Coal Chamber Rivals Tour Review

aymfci8vybmlhbxono0wCoal Chamber, Filter, Combichrist, American Head Charge // Saturday, March 28th, 2015 // The Palladium, Worcester, MA

The nu metal revival is now in full swing, with many defunct bands of the 90s and early 2000s emerging from the woodwork to reclaim their thrones. Coal Chamber, a constant favorite of mine in my younger days, broke up before I had the chance to see them live. Ten years would go by before the band announced their return in 2013. During that time vocalist Dez Fafara started Devildriver, a lackluster metal band that always felt more like a gimmick Dez was using to prove he wasn’t just “that guy from Coal Chamber”. The rest of the members of Coal Chamber all went on to form and join other bands, nothing noteworthy though. I missed Coal Chamber’s run with Sevendust last year so when I saw the announcement for a tour in support of their new album Rivals (!!!), I had to buy tickets.

I wondered about the crowd and the band’s performance. Did mall goths still exist? A few summers ago I saw Marilyn Manson but was surprised to see the crowd was not overrun by goths and wannabe vampires but instead drunk, forty-something rednecks. Likewise, I was curious if this was just another example of a band way past their prime trying to relive the past. Was I going to be disappointed, expecting a level of energy and enthusiasm that simply wouldn’t be there? This past December I saw Slipknot and though the band performed flawlessly on a musical level, and their stage design and lights were entertaining, there was a tamer sense to the band, obviously due to age and maturity. Sure, there was still chaos but it was a controlled chaos; missing was the sense of masked madmen destroying the stage with reckless abandon.

When I arrived I was surprised to find that yes, mall goths do still exist. I felt like I had stepped into a time machine, straight back to high school. I saw Tripp pants, and chain necklaces, hair with every color of the rainbow. I saw people sporting shirts from bands like Dope, Korn and even a concert T-shirt from the 1995 Nine Inch Nails/David Bowie tour. Most surprising though was a girl who not only had vampire teeth, but also fawn horns spiraling out of her hair and furry ears. Where did these people live? How come you never saw this type of shit out in public? Anyway, onto the music.

Saint Ridley: First up on the mainstage was a band called Saint Ridley, who I guess were opening the tour for a couple dates but were unbilled on the flier. This band fucking sucked, and I wasn’t the only one that thought so. If you’ve been to The Palladium then you know that the main stage is a pretty big room with a max capacity of roughly 2,000. When Saint Ridley was on there was less than 100 kids watching them and after each song the room was silent. When was the last time you went to a concert and could hear a fucking pin drop after a band performed? Usually a crowd is nice and will give pity claps even when a band doesn’t deserve it but not this time. At one point the singer was trying to get the crowd to chant something and when no one responded he kept saying things like “come on you fucking pussies”. Soundwise, imagine Mudvayne on later albums like The New Game, yeah, the shitty Mudvayne.

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American Head Charge: I wasn’t as familiar with this band as the friends I had come with. Initially I’d heard the band after their stint on Ozzfest 2001, but I never picked up their album and from there they just disappeared. They played a mixture of songs from The War Of Art and The Feeding as well as couple new songs from their forthcoming album Tango Umbrella. They put on an energetic performance that really got the place in the mood and I enjoyed watching them even though I was unfamiliar with most of their material. The few songs I did know, like “A Violent Reaction” and “Reach And Touch” were absent from their set. Am I going to rush out and pick up their new album? No. But were they a fun opening band? Yes.

Combichrist: I’d never heard of this band before, though I guess they have been around since 2003? Anyway, I hated every second of their set. Every song sounded like it belonged to another band. One song would sound like a Marilyn Manson ripoff (in fact one song sounded way too similar to “The Beautiful People”), then the next I swore I was listening to Rammstein. The drummer was annoying, constantly flipping his sticks and showing off and the bass player looked like he belonged in a black metal band. Wasn’t there a better band that could have filled this slot? You already snagged American Head Charge, couldn’t you have just picked another band from the second stage of Ozzfest 2001?

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Filter: Filter was a surprising choice to be opening for Coal Chamber, but I was excited to see them nonetheless. I’d been a Filter fan for a while, and though most know them from their radio hits like “Take A Picture”, I prefer their heavier tracks. Filter stuck to a heavier set list, keeping in mind they were playing to Coal Chamber’s crowds. I was especially excited to hear them play “Trip Like I Do”, probably my favorite song of theirs from the Spawn soundtrack. Some might see Filter as a bit of a “downer” as far as heaviness and energy are concerned, but I thoroughly enjoyed their set.

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 Coal Chamber: You would never guess that Dez is 48 years old or that Coal Chamber haven’t been active for close to 13 years. They owned the joint like it was 1999 and nu metal never died. “Loco” opened up the night and the energy never slowed for one second. Dez didn’t spend more than 30 seconds talking between songs, which was nice because it gets tiring when bands decide to tell long and drawn out stories between songs. We came here to hear songs we hadn’t heard played live in a decade and that’s exactly what the band delivered. All the hits were there including “I”, “Sway”, “Fiend” and “Rowboat”. During “Sway”, which was the last song in their set (Dez made a point about how they don’t do encores because those are for rockstars and egomaniacs) they brought a kid up on stage who couldn’t have been more than six. What an experience for a young metal fan. My only gripe is not hearing certain songs like “Bradley” (which is perhaps a bit too “slow” for their setlist?), “Feed My Dreams” (most of the material came from their self titled album and Dark Days), and “Shock The Monkey” (I think it would have been cool for Richard Patrick from Filter to come out and sing Ozzy’s parts). Coal Chamber tore the fucking roof off the place and I’m very much looking forward to their new album.

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TOP 25 NU METAL ALBUMS: #7-1

We have finally made it to the final part of the list, the top 7 nu metal albums of all time. These albums are the absolute essentials, the ones every nu metal fan shouldn’t be without. Each band featured not only carved their own unique sound within the genre, but were all pioneers that helped bring this new wave of heavy music to the forefront. As a kid I spent countless hours playing these albums over and over again and still remember pretty much all the lyrics. You should know these albums and if you don’t, well, get the fuck on it and check them out.

Before we start the countdown, let’s do a quick recap on the rest of the list, starting with #25:

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Without further ado, I present to you the TOP 7 NU METAL albums:

7. System Of A Down – System Of A Down

7System Of A Down seemed like a gnarly gang of insane people when they first burst onto the scene with their self titled debut. From their strange appearance to their circus tinged take on heavy music, there was nothing like them. “Sugar”, their first single, grabbed my attention from the get go. The riff was heavy as fuck, the vocals were angry and strange, the lyrics made no sense but the band was something fresh, something entirely new. Some may argue that sophomore album Toxicity is the superior effort but I beg to differ. Toxicity is certainly the album that put the band on the map and while it is in no way a bad album, it is a bit overly polished and lacks the raw and young anger found on the self titled record. The band “cleaned up” on Toxicity, with Serj Tankian no longer painting his face or dressing in strange garments while Daron Malakian got weirder on purpose. Toxicity and the albums that followed were more light hearted and even poppy at times, whereas the self titled album brooded with a dark angst. While I have enjoyed all of their albums, each for different reasons, this is the one I recommend above all others. Watch the video for “Sugar” below.

6. Sevendust – Home

5While most nu metal bands produced amazing debut records only to then falter with successive releases, Sevendust completely trumped their first album when they unleashed Home. Their self titled debut was a great album, with songs like “Black” and “Bitch” leading the charge but you could tell the band were still honing their craft and hadn’t found their true sound or identity. Home, aptly titled as such, is where they did just that. Sevendust truly came into their own on this record and introduced the sounds that would shape and mold their future albums, a sound I like to call the “Sevendust bounce”. This album was insanely heavy but the band were masters of weaving in melodic passages and creating memorable choruses led by vocalist Lajon Witherspoon. The album spawned two singles, “Denial” and “Waffle”, both of which were major successes. “Licking Cream” featured vocals from Skin of Skunk Anansie and stunning album closer “Bender” featured Chino Moreno of Deftones. I really can’t praise this album enough and it still holds up today. Check out “Denial” below.

5. Nothingface – Violence

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Nothingface are definitely the most obscure of the top 7, having never made as much of an impact on the scene as the others in this list have but that doesn’t discredit the fact that Violence is a phenomenal fucking record. In fact when it was released in 2000 Hit Parader (for anyone that remembers that magazine) named it the #1 album of the year. Violence, self described by the band as the “soundtrack to the end of the world”, is a searing look into the violence within our lives, physical and emotional, against others and internally, against ourselves. Matt Holt’s vocals are scratchy and raw, like an aged smoker beaten down by life’s unfairness. The album constantly switches between singing and screaming but even during the melodic passages the band never enters the realm of light pop sensibilities, instead choosing to remain in the dark and weep. Every song on this album rips and there are so many interesting twists and sounds that it takes quite a few spins to let everything sink in. The band finally gained more popularity with follow-up Skeletons, but it was nowhere near as perfect as Violence. If the forthcoming albums on this list didn’t exist, this would be placed much higher. Listen to “Can’t Wait For Violence” below.

4. Slipknot – Slipknot

6When I first saw this album in a Hot Topic listening station, I thought the cover was just a bunch of creepy clown. I didn’t realize that it was in fact the band itself, all nine members. When “Sic” came blasting over those headphones my jaw dropped to the floor. HOLY FUCK, THIS WAS THE HEAVIEST THING I’D EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE. Everything about it was amazing. The drums were lightning fast, the riffs were intense as hell and the vocals, my god, the sheer ferociousness and delivery of the vocals were beyond anything I’d heard before. It wasn’t long after that when “Wait And Bleed” took over radio and MTV and suddenly everyone had Slipknot fever. It completely blew my mind to think that there were nine members in the band but it totally worked for them. Slipknot have gone on to be one of the biggest metal acts of all time, recently releasing their fifth album .5: The Gray Chapter. But before the people behind the masks were revealed, before Stone Sour and whatever other side projects occurred, there was this album and part of its charm was the question of: who are these people? Are they even people at all? Initially they were known only by numbers instead of names and the mystery it brewed made this album all the more intriguing. Had Slipknot never donned the masks and jumpsuits I don’t think they would have made the impact they have. Reminisce with the video for “Wait And Bleed” below.

3. Coal Chamber – Coal Chamber

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Korn may have unintentionally invented the genre, but Coal Chamber was the band that helped create the whole “mall goth” look. They had odd hair colors, lots of piercings and wore tons of black and looked like what my parents called ‘freaks’. They also created a nu metal cliche of their own, the so-called “crazy” theme of looking and acting like mental patients complete with tilting their heads and producing creepy smiles during performances and photos. The album is bleak in its attack, with virtually no commercial appeal and instead caters only to the lost misfits of society. “Loco” kicks off the album as an abrasive opener that became a staple of their live set and the momentum never stops until the album ends. “Oddity”, “Unspoiled” and “I” are all downtuned gems while “First”, perhaps the closest thing to a ballad on the album, is a welcome change of pace midway through. You won’t find catchy sing song choruses here, you won’t find radio friendly tunes, you won’t find mother approved lyrics or anything remotely inviting. Here there is only darkness and despair, here young misery commiserates. Watch the video for “Loco” below.

2. Deftones – Around The Fur

2Deftones are my absolute favorite band in the world and I hate to call them a nu metal band because, when looking at their entire catalog collectively, they aren’t, but you can’t ignore the fact that this is the genre they originated from. Around The Fur is also my favorite Deftones album, probably because it was the first album by the band I listened to back in sixth grade and therefor I have a strong connection to it. Deftones have always been a band that, while critics and fans alike may label them to one genre, exist entirely on their own and stretch far beyond the confines of any box or niche. On their debut Adrenaline the Deftones were very much a young band and I honestly was never a huge fan of that offering, but Around The Fur is about as perfect as an album can get. Vocalist Chino Moreno is a true poet, both lyrically and vocally, as his voice hauntingly slithers through the songs like a snake on the hunt only to then seize its prey with a venomous bite. “My Own Summer” is the perfect introduction to the album, showcasing both the softer and heavy elements the band can accomplish. “Mascara” is interesting in its tone and delivery, “Around The Fur” is instantly memorable with its opening drum beat, “Be Quiet And Drive” is melodic rock at its absolute finest and closer “MX” is devastatingly crushing in its musical onslaught and lyrical themes. There is not one bad thing I can say about this record and if you’ve never heard it you are fucking up big time. Listen to “My Own Summer” below.

1. Korn – Korn

1You saw this coming. As much as I love Deftones this had to be #1. This is the album that started it all. At the time of its release there was nothing like it, nothing. The musical world had never heard such aggression before, there weren’t vocalists like Jonathan Davis that literally fell apart on stage as they angrily vented their pent up issues. Everything about this album is iconic, from the ominous cover art, to the overall sound and tone, and the now classic opening track “Blind”. As if foreshadowing the entire nu metal movement Jonathan Davis yells “Are you ready?” before “Blind” explodes into full force. “Ball Tongue” features indistinguishable, almost scat like vocalizations, “Need To” seethes with a hatred so deep it leaves the listener with goosebumps and “Faget” is like the anthem for anyone and everyone that was ever bullied or tormented growing up. Jonathan Davis was the voice of thousands, he was the kid that got picked last to play sports, he was the oddball, the freak and the sounds the band made were the perfect accompaniment to his anger fueled lashings. Twenty years later there is still nothing that sounds like this album. Even the band themselves cannot capture the energy found on this record, though they’ve tried numerous times with albums like Take A Look In The Mirror and Korn III: Remember Who You Are. Watch the video for “Blind” by clicking below.

And there you have it, my picks for the Top 25 nu metal albums of all time. Do you agree? Hit up the comments below and let me know your thoughts.

TOP 25 NU METAL ALBUMS: HONORABLE MENTIONS

Before we get to the remaining 7 albums, I wanted to delve into the honorable mentions that just barely missed the list. Some albums were very easy to place on the list while others took some consideration and the albums I mention below are not included due only to the fact that I had to make a cutoff somewhere.

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MI0000150627However there were albums that some would say are deserving to be on this list that I never considered and I’ll tell you why. Many bands/acts such as Kid Rock, Rammstein, Rob Zombie and Incubus were often lumped into the nu metal category but I simply do not consider them as such. Kid Rock is more of a rapper with hard rock influences, Rammstein and Rob Zombie are better placed in the “shock rock” category and while S.C.I.E.N.C.E and Make Yourself were early Incubus records with a heavy edge, they are nowhere close to what I consider a nu metal band.

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Other albums that definitely are considered nu metal, and would also be considered by many to be true classics of the genre were not included on my list simply because I never got into these albums as much. Godsmack’s debut self titled album and their sophomore effort Awake were staples for a lot of people and while I enjoyed both, when stacked up against other albums on the list there just wasn’t any room. Even so Godsmack have always teetered more towards the hard rock side rather than nu metal. An album I will probably get condemned for not including is Infest by Papa Roach. That album put Papa Roach on the map and back in middle school you couldn’t go one day without someone reciting “cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort”. But I will be completely honest, I never could get into Papa Roach. I never cared for Jacoby’s rapping or his yelling for that matter and the music as a whole wasn’t all that heavy. Maybe I missed out by passing on that album back in the day but there is no denying that after Infest Papa Roach evolved into a makeup wearing, pretty boy, radio friendly pile of garbage.

With that out of the way, let’s delve into the albums that definitely would have been on the list had this been the Top 30 Nu Metal albums.

Nonpoint – Statement

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 Nonpoint have been a bit all over the place during their long career. Some albums were heavy, such as To The Pain and Recoil, others were light and poppy like Development and Miracle, while Vengeance was very ‘what the fuck is this shit’? Despite all the band’s growth and experimentation over their eighteen year span, it is their major label debut Statement where they shine best. Nonpoint broke through with lead single “What A Day”, a song that is both musically and vocally groove oriented and catchy. From start to finish the album never lets up, continually punching the listener in the face with ballsy riffs that shine from the harsh croons of vocalist Elias Soriano. Nonpoint, never fully breaking it big like Korn or Limp Bizkit, have surprisingly survived the nu metal era and continue to pump out albums and tour the world to this day. Still, in my opinion they have yet to capture the magic that was found on Statement. Check out the video for “What A Day” below.

Powerman 5000 – Tonight The Stars Revolt!

h3Powerman 5000, led by Rob Zombie’s brother Mike “Spider One” Cummings, hit the ball out of the park when they opted for a Twilight Zone-esque, 50’s sci-fi motif for their second album Tonight The Stars Revolt! Some would say that Spider One and his band were only riding the coattails of Rob Zombie’s success and that wouldn’t be totally wrong, as both are very similar in technique and approach. The album opens with a spoken word intro that very well could be something pulled from The Twilight Zone and then explodes into “Supernova Goes Pop”, my personal favorite track on the album. “When Worlds Collide”, the massive first single that turned the band into superstars is both catchy and heavy. Unfortunately the band dropped the sci-fi spaceman image soon after this album’s cycle and drastically changed to accommodate a more mainsteam sound. Watch the video for “When Worlds Collide” below.

Dry Kill Logic – The Darker Side of Nonsense

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 Dry Kill Logic were always one of those middle ground bands, never poised for greatness or rising above to the greater musical stratosphere, but regardless they were a fun and heavy band. The Darker Side of Nonsense plays like a circus of bounce and groove, perfectly balancing the line of all out heaviness and cool melody. The album never charted and no official singles were released to major radio stations, so unfortunately this album was never awarded the praise it deserved. Listen to “Rot” by clicking the link below.

HED P.E. – Broke

h7Before HED P.E. became a complete joke they released Broke, their finest release by far. Whereas later albums felt not only forced but full of lifeless and diluted riffs, Broke is a collection of carefully crafted songs that rock, funk and groove without being overly “parental advisory” for the sake of shock value. Opening track “Killing Time” is a perfect introduction of what to expect, blending rap and rock in a way that would make Limp Bizkit wish they wrote it. “Waiting To Die” continues the pace and “Feel Good” features guest vocals from both Morgan Lander of Kittie and Serj Tankian of System Of A Down. HED P.E. were another band that never quite broke through to the mainstream, so there is a good chance you may have missed this album. I highly suggest going back and giving it a solid listen. You can start with “Killing Time” by clicking the link below.

Crossbreed – Synthetic Division

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If Orgy is the pretty end of the industrial tinged nu metal bands then Crossbreed is the opposite, ugly and visceral end. The use of electronics on Synthetic Division is abundant but never once does it detract from or overwhelm any of the guitars and instead adds atmosphere to songs that are already well rounded and heavy on their own. “Severed” opens with samples that sound like something conjured from Skrillex, “Seasons” features one of the heaviest nu metal riffs I’ve ever heard and “Pure Energy” is exactly what the title boasts. During live shows the band donned body suits rigged with glowing lights and covered themselves in glow in the dark paint for a unique visual experience. Sadly, the band was never able to reproduce the energy found on their debut and they quickly disappeared from the music world. Check out the video for “Underlined” below.

With the honorable mentions out of the way, it is time for the top 7 albums! Which albums do you think took the top spots? Comment below and check back to see how the list rounds out.

TOP 25 NU METAL ALBUMS #13-8

We’re nearing the end here folks. Let’s continue this countdown with #’s 13-8. Agree? Disagree? Thoughts so far? Voice your opinion in the comments below.

13. Cold – 13 Ways To Bleed On Stage

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Cold were the musical equivalent of that weird, quiet kid in class that everyone hushed rumors about. Most wouldn’t talk to him and thought he was potentially suicidal but in actuality he was a shy introvert bursting with poetic sensibilities and ideas about a world gone, shall I say cold? “Just Got Wicked” opens up the album and provides a perfect taste of all the flavors the album has to offer. Cold wasn’t heavy in the way bands like Korn and Coal Chamber were heavy, they didn’t have thick riffs that swallowed you like a tsunami. Instead their sound was like a black cloud, their heaviness was in the emotional depth of their songs, in the utter despair coursing throughout each track where you could feel the catharsis of their shared pain in your gut. Cold’s self titled debut was also excellent, but on 13 Ways To Bleed On Stage they did everything right. Aaron Lewis of Staind fame lends his vocals on “Send In The Clowns”, showcasing his talent for raw screaming and again on final track “Bleed”, an acoustic ballad that answers all the questions presented in the previous songs. This album was about the power of music and how it can help anyone survive the dark times of their lives. Check out the video for “Just Got Wicked” below.

12. Snot – Get Some // Strait Up

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This is the only tie in the entire countdown, but deservedly so. Snot, who became more noticed thanks to slots on the early Ozzfest tours, were unlike any other nu metal band at the time. Some might not even consider them nu metal at all with their combination of fast punk, alternative metal and funk rock infusions. To me they were almost like a heavier and meaner version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Vocalist Lynn Straight was an animal, shifting from smooth, cigarette laced storytelling to all out, balls to the wall fury with ease. Snot’s debut Get Some was a fantastic and fun collection of songs, an album that made you want to round up your friends in the car, blast the stereo and drive beyond the speed limit. Unfortunately, prior to finishing their second album Lynn was killed in a car accident. Rather than call it a day the band forged ahead and released the album with a smorgasbord of nu metal vocalists including Jonathan Davis from Korn, Serj Tankian from System Of A Down and Corey Taylor from Slipknot. Straight Up was like a nu metal dream with everyone’s favorite vocalists all collaborating on one album. Included was the song “Absent”, one of the only songs for the album Lynn had recorded vocals for before his untimely death and honestly one of the best Snot songs ever. Listen to “Absent” below.

11. Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory

11If you weren’t one step closer to the edge back in 2000 when Linkin Park dropped Hybrid Theory then you must have been living under a rock. Linkin Park is what Crazy Town wishes they were. While “Butterfly” was an example of straight up douche bags trying to be sentimental for the sake of getting pussy, Linkin Park’s “One Step Closer” demanded attention with its heavy and hooky riffs and angry vocals. Hybrid Theory accomplishes its so-called mission in spades, seamlessly blending rap and rock without sounding cheesy or forced. Chester Bennington possesses a powerful set of lungs and can both sing and scream while Mike Shinoda flawlessly spits his game across the album’s twelve tracks. The album spawned a number of singles that catapulted Linkin Park to super stardom including “In The End”, “Papercut” and “Crawling”. Some may argue that followup album Meteora was superior and though it was an incredibly solid sophomore effort, it is the uniqueness that Hybrid Theory brought to the table that puts this album on the list. There was nothing like it at the time and it paved the way for a number of copycat bands that jumped on the rap/rock bandwagon. The only difference is Linkin Park are still going at it fifteen years later while all those wannabes fell off the map long ago. Travel back in time and watch the video for “One Step Closer” below.

10. Staind – Dysfunction

10Before Staind became that pussy ass band your mom enjoyed listening to, they were one of the heaviest nu metal bands around. Staind’s first album Tormented was a solid effort and mired in controversy for its anti-religious cover art but it was Dysfunction that showed Staind at their best. The band themselves have admitted that Tormented was purposefully crafted to fit it with the Boston hardcore scene of the time, and while they certainly maintained their heavy tone on Dysfunction, they stepped away from the harsher sounds and instead infused lots of melody. Dysfunction was dark and sad and encapsulated everything we “felt” in middle and high school: feeling alone and misunderstood. “Mudshovel” blew up airwaves and MTV upon its release, but the real meat is found in tracks like “Suffocate”, “Raw” and “Spleen”. I still think Aaron Lewis has one of the coolest screams ever. This is Staind at their very best, completely vulnerable and real, something they attempted to recreate on their 2011 self titled album. Click below to watch the video for “Mudshovel”.

9. Soulfly – Primitive

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If this album doesn’t make you bang your fucking head then there is a problem. Soulfly, led by former Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera, made an impact with their self titled debut but Primitive was far more focused in its attack. The album features a slew of guest vocalists including Chino Moreno of Deftones, Tom Araya from Slayer and Corey Taylor from Slipknot, who lays down probably the most cheesy nu metal lyrics of all time: And if you’re gonna quit, I don’t give a shit, what the fuck, I’m a Mack truck, are you gonna give up like a bitch or jump da fuck up? If you are new to Soulfly, this is the album you need to start with. The band have since shifted to a thrashier sound more akin to earlier Sepultura but the groove and bounce found on Primitive is not something to be missed. Check out “Back To The Primitive” below.

8. Limp Bizkit – Three Dollar Bill, Y’all$

8I don’t think I need to introduce Limp Bizkit. Next to Korn they are probably the most well known nu metal band out there. Whatever your opinion of Fred Durst may be, the man knows how to grab people’s attention. And yes we “did it all for the nookie” and we kept it “rollin’, rollin’ rollin'”, but none of that compares to the raw and unfiltered fury found on Three Dollar Bill Y’all$. Before all the hype, before Fred Durst dated Brittney Spears and made a fool of himself countless times, before the band became a parady of themselves, they were a young and angry band from Jacksonville, Florida. Limp Bizkit’s debut is not overly polished like Significant Other but that is where the charm lies. My first experience with Limp Bizkit was hearing a demo version of “Counterfeit” on a Newbury Comics compilation album and I was hooked. It was something fresh, something new and I wanted more. Wes Borland’s unique guitar playing gives Fred Durst the playground in which he runs free, while the rest of the band are like other school children running about their recess and causing chaos. The album never had a true single aside from their cover of George Michael’s “Faith”, but that was enough to launch their career. Check out the video for “Faith” below.

The Top 7 loom ahead! But before we get there, we’ll be showing off the many honorable mentions that just barely made the list. 

TOP 25 NU METAL ALBUMS #19-14

Don’t forget to check out albums #25-20 in the previous post before reading on!

19. Static-X – Wisconsin Death Trip

19The one, the only, self described “evil disco” band in the world, Static-X was lead by Wayne Static (R.I.P.) and his two foot tall hair. When Wisconsin Death Trip was released, Static-X stood out not only because of Wayne’s unique and signature look, but also the sheer heaviness the album brought to the table. I remember being in Target, wandering about the music section when suddenly all the TVs on the wall started playing the music video for “Push It”. My young jaw fell to the floor. “I’m With Stupid”, “Bled For Days” and “Sweat Of The Bud” were all welcome headbanging jams while “Love Dump”, “Ostegolation” and “Stem” combined elements of industrial and trance which the band became known for. Check out the video for “Push It” below.

18. Spineshank – The Height Of Callousness

18Spineshank’s debut Strictly Diesel was a band still trying to find its sound and identity but on sophomore album The Height Of Callousness they fucking nailed it. On the album Spineshank deliver a perfect mix of all out attack with carefully crafted melodic passages. More often than not nu metal bands delivered a crushing debut album only to then mellow out for more appeal with their sophomore releases but The Height Of Callousness not only opposed the majority, it completely shit all over the first album. “Synthetic” and “New Disease” were deserving of being singles, but it was deep cuts like “Play God”, “Transparent” and “Full Circle” (a track available only on the special edition version) where the band were at the top of their game. The band went on hiatus shortly after releasing follow-up Self Destructive Patterns in 2003. They reformed years later and released Anger Denial Acceptance in 2012 but failed to recreate the energy found on their previous albums. Check below for the “New Disease” video.

17. Mudvayne – L.D. 50

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 Among the many nu metal gimmicks, wearing masks/body paint was always one of the top choices for instant recognition. Try for a second to imagine Slipknot without their masks…it doesn’t really work. Mudvayne were in the same vein (though later on they ditched their body paint in favor of their everyday faces) and were instantly catapulted to nu metal stardom thanks in part to their image after the release of L.D. 50. My first taste of the band was seeing their music video for “Dig” on MTV and I fell in love immediately. There was a seething angst in Chad Grey’s vocals that were unmatched at the time, set against a backdrop of complex distortion. Nu metal is often noted for its simplistic nature and approach when it comes to songwriting and style but Mudvayne often used off-time signatures that demanded the listener to pay full attention to all that was going on. The album is held together with short interludes that present the music as one continuous motion, like a stream of conscious from a scattered mind. Each track offers its own treasures to discover with “Internal Primates Forever”, “Death Blooms” and “Nothing To Gein” being huge standouts for me. Click below to watch the video for “Death Blooms”.

16. Reveille – Laced

Reveille_Laced-albumLimp Bizkit may be regarded as the undisputed kings of rap metal but Reveille’s Drew Simollardes spits a much better game than Fred Durst. Reveille, hailing from Worcester, Massachusetts, only released two albums in their career but their debut Laced is the far superior effort. “Permanent (Take A Look Around)” took airwaves by storm upon its release in 1999 and helped put Reveille in the spotlight, if only for a short span. The thing that separated Reveille from the slew of other rap nu metal bands is their ability to make everything sound natural and not a contrived gimmick used simply for show. Right off the bat “Butterfly” opens the album and punches you right in the face. “Perfect World” continues the fast pace and the album rarely slows down except for a short introduction on “Feel”. If you never listened to Reveille before or this album happened to pass you by, pick it up, put yourself back into a 1999 mindset and fucking enjoy. Click below for the “Permanent (Take A Look Around)” music video.

15. Kittie – Spit

15With the metal world overrun by men, your mind was fucking blown when Kittie came out. They are, to my knowledge, the first all girl metal band to make it big. When I was in middle school the thought of a girl screaming never even crossed my mind. Sure, I’d seen girls in bands before like Rayna Foss in Coal Chamber but I’d never heard a girl scream like Morgan Lander. Spit isn’t, for all intents and purposes, a “great” album and it isn’t an album that really holds up today either. However what it did do was break down barriers in the music world and showed that the girls could be just as rough as the boys. That being said there were many awesome tracks on this record such as “Spit”, “Charlotte”, “Brackish” and album closer “Immortal” is an interesting instrumental that erupts into pure heaviness and then ends, leaving the listener hungry for more. Watch the video for “Brackish” below.

14. Disturbed – The Sickness

14Disturbed’s The Sickness is one of the only albums I’ve ever purchased without hearing any of the music. All I knew was that the band was “heavy” from what friends had said and the album cover looked cool. The second I popped it in and “Voices” came blaring out of my CD player speakers, I knew I had made a good purchase. Say what you will about Disturbed, but you can’t deny the fact that they have made a sound that is totally their own. From guitarist Dan Donegan’s groove oriented playing to vocalist David Draiman’s signature barks and powerful melodies, their force is undeniable whether you’re a fan or not. The Sickness took over the world when it came out and has since gone 4X Platinum. “Stupify” lead the charge but was followed by the singles “Down With The Sickness”, “Voices” and “Fear”. Disturbed’s later output may have been a bit watered down and somewhat uninspired, but within context, The Sickness is a fantastic rock album and turned them into one of the biggest nu metal acts of all time. Watch the video for “Stupify” below and see where it all began.

Check back soon as we continue the countdown on the Top 25 Nu Metal albums of all time!

TOP 25 NU METAL ALBUMS #25-20

For me, middle school was mainly about three things: 1. Anything and everything Hot Topic, especially big ass Tripp & Jnco jeans 2. Circus Magazine and its seemingly infinite amount of posters and of course 3. NU FUCKING METAL. When I started seriously getting into music in the mid 90s Korn had just released Life Is Peachy, Limp Bizkit hadn’t yet been “discovered” and Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar was offending parents and Christians everywhere.

Nu-metal was still in its infancy, but would soon become the next big thing in the heavy music world. Now, nearly twenty years later, nu metal is seeing a resurgence in bands like Issues, Emmure and Suicide Silence, while genre pioneers like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Staind are still going strong. I won’t deny that I was crazy about nu metal throughout middle school and most of high school, but even now there are some albums from that time period I do still enjoy and so, I present to you, my top 25 nu metal albums:

25. Skrape – New Killer America

25 Skrape stepped into the game a little later than most, releasing its debut in 2001. New Killer America was a relief from the watered down albums many other bands were putting out at the time, an album that was equally brutal and melodic without feeling forced. Skrape’s follow-up Up The Dose unfortunately fell flat, opting for a radio friendly sound and snooze worthy songs. For those unfamiliar to the band, as they were one of the more relatively unknown nu metal bands, check out the song “Waste” below.

24. Orgy – Candyass

24Orgy burst onto the scene with their cover of “Blue Monday” by New Order and what a rightful introduction to the band it was. Orgy took all the sounds of 80s electro pop and turned them upside-down into something that was catchy, retro and undeniably heavy. Orgy’s follow-up single “Stitches” was easily the best song on the album, but other notable tracks include “Dissention”, “Gender” and “Revival”, which featured a cameo from Jonathan Davis. Orgy released two more albums, Vapor Transmission and Punk Statik Paranoia, but neither came close to matching the material on Candyass. Recently Orgy have announced plans for a new album and have even done some touring after being on hiatus for close to ten years. Check out the video for “Stitches” below.

23. P.O.D. – The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown

23While I pretty much wrote this band off after Satellite and beyond (which was perhaps their most popular album), there is a sense of pain and rawness woven throughout The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown that always stuck with me. The album combines hard hitting riffs, catchy hooks and mixes in elements of both screaming and old school rap styling. “Southtown” was easily my favorite song on the album and I still enjoy the song to this day. “Rock The Party (Off The Hook)” was a fun song to blast on your stereo while gems like “Lie Down” and “Outcast” were pure and classic nu metal angst. The album cover is also a personal favorite of mine. Check out the video for “Southtown” below.

22. Pete. – Pete

22I guarantee you most reading this post have no idea who this band is. Try searching them on Google and you’re lucky to pull up anything. I only became aware of the band because their song “Sweet Daze” was featured on the Ozzfest 2001 sampler, but that was enough to convince me to go out and purchase the album back in the day. Boy am I glad I did. Pete. only released this one album before disappearing entirely. The members went on to form another band but music from that project has still yet to surface. I honestly can’t recommend this album enough. It is a rarity in nu metal for every song on an album to be great, but the ten songs on this album are, dare I say, perfect? Imagine a heavier Soundgarden and you’ll have a bit of an idea of what to expect. “Sweet Daze” is an absolute powerhouse of an opener, “Awake” caresses with a gentle hand before it winds up for a punch, “All Love Is A Lie” is as moody as the title suggests and album closer “Bury Me” is pure beauty. Honestly, before you read any further click the link below and listen to the entire album. You won’t regret it.

 21. Ill Niño – Revolution, Revolución

21Ill Nino carved their own little niche in the nu metal world, allowing their heritage to shine with the inclusion of Spanish influenced instrumentation such as flamenco guitar work and tribal-like percussion. Put simply, this album was heavy as fuck. “God Save Us”, “Unreal” and “What Come Around” each offered slamming riffs built around catchy and melodic choruses. Unlike most of their releases afterwards, Revolution, Revolucion is solid from start to finish. Check out the video for “What Comes Around” below.

20. Taproot – Gift

20Throughout their career Taproot have had a bit of an identity crisis. Their sophomore album Welcome saw them “welcome” a more melodic approach, Blue Sky Research was a scattered effort, on Our Long Road Home the band ditched its nu metal roots entirely in favor of mainstream radio rock sounds only to return to said roots on Plead The Fifth. But its on debut album Gift where the band gives its best performance, unhindered by obvious record label interference and powered only by youth and anger. “Smile” is one of the heaviest opening tracks on a nu metal record I’ve ever heard. Vocalist Stephen Richards carries the song, continuously shifting between heartfelt croons and hate filled screams. “Again & Again”, “Emotional Times” and “Mirror’s Reflection” are also standout tracks, but truly the effort as a whole is worthwhile. Check out “Smile” from the link below.

Check back soon as we continue to countdown the Top 25 Nu Metal albums