkin Park to lose sight of their humanity. 

On A Thousand Suns, Linkin Park dropped guitars in favor of ambient synths, and the fans were ready to cast off their favorite band. After the dust settled, it still stands as one of Linkin Park’s most cohesive albums, following a narrative about nuclear fallout

Linkin Park’s experiments pay off on these tracks, replacing heavy guitars with walls of abrasive noise. 

Fans eventually warmed up to the sounds of A Thousand Suns, and it proved to be ahead of the curve in its production. 

The impact of the album is still felt today, with bands like Bring Me the Horizon embracing electronic elements in their heaviness. 

Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin birthed heavy metal and hard rock with their inception. 

Jimmy Page’s licks made countless kids pick up guitars, meanwhile, John Bonham exemplified what heavy drumming could sound like and Robert Plant defined the rock star. 

That didn’t stop Rolling Stone from crucifying what they were hearing. 

Their early reviews stated Page’s guitar playing was more suited for the Yardbirds, the album was terribly produced and their songwriting was “weak and unimaginative.” 

Critics didn’t realize what they were hearing. Those “unimaginative” songs were the gateway to hard rock like ‘Good Times Bad Times’ and ‘Dazed and Confused.’ 

All told, Zeppelin’s debut was a musical wrecking ball that tore down traditional rock and roll and made way for metal. 

Follow the LeaderKorn

Many critics can’t tell when the times are changing. 

When legendary critic Robert Christgau reviewed Korn’s Follow the Leader, he didn’t hear the future. He heard nothing but a bunch of noise. 

Christgau laid into Jonathan Davis’ vocal style, calling him “a guy whose idea of transgressive art is netcasting soft-core S&M to any teenager with a logon.” 

He also compared Korn’s style to “death metal” and thought that Korn was too whiny. 

Christgau’s hate didn’t stop at this album either. 

For every one of Korn’s albums, Christgau didn’t have a single kind word to say, either giving them back-handed compliments or saying that albums like Issues and Life is Peachy were musical bombs. 

While he vented his frustration, Korn screamed their way to the bank, dominating heavy metal and pop culture with a nu-metal fist. 


Not everyone wanted Nevermind to change the world. 

When Nirvana blew the ‘90s wide open, Rolling Stone was confused, latching onto the band’s Pixies influences and caliling them a flash in the pan. 

The review would go on to say that Nirvana were the perfect case of a band that “squander their spunk on records they’re not ready to make, then burn out their energy and inspiration with uphill touring.” 

They were dead wrong though, as the world at large threw out their leather vests in exchange for ratty flannel. 


Tool’s music can put people’s brains in a blender. 

Although fans love dissecting their different time signatures, Pitchfork felt Tool’s Lateralus was a pretentious mess.

In their review, Pitchfork was more interested theorizing what Tool’s music is supposed to mean rather than what the band was actually doing.

The review totally missed the point of songs like “The Grudge” and “Lateralus,” instead complaining about how over-complicated the music was. 

If only Pitchfork was able to meet the band on their terms, they would get why they transcended traditional metal for their numerous fans. 

Regardless of lyrical content, Tool can still play Fibonacci spirals around all of their peers. 

TenPearl Jam

Although they got slapped with the “alternative” label like many in the grunge era, Pearl Jam wore their stadium rock influences on their sleeve. 

Eddie Vedder was more than comfortable playing to giant crowds and the English press never forgave him for it. 

While us Yanks showered their debut Ten with praise, the NME was less than impressed, accusing the band of “trying to steal money from young alternative kids’ pockets.” 

Despite having their sights on Led Zeppelin-esque greatness, Vedder and co. did their time in the trenches of the Seattle underground. 

Pearl Jam had been accused of being sellouts since day one, but Ten is authentic to their vision.

Eddie Vedder sang what was in his heart, even if it pissed off the firmly anti-radio alt-kids.

I Get WetAndrew WK

You don’t need to think too hard when listening to Andrew WK’s music. 

The man’s knack for partying connected with many, but Pitchfork refused to dance. 

Pitchfork tore Andrew’s high-energy debut to shreds, where the writer throws ad-hominem insults and docks the record for not saying anything outside of partying. 

But that’s just who Andrew WK is: the king of partying. 

Eventually, Pitchfork owned up to their misunderstanding and bumped the score up from a 0.6 to 8.6. 

It’s nice to know even the most jaded eventually learn to party. 

High VoltageAC/DC

You don’t need a Ph.D. to rock out to AC/DC

For the reviewer class though, that wasn’t good enough. 

Their debut High Voltage annoyed Rolling Stone, critic Billy Altman remarking, “Stupidity bothers me. Calculated stupidity offends me.”

That didn’t stop AC/DC from kicking ass up and down the ‘70s, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Rolling Stone totally missed the point of AC/DC. Bon Scott kicked ass and did it for the everyman. 

AC/DC will never be art rock, and that’s why they’re beloved.