We're about two decades removed from the peak of the nu metal era, an era that's been re-entering the current music discourse in the forms of nostalgia, continued hatred, and re-evaluations, especially this year, a year that brought a Woodstock '99 documentary to HBO and Limp Bizkit to Lollapalooza in the same week. Love it or hate it, one of the most fascinating things about nu metal is that it was the last time in pop music history that heavy music ruled the airwaves. These bands competed for fame with (and often mocked) bubblegum pop stars, a feat that seems next to impossible in today's music industry. For all of nu metal's shortcomings, it introduced heavy music to an entire generation who might not have ever heard it otherwise, and that's a beautiful thing.
As hard as it is to believe how popular nu metal became, it's even harder to believe the popularity of System Of A Down. Even within the context of that freakishly heavy genre -- a genre System Of A Down were grouped with but never sounded like any other band in -- System Of A Down made deeply weird, confrontational, abrasive music. Of all the major nu metal bands, few outside of Slipknot could claim to be heavier. And yet, they appealed to so many people who otherwise didn't listen to much or any metal. And you don't need to look very hard to be reminded of this; just walk into any party where someone's blasting "Aerials," "Toxicity," or especially "Chop Suey!" and you'll find tons of non-metalhead millennials yelling every word. These songs really connected with people both in and outside of the metal community, and they continue to resonate today, 20 years after System Of A Down released the magnum opus that's home to all three, Toxicity.