The Class Of 1999: Where Are They Now?
1999 was a big year for music, especially if you were a fan of binary, down-tuned riffs, semi-rapped vocals, pronged beards, wallet chains and supremely baggy trousers. As the dawning of the new millennium approached, nu-metal wasn’t the only game in town. Blink-182 released their breakthrough album Enema Of The State, the Foo Fighters were busy learning to fly and Ricky Martin was livin’ la vida loca. What? Come on, that bassline…
The biggest noise on the block, though, was undoubtedly nu-metal. Originators Korn were the undisputed kings of the scene but young upstarts like Slipknot and System Of A Down were waiting in the wings, as well as… shall we be kind and call them ‘bands of an era-limited appeal’?
Here’s a look at the nu-metal class of ’99, then and now. Because we all want to know what became of that bloke out of Powerman 5000, right?
THEN: In 1999, nu-metal progenitors Korn were the biggest metal band in the world. That year’s Issues wasn’t their finest album but it debuted at Number 1 in the US Billboard 200, beating the likes of Dr Dre and Celine Dion. They were also immortalised in a South Park episode titled Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery.
NOW: They’re no longer the biggest noise around but their last album, 2016’s The Serenity Of Suffering still debuted at Number 4 in the US charts. They are currently working on their 13th studio album.
THEN: They’d already scored a big hit with their loco self-titled debut album and by 1999’s Chamber Music they were desperate to distance themselves from the ‘mini-Korn’ label they’d been tagged with. They failed, despite big-name management from Sharon Osbourne and hubby Ozzy appearing on their cover of Peter Gabriel’s Shock The Monkey.
THEN: Orgy exploded out of Los Angeles with an industrialised, electronica-infused take on nu-metal that they called ‘death pop’. Their biggest hit was a cover of New Order’s Blue Monday, released the previous year. Guitarists Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh would go on to form a project called Dead By Sunrise with Chester Bennington.
NOW: It might have passed you by but they’re still going with a new album called Entropy in the pipeline.
THEN: Limp Bizkit’s second album Significant Other was another nu-metal Number 1. They also made headlines for all the wrong reasons when a violent virtual riot broke out during their set at Bloodstock ’99.
NOW: Their reunion a decade ago caused a flurry of excitement and they’re due to return again with sixth album Stampede Of The Disco Elephants. Only God and possibly Fred Durst know when though, as the Bizkit’s own Chinese Democracy has been in development hell for nearly seven years already.
THEN: Slipknot’s self-titled album was undoubtedly the most significant debut of 1999 (Linkin Park didn’t drop until the year later, which is why neither they nor Papa Roach make the list). That percussive clatter, barely controlled chaos and, of course, the masked air of mystery all added up to one of the most explosive introductions of all time.
NOW: Considering they’re set to headline Download for the fourth time in a few months and that their forthcoming sixth studio album is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the year, it’s safe to say that Slipknot are the single most successful band still extant from the class of ’99.
THEN: Although lumped in with the nu-metal scene, Deftones always had a more nuanced take in a genre that saw a few genuine innovators and plenty of copyists. In 1999 the Sacramento crew were caught between the down-tuned lurch of Around The Fur and the more experimental White Pony, but it was already apparent they were far too expansive for a single reductive label.
NOW: Having somehow managed to carry on despite bassist Chi Cheng’s tragic accident and later death, Deftones remain arguably the most critically acclaimed pick from the class of ’99. Their eagerly awaited ninth album will hopefully emerge this year.
System Of A Down
THEN: They wouldn’t truly explode until 2001’s Toxicity album but the quirky crunch of their self-titled ’98 debut had already marked SOAD as a unique force. World domination awaited.
NOW: The band have made scattered live appearances over the past decade, including a Download headliner in 2017, but they remain non-committal on the prospect of a new album. There are plenty of ongoing projects though, including Daron Malakian’s Scars On Broadway and Serj Tankian’s jazz odysseys.
THEN: Two decades ago PM5K scored a Platinum hit with the sci-fi themed Tonight The Stars Revolt!, which mixed nu-metal crunch with a Rob Zombie-style electro-metal stomp. Entirely co-incidentally, frontman Spider One is Rob Zombie’s younger brother.
NOW: Powerman 5000 are still going and released an album called New Wave in 2017, to mixed reviews. Spider One is perhaps more commonly referred to as, ‘Hey, didn’t you used to be Rob Zombie’s brother?’
THEN: Payable On Death (P.O.D.) were combining religion and nu-metal way before Brian ‘Head’ Welch left Korn to pursue a solo career in Christian rock. Their ’99 major label debut The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown went Platinum on the back of singles with titles like Rock the Party (Off the Hook). Bonus trivia: Kerrang! once ran a live review of the band with a caption simply reading, ‘Holy shit!’
NOW: They’re still going and released an album called Circles last year. They also toured on the Make America Rock Again tour in 2016, alongside the likes of Alien Ant Farm, Drowning Pool and Crazy Town. So yeah, that was a thing.
Kill II This
THEN: You might have noticed that all the other bands on this list are American. This is because everywhere else was pretty shit at nu-metal. Stockport’s Kill II This were the UK’s best effort, even if their industrial-tinged thump never achieved any huge commercial success.
NOW: Guitarist and band mastermind Mark Mynetta ended up as a Senior Lecturer in Music Technology & Production at the University of Huddersfield. The band reformed in 2014 and have played sporadically since.
We hate to admit it, but this Deftones/Britney combination has its cool moments.
Rob Zombie’s 3 From Hell did well enough in its limited theatrical run that it’s getting an extra night.