My proper entry point into metal came through Nu-Metal; I think you would find many folks about my age had a similar entry point. It was so accessible & spoke to my early teenage angst. Regardless of what I think about several of the major players of the Nu-Metal age during that period they really helped influence my later tastes.
Some of these bands were one-hit wonders; they dropped a stonker of an album & then shuffled back into obscurity. Other adapted with the death of nu-metal while a select few tried to follow up their initial success with similar sounding albums.
This top 10 reflects a mix of what was popular & what I really enjoyed back then.
No Limp Bizkit though…those guys can fuck right off.
10: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory
I still remember the first song I heard of Linkin Park, it was One Step Closer on a free Kerrang CD & it blew my mind. Heavy but meaningful, the mix of rap & metal was really interesting to a nervous rock & metal fan & the accompanying video made the band look like badasses. It is no surprise that they became as big as they did with songs such as Crawling, Papercut & In The End. Pure teenage anthems.
9: Papa Roach – Infest
Some may think this should score higher in this list but while I wasn’t a big fan of the album overall it had some bangers on it. Last Resort is still considered by many as the highlight of Papa Roach’s career with lyrics & a video that just spoke volumes to any teen feeling a bit low. Infest wasn’t a wall-to-wall banging album but the songs that hit right did it spectacularly well.
8: Deftones – White Pony
Back to School (Mini Maggot) was my anthem for a period in secondary school. Going to an all boy’s school I often spent a lot of time threading water & trying to carve out my own identity…White Pony helped me establish what music was for me. It was soooo heavy! It was a hit filled album as well…Digital Bath, Knife Prty, Change (In The House of Flies) to name a few.
7: Coal Chamber – Coal Chamber
The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don’t need no water let the mother-fucker burn, burn, mother-fucker, burn! This was the first song I properly understood what ‘losing your shit’ meant in relation to metal. Sway wasn’t the only that invoked that reaction on the album though with songs such as Loco, Big Truck & Bradley still sounding massive in modern times.
6: Disturbed – The Sickness
I was so blown away by Voices when I heard it that for a long time Disturbed could do wrong. The Sickness was easily one of my favourite nu-metal albums of my teenage years. I even liked the Tears for Fears cover, Shout 2000! The latter half of the album might drift away & enter ‘boring’ territory but the deliverance of the first half more than makes up for it.
5: Mudvayne – L.D. 50
Mudvayne exploded on the scene with L.D. 50 looking like a bunch of nuts & with some of the most head-banging worthy tunes of the nu-metal era. Songs such as Dig & Death Blooms are still rock club favourites nowadays. Mudvayne came to me at time where my tastes were getting heavier & I was moving away from the like of Linkin Park. I loved the way in which the album tried to throw everything at you & no 2 songs sounded the same.
4: American Head Charge: The War of Art
I discovered The War of Art about the same time as Mudvayne, perfect timing for me as AHC’s blend of melodic heaviness was what I was after. I couldn’t get enough of them & All Wrapped Up & A Violent Reaction are still two of my favourite nu-metal songs to date. It is a very polished affair compared to some of the other albums on this list but it is placed deservedly.
3: System of a Down – Toxicity
This is the album that you might find at the number 1 spot on many similar lists. Its position here is based on the impact it had on me which, don’t get me wrong, was huge. Toxicity came to my attention when I saw the video for Chop Suey on Kerrang TV. I had never heard a band create music that had so much soul, was still heavy while reaching out to my bitter teenage mindset. It was the first album that really showed me how political a band could get while still writing great music.
2: Korn – Follow the Leader
I wasn’t sure where I would put Korn in the end considering just how much I dislike what the band has become but sticking to my own rule (what I thought then not what I think now) this album is more than deserving of its position. During secondary school the year 6 kids were allowed out at lunch. I had a friend who lived near to the school; we would go there & put this album on. Freak on A Leash, Got the Life, Dead Bodies Everywhere were but a few of my school anthems & the memories always make me smile.
1: Slipknot – Slipknot
Where were you when you first heard Spit It Out? Or Wait & Bleed? Or my personal favourite (Sic)? It’s the kind of memory that sticks in your mind & once again it was thanks to Kerrang TV (remember when it was good?) that I found Slipknot. The video for Wait & Bleed left me gob smacked as 9 nuts threw themselves about the stage while fans went rabid for them. I wanted to be a part of that so much & couldn’t believe just how heavy they were. The album is easily the standout moment of nu-metal.
As I got older my taste developed into a need for heavy music. I went searching for louder & more brutal bands. That is how I got into Death & Black metal. As nu-metal became a dirty word & more & more bands put out shoddy work in the hope of a quick buck I found myself rejecting my roots. It’s easy to look back & talk about how much bad nu-metal there was (and there was plenty) but as this list shows there were quite a few that made something out of it. In fact a lot of my dislikes relating to the bands above come from what they do musically in modern times!
1. Linkin Park: Can’t stand them but did get free tickets to see them live last year so went with my brother who loves them. I got drunk & had a blast especially when they played stuff from Hybrid Theory.
2. Papa Roach: I came to realise I didn’t like enough of Infest to call myself a fan. The follow-up album annoyed me with its whiney-ness & I don’t like the modern rock sound that the band has going on.
3. Deftones: Still a fan & think they’ve come on leaps & bounds since their nu-metal hey-day.
4. Coal Chamber: We have Devildriver instead so those people screaming for a new CC album need to shut up. Seeing CC do some reunion shows last year was cool but I don’t want them back at the expense of DD. I still haven’t gotten over Chamber Music.
5. Disturbed: Never really followed up the sickness & while I liked some songs of the later albums I found that the singers voice would grate on me more & more. That cover of Land of Confusion really annoyed the fuck out of me as well.
6. Mudvayne: Similar problem for many of these bands – unable to follow up a hit album. Mudvayne had some good tunes & I wouldn’t mind seeing them as part of a festival bill (few reunion shows that kind of thing) but with a few members being in Hellyeah now I don’t think it’s really necessary.
7. American Head Charge: After The War of Art I didn’t hear another good AHC song for many years & that was only when I put the album back on. Never came close to hitting the heights they hit during The War…the death of an important member (singer) meant they initially dis-banded but they appear to be back now.
8. SOAD: One of the most over-rated bands ever. They make good music & the follow-up double albums were enjoyable but the split that followed & attempts at getting back together haven’t cast them in a good light.
9. Korn: These fools can go to hell as far as I’m concerned. I spent years defending them over Issues, Take a Look in the Mirror & Korn 3 so what do they do? Go all dub-step/electronic on me & claim that they were never a metal band. Fuck you Korn.
10. Slipknot: Ahhh, Slipknot confuses me .I loved Iowa, the follow-up. I was hesitant of Vol.3 & thought All Hope Is Gone was hit & miss. It’s not they necessarily write bad music, far from it but they’ve lost that brutality that got me interested in them. The effects of other band projects (particularly Stone Sour) seems to have had an effect on the bands output.