In our last post, we managed to land on one of the most recognizable Nu Metal bands for the top spot, and I’ll be honest… I had kind of gotten used to the idea that I would just abandon this series and the official ranking would just wind up being eight bands with Drowning Pool on top. I mean, there are… *checks notes*… two hundred and sixteen more bands to go. If I’m going to drag my heels on a series involving a little over one hundred songs by a band I love, how can I ever be expected to write about like two hundred and fifty bands that I think are awful?
But then again, nobody’s going to get on my ass about changing the series format other than… me. So, to make things easier on myself, I’m just going to write a whole lot less about every band, unless I feel like I want to write more about them. And I’m going to cover twice the number of bands in every post.
That’ll keep me going for… at least this one more post. We’ll see what happens later!
Looking at the big list, the chances of me rolling a band to listen to that will have any songs better than “Bodies” by Drowning Pool are pretty slim, but I’ve been proven wrong before!
This edition’s bands are…
Nonpoint has the distinction of being the only band in this post that I have previously heard of. Their name also serves as a pretty neat summation of the way I’ve started to feel about this blog!
I do not remember what they sound like.
Looking at Wikipedia, it seems that this band has remained pretty active. For the purposes of this series, we’ll really only be looking at music released from the inception of Nu Metal to when it basically sputtered out and died, so roughly 1994 – 2005. This means that a number of songs in their Spotify top five will not count, meaning that I’ll need to do a bit more research.
The internet indicates that Nonpoint’s first big single is “What A Day”, a song that I have never heard in my life.
“What A Day” has verses that sound like a Limp Bizkit cover band fronted by the guy that isn’t Shaggy from Shaggy’s late-90s hit “It Wasn’t Me”. It also has choruses that sound perilously close to Linkin Park’s first big hit, “One Step Closer”. It appears that this was released first, though. Anyway, it’s an unbelievably on-the-nose time capsule of elements from 1998-2001 and it sounds exactly as fresh as milk left out in the sun since that time might smell.
“Your Signs” cements my impression that this band is emblematic of the second wave of Nu Metal that was heavily concerned with commercial viability instead of being concerned with crafting something even remotely interesting. It is utterly generic. This one is sort of like Incubus run through a photocopier a bunch of times over. Big, melodic harmonies over midtempo drop-D chords. Verses with that sort of syncopated dub-ish rhythm. Woof.
And it looks like they also did the most commercial nu-metal thing that they possibly could have. They released a cover of another hit song as a single. This is something that bands would do to try to get onto MTV, or onto a movie soundtrack. You know. To make money. Sometimes piles of it. Nonpoint’s cover of “In The Air Tonight” is not one of the better one of these I’ve heard. I know that this is the “metal” cover of the song, but this version makes Phil Collins’ original sound like a fuckin’ speed metal ripper by comparison. Absolutely toothless. The drummer even tries to do that drum fill and it sounds like fucking dogshit. This is bad. I don’t even like Phil Collins and I feel bad for him here.
Nu Metal Fit Check:
Yep, that looks about right. Lead singer with dreads, rest of the band with goatees (the dreads of the face). Eyebrow piercing that looks like a medical condition. 75% of band wearing oversized fast fashion and one guy wearing a jersey. Kinda exactly perfect.
I gotta be honest, I don’t think I ever have heard Nonpoint and paid attention enough to remember what they sounded like, because for some reason I had the impression that they were one of the heavy nu metal bands. They really, really aren’t. They’re firmly stuck in that middle of the road second wave who took a look at the success that Incubus was enjoying and thought “I can also late-90s-sexysing!”
This is probably the kind of nu metal that I hate the most. And for that reason, this band will probably rank pretty highly on this list, because this is some nu metal right here.
Best Song: I guess “What A Day” is the best thing that I listened to here. The chorus sounds like a song that is a little catchier (that Linkin Park song). I’m curious as to whether this band actually ever went any heavier than this.
When searching Google for “A.N.I.M.A.L. band”, the first results seem to be about Eric Burdon’s sixties band, The Animals, who are not very metal. Digging a little deeper, it would seem that A.N.I.M.A.L. are an Argentinian metal band, which is – at the very least – a little more interesting than just being another nu metal also-ran full of suburban white American kids with bad facial hair.
Their biggest song on Spotify is “Loco Pro.”, and three seconds in… I am fuckin’ bummed. I was hoping that this would be, like, a band from South America that took the American sound and upped the brutality. Instead, this is much more in the rap-rock stream of nu metal, to the point where this maybe sounds even more dated than the American stuff released at the same time. It sounds like… bad House of Pain? Loud/quiet/loud dynamics dictate a boiler plate “heavy chorus” come in, and it sounds like the riffs that a kid would write in high school. There’s a double-time, punk-edged bridge section that actually kind of works for me, though!
Overall… some pretty cringeworthy stuff. Let’s check out their second-most popular song on Spotify, “Lejos de Casa”.
This slower burning, moodier tune is much more straightforward post-grunge/nu metal, and seems a lot less… goofy. It would be a stretch to call this “fresh” (or even “good”), but it’s certainly a competent example of a certain mode of angsty alt-metal. There’s a song like this on nearly every nu metal album released after 1998. Every band wanted to have a slower, “deep” song. Now, I’m just assuming that’s what this is. I have no idea what “Lejos De Casa” is about, because I don’t speak or understand Spanish. It could be about making Coke floats for all I know. But I’m actually kind of surprised that this song works at all, given the last song that we listened to. It even features a chord change in the chorus that had me sort of thinking “Hmm… that’s an interesting choice”.
I will need to check out one more song to see if I can determine what the base A.N.I.M.A.L. sound actually is. I’m not writing less for these reviews at all! I might be writing more. I am fucking hopeless.
Lol… is this song called “A guy’s new car”? Anyway, this sees the band in a more aggressive mode, not really like the last tune and not at all like the House Of Pain knock off feel of the first tune. I don’t think that this is great, but it is surprisingly fun. It kind of rips? Haha, actually there’s a lot to like here. For one thing, the rap vocals work better for me in Spanish than they might in English. It’s somehow less dorky. The riffs are generic, but solid, and a few of them are more metal than nu metal, featuring some fun harmonic squeals. The song also mixes it up rhythmically, throwing in double time sections and half time sections, and a big double-kick outro. Gang vocals too, huh? I dunno, if I’m being honest, this is probably the best song that we’ve seen in this whole series that isn’t “Bodies” by Drowning Pool.
Nu Metal Fit Check:
These guys definitely look mid-90s “metal dude”, but not so egregiously nu metal. Sure, you’ve got some dreads and 100% goatee coverage, but this doesn’t look truly goofy to me. Remember when dudes wore wood bead necklaces? Wow!
So, this band will be hard to rank for a bunch of reasons. For one thing, it’s tough to judge a band that may have been very significant in South America against the mega-star bands in American nu metal. Also, I’m looking into when this band was active, and it looks like the better material is off of an album from 1996, which would help explain why it feels much more metal and not so nu metal (and is consequently much better. The track “Guerra de Razas” is much more akin to early-90s groove metal than it is to new metal.
It looks like this band kind of ripped and then nu metal got popular and they decided to change their sound to be more of a… Spanish House of Pain. Bad call!
Best Song: The dude has a new car one, for sure.
All of these band names are dumb, but “Gizmachi” is probably the dumbest one in the post. What the hell is a “Gizmachi”? According to Wikipedia, they formed after Nu Metal had already broken, and are associated with Slipknot in some way. It would also appear that they only have a handful of records, one of which is too recent for me to consider for this post. So we’ll be looking at a few tracks off of 2005’s The Imbuing. Haha. “The Imbuing”. This is going to be one of those bands.
Their most listened to song on Spotify is “Wandering Eyes”. It kicks off with some shrill and unpleasant shrieking and then there are lots and lots of chugs. This actually doesn’t sound very Nu Metal at all, outside of some of the more Cookie Monster-ish vocals. This is way more of a metalcore/mathcore/Djent thing. I don’t even think there were any Djent bands in 2005… Wait, I just got to the chorus. That’s where the new metal is. Things get very conventional for a brief moment and the melody soars, in a terribly cheesy Nu Metal/Post-grunge way.
Boy, this is something. “Wandering Eyes” is exhausting. There are things that I like about this, but the vocals are a real weak link here. The spoken word section in the middle of this song is bad enough that I never want to hear it again. But musically, this has way more in common with mid-2000s mathcore/metalcore than it does with even the heaviest Nu Metal bands, or Gizmachi’s benefactors, Slipknot. I don’t think that it’s great, though, even from a metalcore perspective. It’s like they learned that they learned that they could throw 40+ math-y riffs into one song, but they never learned how to make it swing, baby. It’s not like the earliest Dillinger Escape Plan stuff, which was chaotic but exhilarating, or like Everytime I Die, who were chaotic but weirdly southern-fried and fun. This is more just like, chugs that I can’t keep track of and vocals that are off-putting enough that I don’t have the patience to give a shot to figuring out what the band is trying to accomplish.
We’ll take a listen to the second-most listened to song from Spotify in the interest of due diligence, but this is for sure a band that landed on Wikipedia’s big list of nu metal bands out of association rather than legitimate nu metal credentials.
Woof. Don’t start your song off with unaccompanied choral vocals if you’re dealing with vocalists this shaky. Sounds bad. This song kicks off with a melodic hook that would feel at home in a lot of post-grunge hard rock, if it weren’t in a odd time signature. The meat of the song is the same kind of mixed bag of chugs as the previous tune. This one actually might get even more disorienting because they layer the vocals. Oh man, there’s a big guitar solo in the middle of this thing. This is really, really not a nu metal band. They’ll land somewhere nu metal adjacent for like five seconds at a time and then they’ll throw down a series of off-time chugs that sound like a different scene altogether. This song is better and more comprehensible as a whole, but I can see why the world wasn’t ready for Gizmachi.
The world is probably still not ready for Gizmachi.
Nu Metal Fit Check:
Every dude in this photo is from a different music scene. Industrial guy, Jockcore guy, Nu metal guy, post-hardcore/AtTheDriveIn guy, sad guy at a skate punk show guy. Gizmachi is all things to all people.
Best song: “The Answer” is probably the best out of the two I previewed, but I hope I never heard it again.
According to Wikipedia, this band really hits the second wave Nu Metal pocket. Released two albums, in 2001 and 2003, then disbanded by 2007. Perfect. *chef’s kiss*
Their most popular song is called “Los Angeles Times” and it features Xzibit. Finally. This is why we’re here.
“Los Angeles Times” is exactly the kind of ultra-generic rap rock that I was hoping for. By the numbers super-fuzzed chugs with a white drummer trying to play a hip hop beat along to it, with a notable hip hop star sounding awkward overtop of it. I love the way that everyone was desperate to shoehorn their styles together in this era. Just completely dispensing with any integrity that any of them had in the pursuit of that Monday Night RAW fan’s allowance money.
Xzibit sounds awkward here, but Endo’s vocalist sounds awful. Haha. Xzibit has some style, he’s just laying vocals down over music that doesn’t gel well with his verses. Some pretty collar-tuggy lines in there, though! Can’t get away with a lot of these lyrics now, Mr Zibbit. The Endo guy tries to scream along with Xzibit and the whole thing sounds like the audio equivalent of drinking orange juice immediately after brushing your teeth. The shit doesn’t mix and it makes me cringe.
Their next most popular song on Spotify is called “Clean Sheets (And A Dirty Mind)”. Urrghh.
Kind of a stretch to call this nu metal, as it’s way more of a very boring post-grunge, angsty buttrock thing. If you’re going to use the same chord progression for both your verse and chorus, you had really better do something interesting melodically in both of them. This one bombs it on both. Nothing to write home about musically in the track from top to bottom. Vocally, you’ve got a dude trying to split the difference between Maynard James Keenan, Jonathan Davis, and (primarily) Marilyn Manson. It’s as bad as that sounds.
I can see why a lot of the bands that we’ve listened to didn’t take off, but this is particularly uninspired and by-the-numbers stuff. It’s by-the-numbers and they specifically picked the most boring numbers.
The only song I could find with a music video is “Suffer”. And it looks like this was uploaded the week YouTube launched or something, because the quality is awful and the aspect ratio is all fucked up. But that’s okay, because the song doesn’t really merit HD. This song is more of a nu metal thing, but it is specifically a second (or third) wave nu metal vibe. It’s sort of like a Linkin Park song with less personality and no rapping. Vocalist still has a bit of a Manson vibe, and getting a look at this guy, you can kind of guess what his bedroom was decorated like in his late teen years, if that makes any sense. Video looks like it was made for $40, but I’ll bet they were very excited about it and took it very seriously. I think that the main riff in this song is practically the same chord progression as the last one we listened to. Things do get very funny when the guy starts screaming “WHY” over and over and over again. So much of this stuff sounds like it could have be spit out of an AI Bot trained to think like a young white man with a victim complex.
Nu Metal Fit Check:
A bit tough to make it all out due to the resolution, but there are a few interesting things going on here. Baldguy singer is not such a big deal, because Disturbed were doing it at around the same time and established that bald guys were allowed to be lead singers. We do have some hilarious facial hair choices, but really not that much. The wardrobe choice is interesting to me. All black, for the most part. Except the one guy forgot that they had agreed upon all black and just wore jeans. They were probably so mad at him. “YOU STAND ALL THE WAY AT THE BACK, GARY!”
The sleeveless shirts, though. You don’t see that very often in the Nu Metal world, unless it’s an oversized jersey! So that’s a little different.
The guy in the back left looks like he plays AAA hockey or something.
I dunno. This band is pretty brutal, and not in the good way.
Best song: Pains me to pick one, but I guess “Suffer”?
If I had to pick a favourite band here, I would probably pick A.N.I.M.A.L., because the songs of theirs that I listen to that aren’t awful metal version of House Of Pain are actually reasonably fun metal songs. But that’s not really what this is about. We’re picking the best nu metal band. And the best nu metal band from this group is Nonpoint, and I’m not sure that it’s close. They’re a very polished act compared to the rest of these bands, and they sit firmly in the late-era nu metal Incubus-space, so they fit the bill. I don’t like it, but it’s true.
There’s something that needs to be said about nu metal that I don’t think that I’ve talked about much, and that’s the fact that it practically necessitates some degree of pop feel to it. People think it’s heavy music, but I would say that it also requires a certain amount of swing in order to work, and when I say swing, I specifically mean hooky pop appeal. Whether this is accomplished with a certain groove or bouncy riff, or through very accessible vocals, or catchy rapping, all of the biggest nu metal had mass appeal because there was something pop about it that grabbed people.
Nonpoint does that best here. And this is why a band like Gizmachi is, like, not really nu metal at all. They’re not even catchy for a mathcore/metalcore band. But they are heavy.
If I had to rank these acts in terms of their nu metal-ness, it would go: Nonpoint, Endo, A.N.I.M.A.L., Gizmachi.
But we have to factor in quality as one of our metrics here, so I’m actually going to rank them: Nonpoint, A.N.I.M.A.L., Gizmachi, Endo. Because Endo is terrible.
Nonpoint will not dethrone Drowning Pool, because they do not have a song as good as “Bodies”, and “Bodies” is an example of Nu Metal pop excellence. They can land just under Drowning Pool and the rest of this edition’s bands will sprinkle in underneath.
…This post was no shorter than my previous posts and took ages to write.
The new ranking is:
- Drowning Pool
- Trust Company
- Twisted Method
- Wicked Wisdom
Drowning Pool is the greatest Nu Metal band of all time!
Click here to read the other installments in this ranking series!