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A Beginner's Guide To Heavy Metal #10 - Nu Metal
A touch of everything
The initial problem with rap metal was that there's a rather limited scope that can be covered musically with it, plus the fact that truly good rappers who can blend what they do with a metal backing band are few. The world of industrial metal has also seen some criticisms for fear from many that the use of electronics would overtake the use of actual heavy guitars and drums. The solution? Put it all together. The standard heavy riffs, grooving bass lines, and thundering drum rhythms with screamed and melodic vocals, with added hip hop influences and electronic noise, all put together to make the most original heavy metal sub genre of the last twenty years.
Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory
Take out all of the incredible popularity this album attained that made many of you likely get sick of this album very quickly and the admittedly very angsty nature of some of the lyrics and just look at this album as an album. The vocals are strong and versatile, the rapping is solid, the riffs are heavy, and the electronic backing is top notch. I know many of you reading this will disagree, but from a purely technical stand point, this album succeeds in everything nu-metal should.
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Saliva - Every Six Seconds
This Tennessee outfit eventually grew into one of the most diverse rock bands I have ever heard, but back in the day, they were a prime offering of straight forward metal backed rapping and very strong vocals that can get just about any crowd going strong (I know this from experience).
Sepultura - Roots
After helping to pioneer black metal, death metal and thrash throughout the late 80s and then dabbling in industrial metal in the early 90s, this Brazilian powerhouse decided to push the envelope even more, this time drawing influence from the crop of bands that had initially been influenced by them, as well as the music of the tribes of their native country. Fast paced vocals, insanely heavy riffs, and it even features a guest appearance from Korn's Johnathan Davis.
Limp Bizkit - Significant Other
You can already see why I predicted I would be getting the most flack for this article. Believe me, I get it. I completely understand every reason everyone has ever given for hating this band and personally, I find Fred Durst to be for the most part at best incredibly annoying, and at worst absolutely insufferable, the lack luster quality of the majority of their albums testifying to that more than anything I could say. However, this one is a glorious exception. I don't know what they did on this album, but if they could repeat it I would easily call myself a die hard fan. Great raps, great singing, and amazing guitar work from masked mad man Wes Borland, as annoying as they can be I cannot recommend this album enough.
Papa Roach - Infest
Very close to being straight up rap metal, this band is saved as a nu-metal band by the incredibly catchy melodies provided by the more than capable musicians in the band. Very few albums have had a hit song ("Last Resort") that I have heard so many times and yet still rock out to and enjoy as much as this one.
Deftones - Around The Fur
The very simple cover of this album through some mysterious force in the universe continues to find it's way onto album cover "Best Of..." lists, almost becoming more well known than the music itself, even though that is without question the best part. The sexiest and trippiest nu-metal would ever get, it definitely warrants multiple listenings in order to get the full spectrum of just what an absolute classic this album is.
Disturbed - The Sickness
The name of this band definitely describes my feelings the first time I heard this album much more than the title of the album. I will never stop getting chills during the break down of the now legendary "Down With The Sickness", and while future albums would become more diverse and melodic, and David Draiman (one of the best voices in metal in my opinion) having now made the move into full on industrial metal, nowhere was the full intensity of this outfit been captured more perfectly.
System of a Down - Toxicity
Speaking of great voices, this band boasted two great talents in that department who also both happened to be incredible musicians and writers. That being said, I will never understand how this album got as big as it did. The lyrics are so obscure some of them I only recently figured out what they were about, the music is absolutely crazy, and it all melds together into a perfect culmination of beautiful politically charged insanity.
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Slipknot - Slipknot
"Down with the Sickness" may still send chills down my spine every time I hear it, but no album from start to finish since the first Black Sabbath album ever scared me as much as this one did the first time I sat down to listen to it. Distorted sampling and wall of sound three percussionist delivered drums, serving as the perfect back drop to the insanely down tuned guitars and bass and full throated roar of future legend Corey Taylor, each and every track on this monster of an album is like the most disturbingly bad acid trip ever experienced (not that I'd know). Only one song in the world of metal has ever come close to being as disturbing.
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Korn - Korn
The same year as the tragic death of Kurt Cobain, one of the most disturbing albums to ever grace the billboard top 100, the album that effectively began what we know as nu-metal today, dropped. Contained behind the instantly discomforting album cover is a dark realm of heavily distorted slow riffs, hip hop influence beats, and the genuinely tortured screams of Johnathan Davis, all culminating in easily the most disturbing song I have ever heard in my entire life, "Daddy". Black Sabbath and Slipknot may have scared me, but no song from start to finish has ever left me in the stunned silence I was in at the end of this album. Any recording that is able to elicit that kind of emotional response, definitely deserves the number 1 spot.
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A Lesson In Pain
It is truly sad that so many of these bands have picked up a reputation of inspiring so many of the "whine core" bands that have managed to sulk and moan their way into the rock world over the past decade. Fortunately, we will always have the true kings of this style, most of which are still putting out great music, to remind us how it's done right.