In 1999, 12 students and one teacher were killed in the Columbine High School Massacre; Marilyn Manson took the fall. Cher's "Believe" was Billboard's top single of the year. The Blair Witch Project became the most profitable film of all time. The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl. Stanley Kubrick died. And a slew of heavy-music artists released badass albums — including the 10 below.
It's hard to express how much of a shock to the system the Dillinger Escape Plan's spasmodic debut LP was when it dropped onto the unsuspecting rock landscape of 1999, dominated as it was by nu-metal and pop punk. An act of frenetic mad genius, the album is a teeth-rattling thrill ride from front to back, but the sublime brutality of the main riff to "43% Burnt" — arguably DEP's signature song — is basically impossible to top.
Norway's Emperor famously proclaimed that they practiced "sophisticated black metal art exclusively," and by the time Ihsahn, Samoth and Trym dropped IX Equilibrium, the band's sophistication had increased immensely from the more primitive and atmospheric exercises of their past. Majestic and progressive, the album rips out of the gates with opener "Curse You All Men!," going on to showcase across its 44 minutes the extreme ambition and escalating talents of its players.
After dropping their smash LP Follow the Leader just a year prior, Korn were poised to do whatever the fuck they wanted, as one of the biggest acts in the world. What followed was Issues, a less bombastic, more focused and way darker entry into their oeuvre that saw the band forging an even deeper bond with their followers. And the nu-metal originators didn't just do so through the music; the album's whole rollout was all about the fans, from the contest where Korn diehards entered their own artwork to appear on Issues' cover, to the band giving away the lead single "Falling Away From Me" as a free mp3 download, against their lawyers' wishes.
With their breakthrough second album, Scottish (mostly) instrumentalists Mogwai crystallized their status as post-rock masters, establishing hallowed ground on which bands like the Deftones, ISIS, Russian Circles and Deafheaven (who have covered Come on Die Young's "Punk Rock" and "Cody") would worship and build. Indeed, the entire instrumental metal movement (or "instru-metal," to the punny set) would likely never have existed without this record, from its Exorcist-hailing cover image to its tension-building, headbanging crescendos.
Before we knew Mike Patton as the avant-garde purveyor of all things weird and ambient he is today, he was mostly known for his more straightforward (yet still inarguably experimental) output with funk-metal crew Faith No More. Mr. Bungle's parallel releases (the band actually pre-dated Patton's involvement in FNM) proved his commitment to diversifying his manic talents and reached peak commercial viability with California's feverish, tingly lullaby "Retrovertigo" and doo-wop heartbreaker "Pink Cigarette." An unfuckwithable swansong.
One of the heaviest albums of all time, Neurosis' sixth full-length helped further define a genre the band basically invented and added unspeakable depth, raw suffering and dynamism to post-metal's already rich tapestry. Entrancing passages of gorgeous samples woven into harsh yet steady screams are pummeled down by martial drum parts and impenetrable guitars, all coming together to create one solid, unbreakable piece of depressive yet uplifting art.
Widely considered one of the greatest albums of the 1999s of any genre, The Battle of Los Angeles is a furious political manifesto from top to bottom and gives listeners no room to breathe between each funk-laden banger that makes you want to simultaneously dance and beat the shit out of every corrupt, oppressive representative in office. Exceptional lyricism and pristine riffing are hallmarks of Rage's repertoire, and nowhere are those two more cleanly on display that this, their third album.
"Pick up the pace!" goes the sample at the beginning of "(sic)," the first proper song on Slipknot's self-titled debut, before his masked compatriots surge into the harrowing horror show of a song. What follows is 60 minutes that turned 1999's metal world on its head, taking nu-metal's frat-rock inclinations into way freakier territory. "I don't give a fuck, bitch," Corey Taylor roars at the end of the record's concluding hidden track "Eeyeore" — and indeed, Slipknot did not.
Wayne Static's towering hairdo cast a long shadow, but the quality of much of his music, particularly that on Static-X's classic 1999 debut, is not to be overlooked. Nu-metal flirted with industrial influences and goth-club aspirations, but on Wisconsin Death Trip, the style achieved an unmatched sublime danceability courtesy of the band's deceptively simple, staccato riffs and irresistible beats.
While fan favorites Bloody Kisses and October Rust might elicit more attention nowadays, World Coming Down was Type O Negative's first album to hit the Billboard Top 40 charts upon its September '99 release. It was a remarkable achievement considering that the LP is full of the darkest, doomiest material of the Drag Four's career — mostly slower, dreary tracks that reflect frontman Peter Steele's grief following the death of several family members and his struggles with addiction.