Frontman Wayne Static—he of the gravity-defying hair and the sharp goatee—died in November 2014 at the age of 48. We honor him by continuing to spin the truly excellent "Push It," one of the finest nu metal songs to ever do it. Those riffs. The bearlike vocals mixed with the death metal grunts and the high-pitch shrieks—just a great buffet of everything that made the genre work. If you're going to dip back into nu metal, this is an amazing place to start.
Even if you're not the most versed in nu-metal, chances are you're heard "Down with the Sickness," and have even attempted the "ooh WAH ah ah ah" battle-cry that kicks off the song. (Not recommended—you are not David Draiman. Unless you are, in which case: Hey Dave!) Disturbed have been a band for over 20 years now and their legacy will continue to live on in this iconic track.
Before Dez Fafara embarked on a long, successful career with (non-nu) metal act DevilDriver, there was Coal Chamber. Also playing heavily into the horror makeup and costuming aesthetics, the band's hits included "Shock the Monkey," featuring Ozzy Osbourne, and the hilariously titled "Big Truck." (Guess the chorus. Yup, you got it.) But "Loco," off the band's '97 self-titled debut, might have been the biggest—and most bludgeoning—of them all.
Since its perfectly nu-metal-titled 2000 debut, Spit, Kittie has been the heaviest all-female Canadian band around. The group's seen quite a few women come in and out of the revolving door, but the legacy has never dimmed for "Brackish," the Spit cut featuring sludgy riffs and a lightning fast scream-rapped backup vocal on the chorus.
Oh, Powerman 5000, the band with Rob Zombie's little bro, the artist known as Spider One. The band's '99 sophomore album Tonight the Stars Revolt! featured "When Worlds Collide," a track that made its way into everyone's heads by appearing on the soundtracks to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and WWE Smackdown! vs. Raw, as well as appearing in Adam Sandler's Little Nicky. "ARE YOU READY TO GO? CUZ I'M READY TO GO!"
It takes about three seconds of Slipknot's "Duality," for even the most casual nu-metal listener to recognize the song. The breath-y vocals, the horror film intro, the massive bridge—all building blocks for the genre. And peep those impossibly quick palm-muted power chords—punk stars couldn't even play that fast.
The song that would later birth a million internet memes with its intro: "Cut my life into pieces / This is my last resort / Suffocation, no breathing / Don't give a f*ck if I cut my arm bleeding." The rest of the track stayed equally awesome, and could sit comfortably on Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory or any other equally canonized radio-rock record.
Nu-metal is often viewed as a myopic, strictly American music genre. Those people are missing Rammstein, the German powerhouse. They perform almost entirely in their native tongue, which could typically hinder a band from reaching international success. But somehow the Deutschland band became one of the biggest and most respected acts on this list. Just listen to 10 seconds of Til Lindermann's voice on "Du Hast" and you'll get it.
Korn, save for maybe Slipknot and Limp Bizkit, might be the best known nu-metal band out there. They've got the look (the horrifying, horrifying look,) the attitude (generally summed up as "f*ck this sh*t") and the sound. The California group have a whopping 11 full-length records under their belt, with no track more archetypal than 1998's "Freak On A Leash," from Follow the Leader. There are tons of runner-ups, of course. Just revisit that 1994 self-titled...
Otep—named for singer Otep Shamaya—is heavy as hell, not to mention one of the only nu metal acts built around a female artist. While the band had big early 2000s hits from Sevas Tra and House of Secrets, LP3, The Ascension, featured "Confrontation," one of Otep's most lasting pieces of work. It's not just a smash-the-house kind of song—it's also deeply political protest music.
For a while there, it seemed like Limp Bizkit's "Nookie," would have the true staying power, running TRL and helping bring nu-metal to the mainstream. Somewhere along the way "Break Stuff" took the title, largely in thanks to the song's mega-powerful lyrics: "Everything is f*cked / Everybody sucks."
The year 2001 was largely dominated by boy bands and pop rock, all sunshine and California. The Los Angeles-bred, Armenian-American System of a Down and their album Toxicity came as a pleasant surprise, dealing with the Armenian genocide in a way popular music never had (and never has since). "Chop Suey" is the brilliant band's biggest single, one that might sound aggressive, but truly inspires progression once you let it sink in.
Next to "Duality," and the band's iconic masks, "Psychosocial" is Slipknot's biggest identifier. The single is violent, self-deprecating, and almost too heavy to exist: "And the rain will kill us all / We throw ourselves against the wall / But no one else can see / The preservation of the martyr in me / PSYCHOSOCIAL!!"
"CAN'T TEAR ME APAAAART!!" Now, before the #realmetal fans revolt, we know, we know: Fear Factory ain't nu metal, not explicitly. Too much double bass, too aligned with all-out death metal. But damn if FF didn't, nine years after their debut album, go full nu with their fourth record, Digimortal. In the video, bassist Christian Olde Wolbers even looks like Korn's own slap bassist/sports jersey enthusiast, Fieldy.
The Deftones are not a singles band, so picking their best song is no easy feat. "Diamond Eyes" is a good example of their uncanny ability to marry coarse sounds with atmospheric ones, the talent that separates them from other nu-metal bands. Maybe it's why the Deftones have been extremely beloved by critics, a badge many nu-metal acts can't boast.
The legacy of "Rollin" can be found in video games and music soundtracks alike—this tune seemed to get licensed as often as Smash Mouth's "All Star." "Rollin" can be found in the NHL Hitz 2002 and the Fast and the Furious. It was used as WWE icon the Undertaker's entrance music; it's featured on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Orlando, Florida's Universal Studios. This Limp Biz hit has always been truly inescapable.
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