For a style of music that is popularly characterized as being completely lunkheaded, Nu Metal is actually pretty complicated… feelings-wise. I’m pretty sure that many of us of a certain vintage cringe when we think about it, not only because it is bad and dumb (which it often was and is), but because we would rather not have to admit that we were once absolutely neck-deep onboard with something that is now so universally maligned.
Earlier this year, I got to thinking about Nu Metal when my very smart and handsome friend Jesse created the longest and most hilarious Spotify playlist of all time (which I will embed at the bottom of this post).
There are hundreds of Nu Metal songs on it and it is obscene. And constantly hilarious. And… often… actually sort of good? Some of the most obvious bands have managed to transcend the genre and clearly have some material that stands the test of time. But there are also tracks on this playlist that I only vaguely remember that are actually kind of fun.
I’ve done my fair share of reevaluating things on this blog, but I have never gone so far as reevaluating an entire genre. Perhaps it is time that we give Nu Metal a second look. A fair shot. Hey Man, nice shot (not nu metal).
I’m going to system(of a down)atically and def(tones)initively get to the bottom of which Nu Metal band is the greatest and which Nu Metal band is the weakest… by ranking each and every one of them, two bands at a time. To determine the scope of the project, I am looking to the Wikipedia list of Nu Metal bands, as Wikipedia is as close to an authority on any given subject as I can think of.
I have placed each band a numbered list in alphabetical order and for every installment I will use a random number generator to select two bands. I will compare and evaluate the bands based on their strengths and weaknesses relative to each other and to the genre, and I will conclude by slotting them into a ranking position. I will probably just listen to whatever each band’s top five songs on Spotify are. I don’t have all the time in the world and this genre is 95% unlistenable horseshit, so I’m not too concerned if anyone thinks that this isn’t in depth enough. It is my hope that this project will serve to bawitaba a greater understandadangdiggydiggy of upjumptheboogie.
Today’s bands to be ranked: WICKED WISDOM and GODHEAD
When I rolled Wicked Wisdom as a choice for this post, my first thought was “I have never heard of this band in my life”. When I Googled them, I realized that of course I have have heard of Wicked Wisdom because Wicked Wisdom is JADA PINKETT’S FUCKING NU METAL BAND.
I had forgotten all about this, but holy shit. There was a time when Nu Metal was so huge that this sort of thing was only moderately surprising. Looking back 15 or more years later, it seems completely insane.
Listening to it, I’ve gotta admit… this is definitely Nu Metal. Specifically, this is a great example of Nu Metal having completely jumped-the-shark. This is Nu Metal post-Jonathan Davis doing that terrible movie soundtrack, and post-Evanescence selling a bonkers number of that record with that song of theirs on it. It’s all here. Paint-by-numbers riffs with super-thick production. Weak samples. Lyrical anger that overshoots menace and lands in a realm of icky teen-friendly moronic melodrama. Wow, this is something.
It seems as though Wicked Wisdom isn’t even on Spotify, so I’m limited to just listening to samples on YouTube. It’s just as well, given that they only seem to have two albums and I think only one single? “Bleed All Over Me” is one humdinger of a tune, featuring such lyrical gems as “I love your pain, And how it makes me feel inside” and “I crave your pain, ‘Cause I’m its only friend”. Wow. Hot stuff.
Giving a listen to this, and scrubbing through the band’s 2006 full-length album, it is pretty standard lower-tier stuff. Pinkett doesn’t add much to the party, but she can carry a tune and performs with an acceptable level of angst. It very occasionally sounds like the band wants to liven things up with some time signature changes and riffs that stray from the drop-D boilerplate. The drum performance is actually fairly solid. Wikipedia indicates that the drummer also played in Fishbone, who were what some may consider more of a real band.
It’s pretty embarrassing, dated stuff. Justifiably forgotten. The vocals and lyrics are awkward enough to derail whatever few interesting moments you might find here.
This post feels like a giant mistake already.
Best song: Maybe “Something Inside of Me” because there’s a pretty interesting riff in there that feels super off-kilter, and the chorus feels really Serial Joe-ish to me.
When two of your top five songs are different covers of the same Beatles song, you might be in trouble. I actually remember this cover of “Eleanor Rigby”. It may seem like Godhead saw the success that Orgy had with their “Blue Monday” cover and decided to cash in with a similarly flavoured cover of their own. Looking more carefully, though, it appears that Godhead’s first released cover of “Eleanor Rigby” was actually released a year before that Orgy album came out. So… I don’t know what to think. It still doesn’t make it a good idea. None of this was a good idea.
Godhead seems to have been lumped in with Nu Metal in the same way that Orgy was, despite not really sounding like a Nu Metal band at all. They’re much more of a Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson pastiche, and not a particularly good one. Their number one song on Spotify – “Penetrate” (ugh) – is a lurching bore, industrial metal so generic and bland it makes the prospect of working on an actual industrial assembly line seem like it might be more of a thrill by comparison. It ends with the line “I’m not going to imitate”, which is pretty hilarious.
I’m not really sure what makes this group Nu Metal, beyond just the time period where their biggest (maybe only relevant?) album was released. The non-“Eleanor Rigby” songs in this top five are just the pits. “Break You Down” kicks off by almost verbatim ripping off a Nine Inch Nails song and features Marilyn Manson as a guest, somehow. The band are still active and releasing music. I didn’t listen to, uh… anything more recent than what was released in the year 2000.
Best song: “Eleanor Rigby”. Lol. Can’t pick which one!
Fortunately, I don’t actually have to decide if either of these bands are good. I just need to rank them relative to each other. They’re both pretty bad. Again, this post was a bad idea.
Although they’re both derivative, bland also-rans, I think I have to give Wicked Wisdom the edge in this contest over Godhead, given that Wicked Wisdom is almost hilariously Nu Metal-sounding and Godhead isn’t at all Nu Metal-sounding. I can’t recommend ever listening to either of them.
- WICKED WISDOM
As it stands currently, my incredibly accurate ranking system has determined that Wicked Wisdom is the best Nu Metal band of all time. Will they hang onto the crown? Only time and more ranking match-ups will tell. More ranking match-ups which I am sure that I will definitely maybe do or not do.
In the meantime, please enjoy Jesse’s playlist and I encourage you to check out and purchase his very excellent not-nu metal music.