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The Music of The Early 2000’s that Has Stood the Test of Time

More than two decades on, the likes of ‘Diablo II’ remains a classic of the gaming world, but what about the music that soundtracked its release?

Maybe it’s the benefit of hindsight, or maybe it’s the sunny-eyed view of things that nostalgia gives us, but just about everyone can agree that the years gone by provided us with some of the most amazing memories and experiences.

For proof of this, one really only needs to take a look back at what we complemented our lives with. 20 years ago, we were experiencing some of the biggest news stories of the century, pretending not to care about the inaugural season of Big Brother, and listening to some huge records while we played some of the most iconic video games of the era.

In fact, the year 2000 saw countless fans around the world diving deep into Diablo II, the sequel to the 1997 game Diablo. Diablo II managed to exceed the expectations of everyone – including that of the game designers – and would go on to be considered one of the greatest games of all time.

Diablo II capitalised and built upon the success of its predecessor, with players returning to Sanctuary to witness an epic narrative which spread across four distinct acts (five if you count the Lord of Destruction expansion) as they attempt to quell the destruction caused by the game’s titular Lord of Terror.

Two decades on, the game is still as popular as ever, and while the Diablo series has spawned a number of sequels and expansions (including an upcoming forth volume), this month also sees Blizzard Entertainment unleash the fully remastered Diablo II: Resurrected.

In the works for the past two years the remastered title updates the graphics and functions of the original – including monsters, heroes, items, and spells – while maintaining the classic gameplay that fans have come to know and love. Pairing the original game with its Lord of Destruction package, players can switch between the game’s original visuals and its new 4K remastered graphics with the click of a button, while its cross-progression play means players can take their progress wherever they play.

In short, it’s a faithful restoration of one of the most iconic games of all time, upgraded and remastered to fit seamlessly alongside classic modern titles.

But with this new classic on the way, we’ve decided to take a look at the question of what exactly makes a classic? It’s hard to pinpoint a definite answer, but at its core, it’s something which defines an era, impacts the lives of everyone involved, and ultimately, has a legacy that lives on for decades to come.

As such, we’ve taken a look back at some of the music that we were blasting as we battled the forces of hell, revisiting a handful of the classic records that, like Diablo II, have stood the test of time.

Toxicity – System of A Down

By the start of the millennium, System of A Down were already known as leaders of the nu-metal genre, with their self-titled 1998 debut having gone Gold roughly 18 months after its release. With eyes on the band, and fans questioning what would come next, System of A Down answered this question with a record that would resonate for years to come.

Dubbed Toxicity, the band’s second album was an instant classic. Loud, frenetic, and packed with the political commentary (and lyrical zaniness) that they had become known for, Toxicity quickly became a mesmerising success. Filled with singles such as its title track, “Aerials”, and the ubiquitous “Chop Suey!”, System of A Down were household names in no time, with their genre-shifting metal stylings turning them from rising stars into universal icons.

Rated R – Queens Of The Stone Age

By 2002, Queens Of The Stone Age had managed to transcend the gap between being a post-Kyuss side-project to becoming fully-fledged stadium rockers of their own right. But before Songs For The Deaf made them household names, it was 2000’s Rated R that made them rising legends.

Packed full of the stunning stoner rock and blistering Desert Sessions-style improvisation that fans had come to know and love, it’s hard to look at Rated R as anything but a blueprint for the group’s iconic sound. Sure, everyone might know and love tracks such as “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer” and “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret”, but when you’ve got those alongside the likes of “Better Living Through Chemistry”, “Auto Pilot” and more, you’re really spoilt for choice.

Is This It? – The Strokes

Music historians will happily tell you that in the early 2000’s, New York City was the place to be if you wanted to experience the indie-rock boom. Garage bands felt like they were a dime a dozen, and leather jackets and messy hair seemed like a prerequisite for success. Out of this musical melting pot though rose The Strokes, who managed to capture the attention of all and sundry with their arresting performance style and fuzz-drenched rock compositions.

Releasing their debut album in Australia in July of 2001 while supporting You Am I, The Strokes’ Is This It? quickly became a classic upon its wider release the following month. Paired with a now-iconic album cover, and filled with blistering indie-rock hits – including “Last Nite”, “Hard to Explain”, “Someday”, and the controversial “New York City Cops” – Is This It? wasn’t just a popular record for the cool music-lovers, it was the album you needed to be cool.

White Pony – Deftones

By the time the new millennium came around, Deftones were two albums deep and already viewed as leaders of the burgeoning nu-metal scene. Sure, it’s what fans had come to know and love, but what about the band themselves? Were they allowed to flex their musical muscles and show off a bit of a change in their sound? With 2000’s White Pony, the answer become a resounding ‘yes’.

Blending their iconic sound with a mix of progressive-rock, post-hardcore, and trip-hop, White Pony was undeniably a change in the group’s sound and focus, but it was one that not only worked, but one that made them even more popular than before. Singles like “Back To School (Mini Maggit)”, “Teenager”, “Digital Bath”, or the impassioned “Change (In The House Of Flies)” were hectic pieces of blistering, genre-defying rock that proved that the Deftones were not just a band to watch, they were the band to watch.

Lateralus – Tool

Tool were already legends of the progressive metal genre by the time they released Lateralus, but five years removed from the commercial breakthrough of Ænima, fans were indeed wondering what the group had been working on in this time. The answer was the 79-minute opus that was Lateralus, an experience that was equal parts high-intensity, reflective, and spiritual, but above all, truly inspired.

Featuring some of the group’s most popular and iconic songs (including the likes of “Schism”, “Parabol” and “Parabola”, and the title track), Lateralus proved to critics that progressive metal was much more than just changing time signatures and pounding riffs, it was about creating an atmosphere, speaking to the soul, and crafting experiences that couldn’t be found elsewhere. 20 years on, there truly hasn’t been another record like Lateralus, and there likely never will be.

White Blood Cells – The White Stripes

Much like The Strokes, Detroit duo The White Stripes had managed to craft a large amount of buzz in previous years, not just due to the confusing relationship between mainstays Jack and Meg White, but due to their unique blending of garage rock and blues. After two albums full of the bluesy punk sound that fans had become acquainted with, 2001 brought with it their third album, White Blood Cells.

Putting them on the map almost immediately, White Blood Cells was bolstered by the success of singles such as “Hotel Yorba”, and the iconic “Fell in Love with A Girl” (paired with its Michel Gondry-directed video), with fans flocking to the group’s truly uncategorisable sound. With themes of love, hope, and betrayal within the lyrics, the album had something for everyone, and while The White Stripes would find their greatest success on the albums following this one, White Blood Cells was the one which turned them into veritable indie icons.

The Argument – Fugazi

Any fan of rock and punk music could tell you that the genres as we know them today wouldn’t be close to what they are without the influence of Fugazi. Arguably one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years, Fugazi were the epitome of integrity, with their music, their performances, and practices being admired by everyone within the music scene. However, after six critically-acclaimed albums, October of 2001 would bring with it their final record of new material, The Argument.

A protest album at its core, The Argument was quickly considered Fugazi’s finest moment, and an album which encompassed everything the group stood for. Against impassioned vocals, powerful instrumentals, and shifting time signatures, Fugazi clearly saved their best for last, with the group announced a hiatus two years later, and leaving us to wonder if this truly was the end.