May 24, 2024

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Worship And Tribute(s): From Breaking Benjamin to The Used, here’s 26 bands (and albums) that defined 2002

The year is 2002. The New England Patriots, under unknown quarterback Tom Brady, have gone from a laughingstock to Super Bowl champions. Social media is in its infancy, and you probably just bought a new Apple product called the iPod. It would become ubiquitous in the very near future, and you probably didn’t know it yet. Nu-metal still tops the rock and metal charts, but so does post-grunge, and the metalcore phenomenon is fast approaching. Actually, it was already here. A simpler time, to say the least.

Considering the nature of music (and art as a whole, really) is a cyclical one, you only need to look back to the recent past to determine where many artistic trends of today came from. A nu-metal “revival”? Indie rock bands like The Strokes and Interpol? Yeah, they’re all here (and then some). Like a fine wine, many of these bands (and subsequent albums attached to them) are still highly relevant – and in many cases, still creating great music. Join us as we take a time machine back to 2002.

Worship And Tribute (Glassjaw)

With the enigmatic vocal abilities of Daryl Palumbo and the drums being tracked by future Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin (!!!), the band’s post-hardcore songwriting abilities really blazed a new trail for the genre and reached a peak level of professionalism. Interestingly, the album is a lot more accessible to newcomers than their abrasive debut, with tracks like “Cosmopolitan Blood Loss” and “Ape Dos Mil” having the all important “get stuck in your head” quality.

The Satellite Years (Hopesfall)

The Satellite Years is what happens when post-hardcore and metalcore bands listen to shoegaze. While that’s a simplistic way of putting things, tracks like “Escape Pod For Intangibles” and album finale “The Bending” are anything but simple.

Wonder What’s Next (Chevelle)

A great leap forward from their Steve Albini-produced (!!!) debut album, Chevelle’s Wonder What’s Next quickly established the alternative metal act as stars. In fact, you still can’t listen to rock radio without hearing “Send The Pain Below”, “Closure”, or megahit “The Red” at least once a day – but the album is full of tracks that could have been huge hits. Special shoutout to “An Evening With El Diablo”, a lurching, lengthy track that simply coasts along.

Saturate (Breaking Benjamin)

Saturate, the debut album from modern rock vanguards Breaking Benjamin, is important because it helped to establish the band as hitmakers. While the song (and album as a whole) wasn’t nearly as popular as, say, “So Cold” or “The Diary Of Jane”, it did provide the template for a transformation of Breaking Benjamin from a developing band to one that would simply be a hit factory in two years.

The Used (The Used)

Part of the then-new wave of post-hardcore bands with roots in emo, The Used hit it big almost immediately with their self-titled debut album. One-third of the album’s twelve tracks are still concert staples to this day, which should tell you everything you need to know about its longevity. Best listened to at four o’clock in the fucking morning.

What It Is To Burn (Finch)


Original Pirate Material (The Streets)

British hip-hop that is strikingly original, Original Pirate Material is pretty much essential because it tells stories of the working class with both wit and charm. Mike Skinner is a genius.

Tell All Your Friends (Taking Back Sunday)

Tell All Your Friends is emo-tinged pop-punk/alt-rock that was made for the social media era. Most importantly, Taking Back Sunday managed to channel this sound into something engaging – an album that people are still listening to today. Just over a year after the album’s release, the band played Jimmy Kimmel Live – a testament to their growing popularity.

Alive Or Just Breathing (Killswitch Engage)

While not Killswitch Engage’s first album (a self-titled arrived a couple years before), it was the metalcore band’s first real introduction to a wider audience. With the vocals of Jesse Leach (who left the band shortly after its release – only to return over a decade later) and a rhythm section that wrote some incredible riffs and solos, it’s difficult to find a track here that doesn’t have a distinct place in metalcore’s history. Our picks are for the raw emotions found in tracks like “Vide Infra” and “The Element Of One”, but realistically any of them will do.

Untouchables (Korn)

Sometimes considered the last big-budget nu-metal album (seriously, a lot of money was spent on the recording process), Korn’s Untouchables incorporated a bit more melody into the mix, with some huge choruses on standout songs like “Thoughtless”.

In Absentia (Porcupine Tree)

In Absentia is where Porcupine Tree – the brainchild of mastermind Steven Wilson – veered toward a more rock and metal route. PT’s previous work was rooted in psychedelic and progressive rock, but thanks to the thunderous drumming of Gavin Harrison and PT’s customary huge-sounding songs, it was far and away their most successful to date.

The Illusion Of Safety (Thrice)

The Illusion Of Safety is a Thrice album that’s light years ahead of their debut album, Identity Crisis. With highly intelligent lyrics written by vocalist Dustin Kensrue and galloping post-hardcore instrumentation that still leaves room for melodies, it’s often considered the gold standard for the genre. Tracks like “See You In The Shallows” will indeed leave you breathless.

In Their Darkened Shrines (Nile)

Nile’s breed of Egyptian-themed death metal has always been fairly innovative – even on the band’s less-heralded records, it’s pretty easy to tell the band are all gifted at what they do. But on In Their Darkened Shrines, the band’s third album to date, they really kicked things up a notch. Case in point, the 11 minute epic “Unas Slayer of the Gods”.

The Rescue (Codeseven)

The Rescue is more or less what happens when (similar to Hopesfall and Cave In) post-hardcore and metalcore bands decide that space rock and alt-rock are things they want to interject into their music. While a transitional album, the record really should have garnered Codeseven a bigger fanbase. As it is, it’s still an influential album in its own right.

Diorama (Silverchair)

It’s very important to keep Silverchair’s age in context to what the Australian rock band accomplished. When the band released Diorama in 2002, it was the band’s fourth album – and all the members of the band were barely out of their teens. That partially explains why Diorama left behind most of the traces of their grunge past, bringing forth an art rock sensibility that no doubt threw many off. Don’t worry, though – it still rocks plenty hard (as evidenced on tracks like “One Way Mule”). Songwriters twice their age would struggle to record something that sounded this accomplished.

( ) (Sigur Ros)

The music of Iceland’s Sigur Ros is exceedingly tough to describe, but listen to vocalist Jonsi’s insane range and you’ll probably get it. Is it pop? Is it ambient? Is it music that film scores were made for? Probably all of the above, and the band’s third album will indeed invoke an emotional response in you. Sometimes, art is all about how it makes you feel, even if it’s difficult to gauge exactly what it is you’re hearing.

The Mantle (Agalloch)

With The Mantle, Agalloch proved a major influence on post-black metal bands of the future – both in aesthetic (see the album cover for proof) and in overall sound.

Oceanic (Isis)

Oceanic helped introduce the burgeoning post-metal genre to a wider audience, a fully realized vision that became more clear on its followup, Panopticon.

Nothing (Meshuggah)

It’s heavy. It’s Meshuggah. It’s loud. It’s really good. What more do you need to know?

Reinventing Axl Rose (Against Me!)

Folk-punk classic.

Audioslave (Audioslave)

It’s impossible to describe just how much hype was behind this supergroup’s formation, but we’ll try our best. Put the rhythm section of Rage Against The Machine with Soundgarden’s vocalist, the late Chris Cornell, and you have a hitmaking machine. It could have all gone wrong, but the huge riffs on tracks like “Cochise” say otherwise.

El Cielo (Dredg)

Simply put, one of the greatest modern art rock albums since the new millennium.

Turn On The Bright Lights (Interpol)

While certainly indebted to bands like Joy Division, Interpol took advantage of the indie rock explosion around the turn of the new millennium (thanks, The Strokes!) and blazed their own trail to stardom.

Vanity (Eighteen Visions)

Fashioncore, baby! On Vanity, Eighteen Visions moved toward a more commercial sound, and especially when you consider that the band’s previous works (especially 2000’s Until The Ink Runs Out) were pretty close to deathcore + death metal (seriously, it’s close), adding a bit more melody into the mix certainly worked wonders. We know you’re still moshing to “You Broke Like Glass”, though.

The Changing Of Times (Underoath)

The Changing Of Times is where Underoath transformed from an intriguing but very raw underground extreme metalcore band, to something with a bit more commercial potential. In fact, the album’s post-hardcore melodies helped the album sell thousands more copies than anything released previously, and the album (the band’s final one with Dallas Taylor) set the stage for the band’s 2004 commercial breakthrough. Tracks like album highlight “When The Sun Sleeps” were a harbinger of things to come. Just make sure to visit Family Eye Care for a checkup.

Between Order And Model EP (Funeral For A Friend)

Part of a huge wave of British and Welsh post-hardcore and metalcore acts emerging in the early 21st century, Funeral For A Friend made their presence known with a debut EP and one track that would come to define the band early on – “Juneau”. Or as it’s spelled here (and with a heavier bent) – “Juno”.

Leaving Through The Window (Something Corporate)

Shout out to everything that Andrew McMahon accomplished at such a young age. Armed with plenty of heart, wit, and an ability to both tell stories and play the piano pretty well, Something Corporate’s second album is where the band really emerged as one of pop-punk/alt-rock’s most exciting bands. If you’re an elder emo and you’re not still singing along to “Hurricane”, well, that’s actually impossible.

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