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  THE SECOND COMING OF NU-METAL

Michael Downie

michael downie

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Let me set the scene for you. It's 1999, you're a reasonably well adjusted teenager with nothing to really worry about in your life and that's just fine. You turn on MTV (back when it actually played music) and you happen across a music video. There's a white guy, wearing a baseball cap the wrong way round and proclaiming how bad a day he's having. It's new, you've not heard this kind of thing before. You watch longer, more bands, more like this. Over night you start spiking your hair, wearing baggy jeans and basketball jerseys. You were officially caught by Nu-Metal.

Yes, Nu-Metal, the subgenre that strikes terror into bands and stirs up vitriol from the elitist Metal fans. From 1995 to about 2004 you couldn't turn on Kerrang! or MTV2 without being assaulted by simple low tuned riffs, rapping and baggy clothing. It was a cultural phenomenon that I have to admit, I became swept up in and served many a teenager as a route into Metal. Great relief was had in the mid 2000s when it seemed like the genre had died, but the evidence dictates that it's about to come back around for a second stab at the big time.

Article continues below...

   


Whatever your opinion of nu-Metal, you cannot deny that it was massively successful. Korn were huge back in the day, shifting hundreds of thousands of copies of albums when they were released, Limp Bizkit broke the record for the fastest selling rock album in America when they shifted 1.3 million copies of 'Chocolate Starfish & The Hotdog Flavoured Water' in a week. Papa Roach have scored a platinum accolade for 'Infest' and Linkin Park had their royalty cheques delivered on flatbed trucks, the amount was so great.

But as quickly as it became popular, the Metal buying public (fickle as they are) changed their minds and the popularity dropped like a stone. According to the lovely people at Wikipedia, Papa Roach's 'Infest' album sold seven million copies and was certified triple platinum after just a year of release, whereas their followup release in 2002, 'Lovehatetragedy', sold a (comparably) paltry one million copies and only achieved Gold status. Now, any other band would consider the sales of 'Lovehatetragedy' to be a massive success, it is still considered a failure compared to the phenomenal sales figures of 'Infest'.

So what changed? Well, in my opinion, nothing really. The bands weren't evolving in their sound or their composition and frankly, it became very samey. The unrivalled hype around the whole genre is what killed it off in the first place.

Much as nu-Metal is derided throughout the Metal scene, it would be very unfair to deny what a massive impact that it had for Metal as a whole. The crossover between rap and rock had been done before, but it had never reached out in quite the same way. Take Limp Bizkit's odd collaboration from their second album, 'N 2 Gether Now'. 'Method Man' from seminal gangsta rap group The Wu Tang Clan joined up for the decidedly un-Metal, heavily rap orientated track which was released as a single and with a video doing full circuits around MTV. It crossed over with fans of both rap and Metal in the same way that Aerosmith's collaboration with Run DMC had done back in the 80s. It helped Limp Bizkit build their fanbase significantly and tapped into an audience who would have never normally listened to them otherwise.

Other bands benefitted from the genre. Machine Head dabbled with nu-Metal elements on their poorly received album 'Supercharger', with Robb Flynn experimenting with simpler beats and riffs while rapping more than he would sing or scream as he had on past albums.

Part of the backlash, admittedly was the debut of lead single 'Crashing Around You' on September 11th 2001, featuring a video where the band played in front a background showing the New York City skyline on fire. Clearly not the band's fault but the events of that day obviously didn't help their promotion of the album.

The change was upsetting to the majority of their fanbase, who hated the album and declared it a major misstep for the band, who were then subsequently dropped from Roadrunner Records due to poor sales. However, the benefit for Machine Head was the exposure they gained from the young nu-Metal fans (such as myself) who were dabbling in Metal for probably the first time. Their back catalogue sales increased and when RR subsequently re-signed them and released their stunning comeback album, 'Through The Ashes Of Empires', the band began to reach heights they would have never reached before 'Supercharger'.

As the genre initially died off, some bands folded, others disappeared into relative obscurity (for instance Staind or Puddle Of Mudd) and others managed to weather the storm and develop. Linkin Park have had incredible success due to their constant evolution away from angsty young men with an axe to grind to considered songwriters and musicians. They're about as far away from Metal as you can get, but if you listen through their back catalogue you can hear a constant evolution and a determination to become more than their original label.

Papa Roach are still going, again significantly growing up in terms of their subject matter and lyrics and their very swift insistence that vocalist Jacoby Shaddix was a singer, not a rapper and from 'Lovehatetragedy' onwards they've all but done away with the rapping completely, becoming more of an alternative Metal band, rather than nu-Metal.

For the last seven years or so it has appeared that nu-Metal was dead and buried. None of the key bands in the genre were playing it any more or had split up and gone their separate ways. Until now that is.

Nu-Metal appears to be making a resurgence. Last year, Limp Bizkit released their first album in seven years or so with the (in my opinion) terrible 'Gold Cobra', in which Fred Durst and co were back and at their most noisy and obnoxious. Spineshank are back with a new album, Staind scored a top five charting entry for their newest self-titled effort last year too. So why now? Why is nu-Metal all of a sudden trying to be cool again?

It's hard to identify a single reason for nu-Metal bands trying to break out again. A lot could be said for the popularity of dubstep creating space for these bands to break back through. Dubstep crosses a lot of boundaries between fans of dance music and Metal, they share a lot of common composition techniques and stylistic ideas. Nu-Metal became popular initially based on the fusion of rap with Metal and some Metal bands are now embracing dubstep too. Korn's last album 'Path Of Totality' was so heavily influenced by dub step producers such as Skrillex, it really shouldn't be considered a Metal album at all.

For me, Staind's return was the biggest surprise of them all. Their self-titled album was a mile away from the song that made them a hit in the last decade, the mournful 'Outside'. It still held a lot of nu-Metal hallmarks, the chunky, syncopated riffs, the lack of guitar solos and even had some rapping (in the form of a very ill-advised guest appearance from Snoop Dogg). It did well, surprisingly enough, especially in the American market where it jumped to number five in the billboard charts.

It could also be down to the number of high profile reformations of popular bands that have been trending over the last half a decade or so. As I said before, a lot of nu-Metal bands had split up when the genre died, some going on to bigger and better things in other bands. Some remained in a constant state of flux. Adema, who scored a hit with 'The Way You Like It' back in 2001 have remained as a unit, shifting line-up many, many times, but they are in a position where new music looks like it is possible to be released. Spineshank managed to patch up stylistic issues with their lead singer and have a new album, 'Anger Denial Acceptance', out next week. Hell, even One Minute Silence are reformed and planning new material.

Another reason I can attribute to nu-Metal bands coming back to the fold is the relative cost of making an album has changed these days. For one, it is much cheaper to get professional quality recordings made in a home-studio context. Bands with DJs can use iPod loaded decks or CD decks for scratching and samples, rather than having to pay a small fortune for a couple of custom vinyl to be cut.

Promotion can be much cheaper with clever manipulation of social media. It has been proved many a time how powerful Facebook, Twitter and Myspace can be if they are used properly. Distribution models have changed entirely too. Whereas before a band would need a recording contract and a publishing deal to get their music out to the public along with a huge expense to have CDs made, sites like Bandcamp and Reverbnation allow bands to sell digital and physical copies of their work directly to fans without having to worry about ordering a warehouse worth of stock. iTunes and Amazon music stores have allowed direct distribution of music to fans in an easy and convenient manner and services like Spotify are easy and pretty much free forms of advertising to bands.

For the bands who are determined to make proper discs and sell them, cloud funding prospects like Kickstarter and Pledge Music allow fans to preorder the album before it is made, the money directly going to the band and to the cost of producing the product. This can save a band from having to repay a label's excess and helps increase the level of interaction between the fans and the bands. Perennial noisemakers Earthtone9 are in the process of crowd funding for their new album on the back of a successful pledge drive last year to release their comeback EP. They have proved that the process works and can be incredibly successful.

Altogether, it might just be one of those aberrations in the music industry which has led to so many nu-Metal bands making a comeback. It might be a collection of the points I've made above, but without asking everyone who makes and buys nu-Metal, it's going to be almost impossible to define with any degree of finality.

What can be said though is that nu-Metal appears to have never died as many thought it had; it just remained in the background. Like all trends in Metal (or the wider music scene for that matter), it looks like the cycle is ready to start again. It happens all the time, Metal-core has been a big thing for a long time, progressive Metal is very fashionable at the minute and thrash has been building some serious momentum for the last couple of years. It's not inconceivable that nu-Metal is coming back entirely naturally rather than with any level of label endorsement or fortuitous timing.

That said, as my own tastes have changed, so will have the majority of the fans who made nu-Metal so huge in the first place. The bands who are coming back, or breaking out as new entities in nu-Metal have to change it up a bit and roll with the times. I don't think "I did it all for the nookie, the nookie, so you can take that cookieā€¯ will fly as well this time round.

18.6.12


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texas flood THE TEXAS FLOOD SIGN LONG TERM DEAL WITH OFF YER ROCKA RECORDINGS
The powerhouse trio are ready to showcase their own brand of vintage rock to the world...

pythia PYTHIA ANNOUNCE RELEASE DATE, ARTWORK AND TRACKLISTING FOR NEW ALBUM 'SHADOWS OF A BROKEN PAST'
The band have also released the first song, 'The Key', which you can hear as part of the promo video here...

acdc AC/DC SHOOT NEW PROMO VIDEOS IN LONDON
Once inside Brian Johnson explained that Malcolm Young gave his blessing for the band to continue without him...

sanctuary SANCTUARY RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'FROZEN'
Seattle Thrash luminaries Sanctuary return with a new album and video, their first for twenty five years...

guns n roses GUNS N' ROSES TO RELEASE 3D CONCERT 'APPETITE FOR DEMOCRACY 3D: LIVE AT THE HARD ROCK CASINO - LAS VEGAS' INTERNATIONALLY
This is the first official Guns N' Roses live concert film since 1992's 'Use Your Illusion' concert video and features brand new live performances of classic GN'R tracks...

blues pills BLUES PILLS KICK OFF THEIR HEADLINING EUROPEAN TOUR
The three month tour takes in seven UK dates, including an upgraded venue in Manchester...

tesseract TESSERACT SIGN TO KSCOPE
The band have a new creative energy after reuniting with singer Dan Tompkins and have already written half of their third album, the follow up to 'Altered State', slated for a 2015 release...

primordial PRIMORDIAL TO RELEASE NEW FULL-LENGTH THIS NOVEMBER VIA METAL BLADE RECORDS
"We feel revitalized, the hunger never left and we are ready for another chapter to be written in our history..."

ill nino ILL NIÑO PREMIERE NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'I'M NOT THE ENEMY'
The video tells a bold story of youthful injustice, overcoming social stereotypes and the dreams of constructing a better life...

devin townsend DEVIN TOWNSEND LAUNCHES ZTV AND NEW ZILTOID SITE
"I'm really excited to present to you the new Ziltoid website, and the first of three ZTV episodes leading up to the album release..."

judas priest JUDAS PRIEST OPEN US TOUR WITH NEW SONGS AND CLASSICS: SPOILER ALERT - FULL SETLIST HERE
The legendary British Metallers are touring in support of of their new 'Redeemer Of Souls' album...

tony wright TONY WRIGHT RELEASES FIRST SOLO ALBUM 'THOUGHTS 'N' ALL' ON 17TH NOVEMBER
The Terrorvision frontman has made a personal, heartfelt and passionate reflection of his journey...

off PUNK/HARDCORE LUMINARIES OFF! RETURN TO THE ROAD
There will be six UK dates before the band head off to mainland Europe...

queensryche BREAKING NEWS: QUEENSRYCHE ANNOUNCED AS HARD ROCK HELL VIII HEADLINERS
Following the official cancellation of W.A.S.P., Hard Rock Hell are pleased to announce that Queensryche will be stepping up to the top slot...

motorhead LEMMY TALKS TO FULL METAL JACKIE ABOUT HIS HEALTH, THE NEXT ALBUM AND THE MOTORBOAT CRUISE
Lemmy Kilmister was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show this weekend...

hellion HELLION ANNOUNCE NEW 'KARMA'S A BITCH' MINI ALBUM & SINGLE
Hellion's strongest line-up to date unleash first new material in over a decade...

blaze bayley BLAZE BAYLEY RELEASES 'SOUNDTRACKS OF MY LIFE' DVD
Blaze and backing band Absolva are captured in a performance celebrating 30 years in the business for Blaze...

black sabbath BREAKING NEWS: BLACK SABBATH TO RECORD NEW ALBUM AND DO ONE FINAL TOUR
Just as we told you back in May, Black Sabbath's Hyde Park performance on 4th July was not the last ever Sabbath gig...

def leppard DEF LEPPARD ROCK THE NFL AT WEMBLEY
A stage was set up on the pitch with the band performing in front of beautiful cheerleaders...

slipknot SLIPKNOT RELEASE 'THE DEVIL IN I' OFFICIAL VIDEO
Find out more about the new masks as the build up to the release of '.5:The Gray Chapter' continues...

sy keeler ONSLAUGHT'S SY KEELER TO SIT OUT FORTHCOMING US/CANADA/SOUTH AMERICA TOUR
Ex Anthrax legend Neil Turbin steps into the breach as the health issues of Sy Keeler's son mean he is needed at home...

vivian cambell VIV CAMPBELL TO UNDERGO STEM CELL TREATMENT
Trixter guitarist Steve Brown will fill in for Def Leppard's autumn dates...

haken HAKEN LAUNCH 'DARKEST LIGHT' VIDEO
"We've managed to chop the old song in half, cut away all the excess fat and produce a 6 minute rowdy riff roller-coaster that will surely find a home in the heavier side of our live show..."

the dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES RELEASE 'THE FACE I LOVE' VIDEO
Get a look at the title track of the new EP here. A new album will follow in 2015...

primordial PRIMORDIAL ANNOUNCE UK DATES IN FEBRUARY 2015
There will also be an album launch in Dublin in November for 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen'...

protokult SING ALONG TO 'GET ME A BEER!' LYRIC VIDEO BY PROG FOLK METALLERS PROTOKUL
"For those of you who can't understand what the hell Martin is spewing, now is your chance to sing along! Get yourself a cold one and enjoy!"...

whitesnake WHITESNAKE ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DVD/CD WITH CLASSIC AND RARE PERFORMANCES
"It's still hard for me to find the words when remembering that half the incredible band who originally recorded the 'Slide It In' album with me have passed away," says Coverdale...

metal church VOCALIST RONNY MUNROE QUITS METAL CHURCH
The band posted a statement on their official Facebook page assuring fans that the band is alive and well and that "big announcements" are expected soon...

bloodbath BLOODBATH STREAM FIRST NEW TRACK FEATURING NICK HOLMES AND REVEAL ALBUM TRACKLISTING
Sweden's masters of horror Bloodbath are set to release their fourth album of supreme death Metal, 'Grand Morbid Funeral', on 17th November 2014...

ac/dc AC/DC ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, 'ROCK OR BUST', AND CONFIRM DEPARTURE OF MALCOLM YOUNG
AC/DC have announced details of their 17th studio album, their first for six years and their first ever not to feature Malcolm...

lordi LORDI RELEASE FIRST SINGLE FROM NEW ALBUM 'SCARE FORCE ONE'
Tour dates to follow for the Finnish sensations. "The overall sound of the band is more modern this time, and we've tried out some new tricks here and there..."

bloodstock CANNIBAL CORPSE WILL PLAY AN EXCLUSIVE UK SHOW AT BLOODSTOCK 2015
Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura and Ihsahn join the line-up that also includes Within Temptation and Opeth...

helix HELIX ANNOUNCE TOUR OF EUROPE
This will be the first Euro tour for Helix since heading out with Kiss and Ian Gillan in the 1980s...

threshold THRESHOLD DISCUSS HOW THEY FOUND THE NEW ALBUM ARTWORK ON THE INTERNET
Damian Wilson and Richard West discuss Threshold's new album 'For The Journey', out today...

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS RELEASE 'THIS IS ROCK N ROLL II' IN ADVANCE OF NOVEMBER TOUR
Re-packaged, re-styled and with 4 bonus tracks, the rare 2001 classic from The Quireboys will be available on 23rd October...

gwar GWAR REVEAL TWO NEW MEMBERS - BLÓTHAR AND VULVATRON
Meet the latest warriors to don the latex and styrofoam and join the intergalactic crew for Gwar's "Eternal" tour...

fear factory FEAR FACTORY SIGN TO NUCLEAR BLAST ENTERTAINMENT
The journey continues for one of the groundbreaking Metal bands of our time, with new material to be released in 2015...

tank TANK BEGIN WORK ON NEW ALBUM; BAND CONFIRMED FOR BANG YOUR HEAD
The band are scheduled to enter the studio in November with a release planned for early February...

blitzallica DIAMOND HEAD TO HEADLINE COUNTY DURHAM'S BLITZALLICA IN OCTOBER
Plus legendary Metal party band Dumpy's Rusty Nuts and old favorites Holosade who are reforming especially for this headbanging estravaganza...

saille SAILLE COMMENT ON FORTHCOMING THIRD ALBUM
"'Eldritch' differs quite a bit from our two previous albums," keyboardist Dries Gaerdelen says...

winger WINGER RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'BETTER DAYS COMIN'
Winger have released a new music video - the title track from their Billboard chart breaking album...

voodoo six VOODOO SIX ANNOUNCE SIX HEADLINE SHOWS IN EUROPE
This Autumn, Voodoo Six will play six headline shows in Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER ANNOUNCES DECEMBER UK TOUR
Schenker will perform songs from the new album, which features the new single, 'Lord Of The Lost And Lonely' plus all the classics...

johnny thunders LOOKING FOR JOHNNY: THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY THUNDERS MOVIE TO BE RELEASED NEXT MONTH
When Johnny Thunders died in New Orleans on April 23rd 1991, he left behind a mystery...

metallica METALLICA TO RELEASE 27 LIVE ALBUMS BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR AND APPEAR IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS
To commemorate the anniversary of the LiveMetallica.com site, the band are offering CDs and LPs of every gig they played in 2014...

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS AND THE TREATMENT ANNOUNCE UK TOURS
Kobra And The Lotus will be kicking off their Headline Tour on 24th September in support of their latest record 'High Priestess'...

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