1997 in Heavy Metal Music: The Best and Worst of Times

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


1997 was a big year for heavy metal music. Some great albums were released, but there were also some real duds. Here’s a look at the best and worst of times in 1997 for heavy metal music.

Best Albums of 1997

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That pretty much sums up 1997 in heavy metal music. On the one hand, you had some of the best metal albums of all time being released. On the other hand, you had some of the worst metal albums of all time being released. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the best of the best: the 10 best metal albums of 1997.

Metallica – Reload

Metallica’s Reload was released on November 18, 1997, and although some would say it’s not one of their best works, I strongly disagree. I think Reload is one of Metallica’s most underrated albums.

Yes, it’s true that Reload doesn’t have the same raw energy as their earlier work, but I think that’s what makes it so special. It’s a more mature album, and you can really see the band starting to experiment with different sounds and styles.

And while there are a few clunkers on the album (I’m looking at you, “The Unforgiven II”), there are also some absolute classics, like “Fuel,” “The Memory Remains,” and “Devil’s Dance.”

So if you’re looking for something a little different from Metallica, give Reload a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Pantera – Reinventing the Steel

Reinventing the Steel is the ninth and final studio album by American heavy metal band Pantera. It was released on March 21, 2000 through EastWest Records. The album’s title was inspired by ponderings over what steel truly is, and how it can be reinvented.

Several musical styles are explored on the album. The song “Revolution Is My Name” features clean guitars and heavy groove, while “Goddamn Electric” is a lighter, funk-metal track with rapped vocals. “We’ll Grind That Axe for a Long Time” is a throwback to the band’s glam metal roots, while “Already Gone” is a power ballad similar to those from Vulgar Display of Power.

Reinventing the Steel was received positively by critics, with many hailing it as a return to form for the band. It debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Despite its commercial success, the album failed to achieve the same level of critical or commercial success as its predecessor, Far Beyond Driven (1994), which debuted at number one on both charts.

System of a Down – System of a Down

Debuting at number one hundred and eighty-eight on the Billboard two hundred, System of a Down’s self-titled album would go on to be one of the most successful debuts in music history. The Armenian-American metal band would establish themselves as one of the most unique groups in not just metal, but all of rock music. With their blend of nu metal, thrash metal, and popmetal, the band would go on to critical and commercial success with their next two albums, Toxicity and Mezmerize/Hypnotize.

Slipknot – Slipknot

Slipknot is the debut studio album by American heavy metal band Slipknot. It was released on June 29, 1999 by Roadrunner Records, following a demo release titled Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. recorded in 1996. The record is considered to be the band’s heaviest and darkest work to date, and features brutal metal riffs, percussion-heavy rhythms and chaotic vocal patterns. Lyrically, Slipknot covers topics such as suicide, masochism, murder and alienation.

Reviewers were generally favorable towards Slipknot; AllMusic praised it as “one of the most aggressive and powerful debut albums” while Kerrang! called it “a stunning debut”. Despite this, the record failed to enter any album charts at the time; in 2006 however, Slipknot peaked at number 51 on the Billboard 200 following the success of future albums Iowa (2001) and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) (2004). The album has been certified double platinum in Australia and the United States with sales of over two million copies each. Since its release in 1999, Slipknot has sold over five million copies worldwide.[3] The band toured extensively to support the album; performing in festivals such as Ozzfest (headlined by Black Sabbath) and Dynamo Open Air before embarking on its own tour titled Welcome to Our Neighborhood Tour which featured Static-X as openers.[4] Lead singer Corey Taylor has described the recording process for Slipknot as “the most intense” he had ever experienced.[5][6]

Worst Albums of 1997

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The year 1997 was a great year for heavy metal music, but there were also some really terrible albums released. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the worst albums that came out in 1997.

Limp Bizkit – Three Dollar Bill, Y’all$

Limp Bizkit’s debut album, Three Dollar Bill, Y’all$, is often considered one of the worst albums of 1997. The album was panned by critics for its juvenile lyrics and overall crassness. It is also considered one of the worst albums in the history of heavy metal music.

Korn – Life Is Peachy

Seven years ago, on October 15th, Korn released their third album Life Is Peachy. It would go on to debut at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and would eventually be certified 4x platinum by the RIAA. The record was seen as a commercial and critical success for the band, cementing their place as one of the biggest bands in the world.

But in hindsight, Life Is Peachy is not a good album. In fact, it’s probably one of the worst albums to come out of the 1990s.

The problem with Life Is Peachy is that it’s just too long. At 74 minutes, it’s nearly an hour too long. There are 13 tracks on the album, and only about half of them are actually worth listening to. The other half are either filler or just bad songs.

And then there are the lyrics. On previous albums, Korn’s lyrics had been dark and brooding, but on Life Is Peachy they took a turn for the worst. The lyrics are juvenile and juvenile delinquents” laughable attempt at being deep and meaningful. They’re not even close to being clever or interesting.

But perhaps the worst thing about Life Is Peachy is that it signaled a change in direction for Korn. After this album, they would start to experiment with nu-metal/rap-rock fusion (see: “All in the Family”), which would alienate many of their fans. They would also start to rely more heavily on programmed drums and keyboards, which took away from their once-powerful sound.

In retrospect, Life Is Peachy is not a good album. It’s too long, has weak lyrics, and signals a change in direction for Korn that would ultimately lead to them making worse music in the future. If you’re a fan of Korn, you might want to skip this one.

Coal Chamber – Chamber Music

Chamber Music is the second studio album by American nu metal band Coal Chamber, released on August 24, 1999 by Roadrunner Records. Despite being a commercial success, Chamber Music was not as well-received as the band’s 1997 debut album Coal Chamber.

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, making it the first and only nu metal album to do so. Upon release, it received mixed reviews from music critics. AllMusic’s Greg Prato praised some of the tracks but found others to be filler, while Ned Raggett of AllMusic and Blabbermouth.net’s Ray Van Horn, Jr. both panned the record. In 2005 and 2006, both Kerrang! and Metal Hammer ranked it as one of the worst albums of all time.

Spineshank – The Height of Callousness

Spineshank’s The Height of Callousness is one of the most detestable albums to ever come out of the nu-metal era. It’s an unrelenting barrage of angsty teenaged rage and frustration, set to a soundtrack of down-tuned, chugging guitars and mind-numbingly simplistic drum patterns. Vocalist Jonny Santos sounds like he’s perpetually on the verge of tears, screeching and wailing his way through song after song of uninspired, forgettable drivel. The whole thing is an utter mess, and a complete waste of time and money. Avoid at all costs.

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