Funny old game, nu-metal. As a moment in time it was perfection, bringing fresh ideas and even fresher fans into the alternative subculture.
For fans of my generation nu-metal was more than just exciting. It was vital.
And then, just like that, it was tired and derivative and, mercifully, over. It also coincided with the dawn of Kerrang! TV, whose video collection hasn’t advanced since. Nu-metal is disproportionately represented on television even now.
Both the good and the bad of nu-metal are regularly played on the box. Nu-metal hasn’t quite had the opportunity it needed to slink off into the shadows and wait to become nostalgia, abandoned by those who reviled it and remembered for its great moments by the rest of us.
And there were great moments. Here are thirteen of them, most of them singles because ‘great’ carries a balance between brilliant and massive. That’s why I’ve left out the eponymous Snot track with something of a heavy heart.
Korn – Blind
They both headed in other directions but Korn and nu-metal can’t be separated. The legendary Bakersfield band’s debut album, and ‘Blind’ specifically, were hugely influential.
Papa Roach – Between Angels And Insects
They’re still going in 2017 but Papa Roach’s nu-metal moment in the sun was Infest. For me, ‘Between Angels And Insects’ was one of the genre’s finest gems.
American Head Charge – Song For The Suspect
The War Of Art remains the only album I’ve ever bought without hearing a note. It might be a little reductive to call it nu-metal; if it is nu-metal, this song is a classic.
Coal Chamber – Loco
Coal Chamber’s place in nu-metal history is assured but I’ve never loved them. Seeing ‘Loco’ live, even on their 2015 run, renders its impact undeniable.
(hed) Planet Earth – Bartender
(hed) P.E. or whatever they want to be called this week were applauded for doing nu-metal differently. It rarely worked for me but ‘Bartender’ is a stone-cold banger.
Deftones – 7 Words
Obviously Deftones need to be here. There are other songs in the running but Adrenaline was released in 1995 and the visceral ‘7 Words’ is as nu-metal as it gets.
Incubus – Vitamin
There are some nu-metal ragers in Incubus’ early work. ‘Vitamin’ pips ‘A Certain Shade Of Green’ because it’s absolutely unhinged and the opening riff rips.
Spineshank – Synthetic
A controversial selection in the eyes of some, maybe, but I’ll go into battle for this song anywhere, anytime. Not bad for band with a pretty patchy creative record.
Mudvayne – Dig
‘Dig’ is gloriously bonkers and the album it arrived with is one of nu-metal’s most overlooked. Mudvayne, it turned out, had more in their locker than the costumes suggested.
One Minute Silence – Food For The Brain
Buy Now… Saved Later is a classic of the genre. One Minute Silence were unique in sound and authentic in outlook, and their best songs appeared on album two.
System Of A Down – Sugar
A few of these bands were always bigger than nu-metal, even when they were kind of doing it. SOAD is one of them. Is ‘Sugar’ nu-metal? Who cares.
Slipknot – Spit It Out
Slipknot’s debut album ignited one of metal’s best ever careers. It was a nu-metal record in some aspects, and the iconic ‘Spit It Out’ qualifies. It’s also phenomenally good.
Limp Bizkit – Rearranged
Finally we arrive at Limp Bizkit, true giants of the genre. For me it had to be a Significant Other song, and I’ve plumped for one just a step off the beaten track. Huge.