12 Bands Who Were On Every Soundtrack Back In The Day
We wonder if our younger readers fully understand what a big deal hard rock and metal soundtracks used to be. Between approximately 1995 and 2003, action and horror movie soundtracks were basically modern rock samplers, showing off the best in rap-metal, industrial, and pop-punk. For the movies, this was usually laughable — you’d watch a scene where a typical high-school horse girl was getting ready for prom, and there’d be a Slipknot song behind it. And yet these CDs sold by the tens of thousands, and introduced countless fans to bands they may never have heard otherwise.
For the people buying these albums (this author among them), it became increasingly clear that a handful of bands had obviously made themselves available to the soundtrack circuit. Whether a film was all about gun ballet, erotic vampirism, or teen boner hilarity, these acts found a way to shoehorn a track onto its OST. The result was fans buying a disc for the exclusive Pantera song thereon, only to discover the same cyber-tinged nu-metal track they’d skipped over on their last soundtrack purchase.
Here are 12 bands who seemed to be on every damn soundtrack back in the day…
It actually makes a lot of sense that Orgy ended up on so many soundtracks back in the day. The band’s first big hit was a dance-metal cover of an ‘80s pop tune, which automatically makes dollar signs appear in the eyes of studio executives. A little too pretty to be metal, a little too goth to be bubblegum, the band were excellently positioned for dudes looking to put music behind either a teen sex scene or a bad drug scene. And today, well, it’s all Orgy are really known for.
It’s no secret that Rob Zombie is down to get paid and hear his music behind some onscreen action. With both White Zombie and his massive solo career, Rob has made his music available to every Chucky and Morpheus who’d be down to feature it (not to mention video games like Twisted Metal III). The dude’s arena-metal tracks were a perfect mixture of not too challenging but heavier than the rest, and the remixes were sexy enough for nightclub scenes. Of course, now that he makes movies himself, Zombie has officially come full circle, making it so that even his soundtrack songs benefit his prime directive (which, as far as we can tell, is ‘monster boobs’).
For an entire generation of listeners, Helmet existed entirely on soundtracks. The band have a huge presence – I mean, they recently toured with Korn, and the main riff of “Unsung” strikes a weird, I’ve-heard-this-before chord – but for those of us who got into rock after the nu-metal boom, they just weren’t that huge. Which was to their favor, soundtrack-wise – while many of their groove-laden alt-metal peers were too aggressive, vulnerable, or famous to be regularly featured on soundtracks, these dudes hit that sweet spot between accessible, heavy, and available. All that said, their song with House of Pain on the Judgment Night OST is flawless.
With Filter, you could even narrow it down to a song. EVERY metal-leaning movie in the late ‘90s to early 2000s had a scene where the director imagined “Hey Man, Nice Shot” in the background. The track epitomizes Filter’s broad soundtrack appeal, too – electronically-tinged and therefore ‘modern,’ mid-paced and atmospheric, dirty and gritty and all-purpose ‘rock.’ They were a dream of the ‘real world,’ and one that was easily sold.
We don’t mean to rip on Coal Chamber – we recently included them in our list of tours where the openers should’ve headlined — but goddamn if they didn’t show up on every soundtrack of a certain time. Scream 3, Heavy Metal 2000, Dee Snider’s Strangeland — if there was a movie that needed a slow-mo-walking-through-a-rock-venue scene, you can bet these guys were on it. They just brought that bounce riff that to many outsiders epitomized the genre. Hey, good for them, nice work if you can get it.
It always felt like Monster Magnet’s inclusion on a lot of these soundtracks was a nod to the weed kids. The band’s stoner highway attitude made the rap-rock-choked landscape of movie soundtracks in the ‘90s and 2000s feel less cloying and more in touch with rock at large. Then again, maybe it’s that the studio folks assembling these soundtracks saw the “Space Lord” video a million fucking times and considered them an instant success. Either way, they showed up consistently, and usually with some weird shit that was nothing like Powertrip.
Interestingly enough, Static-X didn’t fall into the same trap that many of the nu-metal-era bands listed here did. Those acts were often overly presentable, and had a strong pop sensibility. So why was this band, who sounded like a sexy robot being fed into a wood chipper, so popular on horror and action soundtracks? We suppose the answer lies in their steady, pounding beat, which we can all admit that Static-X had in spades. Wayne’s hair also always looked good on TVs in the background of scenes. Like, Whoa, look at these kids today – what’s HE watching?!
As far as why Stabbing Westward were on all these soundtracks, it’s sort of the same reason as why Orgy were – angsty-but-catchy hard rock to an electronic beat. The difference is that Stabbing Westward’s inclusions were often surprisingly good, heavy and poignant and believably miserable. This is especially true of the Not Another Teen Movie soundtrack, where the band do a really beautiful cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle.” Hey, even horror bros in 2001 needed to cry to something!
It runs in the family! Powerman 5000 were definitely hungry for exposure when they went from funky alt-metallers to nu-metal powerhouse, and frontman Spider One apparently learned from his older brother Rob Zombie that soundtracks were the way to get your name out there! From End of Days to Zoolander, the spacesuited bounce-riffers made sure they got a few bars featured in every polished Hollywood flick they could stick their Power Gloved fingers into. By the time they blew up, nu-metal proper was dead, but their glossy sound was still big business.
Weirdly enough, The Offspring showed up on a lot of soundtracks that were mostly metal. While we historically lump them into the pop-punk movement these days, their appreciation of skulls, melodic shredding riffs, and LA-centric grit made them beloved by the nu-metal crew. As a result, you’d often find one of their tracks nestled between two nu-metal hits on a soundtrack for some awful, glitzy remake of a classic William Castle film. Extra points if you got to see Dexter Holland get his scalp ripped off in Idle Hands in theaters!
Another artist where it’s obvious that studio employees saw the name, and got enough calls from publicists promoting the band, and thought, The kids must love this shit, right? The result, however, was a little more acid-y and hostile than they perhaps bargained for. All that said, for their constant inclusion on soundtracks, we’d challenge your average listener who bought one of these albums to name the (hed) P.E. track thereon. If you loved this band, it was certainly not for the one-off singles they’d couple with horror movies.
From a business perspective, this was an obvious concession. A Creed song softened the blow of any horror soundtrack packed with grinding nu-metal and the occasional cyberpunk track (and hell, they sold enough damn records with Human Clay, some SOMEONE had to like ’em). It also almost certainly ensured that stores would get that extra little bit of Christian weightlifting team money. And hey, if that meant that one of those kids got sucked in by a mid-paced latter-day Slayer song, then it all worked out! Still, a name you saw on these CDs’ tracklists and thought, Aw…