Nu metal appears to be on the receiving end of some long overdue love over recent years with new (nu) groups such as Keychain, Riksha, Varials, Backwordz, DVSR, Darke Complex, Stray From The Path, Sheevaa, A Dying Ultimatum, Ocean Grove, A Killer’s Confession and the all-conquering KING 810 bringing the nostalgia back and even established acts such as Bring Me The Horizon, Whitechapel, Machine Head and Of Mice And Men dipping their toes into nu-metal’s murky waters!
While some true abominations were released during the sub-genres heyday, the nu metal era actually gave metal a much needed kick up the caboose and left us with some truly classic albums…..and it also left us with some underrated albums too!
Love it or hate it or despise it with all-consuming passion, nu-metal was a global phenomenon and here’s Worship Metal’s 10 most underrated nu metal albums:
Bloodsimple – A Cruel World (2005)
They may have arrived rather late in the day but Bloodsimple – featuring Vision of Disorder members Tim Williams and Mike Kennedy – picked up the mantle left by VOD on 2001’s From Bliss To Devastation; an album which had already attempted to blend hardcore sounds with nu-metal’s accessibility.
A Cruel World preceded to combine the popular genre’s of the day (namely metalcore, groove metal and nu-metal) and fashioned a hard-hitting set of anthems led by corrosive single “Straight Hate”.
Harsh and uncompromising, this was still a pretty standard 00’s alt metal record but at least it was delivered with 100% conviction and with a love for all things nu metal!
Incubus – S.C.I.E.N.C.E (1997)
Guilty of going all soft and ‘mainstreamy’ (and who can blame them) as their career took flight, in 1997 Incubus were still a band fusing all manner of dislocated styles into an exciting and textured melting pot of influences.
It’s easy to look back on nu metal and laugh at its absurdities but many bands of the era were experimenting wildly and with huge success and Incubus were certainly no exception.
S.C.I.E.N.C.E remains a unique proposition for those with a penchant for alt metal, funk, rock, jazz and hip-hop!
Fear Factory – Digimortal (2001)
1998’s Obsolete may have signalled that a turn to the nu-metal dark side was on the cards but it was on 2001’s Digimortal that these industrial metal trailblazers went full on ‘baggy’!
Actually, that’s a little harsh as Fear Factory were still recognisable as the band that released the groundbreaking Demanufacture, but their sound had been softened, simplified even, and was clearly an attempt to tap into the mainstream market controlled by nu metal.
The obligatory team-up with a rap mainstay was ever present on the risible “Back the Fuck Up” (featuring Cypress Hill’s B-Real) but “Linchpin” was the breakthrough hit that threatened to increase FF’s popularity ten-fold.
Not Fear Factory’s worst album by any means….but not in the same league as the pulverising Soul Of A New Machine or the groundbreaking Demanufacture either!
Ill Niño – Revolution Revolución (2002)
Taking the world music aesthetic of Sepultura’s Chaos AD and Roots to its next logical conclusion (with guitarist Marc Rizo eventually joining up with Max Cavalera’s Soulfly), this six-man wrecking crew led by founding member Dave Chavarri (M.O.D, Pro-Pain, Gothic Slam, Lääz Rockit) unleashed a barrage of latin-tinged nu-metal anthems on this, their debut album.
All the usual nu metal tropes were evident but Ill Niño at least had the skill to translate the cliches into something remotely unique. With towering frontman Cristian Machado alternating between Spanish and English and the band infusing their downtuned riffs with acoustic, flamenco and latin rhythms, Revolution Revolución has aged remarkably well and its no surprise that the majority of Ill Niño’s live setlist is still drawn from their debut!
Machine Head – The Burning Red (1999)
Ok, Supercharger is a big baggy bag of shite (except for “Bulldozer” which kicks ass) but Machine fuckin’ Head’s first dalliance with nu-metal was on the often overlooked The Burning Red.
Part nu-metal, part groove metal and part thrash, Machine Head’s 3rd album is home to some ferocious Head classics including the riff monster that is “The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears”, the harrowing sexual abuse tale of “Five” (disturbingly, child abuse was a recurring theme of nu-metal) and the more classic sounding, stomp and groove of “Exhale The Vile”.
Perhaps the rapping in “From This Day” was a little too much (although this track goes down great live now!) and the superfluous cover of “Message In A Bottle” (another nu-metal habit) was a step too far, but overall The Burning Red holds up remarkably well!
19 long years after The Burning Red and Machine Head returned to the sounds of nu-metal with Catharsis, an album that will surely go down as the most divisive album of 2018. Surprised? Most of us were!!
Sepultura – Nation (2001)
Derrick Green‘s second Sepultura outing arrived in 2001 and may have been home to thrash, hardcore punk and that tribal sound that became synonymous with this legendary band but it was also a nu-metal album of considerable power.
From fiery bursts of brutal thrash (the short, sharp shock of “Revolt”) to experiments in thundering tribal grooves (“Uma Kura”) and arms-aloft nu-metal anthems such as “Sepulnation”, this collection of political diatribes seemed to fall into the nu-metal quagmire when it should have been revered for its experimental nature and quality songwriting.
We recommend you revisit this neglected early 00’s masterclass forthwith!
Downer – Downer (2001)
Despite arriving during rap-metal’s heyday, Downer were an entirely different proposition; a real obscurity amongst nu-metal era releases, the only release by L.A.’s Downer is an alternative metal anomaly that seems to have been utterly lost to the annals of time.
There’s a cold, dry sound to Downer that actually works in their favour. The unique vocals of J. Scott (whose delivery mixes a strangely robotic monotonous tone with a devious sense of melody) and the inventive staccato nu-metal riffing (you won’t find too many solos here) appear workmanlike on the surface but slyly work their way under your skin.
“Weed Eater” packed a vocal hook big enough to reel in a walrus and the incessant pace of “Last Time” was an in-your-face moment of malevolent melody overflowing with barely restrained menace. A true alternative to the majority of Roadrunner Records’ output in the early 00’s, Downer is a sorely underrated and misunderstood nu-metal time capsule.
Five Pointe O – Untitled (2002)
A band with huge promise who seemed to disappear as quickly as they arrived, Five Pointe O burst onto the scene with their debut for Roadrunner and incorporated the prerequisite nu-metal influences of the era with death metal, prog metal and every other sub-genre of metal you can bally well think of!
Featuring clean vocals, hair-raising screams and guttural roars, this cacophony of disparate styles may have been a marmite proposition but there was much to love about this one-off highlight from the tail end of nu-metal’s reign. The Rage Against The Machine-esque “Freedom” was a suitably ferocious tirade while the middle-eastern rhythms of “Syndrome Down” and the colossal progressive death metal/alt metal of “Purity 01” proved this was one band who could, and should, have gone on to greater things.
Instead, they imploded….leaving just this one, underrated 00’s gem, as evidence of their existence.
Roadrunner Records should have pulled a gun on these fuckers and simply demanded a follow-up!
The Workhorse Movement – Sons Of The Pioneers (2000)
Making an immediate splash in the UK on release, The Workhorse Movement’s one and only album was a scintillating mash-up of funk, rap, metal (don’t be scared, these boys pissed all over Limp Bizkit and their knuckle dragging ilk) and a shit-ton of groove-drenched riffs. A combination that results in Sons Of The Pioneers standing as a unique moment in metal history 15 years on!
With an innate ability to pen some of the catchiest rap-metal workouts in existence, the likes of the waka-chika doused “Livin’ Evil”, “Zero” and the unfathomably huge chorus of “Keep The Sabbath Dream Alive” (now there’s a mantra to live your life by!) solidifies the unique nature of these jive talking turkey’s and their funky 70’s disco meets rap metal hybrid.
As debuts go, Sons Of The Pioneers was pretty damn electric and us Brits certainly saw The Workhorse Movement’s huge potential. Alas, the band splintered at the tail end of 2000 with 3/5ths of the ‘movement’ moving on and forming the equally impressive Dirty Americans.
Chimaira – Pass Out Of Existence (2001)
Before they became kings of the new wave of american heavy metal with 2nd album , Chimaira’s full length debut marked them out as one of nu-metal’s most ferocious acts (even if the band loathed to be described as such).
Admittedly, Chimaira’s bizarre melding of death metal, groove metal and nu-metal’s penchant for electronic noises marked them out as an anomaly from the start, the likes of “Dead Inside” still appealed them to the nu-metal fan who was looking for something that little bit heavier!
Also worthy: American Head Charge – The War Of Art / Dry Kill Logic – The Art Of Nonsense / Hed (PE) – Broke / Linea 77 – Ket.ch.up Sui.ci.de / Nonpoint – Development / Nothingface – Violence / Sevendust – Home / Snot – Get Some / Taproot – Gift.