27 April 2023
Nu Metal: Happy 20th Birthday?
Plug in a heavily detuned seven-string guitar. Add slap bass, hip-hop influenced beats and rapping. Shout lyrics about feelings of abandonment. Do it all with energy, anger and ridiculously wide trousers, and you get Nu Metal.
This year marks the 20th anniversary for a lot of big Nu-metal records and according to Loudwire the genre may be making a comeback.
Korn spearheaded the genre in the mid-’90s, but nu-metal didn’t really take off until the early 2000s when the likes of Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit and Disturbed all hit.
Well we all know the big names, but what about the best of the rest? It’s better than you might think. Hound Bites selects some overlooked Nu Metal bangers and even makes a Playlist for you.
The War of Art – American Head Charge
Brutal, loud, and insanely intense, the Minneapolis-based American Head Charge are also one of the most intelligent, interesting, and compelling metal bands of the era.
Singer Martin Cock has an amazing range, from powerful roar through chanting to melodic singing. The songs are emotional and interesting, incorporating tempo changes, unusual structures, contrasting slow-fast parts and shifting dynamics.
Rick Rubin’s razor-sharp production helps create a multi-layered sonic tapestry, with chainsaw-like guitars combining with keyboard sounds, samples, noises and effects.
The Height of Callousness – Spineshank
Agro-metal band from Los Angeles 2001 release is a scream-filled slab of pent up aggression and frustration. Drawing a cynical picture of emotionally hardened youth and their place in society, the album is a mix of heavy metal and industrial sounds, full of spite, paranoia and self-doubt. Key track New Disease sums this all up perfectly.
Cold – Cold
Cold’s eponymous debut is a set of harsh post-alternative metal with nods to Korn, Deftones and Alice in Chains.
The group concentrates on brutal riffing mixed with hard-hitting rhythms. Buzzing distorted guitars blend effectively with weird soundscapes, while the songwriting is concerned with adolescent angst and horror (“Everyone Dies,” “Insane,” “Serial Killer,” etc.). Opening track Go Away is killer.
L.D. 50 – Mudvayne
Illinois metal band that set themselves apart from their contemporaries with a complex, more progressive variant of nu-metal. This album features complex and spaced riffs, time signatures, tempo changes, strong incorporation of clean and shouted vocals and quiet/loud dynamics.
There are also several instrumental tracks, which were originally one complete track called LD.50, later to be separated into the album. At 70:00 minutes long, multiple listens are obligatory if you wish to fully immerse, but its well worth it.
Supercharger – Machine Head
The sonic scope of this record , which combines the early thrash days with some of the experimentation on Burning Re, makes it the band’s most well-rounded effort at this point in their career.
There may be too many tracks but the standout songs are awesome. Bulldozer, American High, Blank Generation and Crashing Around You all fit that bill.
Every Six Seconds – Saliva
On their major label debut Saliva gets a heavier sound and a more polished production. The production brings in a huge bottom end sound, previously absent from Saliva. There are also a few newfound electronic touches that nod towards Nine Inch Nails. A well-crafted alternative metal album with standout tracks being Click Click Boom and Your Disease.
Die Motherfucker Die – Dope
An uncompromising New York City-based outfit that draws from both heavy metal and industrial music, with lead singer/rhythm guitarist/songwriter Edsel Dope singing in a raging bass voice reminiscent of Lemmy. Over the course of a few albums Dope managed to weave in elements of speed, alternative, rap, and nu-metal. Die Motherfucker Die is perhaps their most fondly remembered track.
(hed) p.e. Blackout
Sporting a hybrid sound the band dubs “G-Punk,” this rapcore outfit came together in 1994 in Huntington Beach, California. On their third album (hed) pe enlisted the aid of producer Machine (Pitchshifter) to help them figure out a way to imbue their aggressive mix of heavy rock and hip-hop with some serious hooks. It worked.
The album expands on their melodic elements but also delivers truckloads of crushing guitar and pounding rhythm. Over the course of the record they channel Korn, Limp Bizkit, and System of a Down. Singer Jahred’s own unique blend of charisma, anger, and astonishing vocal talent really come to the fore.
P.O.D. offered a more optimistic alternative to Nu Metal moaning.
The spiritual, emotional band writes songs about promise and hope — songs that inspire you to celebrate life, not despise it. The band truly cares about its listeners too, one of the key reasons why this album shook the metal world in 2002.
These four guys obviously love making music together, and that passion comes across in every song. Thet fuse a variety of influences — metal, hip-hop, dub – with vocalist Sonny;s voice soaring over the top. “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation” stand out as rallying calls for metal fans looking for music about living, not dying.
Chamber Music – Coal Chamber
Coal Chamber were formed in 1994 and quickly created a huge local buzz. A demo tape championed by Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares got the band an opportunity to sign with Roadrunner Records.
Coal Chamber owe a lot to White Zombie, often relying on noise, texture, and sheer aggression to put their music across. On Chamber Music, they expand the production palette to include electronic/industrial sounds, a bit of updated goth and even a few orchestrations. There’s even a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” (performed with special guest Ozzy Osbourne).
Available in All Colors – One Minute Silence
Composed of lead vocalist Brian “Yap” Barry, guitarist Chris Ignatiou, bassist Glenn Diani, and drummer Eddie Stratton, One Minute Silence is one of the very few rap-metal outfits to come out of Great Britain.
The debut album takes its cue from the blistering, macho rap-metal sound of groups like Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, and to a certain extent, Korn.
They combine hard-nosed social commentary with a dark sense of humor and proove that it is possible for a British alt-metal band to grasp the essence of the sound and pull it off well.
The Darker Side of Nonsense – Dry Kill Logic
Dry Kill Logic make some thoroughly aggressive music. Their songs bludgeon the listener like a frozen leg of beef to the skull. From the violent chorus of the album’s opening track, to the frenetic sway of “Rot,” prepare yourself for a roller coaster ride into mayhem.
The lyrics are full of easily identifiable themes, such as twisted relationships, stress and having to deal with Konbheads, and the an album succeeds in bringing out the inner frustration inside us all.
Revolution Revolución – Ill Niño
In New Jersey-based Latin metal sextet, most of its members are of South American descent, resulting in a rich combination of crunchy heavy metal with Latin rhythms and lyrics that alternate between English and Spanish.
The gruesome cover and politically charged song titles make for an excellent debut for fans who lean more to the cerebral side of modern metal. If You Still Hate Me, Liar and No Murder are particularly good.
Soulfly – Soulfly
Like his last release with Sepultura, the superb Roots, Max Cavalera’s experimentation (Brazilian tribal drumming/rhythms, samples, unearthly sound effects, etc.) is a catalyst here on Soulfly, but gut-wrenching heavy metal is the foundation for almost all of the tracks.
The energy and intensity don’t let up for a second throughout this debut, as heard on the grinding tracks “Eye for an Eye,” “Bumbklaatt,” and “The Song Remains Insane.”
The album contains guest appearances by several leading hard rockers — Chino Moreno from the Deftones, Fred Durst and DJ Lethal from Limp Bizkit,, plus Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares from Fear Factory.
Sinner – Drowning Pool
Alt-metal band behind the modern rock hit “Bodies,” who combine muscular drums, angry riffs, and dark themes.
Singer Dave Williams has really impressive vocals, showing diversity, breadth, melody and ranges of screaming. Musically, Drowning Pool are a cross between Korn and Tool. The riffs are huge, with enormous grooves and great dance parts.
The track “Bodies” was written inherently to be a song to get people to dance with its line of “something’s got to give/let the bodies hit the floor.” We’d like a Tenner for every time we’ve thrown shapes to that. A classic.