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 this L.A. band was an alternative metal anomaly that seems to have been utterly lost to the annals of time.
With a cold, dry sound that actually worked in their favour, the unique vocals of J. Scott (whose delivery mixed 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.
Sepultura – Nation (2001)
Derrick Green‘s second outing as Sepultura frontman arrived in 2001 and was home to thrash, hardcore punk and that tribal sound that has become synonymous with this legendary band.
From fiery bursts of brutal thrash (the short, sharp shock of “Revolt”) to experiments in thundering tribal grooves (“Uma Kura”) and arms-aloft anthems such as “Sepulnation”, this collection of political diatribes virtually fell into the nu-metal cesspool when it should have been revered for its experimental nature and quality songwriting.
Sepultura have arguably gone from strength to strength since Nation‘s release – Dante XXII, Kairos and Quadra are particularly noteworthy – and any notion that Sepultura aren’t ‘Sepultura’ without Max (& Igor) Cavalera are preposterous.
However, perhaps even the band have fallen out of love with Sepulnation – although they’ve never stopped fighting the good fight – as tracks from this political monster rarely receive a live airing. A shame, as this semi-forgotten treat from the ‘Seps’ sizeable back catalogue still contains enough power to shock and awe.
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!
Sanctity – Road to Bloodshed (2007)
In modern metal terms, while Trivium – at their thrashiest – are a solid comparison, Sanctity were never riding roughshod over land already covered by Matt Heafy’s men. Instead, they delivered their own, distinct, brand of updated thrash. Admittedly, Roadrunner Records may have hoped Sanctity would replicate Trivium’s success – and Road To Bloodshed certainly had the quality to do so – but sadly the paying public failed to cotton on to what a tasty slice of melodic thrash they had at their disposal!
This was a crying shame as while the title track steps scarily close to metalcore’s formula, the power/thrash-fests of “Beloved Killer”, the huge “Zeppo” and the razor-sharp melodies of “Beneath The Machine” (where guitarist/vocalist Jared MacEachern ably recreates the roar of Testament man-mountain Chuck Billy) should have been enough to satisfy hardened thrashers accustomed to a little melody in their thrash.
Now plying his trade as Machine Head’s bassist, perhaps its too much to hope that one day Jared MacEachern will see fit to reform Sanctity and blow us all away with a follow up to this severely neglected modern thrash release.
Mutiny Within – Mutiny Within (2010)
Mutiny Within’s self-titled debut album seems to be a love it or hate it record but we sit firmly in the love it camp!
Like a progressive/technical/power metal tornado, this assured debut practically channeled every sub-genre metal has to offer with everyone from Dream Theater to Killswitch Engage proving an influence. As disparate as that may sound the result was uniformly impressive, melody and might colliding in a series of scintillating vignettes from a band with talent to burn.
As adept at crafting radio-friendly anthems as they are at kicking your teeth in with growls, screams and spine-shattering riffs, those not accustomed to embracing the more melodic (read ‘cheesy’) aspects of prog metal may balk at Mutiny Within but open ears are rewarded wholesale. Try the tricky balancing act of “Reflections” if proof is required.
Heavy when needed, introspective when desired; Mutiny Within was a beyond confident debut from a band surely destined for great things.
Have we forgotten your favourite underrated Roadrunner Records release? Pop it in the comments below and we’ll have a chinwag about it!