The Top 50 Greatest Scuzz TV Bangers of All Time

An unofficial ranking of videos you'd watch on the UK's definitive rock channel round the house of whoever's parents had a Sky box in the 2000s.

29 October 2021, 8:30am

Before phones allowed us to blast video content into our eyes and ears all day, like a power washer for the senses, there was music television – a secret world of discovery contained within a Sky box. For all the chat about the “great divide” between millennials and Gen Z, there is only one true line in the sand: those who live with the shame of having a parent barge into the room while the late-night edit of “Lapdance” by N.E.R.D was on, and those who don’t know what that means.

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Music video channels were the fireplaces of the early 21st century: a talking point, something to gather around. Whether you were round a mate’s house eating Wotsits after school, crashing at your nan’s during the summer holidays or getting wasted on someone’s dad’s “Christmas” rum because everyone was too young and broke to go out, teenagers of the alternative disposition would naturally gravitate towards any screen that displayed someone playing an Ibanez in jorts. Which, pre-YouTube, was one of the following channels: MTV2, Kerrang!, the tragically short-lived P-Rock, or Scuzz. 

While they all shared a common language at the beginning of the 00s, working from a base diet of Nirvana, Green Day and No Doubt, each had its own particular identity. MTV2 had a bratty attitude that leaned more towards garage and art rock, Kerrang! drew on the legacies of heavy metal and grunge, and P-Rock basically just played “Shoes” by Jesse James on loop. Then, there was Scuzz, a 24-hour station that arrived in April of 2003, ready to beam regional metalcore into 12 million homes across the UK and Ireland.

The channel was instrumental in breaking British artists like Enter Shikari and Bullet For My Valentine in the 2000s, and would do the same for Milk Teeth and Creeper in the 2010s. It was also, curiously, the first channel to give exposure to then-up-and-coming American bands like Paramore and Pierce the Veil. 

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More importantly, though, Scuzz was the only place besides Channel U and MySpace to mirror youth culture back at itself as it actually was, rather than showing the hyper-commercial rendering of what it could become. Scuzz was full of low budget videos shot in warehouses and junkyards, starring bands dressed exactly as you were while sat in your living room watching them.

It was your wallet chain getting caught between the seat and the legs of the chair during registration. It was Hollywood and nu metal joining forces to give us greebo blockbusters like Queen of the Damned and The Scorpion King. It was cramming five CDs inside a jewel case so you could listen to more than one album on the bus, and scratching the shit out of all of them; the fear of someone knocking an ornament of unknown value off the mantlepiece at a “gathering” you shouldn’t have been having; spewing Hooch onto your Converse in the middle of the afternoon. It was the dirty pint at the centre of rock, punk, emo, goth, crabcore and whatever else, gulped down by a generation who saw no point in making distinctions between them, and instead just wore a corset with jeans. 

Scuzz ceased transmission in November of 2018. It belongs to a bygone era; one that feels even more distant thanks to the fact that rapid technological advancement has rendered the entire concept of a television completely redundant to anyone under the age of 23. But “Scuzz bangers” as a musical category, as a vibe, will endure – in the hearts of everyone who has a hole in their lip from removing their Dahlia bites, and on the cider-sticky dance floors of rock clubs that have had the same playlist on rotation since the start of the Iraq War.

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So here are some – just some! – of the finest cultural artefacts that Britain’s definitive 21st century rock channel had on rotation during this era, forever sealed within a time capsule that smells of incense and Fish hair paste.

Emma Garland

50: Disturbed – “Prayer”

“Down with the Sickness” is obviously Disturbed’s greatest contribution to rock clubs and karaoke machines globally (fly high, anyone with the cajones to tackle “OW AH-AH-AH-AH” straight out the gate). But if we’re talking video impact, then “Prayer” rises to the top. The sight of David Draiman and his double labret piercings having a word with God, in a black trench coat, while various disasters befall the city around him, is seared into my teenage brain almost as deeply as any real life event broadcast on BBC News in the early 2000s. Inspired by the death of his grandfather and the 9/11 attacks, “Prayer” is essentially Draiman being like: what the fuck, God? An evergreen sentiment that, I think everyone would agree, has only gained relevance with time. – Emma Garland

49: Mastodon – “Blood And Thunder”

Clowns were once a major theme for metal. Slipknot had one, Insane Clown Posse were kicking about, and every mosher’s nightmares were tormented by Rob Zombie’s murderous Captain Spaulding as played by the late Sid Haig in his debut film House of 1000 Corpses. Clowns are basically the perfect symbol for anyone who feels like they have to perform just to fit in, so it makes sense that metalheads would relate to these polarising theatrical figures.

The video for Mastodon’s “Blood And Thunder” takes this idea and runs with it, opening with a clown pegging it up some stairs into a gig where the audience is bustling with circus freaks. Leading the performance is ringleader/frontman Troy Sanders, who later emerges as a creepy white clown. Also, the lyrics are all about Moby Dick. In fact, Mastodon’s entire second album, Leviathan, was a concept piece inspired by the 1851 novel. The album artwork is literally a white whale, and the premise of the ringleader vs. clown, whale vs. captain, represents a struggle with inner darkness, obsession and paranoia. Nobody asked for this GCSE lesson in literature and it should be cringe, but somehow it isn’t. – Hatti Rex

48: TRUSTCompany – “Downfall”

An underrated entry to the canon of “fat riffs and a chorus that will strongly resonate with those who process their emotions through extreme sports and YouTube comments” (see also: “I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace and “Headstrong” by Trapt). I don’t know what it is about this song that gives it a unique ability to tap into an unprocessed teenage experience and make you want to run away for attention (the backing vocal whispering “feeeeear!” like the high school bully within, perhaps?), but be careful listening to it after a few beers. – Emma Garland

47: Uncle Kracker – “Follow Me”

Unsure why alternative music channels fell head over heels for country music’s answer to “JCB Song” by Nizlopi, but this slotted in comfortably between OPM and The Offspring, even though its come-together hook sounds like it should soundtrack an advert for life insurance. Scuzz blasted it all the time, so fair play – can’t ignore history. – Ryan Bassil

46: Metallica – “Whiskey In the Jar”

On one hand, as a person of Irish experience, I think “Whiskey In the Jar” is annoying because – along with “The Irish Rover” – it’s the only Irish song English people know. On the other hand it is obviously wicked and, as the Metallica cover attests, can withstand some absolutely stinking riffs. 

As this is a list regarding “Scuzz bangers”, guitar licks to put hairs on your chest are of course a very important factor. Therefore, I don’t think anyone who’s ever heard James Hetfield growling “Musha rain dum a doo, dum a da” in his best “jägerbombs at a Boston Irish ‘pub’” voice could deny that this more than meets the criteria. – Lauren O’Neill

45: Killswitch Engage – “My Last Serenade”

There’s been a metalcore debate raging for years: who is the better Killswitch Engage frontman? Is it the OG Jesse Leach, as seen here in the video for “My Last Serenade”? Or is it his operatic replacement (who was later re-replaced by Leach), Howard Jones? Personally, I’m not arsed, but I did once see Mr Leach running up and down the Download stage, and it was this moment that finally convinced me his band is sick. 

As you can tell by the title and the mysterious opening shots of a woman’s silhouette, “My Last Serenade” was written as a final tribute to a dwindling love interest. “Will you rise or become a slave” is a bit of an extreme take on the situation, but it’s all pretty emotional for a bunch of dudes repping cargos and chunky skate shoes, so props to them. – Hatti Rex

44: Staind – “So Far Away”

Basically Creed for people who wore jorts, Staind owned the early 2000s with their mammoth crossover hit “So Far Away”. Filed not incorrectly under “male vocals” and “longing” on rateyourmusic.com, the song finds frontman Aaron Lewis moving away from the self-effacing tone of previous singles “It's Been Awhile” and “Outside”, and instead counting his blessings (including the recent birth of his daughter, Zoe, who appears in the video).

Lewis was younger and broodier than most vocalists in the nu metal scene that Staind fell in with (largely thanks to Fred Durst, who initially called them “wack devil worshippers” because their debut album art features an image of a bloodied knife impaling The Bible, but then saw them live, did a massive U-Turn and pushed the band in front of anyone he could), and “So Far Away” definitely draws more from Alice In Chains or Pearl Jam than Limp Bizkit. Haters will call it butt rock, but real ones will see it for what it is: a Bloody Huge Tune. – Emma Garland

43: Atreyu – “Right Side Of the Bed”

Atreyu’s vocalist once claimed that his band invented metalcore – which is definitely wrong, but it’s fair to say they were good at making it. Case in point: listening to this song now, alone in my flat, I feel a strong urge to go outside and start a wall of death with whoever’s walking towards me, and hopefully leave that encounter bleeding in some way. 

Sidenote: I’ve only just clocked this, but the styling in the music video – full black suit on top, jeans on bottom, Converse on feet – is presumably what inspired every single guy with a snakebite to wear that exact outfit to his sixth form prom between 2004 and 2007, and for that we must applaud them. – Jamie Clifton

42: Nickelback – “Rockstar”

This is one of those songs I hated at the time – largely because the music video was so overexposed – but that, given distance, I am now able to critically reappraise. Ultimately, “Rockstar” – and in particular Chad Kroeger’s delivery of it – is very funny (something hilarious about his big throaty rock voice going “I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels”?), and it’s a karaoke slam dunk, because crucially it’s more about vibe and performance than vocals, which is the marker of around 70 percent of great songs. I just hope I never see the video again as long as I live. – Lauren O’Neill

41: HIM – “Wings Of A Butterfly”

The opening riff! The heartagram searchlight! Goth daddy Ville Valo standing on an abandoned CGI tower block in the middle of the ocean during a torrential rainstorm for absolutely no reason! There’s never been another band quite like HIM, who described their music as “love metal” and counted Jackass heartthrob Bam Margera among their biggest fans – of which there were many.

I have a visceral memory of them headlining Give It a Name ’07 at Earl’s Court, which was mostly notable because the predominantly emo crowd that had been there all day was suddenly replaced with a sea of romantic goths in long black trench coats, who had turned up to see HIM and HIM only. – Nilu Haidari

40: Tenacious D – “Tribute”

Actors-slash-musicians Jack Black and Kyle Gass effortlessly engineered an “absolutely epic win” on history’s most elaborate stoner-gag track, “Tribute”. Yes, this shit comes through reeking like DVD cases from CeX. But does it Rock? Listen to the guitar solo and try to tell me with a straight face that it does not. Witness: Dave Grohl as the music video’s soul-eating demon. Bask in the narrative. This is the easily-accessible Pink Floydian razzmatazz that every 13-year-old rock fan dreams of, and actually trumps some of the snore-fests it aimed to pay homage to. – Ryan Bassil

39: Jack Off Jill – “My Cat”

For teenage goth girls in the mid-2000s, punk/goth/riot grrrl band Jack Off Jill, and their sickly sweet singer Jessicka Addams, were truly the GOAT – a much-needed remedy to the curse of alt publications relentlessly and unquestionably platforming the careers of mediocre men. 

To confess, this is genuinely the song that got me wrongly labelled a furry in high school. While you could call me a non-practicing furry ally, what initially seems to be an edgy story about a girl wanting to shag her pet was actually inspired by the 1991 buddy comedy Rubin & Ed – in which Crispin Glover’s character Rubin Farr travels through the desert on a mission to find a suitable burial location for his actual dead cat. – Hatti Rex

38: Mudvayne – “Dig”

I remember being genuinely scared the first time I saw this video, which is of course embarrassing to admit now – not least because I watched it in broad daylight – but in my defence I was 11 and thought the guy in the devil get-up was an actual Satanist. Good song, though. Crunchy guitars; a creepy whispering bit; slap bass, but angry: everything you needed to occupy the Discman of a greebo in 2001. – Jamie Clifton

37: Linkin Park ft. Jay-Z – “Numb/Encore”

This song might not seem particularly incredible in the post-genre mix and match universe of 2021, but back in 2004 the concept of an actually respected rapper, much less JAY-Z, collaborating with a nu-metal band was mind-blowing. Common musical ground between the socially ostracised moshers and the cool hip-hop kids simply did not exist, and both JAY-Z and Linkin Park deserve a retroactive Nobel Peace Prize for their services to subcultural harmony. Did mash-ups even exist before “Numb/Encore”? Has JAY-Z ever visibly respected anyone he’s performed with this much since? (Sorry, Kanye.) – Nilu Haidari

36: Seether ft. Amy Lee – “Broken”

Evanescence’s Amy Lee really blessed this almost too heartfelt Seether tune with her presence. Seeing the Queen of Goths walking moodily through a ranch wearing black feathered wings was the answer to every Camden Bridge-dweller’s prayers, and her angelic vocals were the perfect contrast to the gravelly post-grunge groan of her then-boyfriend, Seether frontman Shaun Morgan.

This was the 2004 equivalent of Megan Fox appearing in a Machine Gun Kelly video, though potentially a bit more awkward as the lyrics describe Morgan’s feelings about leaving his ex-wife and family behind to pursue life in the US. Despite this – and the fact it was momentarily inescapable on all the alternative music channels, to the point that I never wanted to see it again – “Broken” remains forever and ever a banger. Amen. – Hatti Rex

35: Green Day – “American Idiot”

The facts are this: American Idiot the album is one of the best rock records of all time (I could write 1,000 words about this, but I’ll just say: a) the songcraft is legitimately virtuosic; b) it contains the lyric “I am the son of a bitch and Edgar Allen Poe”; and c) concept albums can be tiresome unless they’re so big and stupendous that you could legitimately make a Broadway musical out of them – Billie Joe Armstrong and Gerard Way both understood this in the mid-2000s), and “American Idiot” the song was its flag in the ground.

It’s an ambitious, ridiculous piece of brat rock from a three-piece who, until the point of its release, were best known for lo-fi slacker-ism, and its video – the black eyeliner, the ties, the green paint – was instructive for a generation. The full “American Idiot” package feels so inextricable from Scuzz’s golden era that it’s hard not to instinctively reach for the shoplifted Collection 2000 kohl and black Barry M nail polish whenever it plays. – Lauren O’Neill

34: Lacuna Coil – “Heaven’s A Lie”

When it comes to pasta, Eurovision and goth metal, nobody does it like Italians. With all due respect to Evanescence, archeologists simply aren’t pottering around Little Rock, Arkansas and stumbling upon the medieval bones of suspected vampires – and the country’s gothic folklore oozes out of every creative decision made by Milan’s Lacuna Coil.

Look at them moshing in floor-length robes and gladiator heels inside the attic of a church. Embrace the duelling vocals of Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, singing things like “dolefully desired” and “destiny of a lie” with perfect Mediterranean earnestness, and tell me it doesn’t feel like a hot night spent drinking red wine out of a carafe and being seduced by a man who smells powerfully of Acqua di Parma.

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The video for this song – a single from their massively successful 2002 album Comalies – is very “Anne Rice does The Matrix”, and somehow feels directly responsible for Michael Rymer’s vampire rock musical Queen of the Damned, despite coming out several months later. – Emma Garland

33: Puddle of Mudd – “She Hates Me”

An important part of the Scuzz mythology is humour. Guitar music can be quite self-serious, but moshers tend to know how to have a laugh (see: BUTTSCRATCHER), as evidenced here by Puddle of Mudd’s “She Hates Me”.

Taken from the Kansas City band’s major label debut Come Clean (released in 2001), the song is an anomaly on the record, which is otherwise populated by tracks that fall somewhere on the spectrum between Linkin Park and Soundgarden. Slap bang in the middle, however, is this; P of M’s most enduring moment, a weirdly innovative metal-country (!) anthem about that most hallowed of subjects: someone getting the ick. The topic is treated in good fun, the guitars are blistering, and Wes Scantlin tries on a twangier vocal that sounds like Billy Ray Cyrus after 70 cigs and a crate of Monster Energy. You don’t need me to tell you how much that fucking rules.

(Also, I will say that another very base reason why this song is good is that it affords anyone singing along the chance to scream the word FUCKING, which to be honest isn’t something you find enough in music. Swearing: it’s cool!) – Lauren O’Neill

32: Bloodhound Gang – “Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss”

If a band like Bloodhound Gang were to try to make it big now, they would be cancelled faster than it took you to realise that “Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo” was an expansion of “fuck”. They had a song paying homage to porn star Chasey Lain (who was supposed to star in the music video but never showed up), an album literally called Hooray For Boobies, and every single song was about shagging. It simply wouldn’t happen, and it’s only a matter of time before I’m prematurely booted out of an afters for sticking them on. 

Many bands and celebrities of the mid-2000s took themselves painfully seriously and, despite the obvious objectification of women, Bloodhound Gang were there to fill the void by offering up the option of sleaze-adjacent fun. They were kind of like a musical Jackass (with Bam Margera even making the occasional cameo in their videos), taking pleasure in turning everything into a joke. “Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss” manages to do this by transporting us to a mock version of Johnny Depp’s infamous Viper Room club, which is cleverly renamed “The Wiper Rooms” and set mostly in the toilets.

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It is audibly unlike anything else featured on Scuzz, sounding more like a Eurodance track than an alternative anthem, and for this feat alone we should give them a pass. To mount that ass. And Bob Hope that they might one night stand a chance. – Hatti Rex

31: 36 Crazyfists – “Slit Wrist Theory”

A track featured prominently on every rock magazine’s free compilation CD in 2002, “Slit Wrist Theory” was the lead single from 36 Crazyfists’ debut album Bitterness the Star (and censored to “Wrist Theory” on multiple music channels, for obvious reasons). The video’s greenscale aesthetic is Twin Peaks landscape meets sports-loving rockers in an abandoned warehouse and screams “nu-metal but thoughtful x”. It’s befitting for a band with a singer with the most American name of all-time: Brock Lindow.

As for the song, any pre-chorus that consists of screaming the lyrics “Get the fuck out, stay the fuck out” makes for a sure-fire nu-metal classic. Plus, the fact that every metalcore band in the last 20 years has essentially reproduced the chorus shows how much the track got into our psyche. – Hannah Ewens

30: Soil – “Halo”

I would love to know what this song is about, because “I will stone you, my little halo” doesn’t really make sense. Is it a symbol of destroying the good inside yourself? Perhaps Halo is an enemy, or lover, being threatened? The Songmeanings.com board is divided between attempts at deciphering its biblical references and variations of “this song rocks”, vs. the following take posted by your sleep paralysis demon: “its the battle of a man who loves so deep but must remain a man... hiding the hurt of a lifetime..the battle of a warrior..a man..true...strong...but still feels love-pain-sorrow-that only one can understand..his halo...the only woman he will ever love...the woman that lets him be a man…” Bro, are you OK? 

One thing that’s clear is that you don’t have to understand “Halo” to know that it slaps. From the opening scream, you’re pulled along on a journey of upbeat angst. The video is set at a squat party for crusties and goths, where horny couples are snogging in every crevice and the vibes are popping off to the point where band members are quite literally crawling up the walls. This is a party song for grebs, and we’re all invited. Thank you, Soil. – Hatti Rex

29: Bring Me The Horizon – “Shadow Moses”

Take a frontman like Oli Sykes, who understands how to stay at the vanguard of alternative music culture. Add some genuine suffering, a new member who knows his way around synths, and a bonafide rock producer like Terry Date (Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish, Deftones’ – White Pony), and you get “Shadow Moses”. 

This was the moment that Bring Me The Horizon established their legitimacy as more than just another scene band. The lead single from Sempiternal – an album inspired by Sykes’ experiences with ketamine addiction, which melded electronica and metal in a way that garnered comparisons to Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory – “Shadow Moses” captures a mental health struggle perfectly.

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The cyclical nature of relapsing is mirrored in the breakdown and accompanying lyrics (“over and over, again and again”), while its epic proportions do an uncomfortably successful job of recreating the realisation that an affliction you suffer with is never going to leave. – Hannah Ewens

28: My Ruin – “Ready For Blood”

Many would agree that the award for “My Ruin Song That Most Makes You Want To Rip A Man’s Head Off” would probably go to “Beauty Fiend” or “Miss Ann Thrope” – but we couldn’t find nor remember there being videos for those songs, so “Ready For Blood” it is. Besides, with its carnal groove metal riff and Our Lady Of Brutality, Tairrie B, roaring “BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN” directly into her husband’s face while rocking skinny eyebrows and a bandana, you’d be hard pressed to find a video more “Scuzz” than this. – Emma Garland 

27: CKY – “96 Quite Bitter Beings”

One thing the landscape of modern rock requires is more stunts. Where are the wasabi-snorting freaks of 2021?! Along with their pal Bam Margera, who features in the video (drinking game suggestion: re-read the list and take a shot every time a variation on that sentence appears), CKY helped mosh-ify the Jackass crew’s breakout moment in 1999, and became the go-to song for every teen who kept a bong under their home built PC. – Ryan Bassil

26: AFI – “Miss Murder”

This video is an incredible time capsule for both the concept of haircuts and the meaningless political aesthetics at the centre of alternative music in the 2000s. Watching androgynous goth icon Davey Havok stand on a balcony and unfurl banners of the band in 2021, my first intrusive thought was ‘…it’s giving Nazi’, but then I remembered that this was the age of American Idiot. Anyway, there are loads of bunnies in this video, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned. – Nilu Haidari

25: Avenged Sevenfold – “Beast And The Harlot”

Imagine calling a song “Beast And The Harlot”. Imagine your lead singer is named M. Shadows. Imagine building a body of work that sounds like a nimble rock musical performed by hyperactive children and imps. Imagine making 15-and-a-half minute songs for the sake of it. Imagine doing anything the band Avenged Sevenfold do, including this track. Madheads. – Hannah Ewens

24: Coal Chamber – “Loco”

Coal Chamber were like nu metal Pick N Mix in that they were made up of various distinct elements from other bands: Korn’s bass tone (even baggier than the jeans of the time), Mudvayne’s feral hog-like delivery, Slipknot’s flair for theatrics. When considered as a whole, though, Coal Chamber were very much their own beast: too oddball but also, weirdly, too teen-movie sexy to draw any true parallels.

I have no idea what’s going on in this song, fair play, but every so often an unnerving word like “SCREW” or “GENERATOR” will jump out from vocalist Dez Farfa’s garbled verses like a handyman speaking in tongues. To drive the point home, the slasher-inspired video features each band member being hunted down by a psychotic ice cream truck driver played by Ozzy Osbourne. Man, I miss nu metal. – Emma Garland

23: From First To Last – “Note To Self”

The first YouTube video I remember watching was a two-and-a-half minute clip of low quality webcam footage featuring From First To Last’s lead singer Sonny Moore and fellow floppy fringed scenester Jono Evans energetically bobbing their heads along to Aphex Twin’s “Girl/Boy”. It was also the first time I’d heard Aphex Twin, and it wasn’t clear why these two highly emo individuals would be brave enough to be this publicly interested in engaging with such a jaunty electronic track. Were they not also living in fear of being labelled as posers? It seemed that every Myspace micro-celeb was so quick to throw each other under the bus for a higher rank in an esteemed scenester’s Top 8, and that one wrong turn would get you bumped off faster than FFTL drummer Derek Bloom could smash that double bass pedal. 

But it makes complete sense in retrospect. That very same Sonny Moore would wipe off his eyeliner to become the dubstep artist more commonly known as Skrillex, but the evidence for this seemingly sudden change was arguably there in the lyrics too. In Livejournal anthem “Note To Self”, Sonny reveals that he is “sick of this scene, I need to break the routine”, and struggles to make a decision between two entirely different paths his life could take. The video is also set in a psychiatric hospital, never usually a good sign. In a later track, “Waltz Moore”, he literally screams over and over again about hating himself. As Skrillex, he makes references to Peter Pan and collabs with A$AP Rocky. Inside you are two wolves. – Hatti Rex

22: My Chemical Romance – “Welcome to the Black Parade”

Before the opening lyrics to My Chemical Romance’s arena emo anthem “Welcome to the Black Parade” became a meme, they were the “fondest memory” of The Patient – the fictional character at the centre of their 2006 concept album The Black Parade. The video saw a newly peroxide-blonde Gerard Way (his attempt at method acting to better embody the character of a dying man) and led to a spike in sales of marching band jackets among the emo diaspora. Regarded by the more hardcore contingent of fans as the band “selling out”, it did culture a great service in knocking Razorlight’s “America” off the top of the charts to become their first UK number one. It was also voted MTV’s “Greatest Video of the Century” in 2017, so there. – Nilu Haidari

21: Velvet Revolver – “Slither”

Velvet Revolver meant big egos, bigger hair and the kind of chord progressions that music journalists still only know how to describe as “face-melting”. Their biggest track, “Slither”, sounds like two meaty and distinct rock songs welded together in the backroom of a seedy LA club. There’s the tantalising metal riff and nasty vocals, which sound like they’re licking up and down your body. Then there’s the stadium rock song with a mighty chorus built to make festival dads stand from their camping chairs. Critics mostly hated that approach. Across their body of work, Velvet Revolver were critiqued for simply combining Scott Weiland’s band Stone Temple Pilots and Slash’s Guns N’ Roses, to which I say: problem? Where! – Hannah Ewens

20: Hawthorne Heights – “Ohio Is For Lovers”

If you didn’t have “</3X_so cut my Wrists && black my Eyes_X</3” in your MSN name at some point between 2004 and 2009, were you even really there? “Ohio Is For Lovers” is a titan of the mainstream screamo crossover of the mid-2000s, and almost certainly the MySpace profile song of at least one person you fancied at school. – Lauren O’Neill

19: Otep – “Blood Pigs”

Unfortunately, nothing will reel in a depressive teenage girl like half a minute of androgynous roaring followed by the opening lyric “I’m sorry I’m ugly”. Shapeshifting between a pained whine and a scream that buries pretty much any deathcore frontman under six feet of emotional trauma, vocalist Otep Shamaya is a host for pure evil behind the mic, bolstered by a band that follows her undulations like a dog tracking blood.

This is a song that grabs you by the throat and says “yes today, satan’’. Unofficially, it goes out to anyone who went through a Wicca phase in Year 8 and had their books thrown in the bin by a terrified religious parent. – Emma Garland

18: Korn – “Freak On a Leash”

This moonlit riff demands you swing your head around a hundred times to feel your brain bash against the side of your skull. Don’t believe in the occult? Fine, little angel, that’s your loss. But it’s hard to deny that the devil breathed on Korn frontman Jonathan Davis when he recorded the 30-second launch into gibberish midway through the track’s breakdown. This is trance music for moshers; rancid yet somehow sexy club music for goths in huge boots. – Ryan Bassil

17: Attack Attack! – “Stick Stickly”

After dropping what has been described as the “most hated metal video of all time”, Attack Attack! quickly became the most polarising band in the scene, with their choreographed squat head banging, BR00T4L haircuts and matching uniform of black V-neck with skinny jeans.

Despite entire Tumblr accounts filled with hate for the band and the genre they invented – crabcore – there are moments of brilliance here. Such as the fact that the entire song sounds like a breakdown, AKA the best part of any song, and how the crushing screams give way to an auto-tuned chorus that, at the time, added a whole new accessible dimension to the tried and tested clean/dirty vocalist dynamic. Attack Attack! walked (like crabs) so a thousand other copycat bands splicing electronic music and metalcore together could run. 

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Bonus piece of crabcore trivia: in perhaps one of the greatest switcharoos in metalcore history, the “Stick Stickly” video doesn’t actually star original singer Austin Carlile, who left the band after recording their debut full-length and would later go on to form Of Mice & Men. It instead features Nick Barham, who would depart Attack Attack! without ever recording an album. – Jack Cummings

16: Pantera – “Walk”

Going through a breakup? Recently snaked by a mate? Is a housemate repeatedly stealing your condiments and never replacing them? May I introduce you to these powerful words of affirmation: “Be yourself. By yourself. Stay away from me.” Not only are these the lyrics to Pantera’s best known song “Walk” – ostensibly the entrance theme for anyone walking into a Po Na Na – but they are also a valuable lesson to be learned.

This heavy tune has genuinely featured on every single Spotify Wrapped I’ve ever had – partially for the reason that it’s my go-to when absolutely fuming, but also because it forces me to naturally move both faster and stompier whilst walking about with earphones in, conveniently making all my journeys that little bit quicker and refreshingly creep-free. – Hatti Rex

15: Alexisonfire – “This Could Be Anywhere In the World”

Before he wrote melancholic acoustic songs about homesickness and heartbreak as City and Color, Dallas Green sang about the exact same things with the Canadian post-hardcore band Alexisonfire. “This Could Be Anywhere In the World” is from their third album Crisis, and is a classic of the (unfairly maligned) genre. Green melodically croons about a “city haunted by ghosts from broken homes” (a classic theme) in perfect harmony with George Pettit’s power-scream vocals. This is 21st century screamo at its best, just ask anyone who was at Give It A Name ’07. Sorry, haters! – Nilu Haidari

14: Paramore – “Ignorance”

Interestingly, Scuzz was the first channel in the UK to ever play Paramore’s music videos (*Weezer voice* “How cool is that?”), so we could have chosen any of their songs here. Real heads, however, know that the obvious choice is “Ignorance”, the lead single from the band’s third album Brand New Eyes.  

BNE, as well as being Paramore’s heaviest record – Hayley Williams’ marvellously untameable voice at its rawest; the brick wall of guitars on songs like “All I Wanted” and “Ignorance” itself – is also their best. “Ignorance” was its first single, dropped in 2009 alongside a stripped-back music video that saw the band playing in a room lit by a single lightbulb.

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When I think back to my Scuzz days, it’s this image of Paramore that feels the most vivid, and that fortified me as a girl who grew up loving styles of music that didn’t always feel particularly like they loved me back: that of a rock band at the top of their game, with one of the genre’s greatest ever vocalists and performers of any gender as its fearless beating heart. – Lauren O’Neill

13: Trivium – “Pull Harder On the Strings Of Your Martyr”

This absolute belter of a song converted a legion of millennials to heavy music and a wardrobe full of all black clothes. As a tween flicking through music channels, I remember being blown away that singer Matt Heafy was able to maintain his gut-wrenching screams for four-and-a-half minutes. 

An early anthem for the metalcore era, this song has everything: riffs for days, a shouty singalong chorus and a glorious harmonised guitar solo that would become Trivium’s signature move. Even if you can never un-hear the chorus as “BOAT, RUDDER, STRANGE, MOUNTAIN” after witnessing the YouTube misinterpretation of the track, it still stands up today with its prescient lyrics about a villainous tyrant ruler. 

Trivium’s meteoric ascendency (sorry) was inscribed in metal legend after the Florida four-piece were unexpectedly bumped up to open the main stage at Download 2005, managing to draw one of the biggest crowds of the day, with thousands of fans screaming the words back at them. A breakthrough performance that I missed because I only had a day ticket and turned up late. – Jack Cummings

12: Body Count – “Talk Shit, Get Shot”

You know a music video is high art when Ice-T appears like a genie to smash through the screen of a phone and strangle a Twitter hater because he’s been talking shit online about Body Count’s return. “Talk Shit, Get Shot”, the song, lives up to that visual premise. 

There’s the pleasingly threatening riff that circles around the track like a WWE fighter. There’s the rap king himself shouting: “For some reason you motherfuckers think this is a game? / You think you can say anything you want?” And there are, of course, all the imaginative phrases he managed to invent that just mean: “get shot”. “Talk Shit, Get Shot” is the height of LA rap-metal and an ideal calling card for an artist who, to this day, has one of the greatest accounts on Twitter. If only Ice-T knew the depths of indignity that come with “being online” when he wrote this. – Hannah Ewens

11: The Rasmus – “In The Shadows”

It took just one video to make Lauri Ylönen an instantly recognisable rock star. With crow feathers and 90s-teen girl clips in his hair, The Rasmus’ lead singer was prototype goblincore long before TikTok came along. 

Their breakout single “In The Shadows” brought this strange Finnish band into the consciousness of British grungers, nerds and parents alike. Just as the opening lines of “Mr. Brightside” are an activating energy source for white people across the globe, as soon as that “In The Shadows” siren goes off and the “aho aho” bird-like call hits the air, miserable people are given the signal to live another night. The lyrics are pure Victorian gothic melodrama – he needs to find a cure for sickness; he’s disconnected and haunts the darkness – but somehow they’re universal (living for tomorrow!) and vague enough (searching, waiting!) to drive all listeners and karaoke singers to mad catharsis. As for the music, that is – I think we can all agree – very European. 

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Basically, “In The Shadows” is a perfect pop song for moshers. And everyone who fancied Lauri Ylönen is now bisexual and on SSRIs. – Hannah Ewens

10: Drowning Pool – “Bodies”

To talk about “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, I have to first talk about something called “Teen Culture”. This was the name of an event at a music venue in Birmingham one Saturday per month, apparently established for the noble goal of allowing children to chuck themselves around genuinely violent circle pits. Most people there, despite being aged between 13 and 16, were drunk on ill-gotten White Lightning before they made it through the door, and you couldn’t move for those stripy, elbow-length glove things with the fingers cut out. One time, my friend was windmilling and got licked by a wallet chain attached to the combats of someone else doing the same. Blood was drawn. 

Like most nightclubs, TC (which, I should say, happened between, like, one and four in the afternoon) had a few different rooms, and the one that sticks in my mind most was the smallest: the metal room. The point of this story is that “Bodies” was played all the time in the metal room, and essentially represented an induction for the teens into the most sacred ritual of the UK alt club: standing in a circle aggressively stamping and counting on your fingers. Think someone headbanged to it so hard they vomited once. Amazing song. – Lauren O’Neill

9: Enter Shikari – “Sorry You’re Not A Winner”

Now that we’re in 2021, where genres don’t feel like barriers and emo rap and trap metal are cultural mainstays, it’s hard to overstate how fresh Enter Shikari track felt in 2006, with their sensory assault of ravey bleeps, brutal grunts and synchronised hand claps. In fusing together dance music and post-hardcore to create “trancecore” like a bunch of mad scientists from the home counties, Enter Shikari changed everything. When that first high pitched synth note like a chipped Nintendo being booted up blasted out of the TV, you knew you were in for a good time.

In a scene dominated by Americans, it was immediately refreshing to hear a British accent on “Sorry You’re Not a Winner” – a dynamite stick of a song that strayed from the usual scene trope of being dumped, to instead talk about… gambling! And for that, I can forgive the fact they took all their original demos and replaced the lows and pig vocals with what can only be described as Cookie Monster growls for their debut album Take to the Skies. – Jack Cummings

8: D12 – “My Band”

Astute readers will notice that this song is an anomaly in the list, in that it was the only straight-up rap record played on Scuzz. The reasons for this are unclear, except for the fact that Eminem was so popular back in 2004 that he seemed to transcend all genres and was basically omnipresent. At the risk of receiving death threats from his unhinged fanbase, which is what happened last time I wrote about The First Whiteboy of Rap: I LOVE THIS SONG.

“My Band” was a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the dynamic between rap group D12, its “lead singer” Eminem and the rest of the world. The video revolves mostly around Eminem’s access to champagne, sunbeds (lol) and big-tittied blondes (two of which are himself in drag), while the rest of the group languish in anonymity and a repurposed janitor’s closet with no bad bitches. Like a ruder version of Blink 182’s “All the Small Things”, parody is central to its sense of fun. Bizarre (not) doing pull-ups in homage to 50 Cent, the whole group dressed in white and crooning on a bridge like the Backstreet Boys and an – in hindsight mildly racist, but at the time hilarious to me – outro called “My Salsa”, featuring the boys dressed up as a mariachi band in a strange imitation of Kelis’s “Milkshake”. Personally, I’m still waiting on its release.

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Offending people was a huge vibe in 2004, and so the video was nominated for three MTV Music Video Awards (Video of the Year, Best Group Video, and Best Rap Video), although it didn’t actually win in any of the categories. D12 also performed the song at the awards ceremony, during which Eminem mooned the audience. Truly, what a time to be alive. – Nilu Haidari

7: Bullet For My Valentine – “4 Words (To Choke Upon)”

By the mid-2000s you couldn’t swing a fringe from one side of your forehead to the other in South Wales without hitting a wall of death inside a community centre. The breakout success of Funeral For A Friend in 2003 helped put a national spotlight on an area that was throwing up talent like a teenager after a flagon of White Lightning, leading to what scholars (me) would call “a cultural moment”. If you weren’t able to stumble across the bands first-hand, chances are you were introduced to them through Scuzz.

Among those who made the jump out of the local circuit were Bridgend’s Bullet For My Valentine, whose 2005 debut The Poison I did not enjoy at the time. I was deep into mainstream emo territory and about two years off taking a hard pivot into nu rave, so – hilariously, given the general tone of music on this list – I found their aesthetic “too macho” (a Flying V? In this economy?) Critics were also snobs about it, but we were all dead wrong because this song fucks. Squealing metal riffs, liberal use of tension building, gang vocals, a double bass pedal that makes you want to do that thing where you put both your fists out in front of you and pretend to be revving a motorbike – literally, what’s not to love? 

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Bullet For My Valentine would end up on permanent rotation on Scuzz with their many enormous singles (see also: “Hand Of Blood” and “Tears Don’t Fall”), but the video for “4 Words (To Choke Upon)” chronicles the time and place so perfectly it belongs in a museum. For any TikTok creators looking for a snapshot of what it was actually like to grow up alt in the 2000s, the opening 30 seconds illustrate it in granular and greasy detail: Mean Fiddler, ball chain necklaces, teenage boys smoking straight cigarettes (probably a Marlboro Red) and wearing a beanie with a peak. This was the culture, and it was glorious. – Emma Garland

6: Limp Bizkit – “Break Stuff”

Has anyone ever made a hat as famous as when Fred Durst swivelled his brilliant red New Era baseball cap backwards? Pharrell tried, with his vintage Vivviene Westwood fedora. Apparently Bono once booked a first class ticket to send a trilby from London to Italy for a performance. But it’s Durst’s backwards cap that stands atop history’s most famed hat mantle.

If you wore one of these so-called anti-authoritarian totems, you were likely a part of the frustrated masses that Limp Bizkit aimed to connect with, for better or worse. See: the crew’s infamous performance at Woodstock ‘99, where they were accused of inciting a riot (though see also: no drinking water, no showers, insane heat and much more). Leading the turn-of-the-millennium rage-stoking came “Break Stuff” – a sort-your-shit-out belter about feeling like you have nothing to give, then drawing power from that feeling to rise up to smash life into a new one. Crank it up to 11 in the morning and it’s better than a triple espresso. 

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“Break Stuff” arrived at the height of Limp Bizkit’s fame, when they were the nu-metal honey everyone wanted to buzz around. The track’s music video featured – *drum roll (imagine the song’s crunchy riff filling the gap between each name)* – Dre Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Eminem’s daughter Hailie, Bam Margera, skateboarder Bucky Lasek, comedian Richard Lewis, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, multiple supermodels and Pauly Shore, for some reason. The video for number one hit “Rollin’”, released eight months later, also featured Ben Stiller. 

Cynics could tell you these seemingly disconnected figures were there to be seen, doing cameos to reach a new audience before it became easier to send out an Instagram post. Instead, let’s be real: we’ve all felt like shit at one time or another. This rager really does capture the dark miasma of having “one of those days when you don’t want to wake up, and everything is fucked”. Screaming along to it with friends in a karaoke bar several decades later is a release like medication. Whatever your thoughts on the long-ranging history tied up in the Bizkit story, this is the world’s best track about being angry af. Fucking turn it up! – Ryan Bassil

5: Distillers – “Drain The Blood”

When “Drain The Blood” was released, people focused on the tabloid punk drama. Frontwoman Brody Dalle was “biting back”, according to NME, and Rolling Stone called Coral Fang a break-up album. This is mostly true, but also flattens the impact of the record. These are songs about growing up, the ways we treat women, toxic relationships, suffering, death, love and new life. It’s an album about a woman in aggressive, painful transition – which is more of a compelling concept than anything to do with a specific man, even if he was known to the listener.

The angular riff of “Drain The Blood” rips the story open. It sounds like someone pulling their body over broken glass to reach redemption, while Brody Dalle sings: “I’m living on shattered faith / The kind that likes to restrict your breath”. This is a strangled call from the land of death, otherwise known as “LA”. In the video, Brody and her boys have to take to the sewers to escape backstabbers and ex-friends, now “murderers”. That was an obvious reference to her ex’s circles and the wider punk scene that turned their back on her and the band. There are flickers of relief and joy in the indignant chorus, too; in killing off relationships that needed to die. And after all that, as promised, there is rebirth: “I'm alive in uterine / A stab in the dark, a new day has dawned”.

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When the album was reviewed by Pitchfork in 2004, the critic wrote that Dalle was “an impassioned, powerful frontwoman, the legitimate heart of her band, and probably the most dominating female presence-at-large in rock right now”. Little has changed in the rock world; only a couple of names come to mind as legitimate descendants, both of whom are in this list. But there isn’t anyone remotely like Brody Dalle. – Hannah Ewens

4: Papa Roach – “Last Resort”

You knew this one was coming. The jewel in the crown of rap-metal; the biggest floor filler known to club nights with names like “FERAL FRIDAYS at THE STUDDED BELT”; the Platonic ideal of acapella-opener-into-cascading-riff: Papa Roach’s Y2K smash “Last Resort.”   

Realistically, this song’s biggest legacy is as a meme (“Cut my life into pizzas / This is my plastic fork” was an early online favourite; since then there’s been exactly one good one, centred on the word “jorts”.) While this is hardly surprising – “Last Resort”’s uncanny, shouting-into-the-void intro and aggressively noughties hip-hop style verses are internet catnip – it is a weird and slightly dissonant place for a song ostensibly about contemplating death to end up. 

Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix has said in the past that the lyrics of the song were inspired by a friend’s suicide attempt, and that he has also related to them himself at points in his own life. It’s a strange thing, then, that such tortured material would also still manage to pull people up on dancefloors the way it does, but as a cultural artefact that straddles pre- and post-internet eras, it makes sense that “Last Resort” has taken on a bunch of different meanings.

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For some people it’s a laugh that reminds them of when they first got broadband on the family computer; for others, it’s metal’s answer to the much-fêted “sad pop banger”, cathartic in its embrace of dark themes. Whatever your feeling about it, there’s no doubt that “Last Resort” is pretty much the premier song to scream along to in a basement with wet walls while you double fist quad vods – and I think that’s beautiful. – Lauren O’Neill

3: Evanescence – “Bring Me To Life”

Personal story time! Evanescence was my “gateway” band into rock music, so this song is and will always remain close to my heart. Maybe it was because it had a female vocalist, something that was so rare in rock at the time that the male guest vocals were introduced in an attempt to get some radio play. Despite the addition of Paul McCoy’s rock-rap contributions, “Bring Me To Life” struggled to get much exposure upon its release. It wasn’t until it was featured on the Daredevil soundtrack in 2003 that it managed to get real airplay due to listener demand.

Hilariously, it was a huge hit in the Christian rock community, who, apropos of basically nothing, decided the song was about finding new life through Jesus Christ. After being told through official channels that Evanescence were actually a secular band, it was promptly removed from Christian radio and retail outlets. According to Amy Lee herself, the song is about the concept of “open-mindedness” and was inspired by an eye-opening conversation in a restaurant with her now-husband that brought her out of months of numbness and “back to life”, so to speak.

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To the surprise of nobody who wasn’t a sexist music executive pig, both the song and the album were huge successes, with Fallen shifting over 17 million copies worldwide and becoming one of the best-selling albums of the 21st century. Not bad for “a chick and a piano”, as she was contemptuously referred to by radio station owners. Amy Lee’s soaring, emotionally raw vocals and her impeccable goth aesthetic (I’ll even forgive the eyebrow piercing) made her an instant fave, especially for young women who had little representation in the scene. This will always be the popular iteration of the song, but it brings me some joy to know that in 2017 she finally got to release the version of it she had always wanted – stripped-down, captivating and, most notably, minus the male vocals that she never wanted in the first place. – Nilu Haidari

2: Funeral For A Friend – “This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak”

This opening riff sounds like Welsh Independence. The duelling vocals between frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye and drummer Ryan Richards (who remains the only metal drummer to effectively rock a Britney head mic) made as big of an impression on me as puberty itself. For the duration of 2003, alt kids across Wales attempted to one-up each other by struggling to play it using slightly-off Ultimate Guitar Tabs. In short: “This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak”, the debut video from Bridgend post-hardcore band Funeral For A Friend, changed the game. 

One of the few UK bands you could feasibly describe as “emo” to eventually break the Billboard 100, Funeral For A Friend didn’t sound like anyone or anything else. That should have meant the industry didn’t have a clue what to do with them, but after the success of similarly oddball post-hardcore bands like Thursday and At The Drive-In in the US, they were exactly what the industry was looking for at the time. Their idiosyncrasy is partly down to Davies-Kreye, whose distinct vocal tone and knack for earworm hooks cut through their muscular instrumentals like a diamond. But it’s also thanks to their songwriting as a unit. The band mastered the art of making melodic hardcore without compromising on bite early on, and that dynamic is there in its nascent (but no less gripping) form on “This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak”. 

Appearing on an early EP, “This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak” is a lot harder and more “chuggy” than the soaring, anthemic material that Funeral For A Friend would become known for, but it represents a turning point in music history where Welsh bands in particular (Hondo Maclean, The Blackout, Kids In Glass Houses) were swept up in the mainstream emo craze towards international recognition. – Emma Garland

1: Slipknot – “Duality”

If a construction site made music, it would resemble something close to the heavy-metal tapestry that hangs behind a Slipknot tune. Pneumatic drill guitars. Crashing concrete as the build-up to a drop. Clanging, bashing, high intensity, put-your-headphones-on-so-you-can-save-your-ears shit. But what elevates Slipknot is the heart – the rotten core of emotions – that frontman Corey Taylor puts into his lyrics, plus the brotherhood of all members that makes them work seamlessly as a white-knuckle vehicle. The opening line here is whispered then sung, drawing out the last word into a longing “I push my fingers into my eyeeeeeeees”. Then the band ramps up, and: pandemonium time.

Of all the bands to have a guy spinning turntables in the back, Slipknot really knew how to take things up a whole other notch. Importantly, their maggot-ridden world stood atop impeccably written hooks (see also: “Left Behind”, “Before I Forget”, “The Heretic Anthem”). Rarely are they spoken of in terms of pop, but that chorus about the “eyes” and the “ache” and not being able to “make it”? It’s behemothic. It’s beautiful. Excavate the pain. For the video they invited fans around to a house to fuck shit up and hear them play. Ceilings cave in. Turntables are launched upon. Put your nose up and you can taste the sweat. Crucially, there’s the commanding presence of the band’s nine masked members and their weird, sublime and deeply connecting music.

“It’s about standing at the crossroads of your life, looking down both paths, and going ‘Now what am I going to do?’” Taylor has said of the song. Put simply: it’s about chaos. And it rocks. – Ryan Bassil

Words by: ryanbassil, @jamie_clifton, @jackcummings92, @hannahrosewens, @emmaggarland, @niluthedamaja, @hiyalauren & @hattirex

If you feel compelled to mosh, we’ve put the full playlist on the VICE UK Spotify:

Tagged:

subcultures, Scuzz, alternative music

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