Some of the Best *Third* Albums in Modern Music (Part 4)

A much less coveted (yet still important) list than greatest debut albums, these third albums dropped at pivotal moments in these band’s careers.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

No one ever talks about the third album with so much hype usually surrounding a band’s debut work. Even the second release in a band’s catalogue is notable because the pitfalls of writing a new record while touring relentlessly split up more groups then anything. 

But researching this list I realized that many of these entries were the mainstream’s first look at these groups. A kind of ten-year-overnight-success story. Many third albums dropped at huge crossroads in artist’s careers, a masterpiece before a massive hiatus, like Refused’s Shape of Punk to Come or a gigantic comeback record like Jane’s Addiction’s, Strays the magic number three always seems to have some sort of backstory to it either launching its group into superstardom or acting as the final nail in the coffin. 

Here are a hundred and fifteen or so fantastic third albums that I hope you like. Maybe even some will fill you with nostalgia. Again, I am not a musical expert or journalist by any stretch of the imagination and I’ve used a list randomizer as to assure no biased or ranking has been applied to these records. I will be releasing ten at a time periodically. 

Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles

Release: November 2nd 1999

Label: Epic


Awards: One Award and One Nomination

~ Nominated for Best Rock Album

~ Won Best Hard Rock Performance (“Guerrilla Radio”)

Singles: “Guerrilla Radio” “Sleep Now in the Fire” “Testify”

Why it rocked: Named after the rumored invasion of the continental United States by Imperial Japan during World War II – Rage Against The Machine’s, The Battle of Los Angeles is a devastating attack on the status quo of Pre 9/11 American life. Attacking predatory capitalism, consumerism and the blissfully unaware masses.

Afterwards: The Rage was real and boiled well over the top of the pot by the end of the century. With three universally acclaimed records under their belts the band could barely stand one another anymore. Lead singer and main activist, Zach De La Rocha became increasingly agitated with the success of the group. Realizing the large arena crowds seemed less concerned with activism and more concerned with swilling beer and bro-ing out against the machine coupled with bassist Tim Commerford’s publicity stunt at the VMA’s tensions were too high for the band to continue on. They would quietly release one last album full of cover songs and go on a permanent hiatus

Shania Twain – Come on Over

Released: November 4th 1997

Label: Mercury

US Billboard 200: #2


~ Record of the Year (“You’re Still the One”)

~ Album of the Year

~ Song of the Year (“You’re Still the One”)

~ Best Female Country Vocal Performance (“You’re Still the One” WON

~ Best Country Song (“You’re Still the One”) WON

Singles: “Love Gets Me Every Time” “”Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” “You’re Still The One” “From This Moment On” “When” “Honey, I’m Home” “That Don’t Impress Me Much” “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” “You’ve Got A Way” “Come On Over” “Rock This Country!” “I’m Holdin’ On To Love (To Save My Life)”

Why it rocked: Well for starters, I don’t think I have ever seen an album with so many radio singles released over such a long expanse of time (nearly three years) which showcases Shania’s firepower as a songwriter. She perfected the recipe, sticking with her roots enough to keep the early 90’s country fans loyal while ushering in a boon of brand new cowboy boots on the line dance floor. A combination of Canadian plains wisdom, with dashes of bubble gum pop rock, Come on Over laid the ground work for songstress Taylor Swift and others like her in the new generation.

Afterwards: After setting Guinness world records for an album on top of the charts and other records for female performers, Shania would embark on a two year world tour and continue her crossover domination with her 2004 release, Up!

Dandy Warhols – thirteen tales from urban bohemia

Released: June 12th 2000

Label: Capitol

US Billboard 200: 182

Awards: N/A

Singles: “Get Off” “”Bohemian Like You” “Godless” “Horse Pills”

Why it rocked: when asked about making Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia, Frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor said that the group “felt like we needed to make the last classic rock album” and in a sense they were successful. The album drips with a curious bisexuality, drugs and hooks for days but never takes itself as seriously as the hipsters it aims to torch. The Dandy Warhols set out to achieve the last classic rock album and ended up putting out one the first great indie albums of the century.

Afterwards: The band would enjoy the breakthrough success that 13 Tales afforded them by buying an abandoned warehouse in Seattle and converting it into their own recording studio and art gallery. They would name it The Odditorium. While touring in support of the record, the band would go on to do onstage covers of the Velvet Underground with fan of the band, David Bowie. Their next release, Welcome to the Monkey House would find the group return to its more psychedelic roots.

Every Time I Die – Gutter Phenomenon

Released: August 23rd 2005

Label: Ferret


Awards: N/A

Singles: N/A

Why it rocked: After rocketing to the top of hardcore connoisseur’s lists i during the summer of 2003 with their iconic release, Hot Damn! the expectations and stakes were high for hometown bad boys, Every Time I Die. In an interview with lead singer Keith Buckley at the time he stated that upon wrapping up the tour supporting HD! that the band took time to listen to the record and hate it. All of this while the band were growing older and embracing the classic rock sounds they had grown up with, particularly Southern Rock. The final product resulted in the group’s most accessible record to date and Revolver Magazine’s Record of the Year Award.

Afterwards: The group would continue taking their energetic live show on the road, touring relentlessly got the next decade and a half and releasing six more records. Their legacy of helping up-and-coming bands, their friendship with their fans and their evolving metal core sound was eulogized by several of their contemporaries upon their split in early 2022.

Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil

Released: June 6th 2005

Label: Warner Bros.

Billboard 200: 30

Awards: N/A

Singles: “Burn it Down” “Bat Country” “Beast and the Harlot” “Seize The Day”

Why it rocked: 2005 was a very good summer to be a fan of metal. Leading off with arguably their greatest record in a catalogue full of them, Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil is a furious ride through the depths of hell. Moving away from their more Metal-Core sound from earlier in their careers the album acts as a masterclass in guitar solos, speed and intensity yet maintains enough pop sensibility to land them on MTV’s radar. (Even winning Best New Artist at the VMA’s despite releasing three records and being around for the better half of a decade.) Put simply this album is like a motorcycle burning out on your face – in a good way.

Afterwards: The group toured extensively for the next sixteen months in support of City of Evil and would return to the studio to work on their next album, Avenged Sevenfold in 2007. Sadly in December of 2009, original drummer for the group, The Rev would be found dead in his home. The band contemplated breaking up but continued on with the help of Dream Theater drummer, Mike Portonoy.

Blink 182 – Enema of the State

Released: June 1st 19988

Label: MCA

Billboard 200: 9

Awards: N/A

Singles: “What’s My Age Again?” “All The Small Things” “Adam’s Song”

Why it rocked: Drummer Travis Barker makes his debut with Blink 182 on their commercial smash, Enema of the State. A loose themed record based mainly on adolescent frustration with love and heartbreak, the trio found themselves enormously successful almost overnight. Leading many of their older fans to typically react as though (*YAWN*) the group had sold out and were manufactured to capitalize on the bubblings of punk pop everywhere. But no one cares about any of that now and this record still slaps.

Afterwards: After becoming my TRL mainstays in between massive arena tours tho em band returned to the studio to record their 2001 effort, Take off Your Pants and Jacket. The sessions were tumultuous particularly between bassist singer, Mark Hoppus and Guitaristand back up vocalist, Tom Delonge. The band would release, Jacket and it would debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 but the problems remained. Frustrated with the lack of heavy music in the group’s sound Delonge formed his own side project, Box Car Racer. He would tap Barker on the shoulder the play drums for the project as well. Despite insisting it wasn’t intentional to leave Hoppus out of the project it would be the forefront issue as the band went on hiatus in 2005.

Interpol – Our Love to Admire

Released: July 10th 2007

Label: Capitol

Billboard 200: 4

Awards: N/A

Singles: “The Heinrich Maneuver” “Mammoth” “No I in Threesome”

Why it rocked: Since their debut Interpol has continued to defy critics and haters alike by consistently crafting new sounding material while hardly changing anything. Lead singer Paul Banks sounds at his most vulnerable on their third album, Our Love to Admire, an album that Banks admitted was the first batch of songs he had written after getting sober. Excellent bassist, Carlos D again anchors the band as they sounds as dark and tight as ever as Paul takes on the frustrations of aging relationships, sobriety and sex.

Afterwards: Not long after the group concluded touring they announced that they were working on a fourth album. They also acknowledged the quiet departure of bassist, Carlos Dengler (he has never been replaced) and the move back to Matador records. They would take a brief hiatus in 2012 but return to touring and recording soon after.

Bad Religion- Suffer

Released: September 8th 1988

Label: Epitaph

Billboard 200: N/A

Awards: N/A

Singles: N/A

Why it rocked: Cited by many music critics and punk peers (like Fat Mike of NOFX) to be the most important punk record of all time, Bad Religion’s third album, Suffer still sounds ahead of its time. A testimony to the band that laid down the groundwork for modern skate punk back in the late 80’s. An absolute genre changing fireball that rings in just under twenty seven minutes.

Afterwards: Bad Religion would break the cycle of putting out albums and breaking up immediately after, Suffer. Yet it would still be a rocky road with an up and down relationship between songwriters, Brett Gurewitz and lead singer, Greg Graffin with the former leaving multiple times for rehabilitation from drugs compounded with the stress of running his growing label, Epitaph. But ultimately, Bad Religion still rolls on nearly thirty five years after their genre shaping effort.

Primus – Pork Soda

Released: April 20 1993

Label: Interscope

US Billboard 200: #7

Awards: N/A

Singles: “My Name is Mud” “DMV” “Mr. Krinkle”

Why it rocked: In a true testament to how far alternative came out of the woodwork in the mid 90’s, it’s probably safe to say few records as weird as Primus’s Pork Soda will debut in the top ten ever again. Yet again it’s doubtful that any records with this elevated level of musicianship will ever debut in the top ten again either. Considered the band’s darkest album lead singer and Bass genius, Les Claypool has said that the group had been on tour for over two years by the time they sat down to record this record and were in a “somber mood”. Whatever it was, it worked. Primus soars and sails through rivers of pork soda, goopy cheese and all other off putting consumerism analogies as tight as ever.

Afterwards: Primus remained just as weird throughout the rest of the decade scoring another top ten hit with their follow-up album, Tales From The Punch Bowl. They would go on to release two more records before going on a three year hiatus in 2000.

Rancid – …And Out Come the Wolves

Released: August 22nd 1995

Label: Epitaph

US Billboards 200: 45

Awards: N/A

Singles: “Roots Radicals” “Time Bomb” “Ruby Soho”

Why it rocked: Considered the third element in the trifecta of the Punk/Ska revival of the 90’s (along with Bad Religion’s Stranger than Fiction and Green Day’s Dookie). And Out Come The Wolves… is a seminal release not only for Punk music but Alternative in general. Tim Armstrong would emerge as an adored and celebrated songwriter in the genre for decades following his work on the album.

Afterwards: After Wolves the band toured relentlessly and received the most MTV airplay they would in their careers. They would follow up with the peculiar, Life Won’t Wait in 1998 and eponymous record in 2000 to to cult like fanfare.

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