On Lamb of God's live "Killadelphia" album, singer Randy Blythe addresses the crowd following the band's rendition of "Terror & Hubris in the House of Frank Pollard." After polling the audience about whether they purchased the group's last album, the gathered throng of grumpy teenagers and black t-shirt hobbyists roars its approval. Randy then conducts some cause and effect analysis:
"We'd like to thank you very much. It means that this nu metal fucking crap is dying out and that real fucking metal is coming back. True fucking metal!" The crowd responds again by cheering and remaining socially awkward. |
Things have come a long way since the dawn of the 21st century. Few people are holed up with drums of mayonnaise in their Y2K bunkers. Fewer people still are listening to nu metal. What's nu metal, you ask? It was a cultural wave that caused a spike in the sales of red Yankees caps and bagpipe lessons, and this musical McGangbang of rap and metal dominated CD players and analog radio for a half decade.
I remember watching nu metal slowly grow into a baggy pants-wearing monster. The early adopters of this new innovation were the really weird kids in school. The ones who, even at thirteen years-old, you knew were someday going to have a skull tattoo. These kids began wearing t-shirts that said "Korn" and were usually adorned with strange drawings. My response to these Korn t-shirts was early revulsion, a natural reaction to the unfamiliar and the strange. You know this reaction: It keeps you from answering calls from unknown numbers and it screwed you out of delicious stranger candy for your entire childhood.
Never in a million years did I think that Korn would become a mainstream force. I know it's hard to believe; my pre-pubescent mind obviously was an oracle of sociological music trends after all. But it's true: Korn became gigantic. Nu metal followed. So did I.
Any interest that I may have previously had in pop music, country music, or having things in common with girls was tossed out the window. My high school CD jacket is like a who's who of the Lou Brutus Show in 1999: Korn, Limp Bizkit, Coal Chamber, Static-X. These discs were found in countless aftermarket Clarions nationwide, and for those kids really ahead of the curve, these bands chewed up significant amounts of jolly roger bandwith on a spiffy little program called Napster. The kids loved the nu metal bands and why not? Metallica fought Napster to try and bleed a few pennies out of "Fixxxer" downloads. Limp Bizkit enlisted Napster to be the title sponsor of their summer tour.
As with all trends in music, the populace eventually soured on nu metal. The kids that were weaned on Staind in high school went to college and were sexually aroused by the Dave Matthews Band. The tag-alongs that bounced in their Cavaliers to Powerman 5000 fell face-first into Lil' John. And in the undisputed death knell, Limp Bizkit spent the Summer Sanitarium Tour getting booed off the stage by the same Napster kids of yore who had now shelled out $80 to see the at-one-time hated curmudgeon crew, Metallica. Fixxxer > Break Stuff.
The ridiculous circus known as nu metal is now a fading memory. The name itself is used almost exclusively as a word of derision, even if the music on its own does not elicit quite the same distaste. As I sit here in my Lamb of God t-shirt, though, I am well aware that if Fred hadn't done it all for the nookie ten years ago, I certainly would not "have something to die for" now. And for the record, the shirt is simple, with just the band logo, and not something people-repelling like this or this.
My goal in this three-part feature is to sum up nu metal with nine songs from nine bands that I think best characterize the era. I have two recommendations before we begin: A) Play the videos at the top of each individual page for maximum effect; and B) Don't ever design a webpage utilizing this God-awful Korn font.