Nu-Classics: SUGAR creator Brian Howe Lists His Essential Albums of the Nu-Metal Era

Nu-Classics: SUGAR creator Brian Howe Lists His Essential Albums of the Nu-Metal Era

- By Ramon Gonzales

The man behind the movement to give Nu-metal its flowers with a national touring party, revisits his personal favorites that still hit hard decades later.

Last month, nu-metal revivalist Brain Howe announced an ambitious effort to give the Family Values era it's moment in the sun. Working to give nu-metal the same shine the emo renaissance has enjoyed in recent years, Howe launched SUGAR: The Nu-Metal Party as a national tour -- one that sought to galvanize fans of the turn of the century timeframe in heavy music.

Tapping into the aggression and aesthetic of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, SUGAR will curate a rotation of DJs who will fill the room with playlists focused on the golden era of Nü-metal, cranking ageless anthems that defined a generation from the likes of Korn, System of a Down, Deftones, Slipknot and many more.

Howe, who also serves as the tour’s lead DJ and production manager, reiterated how SUGAR functions as a testament to a moment in time that continues to influence the current landscape of heavy culture. “I think that nu-metal is one of the most impactful subgenres of heavy metal to ever exist in terms of how it rippled through the pop-culture of the time."

To further emphasize the enduring quality of the generation that redefined heavy, Howe pieced together some of the albums that continue to have a lasting influence in his life as a contributor to the culture in the current day. Looking back on some of the most formative, influential and gamechanging albums from the first wave of Nu-metal, it becomes especially clear how important the era was and why it's worth celebrating some decades later.

Check Brian's list below.

Amen - Self-Titled (1999)

Howe - This album had such a grip on me as a teenager. The raw energy and aggression was unlike anything else I had heard at the time. To this day, it remains one of my favorite records of all time and is always the first one I bring up when discussing this era of music.

Slipknot - Iowa (2001)

Howe - I could make a pretty strong argument that this list should have several albums from this band on it but in terms of personal favorites, this is the one I revisit the most. I feel like it really laid the groundwork in a lot of ways for what every other metal band would be trying to do for the rest of the decade. Total gamechanger.

Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory (2000)

Howe - This album was so ahead of the curve in regards to its songwriting and overall production. When it came out, I was just getting into recording music of my own and I remember my mind being blown by how well they were able to mix all of these elements of rock, hip/hop, industrial, and metal together in such a tasteful way. It was a really huge influence on me and I learned a lot from it.

Korn - Life Is Peachy (1996)

Howe - This record is absolutely disgusting in all of the best ways possible. There are some moments throughout the record that attempt to “lighten the mood” in different ways but the majority of the record is unforgivably dark and has always been my favorite in their catalog for how musically and emotionally intense it is.

Fear Factory - Obsolete (1998)

Howe - This record has a lot of really cool and unique musical layers to it. The songs are all so fucking heavy but also carry a purpose far greater than just being heavy for the sake of being heavy. Its man and machine fused together with surgical precision and it's absolutely incredible.

Deftones - Around The Fur (1997)

Howe - This album is just so effortlessly cool. Their ability to put such a concentrated amount of raw attitude, power, and emotion into every single song is unreal. Undeniable swagger and total lightning in a bottle. It's been 25 years and so many bands still try to sound like this but in my opinion none of them even come close.

Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (1997)

Howe - It's so fun to tell people I saw Incubus at Ozzfest who aren’t aware of this band's “heavy” era or the impact it had on the scene but this band was pretty huge for me as a kid. This album is a really cool showcase of strong songwriting and musical performances that definitely stood out against their peers and undeniably influenced a ton of bands in the genre moving forward.

System Of A Down - Toxicity (2001)

Howe - It's always been wild to me how a band this chaotic and unconventional achieved such mainstream success but the songs really do speak for themselves. This album is a fantastic display of angst, attitude, groove, and raw human emotion all working together in perfect harmony.

One Minute Silence - Available In All Colors (1998)

Howe - This is probably my favorite rap/rock album of all time and another one of those records I'm always trying to tell people about whenever I find myself discussing nu-metal or late '90s music in general. It's absolutely insane and not enough people know about it. It's not streaming anywhere online "officially," which is absolutely ridiculous to me. However, you can definitely find it uploaded in full on a certain video platform if you search for it. Which you absolutely should because this shit goes entirely too hard not to.

Static X - Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)

Howe - The ultimate party album. Throw this on at any social gathering and if anyone complains about it, they aren't worth hanging out with. Certified banger front to back.

Limp Bizkit - Significant Other (1999)

Howe - As a whole, I actually don't think this album is all that great honestly but its high moments are undeniably some of the most memorable in the nu-metal timeline so you gotta give it up for Fred and the boys. I don't know how we could have made it as a society for the past 20+ years without "Break Stuff".

Orgy - Candyass (1998)

Howe - In the surprisingly diverse spectrum of bands that made up the nu-metal generation Orgy was always a very interesting outlier for me. It wasn't uncommon to hear bands in the genre incorporating elements of industrial into their music but these guys really leaned into the electronic side of things as a whole and it generated some pretty rad results. I love the production across this whole record.

Kittie - Spit (2000)

Howe - This album may be full of all the textbook nu-metal stereotypes you'd come to expect from any other band in the genre at the time but it also pulls so much from '90s indie/alt-rock and that's the stuff I actually find to be most intriguing about it. It is just so pissed off and has such a cool combination of musical elements and raw emotions. It's a little rough around the edges but still a really cool time capsule to revisit and undeniably an important contribution to the genre.

Papa Roach - Infest (2000)

Howe - I have always really liked this record. It's very derivative of everything that everyone else was doing at the time but that's not always a bad thing if it's done well. I think the production on this record really shines and the songs are all full of so many memorable hooks. "Blood Brothers" is one of my favorite nu-metal songs ever.

Spineshank - Strictly Diesel (1998)

Howe - I was obsessed with this record when it came out. Absolutely obsessed. Their follow up to this album is arguably a better album on pretty much every technical level but my nostalgic attachment is entirely too strong. I can put this record on at any time and instantly feel 13 years old again. That shit is priceless.

Check the full list of dates for SUGAR: THE NU-METAL PARTY below. Tickets for all dates are currently on-sale and can be purchased via

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