Yo, this be Reuben. Being a millennial child, all of the following songs will be before my time, so forgive me if I’m out of the 90’s loop. In fact, most of what I listen to is of my time, so I haven’t really listened to huge amounts of 90’s music. Even so, I know there were some darn good ones around.
10. Spiders – System of a Down
When I first compiled this list, there was no System of a Down song. That was wrong, probably. I mean, none of the band’s debut album quite reaches the dizzy heights of future classics like Chop Suey! and Toxicity, but Spiders comes damn close. It’s in the same sort of vein to Aerials. There’s slower pace, a progressive tone, and a wonderfully show-off vocal performance from Serj Tankian. Spiders is an amazing progressive piece by the band stuffed into 3-and-a-half minutes, and the fact that they could create such an atmosphere in that amount of time is impressive. What makes the song so great, however, is its fantastic riff and atmospheric use of varying volume and pitch, as it becomes something of a powerhouse as it reaches its end.
9. Man in the Box – Alice in Chains
It’s the 90’s, of course there’s gonna be a grunge song in here. Honestly I’ve only listened to any amount of grunge for the last year or so, but I certainly haven’t wasted any of my time listening to it. Man in the Box is grunge monoliths Alice in Chains’ magnum opus, in my opinion, with its superb use of effects and the unified performance of Layne Stanley on the microphone and Jerry Cantrell on dat guitar.
8. Embody the Invisible – In Flames
Like metal? Want energy? Want to mosh, but feel happy? Stop by and give Embody the Invisible a listen. Although In Flames have fallen heavily since their first years with their lackluster Siren Charms and what is looking to be an awful new release, they used to be good. Embody the Invisible embodies (see what I did there?) what was so great about the band in their early days, as their excitement for the melodic death metal genre jumped out of speakers as they lit up the metal work (with some help from fellow Scandinavians Soilwork and Children of Bodom) with their bouncy melodies and fast-paced heavy sound.
7. Shake Hands With Beef – Primus
Ooh boy does this have some bass. Damn good bass, too. The legend that is Les Claypool exhibits his most memorable basswork and tongue-in-cheek vocals/lyricism in Shake Hands With Beef, as the ever solid drums from Mantia carry the song alongside the subtle guitar accompaniments and, of course, Claypool’s ultimate riff. I could’ve easily put My Name is Mud in this spot, but this was the first Primus song I’d ever heard, so I couldn’t not put it here.
6. Around the World – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Now this is a song. The Fleabass is up and running, Kiedis is ready to do some rhyme-bustin’, Smith’s got his concentration face at the ready, Frusciante’s up for a wig-out. Let’s go. This is the defining song of the Chili Peppers’ pre-millennial Californication, showcasing some of the very best of Kiedis’ varied lyrical stylings on the album ranging from rap, to nose-grabbing vocals, and his usual just singin’. By far the best thing about Around the World, however, is the funky heaviness on show, and the incredible basswork from Flea, who to this date has never performed bass licks better. It’s only this low because of its slightly confusing chorus — but boy can it be catchy sometimes.
5. It’s On! / Freak on a Leash – Korn
Milo will be angry and confused as for why I’ve put a Korn song above Around the World, let alone even in this list — and not even just one song, but a filthy double act! Indeed, these two are darn special songs, and together they act as the perfect nine minute attack to open Follow the Leader; I consider these two tracks as one (It’s On, Freak?) because they link together so perfectly, and I’ve never listened to one without not listening to the other. Falling Away from Me could have easily taken this spot over this opening powerhouse, but this mighty-morphin’ track is absolutely brilliant in its atmosphere, raw power, riffage and melodic awesomeness, as the hook of both songs has held spaces in my head on oh so many occasions recently.
4. Suck My Kiss – Red Hot Chili Peppers
ANOTHER Red Hot Chili Peppers song!? Don’t look so surprised, chump. I’m a sucker for the Chili Peppers’ funky stylings, and Suck My Kiss is easily one of their best songs ever (officially). Heavy, funk-infested and with probably the best riff of the decade, not to mention gloriously explicit lyrics and a phenomenal rap-sing performance from ol’ Anthony, why wouldn’t I put it here?
3. Superunknown – Soundgarden
This song absolutely blew me away, and I’m still blown away every time I hear it. No question Soundgarden’s magnum opus, Superunknown’s title track is a rock masterpiece, and one of my favourite songs of all time. There is an incredible range of musicality and musicianship on show, as Chris Cornell outputs an other-worldly vocal performance, Kim Thayil puts out a Godly amount of guitar tracks, Ben Shephard does some perty fantastic drummage and very solid bassage from Matt Cameron. The amplitude of awesome performances on this song and the consistency of the awesomeness on show is like an unstoppable eruption in this song. It gives me goosebumps every time I listen to this song. It’s a special one.
2. Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine
Crank it up, fools!! It’s time for Rage Against the Machine. Wanna hear a dude expertly rap over heavyweight effect-laden riffs? Well, you can here. Bulls on Parade is the best Rage Against the Machine, and contains the best, most aggressive performance from rap-God Zack de la Rocha, along with the best lyrics and wordplay he’s ever attempted. Even so, rap ain’t always my sorta thing, so how could a rap song be one of my favourite songs in general? Tom Morello? Tim Commerford? Yep. Can’t get much better for cool guitar and bass. Not much better at all. This is less incredible than Superunknown, but it’s way cooler.
Some o’ Dem Honourable Mentions:
Suite-Pee – System of a Down
Falling Away from Me – Korn
Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine
Vietnow – Rage Against the Machine
Sabotage – Beastie Boys
My Name Is Mud – Primus
Ricochet – Faith No More
Even Less – Porcupine Tree
Signify – Porcupine Tree
Roots Bloody Roots – Sepultura
Californication – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Easily – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Warped – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Pinball Map – In Flames
1. Give it Away – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Admittedly, 1 through 6 on this list are marginally close, so it’s been difficult to give them an order. Even so, I think I’ve subconsciously known the whole time that Give it Away would end up top. It’s got to. 1. It’s the Chili Peppers. 2. Sexy-ass rhymes. 3. Dat constant beat. 4. Oooooooooooooh that guitar. Backwards too. 5. Phat Fleabass on top form. 6. EVERYTHING.
I would say as per usual that you have to listen to Give it Away, but I’ll actually say you have to listen to the whole top 6. Just do it.
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