The ‘90s were never really a golden age to be in a metal band. As the grunge wave took out most of the hair metal scene that dominated the Sunset Strip, thrash wasn’t getting off that easy either, with most of the titans of the genre being left by the wayside the minute that Nirvana and Pearl Jam became some of the biggest names in town. That’s not to say that metal couldn’t adapt to its surroundings though.
Even though some of the heaviness may have been lost in the shuffle, some bands started to come out of the woodwork with an alternative-flavored touch for what metal could be, taking the building blocks of heavy riffs and putting different extensions onto it to make it sound different. While the purists may have been a little bit agitated by this sudden shift in direction, that doesn’t mean that these albums didn’t kick major ass.
Half of the reason why these albums work is by taking the common tropes you think of for a metal song and turning them on their head, whether that’s by a different style of riff or putting some (*gasp*) mainstream structures into their songs. Venturing into the alternative world might be scary at times, but metal was always built as an alternative to the mainstream, so why stop here? Experimenting might get you to something like St. Anger, but it also might put you on the verge of something amazing too.
10. Chuck - Sum 41
Most metal bands that try their hand at different styles usually have to go through the whole sell out conversation with their fans. For all the menacing riffs that they're able to pump out on their own, the idea of them going Top 40 out of the blue just tends to feel wrong. Then again, there aren't that many times you see metal bands appearing from the other side of the fence.
Despite having their feet firmly planted in pop punk, Sum 41 were always students of the old guard of heavy metal, and Chuck was the first record where they actually capitalized on it. Though you may have caught whiffs of heavy metal on some of their joke songs like Pain for Pleasure or even the verse of Still Waiting, they are wearing their influences on their sleeve on this record, taking the building blocks of Maiden and Priest and making something a lot closer to thrash than Blink 182, with songs like the Bitter End sounding like a long lost relic from the San Francisco Bay Area.
The best songs come when they mix the two though, from the strange progressive tendencies on a song like We're All to Blame to making the closest thing to a thrash metal power ballad on Some Say, which painted a sorry state of the punk community circa 2005. Songs like Fat Lip might live on '00s playlists until the end of time, but Chuck was the moment where those snotty kids from your old pool party actually grew up.