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5 Reasons Why The Nu Metal Era Should Be Celebrated!

Nu metal....you gotta love it! Right?

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Nu-metal appears to be on the receiving end of some long overdue love over recent years with the resurging genre receiving exposure due to great new(wish) albums from Slipknot, Coal Chamber, (həd) p.e. and the aforementioned Korn, new (nu) groups such as Keychain, Riksha, Varials, Backwordz, DVSR, Darke Complex, Stray From The Path, Sheevaa, A Dying Ultimatum, Ocean Grove, A Killer’s Confession and the all-conquering KING 810 bringing the nostalgia back and even established acts such as Bring Me The Horizon, Whitechapel and Of Mice And Men have been dipping their toes into nu-metal’s murky waters!

While some true abominations were released during the sub-genres heyday, the era actually gave metal a much needed kick up the caboose and left us with some truly classic albums. Love it or hate it, nu-metal was a global phenomenon and here’s Worship Metal’s 5 Reasons Why The Nu-Metal Era Should Be Celebrated:

5. It Was A Generational Thing!

Source // img2-ak.lst.fm
Source // img2-ak.lst.fm

Just like any genre/sub-genre, the reason nu-metal thrived was because a change was coming and the new (or nu) metal-heads of the world seized the opportunity to grab hold of something that was unique to them.    

History tends to repeat itself and nu-metal was actually no different to the world conquering era’s of hard rock & heavy metal that preceded it. The ’70’s kids had Sabbath, Purple, Rainbow, Rush and KISS etc but these were soon seen as ageing dinosaurs by the 80’s kids who seized the opportunity to send NWOBHM and thrash to the top of the pile (the lucky bastards).

It didn’t stop there.

Once thrash had peaked, the ’90’s kids then embraced grunge – killing thrash stone dead in the process – and as the decade moved on nu-metal came along; becoming an unstoppable behemoth along the way.

Ironically, this cyclical pattern continued when the new millennium dawned and baggy-trousered overkill set in; an endless stream of ever-diminshing returns sending most nu-metal albums straight to the bargain bin.

The nu-metal generation may have seen their time come to an end but it’s no surprise that as those ‘kids’ hit their mid to late 30’s, nostalgia has seen a semi-resurgence for this much maligned genre because – as we all know – the nu metal era actually gave us some incredible albums.

Particularly, some exceptional debut albums….

4. Nu Metal’s Finest Debuts Are Stone Cold Classics

Korn – Korn (1994)

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Source // s3.amazonaws.com

This groundbreaking monster needs no introduction and was an absolute revelation in 1994!

Nu-metal didn’t even exist when Korn unleashed their self-titled debut on the world and no one was ready for its onslaught of down-tuned riffs and Jonathan Davis’ beyond cathartic, open wound, scat-hollering.

A complete departure from 80’s hair metal, thrash and grunge, metal would take on a whole new shape after the initial shockwave of Korn subsided and nothing would be the same again.

If you say you haven’t lost your shit to “Blind” at least once we suspect that your pants are currently on fire.

Deftones – Adrenaline (1995)

Source // s0.limitedrun.com
Source // s0.limitedrun.com

Fitting in but never really belonging in the nu-metal world, Deftones were a unique proposition from the get-go.

In hindsight, led by Chino Moreno’s semi-unique breathy/aggressive vocals and Stephen Carpenter’s stripped-back riffs, Adrenaline swam a sea of nu-metal cliches but way before these cliches had become passé.

So, there’s a little hip-hop, a little quiet/loud song structure, a little scat-gibberish from Chino and more than a little immature untapped aggression but that’s fine, Deftones were at the forefront of this new (nu) movement after all.

“7 Words”, “Bored”, “Engine No.9”, “Root”….all are beloved by Deftones fans and have gone down as 90’s metal classics. And to think, this was just the start of the most impressive artistic evolution of any band from the era!

Slipknot – Slipknot (1999)

Source // 41.media.tumblr.com
Source // 41.media.tumblr.com

No one saw these 9 masked lunatics coming at the turn of the new millennium.

Just when the danger of metal looked to have gone forever, along came this anonymous Iowan nonet with the fear factor amplified and a set of tunes that instantly made them cult legends. “Wait and Bleed”, “Spit It Out”, “Surfacing”, the ‘hits’ just kept on coming and Slipknot’s shockwave was felt on a global scale.

Aggressive, belligerent, single-minded, confident and one of the greatest debut albums of all time.

No question.

System Of A Down – System Of A Down (1998)

Source // systemofadown.com
Source // systemofadown.com

Was there ever a band with more cheek, more nerve and more individuality than System of a Down?

Doubtful, as System were the physical embodiment of lightning in a bottle and while their self-titled debut didn’t make an initial worldwide impact (it would take sophomore effort Toxicity to elevate these nutters to megastar status) the immediacy and riotous nature of “Suite Pee”, “Sugar” and “Spiders” instantly adhered them to fans of alternative metal.

It takes something special to be truly unique and there really is no other band out there quite like System of a Down!

Could their forthcoming album (their first in over 12 years) be another game-changer? You wouldn’t bet against it!

Limp Bizkit – Three Dollar Bill Y’All (1997)

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Source // d1itmove024qgx.cloudfront.net

This could be divisive but Bizkit‘s debut is more than merely solid, it’s the complete snapshot of what made nu-metal a phenomenon.

Three Dollar Bill Y’All‘s anger personified the nu-metal era way before Fred Durst and co. were all about nookie and cookie’s or some such nonsense. “Faith” is a blinding cover version – we’ve all lost our shit to this a million times at a club night – and Bizkit actually felt like the real deal on this still surprisingly aggressive debut.

With huge (you know, ‘phat’) hooks, the kind of rhythm section most bands would kill for and a relatively original sound, Limp Bizkit were fresh and fancy free….the mainstream bothering Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water was also a world away.

Haters will hate but in 1997, Three Dollar Bill Y’All was on everyone’s playlist (or in their walkman, it was a while ago, we can’t really remember).

About Chris Jennings (1985 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

5 Comments on 5 Reasons Why The Nu Metal Era Should Be Celebrated!

  1. I would add, on the US side :

    – Korn’s ‘Untouchables’
    – Chevelle’s ‘This type of thinking (could do us in)’
    – The eponymous albums of Adema, Professional Murder Music and Mudvayne
    – Godsmack’s ‘Awake’
    – Skrape’s ‘New killer America’
    – Union Underground’s ‘An education in rebellion’

    There also have been very interesting (if not better sometimes) nu-metal bands in Europe, too :

    – Hare, from Switzerland (recommended : ‘Nuclear Karma’ in 1998, some kind of atmospheric nu-metal, their sound was quite original)
    – Semitones, from Belgium (recommended : ‘Higher’ in 1999, regularly alterning aggressive verses with nearly hovering melodic choruses)
    – Psycore, from Finland (recommended : ‘I’m not one of us’ in 1999, classic nu-metal sound with original riffs and intriguing atmospheres, one of the most personal takes on the genre)
    – Watcha, from France (recommended : ‘Veliki circus’ in 1999, probably the best european answer to Limp Bizkit).

  2. mid to late 30s? come on, people currently on that age group despised Nu Metal back then, it was the kids born mid-late 80s that fully embraced the genre, I get that the older kids listened to Korn in the 90s and blah blah blah, but as soon as Nu Metal went mainstream (with Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, inkin Park, SOAD, Disturbed etc…) they rejected it completely and left it to the middle/hight school kids from early 00s, which is, to this day, the generation that stuck with Nu the most…

    • Chris Jennings // September 20, 2018 at 8:17 am // Reply

      I’m 38. Take it from me, that not ‘everybody’ in that age group despised nu metal as the 90’s rolled on, that’s an absurd suggestion! Some liked it, others didn’t….that’s the beauty of choice.

      • not everybody, but it was preetty common to see the guys past high school age trashing Papa Roach, Adema, LP, Drowning Pool and the likes, were bands much more embraced by the younger teenage crowd… tho Deftones was fairly popular over older kids

        • Chris Jennings // October 3, 2018 at 6:35 am // Reply

          Of course! Like any sub genre, there were bands of diminishing quality jumping on the bandwagon (Adema, Slaves On Dope etc) that deserved to be trashed but the top tier of nu metal bands (of which Deftones, Korn, Slipknot and, arguably, Tool originated) are revered to this very day.

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