In 1999, 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 13 below.
Mathy metalcore was just hitting its stride in 1999, but Botch dropped the mic with We Are the Romans. The Seattle band's second and final full-length album is blistering, tense, atmospheric and gnashing in its own special way, a high-water mark for this breed of heavy music that may never be surpassed.
For as many wonky time signatures and loop-de-loop guitar noises as the record contains, Botch were masters of subtle dynamics and lighter, more crunching passages that channeled the downtrodden grunge of their home city, giving We Are the Romans a layer of emotional intricacy that few albums in this idiom have achieved.
Coal Chamber established themselves as one of nu-metal's leading bands with their 1997 self-titled debut. On its follow-up, Chamber Music, the self-proclaimed "spookycore" band took a bold leap and refurbished their sound with clattering industrial synths and songs that throbbed more than they grooved.
It was a surprisingly natural pivot for Dez Fafara and Co., and while its centerpiece cover of Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" with Ozzy Osbourne became its breakout single, the whole album still holds up nicely.
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. But somehow, the band found a way to do it — twice.
In many ways, nu-metal was a congregation of misfit bands being lumped under one umbrella, but Incubus were oddballs among the oddballs. While Brandon Boyd and Co. began as a funky, RHCP-meets-Korn metal band, by Make Yourself, they were a hybrid of nu-metal bounce and 311 boogie.
They'd fully embrace sun-soaked vibes on 2001's Morning View, but songs like the reggae-ish "The Warmth," the crunching "Stellar" and their acoustic smash single "Drive" provided a much-needed ray of light for the JNCO generation.
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.
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.
When it comes to nu-metal, you'd be hard-pressed to find an album that defines the genre's sound, look and feel better than Significant Other.
Limp Bizkit's commercial breakthrough made these rap-rock hooligans into improbable MTV stars, with generational smash hits like "Break Stuff" and "Nookie" that channeled their era's angst, rage and juvenile humor into over-the-top bangers.
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.
Arriving five years after their industrial-metal masterpiece The Downward Spiral — tortured and sexy, arty and ecstatically catchy — The Fragile wasn't the long-awaited follow-up that most fans were hoping for. It landed in the heart of the nu-metal era with a commercial thud.
Over the years, however, Trent Reznor and Co.'s creative maturation into an ambient-industrial-art-rock powerhouse has become viewed as being wildly ahead of its time, and The Fragile is now considered not just one of NIN's best works, but one of industrial music's— and hell, all of Nineties music's — crowning achievements.
Whether Poison the Well changed metalcore for better or worse depends on who you ask, but there's no arguing that The Opposite of December... was the catalyst for an overhaul.
With clenched-fist emo choruses, talking-dramatically-then-screaming buildups, taut breakdowns and loads of thespian drama, the Florida band gave clobbering metallic hardcore a whole new coat of varnish, setting the bar for several generations of groups who are still scraping and clawing to replicate its singular greatness.
Widely considered one of the greatest albums of 1999 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.
"Here comes the pain!" 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. Long live "Evil Disco," as the band aptly called their style.
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.