Thursday, 29 November 2018

Nu metal - a quick look

(Head banging and vomiting in out for flying axes and the odd bit of grind..)

A quick look at nu metal as several bands on 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die are nu metal.



Nu metal (also known as nü-metal and aggro-metal) is a subgenre of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres such as hip hop, alternative rock, funk, industrial and grunge. Nu metal bands have drawn elements and influences from a variety of musical styles, including multiple genres of heavy metal. Nu metal rarely features guitar solos; the genre is heavily syncopated and based on guitar riffs. Many nu metal guitarists use seven-string guitars that are down-tuned to play a heavier sound. DJs are occasionally featured in nu metal to provide instrumentation such as sampling, turntable scratching and electronic backgrounds. Vocal styles in nu metal include singing, rapping, screaming and growling. Nu metal is one of the key genres of the new wave of American heavy metal.
Nu metal became popular in the late 1990s with bands and artists such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Kid Rock all releasing albums that sold millions of copies. Nu metal's popularity continued during the early 2000s, with bands such as Papa Roach, Staind, and P.O.D. all selling multi-platinum albums, and came to a peak with Linkin Park's diamond-selling album Hybrid Theory. However, by the mid-2000s, the oversaturation of bands combined with the under-performance of a number of high-profile releases led to nu metal's decline, leading to the rise of metalcore and many nu metal bands disbanding or abandoning their established sound in favor of other genres.
During the 2010s, there has been a minor nu metal revival; many bands that combine nu metal with other genres (for example, metalcore) emerged and some nu metal bands from the 1990s and early 2000s returned to the nu metal sound. Many heavy metal fans have criticized nu metal, and do not regard it as "true heavy metal". Many nu metal musicians have rejected the nu metal label, and some have also rejected being labeled as heavy metal...


With the exception of Eighties glam, no hard-rock subgenre has been more critically reviled — or found more chart success — than the nu-metal that dominated the airwaves during our most recent millennial shift. Fusing Nirvana's trademark dynamics with influences from rap and electronic rock, nu-metal was brash, funky and free of the hand-wringing guilt that kept flannel's most visible flag-flyers from embracing their stardom. Though it was eventually toppled by skinny jeans, screamo and a resurgence of more traditional-style metal, much of music that came out of the movement — and these 20 records, in particular — stands the test of time. It makes sense, then, that the sound is having something of a resurgence of its own today, at the hands of rising groups like Vein and Cane Hill for whom it served as the gateway to sonic excess.


Let's face it: "Nu-metal" will never be "cool," if only because of its associated rave-ready fashion choices, but a lot of bands thrown under its umbrella are pretty damn great, groups that catalyzed a generation and served as a gateway to even heavier and/or more nuanced sounds. With a new breed of musicians currently mining the nu-metal aesthetic in exciting ways, we recently put together our somewhat-controversial list of 20 Essential Nu-Metal Albums, and then we asked you to pick what you consider to be the scene's single greatest recorded offering

People love to scoff at nu-metal, but that’s a little unfair. The in-your-face sub-genre’s importance in revitalising interest in heavy music in the dreary post-grunge mid-nineties cannot be overstated. Let’s be real, purists: most of you (all of you) wouldn’t be into heavy music today were it not for the on-ramp provided by Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit and their myriad of goatee-d cohorts back in the day. Nu-metal was heavy music’s gateway drug, and while today you might only listen to first pressings of Sunn O))) records and Darkthrone demos, we know - and you know - that at one point in your life you were sure that Mudvayne invented music and Osiris D3s were the only shoes available.


Few movements in music were as successful as they were polarizing. A rather nebulously defined catch-all term, nu metal managed to amass an enormous audience while simultaneously infuriating a huge cross section of metalheads. Directly preceded by and evidently drawing influence from mid-1990s alternative and groove metal, it came into existence by fusing together heavy guitar music with hip-hop, electronica and grunge, to name a few. Notably, these bands and records that emerged around the millennium broadly appealed in ways more streamlined and templated metal forms did not. Though there’s considerable sonic and stylistic differences between Coal Chamber, Godsmack and Linkin Park, much like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography, you know nu metal when you hear it.

Love it or hate it, without the revitalising effects of nu metal in the post-grunge late 90s, the metal would sound very different today. Splicing the musical approach of rap-metal superstars such as Faith No More and Rage Against The Machine, the self-laceration of grunge and the dark innovation of alt-rock heroes such as Tool, it was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale time.
Who sowed the seeds of nu metal will forever be debated, but Korn can stake a claim to ushering it into the mainstream metal scene with their self-titled debut album. Within two years, it had taken hold, and in Korn’s wake, bands such as Deftones and Coal Chamber rode the nu metal wave. Suddenly, grunge’s plaid shirts-and-distressed denim uniform had been replaced by oversized trousers and wallet chains. Tours such as Family Values and Ozzfest helped legitimise it for mainstream metal fans, while Florida upstarts Limp Bizkit helped make the scene omnipresent in the late 90s.
Nu metal’s success continued into the early 00s thanks to the likes of Linkin Park and Papa Roach, though its glory days were numbered. Within a few years, the masses had turned their attention to My Chemical Romance and their ilk and nu metal was yesterday’s scene. But no matter – its job had been done.

Nu metal is a sub-genre that often gets scoffed at and even fully disregarded when looking at metal as a whole. It is a genre that began to develop in the early to mid-1990’s and gained tremendous popularity at the tail end of the decade. Now, it is somewhat difficult to nail down exactly what characteristics make a band nu metal. Partly due to the fact that the genre is characterized as a one where the melding of influences was expected, with bands merging sounds from metal, hip-hop, funk, grunge, industrial and goth. So, in order to quell the potential arguments that this or that band doesn’t belong, we are going to simplify this, any band whose shirt looked good with your JNCO’s in 1999 is officially nu metal


The term "nu-metal" began as an insult, but it's since become an umbrella term to describe the collective wave of late-’90s and early-2000s bands that created a sound blending the worlds of alternative rock, heavy metal and hip-hop. This music was usually bass-heavy and dark, with demonic or demented vocals and distorted, down-tuned riffs. But let’s not kid ourselves and pretend that "nu-metal" is any type of perfect classification system. Some bands had darker images; some relied more on a fusion of hip-hop and heavy rock, some on traditional thrash metal. But most created art that comes from a place of personal anguish and, ultimately, the search for some kind of redemption.

Best album / band  lists

1.   Korn -  Korn  1994

2.   Slipknot - Slipknot  1999

3.   System Of A Down - System Of A Down   1998

4.   Deftones - Around The Fur  1997

5.   Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory  2000

7.   Machine Head - The Burning Red   1999

8.   Soulfly - Soulfly 1998
9.   Coal Chamber - Coal Chamber  1997
10. Static-X -  Machine  2001

1.  Deftones -  Adrenaline  1995

2.  Soulfly - Primitive    2000

3.  Skindred - The Union Black  2011

4.  Korn  - The Untouchables   2002

5.  Sevendust - Black Out The Sun  2013


Damnation: Top 29 Nu Metal Albums

1.   Static-X - Winsconsin Death Trip  1999
2.   Korn -  Korn  1994
3.   Slipknot - Slipknot  1999
4.   System Of A Down - System Of A Down   1998
5.   Deftones -  Adrenaline  1995
6.   Limp Bizkit - Three Dollar Bill Y'all $  1997
7.   Coal Chamber - Coal Chamber  1997
8.   Hed PE -  Broke  2000
9.   Soulfly - Soulfly 1998
10. Machine Head - The Burning Red   1999


LouderSpeed: Top 10 Essential Nu Metal Albums

Korn -  Korn  1994
Deftones - Around The Fur  1997
Limp Bizkit - Three Dollar Bill Y'all $  1997
Coal Chamber - Coal Chamber  1997
Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E.  1997
Hed PE - (Hed)Pe  1997
Spineshank - Strictly Diesel  1998
Soulfly - Soulfly 1998
System Of A Down - System Of A Down   1998
Slipknot - Slipknot  1999

VMP: 10 Best Nu Metal Albums

Sepultura - Roots  1996
Korn  - Follow The Leader   1998
Staind - Dysfunction  1999
Static-X - Winsconsin Death Trip  1999
Crazy Town - The Gift of Game  1999
Kittie - Spit  2000
Mudvayne - L.D. 50   2000
Slipknot - Iowa  2001
Disturbed - Believe  2002
Evanescence - Fallen   2003

Kerrang  21 Greatest nu metal albums

1.   Korn -  Korn  1994
2.   Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory  2000
3.   Papa Roach - Infest 2000
4.   System Of A Down - Toxicity   2001
5.   Slipknot - Slipknot  1999
6.   Deftones - Around The Fur  1997
7.   LimpBizkit – Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavoured Water 2000
8.   Static-X - Winsconsin Death Trip  1999
9.   Mushroomhead - XIII (2003)
10. Soulfly - Soulfly 1998
12. Mudvayne - L.D. 50   2000
17. Sevendust - Sevendust  1997

Revolver: Fan poll - 5 Greatest nu-metal albums

1. Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory  2000
2. Slipknot - Slipknot  1999
3. Korn  - Follow The Leader   1998
4. Mudvayne - L.D. 50   2000
5. Deftones - Around The Fur  1997

Revolver: 20 Essential nu metal albums

 1.  Korn -  Korn  1994
 2.  Sepultura - Roots  1996
 3.  Deftones - Around The Fur  1997
 4.  Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E.  1997
 5.  Sevendust - Sevendust  1997
 6.  Limp Bizkit - Three Dollar Bill Y'all $  1997
 7   Orgy - Candyass 1998
 8.  Fear Factory - Obsolete  1998
 9.  Soulfly - Soulfly 1998
10. Spineshank - Strictly Diesel  1998
11. Slipknot - Slipknot  1999
12. Static-X - Winsconsin Death Trip  1999

Ranker: Best Nu Metal Bands


1.  Korn
2.  Slipknot
3.  System Of A Down
4.  Deftones
5.  Disturbed

AllMusic: Nu Metal Highlights


Limp Bizkit
Coal Chamber
System Of A Down


Korn -  Korn  1994
Slipknot - Slipknot  1999
Coal Chamber - Coal Chamber  1997
Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory  2000
Limp Bizkit - Three Dollar Bill Y'all $  1997
Papa Roach - Infest  2000


* Decibel: The Rise And Fall of Nu-Metal (Aug 2015)
"The intro is long. Nearly 50 seconds without tipping its hand. A new band should be terrified to open a record like this, worried that potential listeners will get bored with a lone ride cymbal and high, jangly guitar chord. And it’s certainly not something a discerning producer is going to throw on the radio. But then comes that growl—Are you reeeeeaaaady?!—and you hear a musical revolution being born…Which then died, less than a decade later.
Emerging with Korn’s “Blind” in 1994, and ending around the summer of 2003, when Limp Bizkit was forced from a stage in Chicago by an audience hurling garbage and chanting, “Fuck Fred Durst,” nü-metal remains one of the most maligned and despised genres since the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll. Despite certain bands having weathered the backlash—Korn still headlines music festivals; Linkin Park’s The Hunting Party debuted at #3 on Billboard last year—the legacy of nü-metal is now considered a gimmicky fashion show, rife with faux aggression, simplistic songwriting and arrhythmic rapping.
Hatred for it grew far and wide enough to spawn a successful pop song mocking it, Ben Folds’ “Rockin’ the Suburbs,” but unsurprisingly, the most vitriolic rhetoric came from the metal community: musicians, label heads and fans who saw their beloved genre both overshadowed and perverted. Nü-metal not only usurped its predecessor in popularity, but it also began to corrupt some of their own; the DJ scratches were coming from inside the house.
This article began as a quest to look at nü-metal from the perspective of those who at least had one foot in the regular metal community; those who could tell us, now 20 years later, what the true impact had been. But I found out very quickly that opinions on nü-metal’s significance are far from universal and, aside from a few key players and elements, no one is quite sure why it started, how it gained traction so quickly, and what put the stake through its heart....."

* MetalDescent: Nu Metal (2013)
"The term “nu metal” was used to describe the metal movement that was happening in the time between 1995-2002. Originally called the “new heavy metal,” it was shortened to nu metal by the media. Korn and Deftones were the definitive leaders of the nu metal movement, paving the way for Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, Snot, Sevendust, Saliva, Staind, Adema, Coal Chamber, Cold, Slipknot, Soulfly, Methods of Mayhem, Linkin Park, and P.O.D. Other bands that are often lumped in as “nu metal” but are not stylistically congruent are System of a Down, Static-X, Disturbed, and Godsmack...."
* Firstpost: The rise, dominance and fall of nu-metal (2016)

* The Guardian: Goodbye Oasis...Hello Slipknot and Limp Bizkit  (2000) 

"Fasten your seatbelts, dudes. This is your moment.
The beginner's guide to Nu MetalThe bands: Limp Bizkit. Slipknot. Korn. Rage Against the Machine. Deftones. Amen. Static-X. System of a Down. At the Drive-In. Snot. Orgy.
The music: Loud and heavy guitars, big crashing drums - a bit like old metal (Metallica, Anthrax etc), but with hip-hop and dance rhythms, and often with rapped vocals. No guitar solos.
The fashion: Multiple piercing, sometimes with chains. Tattoos and bodypaint. Baggy shorts. Trainers. No leather, spandex or long hair.
The influences: Nu metal fans are generally unaware that music existed before 1991. Their Beatles are Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Eminem.
The lyrics: Angst-ridden and filled with doom and bitterness. Lots of swearing and generalised swipes at the 'system'. Very little sex, no satanism.



It appears from those lists and articles that nu metal is not respected, but was highly popular - probably the most popular heavy metal genre. It was mainly a genre liked by young American males, and it had its own fashion style of baggy jeans. The music and lyrics are particularly aggressive and simplistic. While commentators seem to struggle with cleanly identifying which bands/albums are exactly in the genre or in one of the closely related genres, there is a familiar sound to the albums listed above that fans could recognise and latch onto - and there is not much here that would challenge them. If someone liked fast loud aggressive metal hip-hop then all these albums appear to deliver that in one way or another with not much in the way of variety.  Nu metal appears to be on a continuum of loud, fast rock that began in the late Sixties, and developed alongside heavy metal and hard rock into gunge and other forms of alternative rock, incorporating some of the loud and aggressive aspects of hip hop (particularly the direct, simplistic speech of rap) along the way.  

The most notable (not the same as the best) nu metal albums are likely to be:

Korn -  Korn  1994 (AllMusic).   Often cited as the album that started the trend.
Slipknot - Slipknot  1999  (AllMusic).  Hugely popular. Slipknot's debut came out just as nu metal was breaking big.
System Of A Down - System Of A Down  1998  (AllMusic).  The band's second album,  Toxicity   2001 (AllMusic), came out at the height of nu metal's popularity (just before it collapsed), and was hugely popular, though most nu metal fans and critics see their 1998 debut as the important one. 
Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory  2000  (AllMusic). The biggest selling nu metal album, indeed, one of the biggest selling albums of all time. 

Personal opinion

Deftones are considered an essential nu metal band, and their album  Around The Fur  (1997) appears on a number of best nu metal album lists. Their sound is close to Rage Against The Machine, but - for me - lacks the energy. They come at nu metal very much from the metal/grunge end of the scale with lots of simplistic riffing, repetition, and general sludge. 

Disturbed are too conventional and limited for me. They come at nu metal from a solid and stolid metal angle, and pretty much remain there. 

Evanescence's debut album Fallen (2003) was from the start lumped in with nu metal, and I can see why, but it is more conventionally gothic-rock with some dirty guitar that could be grunge rather than metal. The attraction of the band is in Amy Lee's strong clear voice that hints at Celtic keening, but after making the sound, Lee stops and creates a new note. While she does conventionally hold and bend notes a lot of the time, her USP is when she doesn't.

Kid Rock is generally not included on lists of best nu metal, though Robert James ("Kid Rock") Ritchie's music has elements of nu, though leans a lot in the direction of country like Beck. Devil Without a Cause (1999) is an interesting and listenable album. 

Limp Bizkit are also limited, juvenile, and not interesting. They remind me of Kevin and Perry. They are apparently more rapcore or rapmetal than nu metal. 

Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory is one of the world's best selling albums. Simplistic, direct, lyrics of angst and resentment, but musically amongst the most balanced, varied, mature, and approachable of the nu metal bands. Rather like a blend of Faith No More and Nirvana, but without the quality or originality of either of those bands. So, good as regards nu metal, but not so interesting when placed against music in general. 

Papa Roach are more rock than nu metal, and are positively melodic and pop compared to the rest of the pack. Infest is an understandably big selling album, and - along with Hybrid Theory - represents nu metal in the 2000s. 

Rage Against the Machine are seen as one of the more significant influences on the creation of nu metal, and for me appear to be a part of the genre, sounding as much and sometime more nu metal than a number of other bands listed quite high on  best band/album lists.  Rage Against the Machine 

Slipknot are too limited and juvenile for me.

System Of A Down are quite varied and interesting on their debut, and more in touch with alt rock, rock, and pop than heavy metal, so the music is more melodic and changeable, so nothing can be expected. Hmmm. I can see why this band were so popular. Perhaps, though, not typical of Nu Metal? I am liking them, and am not embarrassed to be caught listening to them. Ah. Not so keen on Iowa - that seems a step backwards. It's less diverse than the debut, and more in line with heavy metal - simple rhythms played over and over again.

My top nu metal albums: Hybrid Theory (2000),  Infest (2000), System Of A Down (1998),  Fallen (2003),  Korn (1994), Devil Without a Cause (1999) 

It's clear where a lot of the bands are coming from - Faith No More,  Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, a bit of Nirvana. There's even a sense of throwback to the Beastie Boys. I don't see Nu Metal bands bettering or developing on from any of their influences, though Kid Rock has caught my ear with a slightly more expansive and inclusive approach that brings a greater degree of colour and depth to the genre - not enough to signify anything special (Beck does it better), but the move away from the metal of nu metal and toward a wider range of influences and done with humour, style, and a great sense of melody is something I like and see as promising. 

Music Styles & Genres

1310  March 2019

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