2. Nu-Metal Was So Big It Even Prompted Classic Bands/Established Artists To Have A Dabble!
A genre is doing something right (or something wrong depending on how you look at it) when the established acts of the day pick up on the change in trends and come along for the ride.
Had you forgotten these surprising u-turns into nu-metal’s heavily populated cul-de-sac…..
Sepultura – Roots (1996)
The leap from some of the finest thrash albums in the genre’s history to Roots took many Sep fans by surprise but Roots was the album that fleetingly made them the biggest band on the planet!
Ditching thrash riffs in favour of slower tempos and Ross Robinson produced Korn-esque downtuning, Sepultura’s world music maelstrom remains a love it or hate it affair for Sepultura aficionados and the band – with or without Max Cavalera who departed after the release of Roots – would never sound this ‘nu-metal’ again.
Sepultura’s love affair with Korn even resulted in “Lookaway” featuring guest appearances from Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis and Korn drummer David Silveria (alongside Limp Bizkit turntablist DJ Lethal and Faith No More/Mr. Bungle vocalist Mike Patton).
Soulfly – Primitive (2000)
Max Cavalera continued down the nu-metal path – becoming somewhat of a figurehead for the genre in the process – as he roped every man and his nu-metal dog into appearing on his self-titled debut and this, marginally better, follow up.
Primitive’s guest list was extraordinary, with Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Grady Avenell (Will Haven), Chino Moreno (Deftones), Tom Araya (Slayer) and even Julian Lennon(!) lending their services but it was actually on the guest-free likes of “Back To The Primitive” & “Bring It”that Soulfly made their most indelible mark.
At this stage, the thrash metal Max Cavalera helped pioneer with Sepultura was certainly no longer a part of his repertoire and arguably he would never again return to the genre defining sounds of Beneath The Remains and Arise.
Fear Factory – Digmortal (2001)
1998’s Obsolete may have signalled a turn to the nu-metal dark side but it was on 2001’s Digimortal that these industrial metal trailblazers went full on ‘baggy’! Actually, that’s a little harsh as Fear Factory were still recognisable as the band that released the groundbreaking Demanufacture but their sound had been softened, simplified and was clearly an attempt to tap into the mainstream market.
The obligatory team-up with a rap mainstay was ever present on the risible “Back the Fuck Up” (featuring Cypress Hill’s B-Real) but “Linchpin” was the breakthrough hit that increased their popularity ten-fold.
Not Fear Factory’s worst album by any means but not in the same league as the pulverising Soul Of A New Machine and Demanufacture either.
Slayer – Diabolos In Musica (1998)
Thrash? Who needs it! Even Slayer had a pop at nu-metal on the frankly farcical Diabolos In Musica. Quite simply the worst album in Slayer’s career, the lions share of the song writing fell to the normally reliable Jeff Hangman and the world shuddered when they heard the likes of the lump-headed “Death’s Head” and the Korn-lite riffing of “Love To Hate”.
“Stain Of Mind” may just about get away with it’s down-tuned shenanigans but this was not what Slayer (SLAYER for fucks sake) should have been putting their name to in 1998. Experimental? Yes! Shite? Pretty much!
Machine Head – The Burning Red (1999) & Supercharger (2001)
Ok, Supercharger is a big baggy bag of shite (except for “Bulldozer” which kicks ass) but Machine fuckin’ Head‘s first dalliance with nu-metal was on the often overlooked The Burning Red.
Part nu-metal, part groove metal and part thrash, Machine Head‘s 3rd album is home to some ferocious Head classics including the riff monster that was “The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears”, the harrowing sexual abuse tale of “Five” (disturbingly, child abuse was a recurring theme of nu-metal) and the more classic sounding stomping grooves of “Exhale The Vile”.
Perhaps the rapping in “From This Day” was a little too much (although this track goes down great live now!) and the superfluous cover of “Message In A Bottle” (another nu-metal habit) was a step too far but overall The Burning Red stands up remarkably well!
Incidentally, MH’s most recent track, “Is There Anybody There?“, was a complete return to the sounds of the The Burning Red! Surprised? Most of us were!
Bloodsimple – A Cruel World (2005)
A very late entry but Bloodsimple, featuring Vision of Disorder members Tim Williams and Mike Kennedy, picked up the mantle left by VOD on 2001’s From Bliss To Devastation, an album which had already attempted to blend hardcore sounds with nu-metal’s accessibility.
A Cruel World preceded to combine the popular genre’s of the day (namely metalcore, groove metal and nu-metal) and fashioned a hard-hitting set of anthems led by corrosive single “Straight Hate”.
Harsh and uncompromising, this was still a pretty standard 00’s alt metal record but at least it was delivered with 100% conviction.
Vanilla Ice – Hard To Swallow (1998) & Bi-Polar (2001)
What’s a rapper to do?
It’s hard to believe but even rap buffoon Vanilla Ice jumped on the nu-metal bandwagon, releasing Hard To Swallow (and it was) onto an unsuspecting public in 1998.
Admittedly, the V-man (that’s sure to have been one of his nicknames, right?) assembled a solid backbone to accompany him on his nu-metal adventure, roping in Ross Robinson on production duties, Casey Chaos (Amen) on occasional vocal duties, guitarist Sonny Mayo (Amen, Snot, Sevendust, Hed P.E.) and drummer Shannon Larkin (Amen, Ugly Kid Joe, Godsmack) to beef up his nu-metal credentials.
On the whole, Ice’s attempts at nu-metal posturing on Hard To Swallow were unpalatable and the seemingly endless recycling of lyrics from “Ice Ice Baby” was more than just a little trite but surprisingly, this wasn’t a complete and utter disaster….this is not an overall recommendation of course!
Oh, and listening to Bi-Polar was akin to being served a pile of steaming turd for dinner. Not something you’d ever envisage yourself tucking into!