For over 30 years, Weezer has been one of rock music’s most enduring bands, for a good reason.
Rivers Cuomo is an absolute savant when it comes to rock songwriting. His approach is methodical, nowadays combining banks of riffs with lyrics saved on a spreadsheet. Seriously, his approach is fascinating.
Among Cuomo’s many dips and dives in Weezer, his love for heavy music is readily apparent. Besides happily contributing ghostwriting nu-metal, Weezer’s own music features numerous heavy flourishes. It’s not surprising that Cuomo namedropped his faves on “Heart Songs” singing “Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Slayer taught me how to shred.”
With that in mind, it’s our opinion that through Weezer’s numerous albums, they’ve earned the distinction of being a heavy metal band in their own right. Don’t believe us? Here are ten songs proving their heavy metal bonafides, from straight-up thrash breakdowns to extreme distortion.
Originally released as part of the DGC Rarities compilation, “Jamie” is a heavy-as-hell ode to the band’s attorney at the time, Jamie Young. Bizarre song subject aside, Cuomo and co. employ an absolutely chunky guitar tone on this one. Mixed in with Cuomo’s sweet singing, it’s a hell of a mix between the two elements, building into one of the band’s most under-appreciated jams. It’s also the only song to feature rhythm guitarist Jason Cropper on a track before he left the band. Hell of a way to make a mark in just one song, even if it didn’t make the Blue Album.
“1 More Hit”
What happens when Weezer wants to straight up write a Slayer song? You get “1 More Hit.” It’s maybe the best song off their 2021 album Van Weezer, at the very least the most successful at delivering the album’s promise of a heavy metal Weezer record. From the jump, the track’s got a bit of a heavier intonation to it than the rest of the record’s tracklist, but most notably it features a pretty gnarly breakdown. It’s easily the band’s heaviest moment put to tape, as Cuomo and the band just wind up thrashing out a mosh part. Hopefully, they dust it off and open the pit at a future show.
Pinkerton was a commercial disaster for Weezer, so to help right the ship back on track, their third record The Green Album had Cuomo upping the pop-songwriting, away from the extremely emotional ballads of the previous record. The standout track of the album happened to be one of its big singles, “Hash Pipe.” Taking the main melody from 80s arcade video game Spy Hunter, Cuomo transforms the tune into a very mean riff, cranking up the song’s distortion to make it the heaviest Weezer single to that point. To this day, it’s kind of incredible a song with such a heavy guitar riff would become the huge hit it did.
“Lullaby For Wayne”
Originally in contention for The Blue Album, “Lullaby For Wayne” is one of Weezer’s punkiest tracks. From that opening lick, Weezer is firing hard on the track, before slowing down to a sweet bridge. Though it would be upended by “Surf Wax America” on Blue Album‘s full run, it’s still a hitter of a song.
Maladroit is often an overlooked album in Weezer’s discography, but on re-examination it might be the band’s heaviest front-to-back. Opener “American Gigolo” sets the tone for the band playing in a heavier register, with Cuomo moving his guitar riff center-stage for the song’s duration. Hell of a way for any band to open an album.
As much as we wished “Space Rock” was Weezer’s attempt at writing a Slowdive track, what they did deliver is still pretty rad. The riff itself is chunky, Cuomo opening with some pretty heavy distortion before the band joins together in delivering acapella lines. It dives into funkier territory as the song progresses, but from the top it’s another solid entry into Weezer’s heavier hits.
“Ain’t Got Nobody”
We still don’t know what the hell the creature is on the cover of Weezer’s Everything Will Be Alright In the End. Regardless, it opens with one of the band’s best tracks, featuring a chorus of voices proclaiming the album’s title. Cuomo chugs into a nice verse, running counter to voices of “rock being dead” before bouncing into the rest of the song. It’s pretty classic Weezer, and though the album gets passed over, it’s a solid entry to their prolific discography.
“Tired of Sex (Rehearsal Version)”
Maybe it’s cheating to include a rehearsal version of a song. But Pinkerton’s “Tired of Sex” sounds way better in this raw state, allowing Cuomo and crew to noisily riff. Also in a rare moment, Cuomo lets out a series of anguished screams, raising the song’s intensity past its final version. Later throughout Weezer’s career, Cuomo found a pretty self-assured groove, but the pure emotionality of his singing here over the band’s extreme riffing makes it a standout moment. Plus, that end bit sounds like way more of a mosh part here.
“Buddy Holly (Alone Version)”
With a slowed-down tempo and heavier riff, the original demo for “Buddy Holly” reimagines the future classic as a far-sludgier tune. It’s a testament to Cuomo’s ability in finding excellent guitar tones. It’s also a look into an alternate reality if Weezer decided to go exclusively heavy. We kind of wish every song off the Blue Album was in this guitar tone.
“Paperface” sounds unlike any other Weezer song. It runs at a way more punk tempo than any other Weezer song, winding up closer to a Nirvana track than anything Cuomo and co. would include on an album. Cuomo’s aptitude for rock music is on full display with the track, even with a genre take outside of what they typically do, it’s a pretty perfect track.