To coincide with the release of Papa Roach’s new album F.E.A.R, I decided to take a look at the bands that have survived the sunken ship of nu-metal to become rock and metal superstars who are still relevant today.
As much as any self-respecting metalhead would like to dismiss the nu-metal era as a fleeting fad and a somewhat embarrassing moment in metal history, it would be heinous to deny that there weren’t some game-changing albums, classic songs and fantastic bands to come out of this “dishonourable” period (quiet at the back). Amongst the sea of forgotten nu-metal bands to come out of the late 90’s/early 00’s (Orgy anyone? No, not that kind), there are a few diamonds in the rough that have stood the test of time and transcended the nu-metal label to become modern rock legends. So dust off your copy of Hybrid Theory, turn your baseball cap backwards and get ready to take a trip down memory lane. And keep on rollin’ baby. You know what time it is…
Those of you who haven’t listened to a Papa Roach album since 2004’s Getting Away with Murder may be surprised to find them on this list. Fact of the matter is, the Californian rockers have managed to successfully adapt and reinvent their sound, pushing their experimental boundaries whilst avoiding being dismissed as a nostalgia act. Of course it’s still the classics that really get the crowds going – songs like “Last Resort”, “Between Angels and Insects” and “Scars” reignite past teenage angst and bring out your inner Eminem – but the electro-tinged newbies like “Face Everything and Rise” and “Warriors” from their latest release F.E.A.R share lots in common with the music of contemporary bands such as Crossfaith, Crown The Empire and Bring Me the Horizon. Moving with musical trends whilst still retaining the essence of what makes them Papa Roach is what has allowed this band to remain a huge success, selling over 20 million albums worldwide. Not too shabby.
In the early days of Slipknot’s meteoric rise to metal superstardom, there were a few bands that tried to emulate their success by donning horror masks and facepaint in a ridiculous attempt to make themselves look more edgy (looking at you Mushroomhead and Mudvayne), however their theatrical aesthetics failed to distract from the below-par and half-arsed noise issuing from their (probably) budget amps. Slipknot were clearly a cut above the rest and their career has gone from strength to strength since the release of their self-titled debut album. Despite the tragic death of bassist and founding member Paul Gray in 2010 and the recent departure of drummer Joey Jordison, the ‘Knot appear stronger than ever and most importantly, still continue to produce phenomenal music. Highlights from their back catalogue include “Duality”, “Psychosocial”, “Before I Forget” and “Wait and Bleed”. After a bit of a change in musical direction to a more classic metal sound on fourth album All Hope is Gone, their latest release, 5: The Gray Chapter saw a return to Slipknot of old, with frontman Corey Taylor describing the album as a cross between Iowa and Vol 3. The Subliminal Verses. It’s been a hit with fans and critics alike, and this year sees the band return to headline the main stage at Download Festival for the third time. Long may their reign continue.
Pioneers of the nu-metal genre, Korn have enjoyed commercial success for much of their career and are one of the only bands to have stayed close to their nu-metal roots, yet remained popular. Their darkly unique sound coupled with Jonathan Davis’ distinctive vocals makes their music instantly recognisable and can simply be described as “Korn”. Not afraid of pushing the boundaries, the band experimented with dubstep on their tenth album, The Path to Totality, collaborating with rocker-turned-EDM producer Skrillex. Opinion was largely polarized by the album, with some critics hailing it as innovative, and others crying ‘sell-out’. Nonetheless, it was named as album of the year by Revolver in 2012, earning them their first ever Golden Gods Award. This year Korn celebrated their 20th anniversary by hooking up with Slipknot for their “Prepare for Hell” tour, delighting fans by playing classics like “Here To Stay”, “Blind” and “Freak on a Leash”.
Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, Linkin Park aren’t going anywhere. Since rising to international fame after the release of their debut album Hybrid Theory, LP have become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Their combination of nu-metal with hip hop beats and pop melodies pushed the genre boundaries of alternative music, leading early critics to question whether they were witnessing the world’s first metal boyband (let’s be honest – “In The End” is a pop song. But it’s a fucking awesome one). As what appears to be the trend with bands from the nu-metal scene, Linkin Park certainly haven’t been afraid to experiment. With their third album Minutes to Midnight, the distinctly Linkin Park distorted guitars were turned down and the use of sampling that was so prominent in their sophomore Meteora all but vanished. Linkin Park had “grown up” and away from nu-metal. The band continued to experiment further with electronics and beats on the fourth and fifth albums A Thousand Suns and Living Things. Although both albums were commercial successes, the band were criticised by their old fans who wondered what on earth had happened. Perhaps to appease them then, LP decided to play Hybrid Theory in its entirety at their headline appearance at Download Festival in 2014 (I was there, it was absolutely incredible. All the feels). Their latest album The Hunting Party explores elements of their early material and a return to a heavier sound than on their more recent albums. As well as being frontman of Linkin Park and his own side-project Dead by Sunrise, Chester Bennington is now also the frontman of Stone Temple Pilots, one of his favourite childhood bands. Not at all busy then.
System of a Down
Last but not least, the frankly bonkers System of a Down. The Armenian-Americans scared us all by taking a four year hiatus in 2006 which seemed to last forever but made up for all that by returning in 2011 and embarking on a reunion tour, playing a string of festival dates, including a headline set at Download. Arguably one of the most unique metal bands in history, SOAD have achieved commercial success with every album release since their self-titled debut. It was after the second album Toxicity where their big break came and it contains some of their most well-known songs, including the title-track, “Toxicity”, “Chop Suey!” and “Aerials”. SOAD have been frequently controversial with their lyrics, with themes including politics, drug abuse and er, sodomy. The band released double album Mezmerize/Hypnotize between 2004 and 2005 and won a Grammy for single “B.Y.O.B”. Despite not releasing any new material since 2005 (that’s TEN YEARS), System still have a mahusive fanbase. They have recently teased us with hints that they have been talking about the possibility of making a new album, so fingers crossed. This year the band will embark on their “Wake The Souls” tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Tickets sold out for all dates within seconds. Those lucky enough to have got tickets will be in for a treat – I’m going to the Amsterdam date after failing to get a ticket for their one at London Wembley. Dedication right thurr.
Special mention goes to…
Limp Bizkit aren’t the most credible band out there, but they are a whole lot of fun. They returned in 2009 after a three year hiatus and released their sixth album (they’ve had that many?) Gold Cobra to mixed reviews. What you see is what you get with Bizkit – anybody expecting anything more than moshworthy rock club floorfillers is going to be disappointed. They are responsible for “Rollin'” – give them a break. Or berate them, if you will if you hate that song.
And those that haven’t…
Not everyone made it out of the nu-metal dungeons and survived…
Come my lady, come come my lady…You know the one. Crazy Town are the definition of a one-hit wonder. Their mega-hit Butterfly isn’t even in the slightest bit metal, but we love it. The band appeared at Download in 2014 and performed to a packed-out tent. They shouted something about coming back with a new album. Yet to see one.
Alien Ant Farm
AAF’s ingenious cover of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal pretty much dominated every music channel and radio station in 2001. Since then, the band has faded into obscurity. They recently announced that they’ll be releasing a new album in February this year titled Always and Forever. Oh…