The 10 Greatest "Third" Rock Albums

By Ralph Peterstone, from AIB Promotions

Releasing a really solid debut album is hard enough, but then toppling it with a great follow-up is even more difficult, but many underestimate how hard it is for a rock band to release a great third album.

The wheels usually fall off at some point in a band's discography, and for many, the decline starts at around the third album. But hey, that's not always the case. In fact, some bands only just get going by their third album. 

So, to celebrate great third albums, here are the top 10 rock and metal third studio albums. Remember, we're only counting full LPs, so no live albums or complications.

10. Green Day, 'Dookie'

Dookie is the third studio album and major label debut by American rock band Green Day.It is regarded as the most important modern-punk rock album, and helped pave the way for the skater/punk-rock scene on the late '90s and early 2000s.

9. Iron Maiden, 'The Number Of The Beast'

Out went Paul Di'Anno and in came Bruce Dickinson, and with it, a whole new Iron Maiden was formed in their third album, The Number of the Beast. The first two albums (self-titled and Killers) are works of art in their own right, with punk elements sprayed over the galloping bassline of Steve Harris. But this album projected the band to new levels of wisdom, and many fans still regard it as Maiden's best work.

8. Radiohead, 'OK Computer'

Radiohead's experimental OK Computer has been named the greatest album of the past quarter century by music fans. The 1997 release - containing singles such as "Paranoid Android" and "Karma Police" - fended off albums by Nirvana and Oasis to top the list of greats.  It is also currently ranked the second best album of all time, on Best Ever Albums.

7. The Clash, 'London Calling'

London Calling is the third studio album by English punk rock band the Clash., and regarded by many fans and critics as the band's best. This punk classic incorporates a range of musical styles, including punk, reggae, rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and hard rock creating a timeless sound of rock punkalicious music.

6. Led Zeppelin, 'Led Zeppelin III'

Led Zeppelin III is the eponymous third studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in October 1970. It showed a progression from straightforward rock towards folk and acoustic music. With the band still finding their way, there would be better to come, but this third instalment is still an absolute banger, and would still sit proudly near the top of most rock album lists.

5. Metallica, 'Master of Puppets'

You don't have to like thrash metal to appreciate the beauty of Metallica's third album, Master of Puppets. This masterpiece really did set the bar for thrash metal in the '80s, and many would argue that it still hasn't been bettered by anything in the genre. This album is so accomplished from start to finish, and is without question one of the greatest records ever made, of any genre.

4. Black Sabbath, 'Master of Reality'

Some bands start to decline in quality by their third album, but not Black Sabbath - they were only just getting into their groove by this point. Master of Reality is the third studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in 1971. It is regarded by some critics as the foundation of doom metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal. It was certified double platinum after having sold over 2 million copies. 

3. My Chemical Romance, 'The Black Parade'

The Black Parade is the third studio album by American rock band My Chemical Romance. Released on October 24, 2006, through Reprise Records, it was produced by Rob Cavallo, known for having produced multiple albums for Goo Goo Dolls and Green Day. This album is regarded by many music critics as one of the most accomplished modern rock albums ever made.

2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 'Electric Ladyland'

The third and final instalment from The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a double - and produced under the watchful eye of Jimi himself, before he disbanded the trio. An absolute beast of a record, Electric Ladyland bears all the hallmarks of the psychedelic production of the time. It is still regarded as one of the best rock albums of all time.

1. Nirvana, 'In Utero'

For their third and final album, the grunge trio tried to veer away from the radio-friendly sound of Nevermind in favour of a much harsher sound and intent. The result was In Utero, and with tracks like "Heart-Shaped Box," "Pennyroyal Tea" and "Rape Me," the band couldn't have left on a higher note.For some, this is Nirvana's most accomplished album, and a real standout rock record of the '90s.

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