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Liquid Gang, Boiler Room, and Full Devil Jacket: Who the Fucking Fuck Are These Bands?

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Speaking of the ghosts of nu-metal

Last night I was doing some research for a piece that’s gonna run tomorrow (no spoilers!), and that research led me to the original MTV The Return of the Rock compilation. If you’re too young or too lucky to remember what that was: in 2000, after the original Headbanger’s Ball had been off the air for awhile, MTV ostensibly tried to re-launch it as nu-metal themed show called Return of the Rock, and with the arrival of that short-lived program came a compilation featuring all that year’s biggest names in mainstream-ish metal.

Perusing the track list, I was surprised to realize how many of these artists are still a reasonably big deal today. Which made the ones that aren’t a reasonably big deal today stick out like a dude in an Asking Alexandria shirt at a Portal show.

  1. “Fuck That” – Kid Rock
  2. “Spit It Out” – Slipknot
  3. “Crash” – Methods of Mayhem
  4. “Make Me Bad (sickness in salvation remix)” – Korn
  5. “Southtown” – P.O.D.
  6. “Just Go” – Staind
  7. “From This Day” – Machine Head
  8. “Suite-Pee” – System of a Down
  9. “Brackish” – Kittie
  10. “Pardon Me” – Incubus
  11. “Not Living” – Coal Chamber
  12. “Stain” – Full Devil Jacket
  13. “S.O.M.” – Static-X
  14. “Do it Again” – Boiler Room
  15. “Denial” – Sevendust
  16. “Infest” – Papa Roach
  17. “Blunt Force Trauma” – Liquid Gang
  18. “When Worlds Collide” – Powerman 5000
  19. “Everything Sucks (Andy Wallace Remix)” – Dope

Thing is, if Liquid Gang, Boiler Room, or Full Devil Jacket ever crossed my path before, I have no goddamn recollection of it whatsoever. Granted, I was not the biggest nu-metal fan in the world, and, in fact, actively dislike most of the bands included on this comp (with a few notable exceptions, of course). But it’s as though I wasn’t plugged in. I may have hated Papa Roach and P.O.D., but I’d heard of them. Shit, none of them even made Vince’s scholarly list of The Top 11 Obscure Nu-Metal Albums Ever Made!

And it’s not like they just ended up on this comp by accident, and it’s not like this comp was curated by someone based on that person’s specific taste — bands got onto this comp because their labels paid for them to be there. In other words, someone, somewhere, thought Liquid Gang, Boiler Room, or Full Devil Jacket all had the potential be the next Korn, and but for circumstances presumably beyond any human being’s control, they never ended up being as popular as Kittie or Powerman 5000 or Dope.

And so, masochist that I am, I decided to seek out this trio of songs to see if they rang any bells.

They didn’t.

But I understand why someone thought they might enjoy a career at least as decent as Static X’s — these songs aren’t good, but they’re no worse than any of the other drek on the compilation, and they’re probably better than at least a few of the other selections (Kid Rock and Coal Chamber and Methods of Mayhem, yuck).

The best of the three is Full Devil Jacket, if only because they had the good sense to get a frontman who sounds more like Scott Weiland than Josey Scott.

The riff from Liquid Gang’s “Blunt Force Trauma,” meanwhile, is sufficiently heavy to make it kind of a bummer when the frontman starts doing a Sonny Sandoval.

Finally, Boiler Room’s “Do It Again” is also built around a catchy-enough riff, and brief moments of Tool-worship, like the one from 00:19 – 00:29, are downright tolerable! But then they do the whole nu-metal quiet/loud thing and it all just melts into generic mush.

So who the fuck were these bands and whatever became of them? Why did they fail where Staind succeeded?

Well, Full Devil Jacket’s eponymous debut came out in 2000, but their sophomore release, Valley of Bones, didn’t come out until 2015. Clearly the wait was worth it because it ended up taking the world by storm.

Boiler Room broke up ages ago, but one of the band’s members was guitarist Rob Caggiano, who went on to be in Anthrax and then Volbeat (in addition to be a successful producer for bands like Cradle of Filth and Dry Kill Logic). So I’m doubly-surprised I wasn’t familiar with this band before.

Liquid Gang don’t have so much as a Facebook page, which is just sad. In any case, they haven’t released an album since 2000… but they were signed to Atlantic, which, again, means someone thought they had the potential to be a big deal. Also, they had this endorsement from Good Day Philadelphia, which, y’know, WOW, hard to believe this didn’t put them on the map.

As to why these bands never “made it,” I couldn’t tell you. It may be a mystery for the ages. But it just goes to show ya: even decent promotional support will only take a band so far.

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