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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.

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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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The album is released with a live CD. It proves one major thing no-one should ever forget...they are Motörhead, and they play rock'n'roll!...

grave GRAVE REISSUE 'SOULLESS' ON VINYL ON JULY 14
The limited editions of the third album by the Swedish Death Metal act are issued in several colours...

wolf WOLF ANNOUNCE DETAILS FOR NEW ALBUM 'DEVIL SEED'
All the elements are aligned for this fierce slab of pure Heavy Metal mayhem...

darkest era DARKEST ERA RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'BEYOND THE GREY VEIL'
Watch the thematic centerpiece for the album 'Severance' right here...

hordes of belial DEF CON ONE ANNOUNCED AS HEADLINERS FOR HORDES OF BELIAL V: A 2014 SCOTTISH EXCLUSIVE
The Geordie quartet will play the Dundee event along with other high quality Metal bands...

sikth SIKTH ANNOUNCE HEADLINE TOUR OF THE UK
"We decided we had to do a full UK tour, just one show was never gonna be enough for us... Also we aim to add some 'never played before live songs' too"...

tankard TANKARD ANNOUNCE HILARIOUS NEW ANIMATED VIDEO FOR 'FOOLED BY YOUR GUTS'
The latest track from 'R.I.B.' (Rest In Beer) has been created by producers from The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology...

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE US SUMMER DATES WITH KISS & DEF LEPPARD
The band are ready to "bring some some kick ass, analog rock and roll music to all of you with the legendary KISS and Def Leppard and help make your summer as memorable as possible"...

suicide silence SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE ONE-OFF INTIMATE UK SHOW AT THE BORDERLINE, LONDON
The Borderline show is on 27th June. The Metal heavyweights will also headline Yorkshire's Ghostfest on 28th June...

Eluveitie ELUVEITIE RELEASE FIRST SINGLE 'KING' ONLINE, TAKEN FROM THEIR FORTHCOMING ALBUM 'ORIGINS'
The Swiss Folk-Metallers release a mighty tale of the historical figure Ambicatus...

sikth UK TECH-FEST WELCOMES THE GODFATHERS OF UK TECH-METAL SIKTH TO THE BILL
Djent monsters Monuments and acoustic guitar master Jon Gomm also join the line up...

escape the fate ESCAPE THE FATE ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR OCTOBER 2014
Now it is time for UK audiences to get their first look at the new look Escape The Fate...

anthrax ANTHRAX ANNOUNCE LIMITED EDITION COLOURED VINYLS AS PART OF THRASH BACK CAMPAIGN
Celebrate 30 years of Thrash with reissues from Anthrax and other classic bands...

gatecreeper GATECREEPER RELEASE VIDEO FOR THEIR SELF TITLED EP
'Force Fed' is available as one of the tracks on the pay what you want download...

jonny morelli JONNY MORELLI, DRAUGR DRUMMER DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT
Condolences start to pour in for the musician, tattoo artist and writer...

at the gates AT THE GATES ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER IRISH SHOW, BLOODSHOT DAWN TO SUPPORT
Swedish Melodic Death Metal pioneers to play Dublin in January 2015...

nita strauss ALICE COOPER ADDS NEW GUITARIST NITA STRAUSS TO LINEUP FOR 2014 SUMMER/FALL TOURS
The LA guitar wiz will join the tour in Michigan on June 26...

whitechapel WHITECHAPEL PREMIERE NEW VIDEO 'WORSHIP THE DIGITAL AGE'
The clip is the first full performance video from 'Our Endless War' and was directed by acclaimed director David Brodsky...

behemoth BEHEMOTH, DECAPITATED & GRAND MAGUS ANNOUNCED FOR DECEMBER TOUR
A chance for the UK to see 'The Satanist' performed in all its hellish glory...

steel panther STEEL PANTHER ANNOUNCE THEIR BIGGEST EVER UK TOUR
The dates include a night at the legendary Wembley arena in March 2015...

alestorm ALESTORM UNVEIL NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'DRINK'
If you need a new anthem of the summer then look no further...

rik mayall RIK MAYALL'S 'NOBLE ENGLAND' SONG HEADING FOR NUMBER ONE SPOT AS ENGLAND'S WORLD CUP ANTHEM
The beloved late comedian looks set to storm the UK Top 10 with his lost anthem...

red dragon cartel EXCLUSIVE: RED DRAGON CARTEL GIGS BACK ON - BAND TO PLAY MANCHESTER AND BUCKLEY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY
Tickets for both shows will be at the special price of £10 as a gesture to fans who were inconvenienced by last weekend's events...

brutal truth DAN LILKER OF BRUTAL TRUTH INVITES YOU TO OBSCENE EXTREME FESTIVAL
This will most likely be the very last chance fans will get to see Danny and Brutal Truth live in Europe...

belphegor BELPHEGOR PUT THE FIRST 'CONJURING THE DEAD' STUDIO TRAILER ONLINE
The Black Metal giants are gearing up to unleash their tenth album ...

ill nino ILL NIÑO RELEASE ALBUM TITLE AND NEW SINGLE
Every pre-order for Till Death, La Familia will receive an instant download of 'Live Like There's No Tomorrow' and will automatically be entered to win an ESP guitar autographed by Ill Niño. ...

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS WILL BE OPENING ACT FOR KISS AND DEF LEPPARD THIS SUMMER
The new album 'High Priestess' will be released in September...

triaxis becky TRIAXIS ANNOUNCE NEW BASSIST & NEW ALBUM PLANS
Outstanding bassist Becky Baldwin joins the Welsh Metallers for third studio album...

rival sons tour RIVAL SONS ANNOUNCE DECEMBER UK TOUR
Following their current run of sold-out dates, the Californians return this winter with their unmissable live show...

spike frankie miller SPIKE ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF '100% PURE FRANKIE MILLER' IN SEPTEMBER 2014
The celebratory album features Ronnie Wood, Andy Fraser, Simon Kirke, Ian Hunter and more...

arch enemy ARCH ENEMY REVEAL NEW VIDEO FOR 'NO MORE REGRETS'
The album 'War Eternal' is out now worldwide and the band hit the road from July to December...

sanctuary SANCTUARY FINISH RECORDING NEW ALBUM AND ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE DATE
'The Year The Sun Died' will be out on September 29th in Europe...

rock metal circus ROCK AND METAL CIRCUS ANNOUNCE NEW VENUE FOR 2015
Roll up to Northants for Voodoo Six, Tygers of Pan Tang, Wolf plus some of the hottest new acts around...

aor 3 NIGHT RANGER TO HEADLINE HRH AOR 3
Adrenaline-fuleed rock and roll is the latest addition to the bill...

alz grinder ALZ-GRINDERS PLAN GRINDING FOR A CURE VOL 4
Over 300 extreme bands have contributed to the fundraising albums so far...

cambridge rock festival LINE-UP FOR CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL ALMOST COMPLETE
The main stage is booked and stages 2 and 3 are filling up fast...

headbangers open air ANVIL REPLACE DEATH ANGEL FOR HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR
After Death Angel cancelled their entire European tour, Anvil step in with a special "best of" set...

uli jon roth ULI JON ROTH CANCELS GUITAR GODS DATES IN NORTH AMERICA
It's official - this guitar god has been grounded by visa problems...

joe bonamassa JOE BONAMASSA ANNOUNCES NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'DIFFERENT SHADES OF BLUE'
The new album of all original material lands on 22nd September...

red dragon cartel BREAKING NEWS: RED DRAGON CARTEL ISSUE STATEMENT OVER WOLVERHAMPTON GIG CANCELLATION
The band made a barbed official statement denying the reasons for the cancellation made by the promoter without actually addressing the main issue...

red dragon cartel BREAKING NEWS: RED DRAGON CARTEL CANCEL WOLVERHAMPTON SHOW, REST OF UK TOUR IS OFF, DOWNLOAD IN JEOPARDY
An argument broke out between the band and promoter Denise Dale who was representing Metal Music Bookings and Management...

uli jon roth ULI JON ROTH FACES CANCELLATION OF HIS PARTICIPATION IN GUITAR GODS TOUR
"The tour is in jeopardy...this has never happened in over thirty years of visas"...

les fest wiston LES-FEST ANNOUNCES MAIN STAGE TIMES
Get the latest from Scotland's premier Metal festival right here...

beermageddon METAL FEST BEERMAGEDDON STRENGTHEN THE LINE UP YET AGAIN...WITH EVEN MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED
Jaldaboath, Monumentomb and Furyborn are among the latest additions...

blues pills DORIAN SORRIAUX FROM BLUES PILLS PERFORMS A GUITAR PLAY-THROUGH OF THE BAND'S NEW TRACK
Watch and learn as Dorian deconstructs 'High Class Woman'...

cj wildheart CJ WILDHEART RELEASES FIRST SOLO ALBUM IN SEVEN YEARS
'Mable' is available for pre-order now via Pledgemusic. CJ will also be releasing his own brand of hot sauces this year...

hrh aor3 HRH AOR ANNOUNCE FIRST 10 BANDS
FM, Dare, The Poodles and Starz lead the charge for March 2015...

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