Perfect Sound Forever

NU-METAL

Biohazard Taproot Headstrong

Its Rise & Fall
by Peter Crigler
(April 2014)


When I was about 14 until 17, it seemed that all of my friends were listening to this thing called 'nu metal.' Some people call it rap rock, others described it as alternative metal while others call it pure garbage, but like grunge, it burst onto the scene in an attempt to keep rock alive. Unlike Grunge however, there weren't many great bands that came out of it just loads of ridicule and scorn.

Most people look at Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine as the 'forefathers' of the scene- maybe think of them as rap-rock's Neil Young. Many people including my friends were directly influenced to start playing music because of these bands. Eventually, FNM and RATM moved away from rapping in their songs at all, particularly FNM. But their influence was already showing. Then KoRn came around in 1994 and proceeded to spawn everything that came afterwards. KoRn weren't a bad band back then and had some memorable stuff, hitting their stride about 1998 and then slowly plateauing after that. By 1997, a complete copycat clone named Limp Bizkit came staggering out of Florida (where else?), hitting their stride by 1998; after slugging it out opening shows for Primus and Faith No More, they managed to have a hit single with a rambunctious and obnoxious cover of George Michael's eighties classic "Faith." Then a couple months later they came back with their second album and the single "Nookie." What else can be said about "Nookie" except that it was everywhere and it seemed all my friends were listening to this shit and raving about it like it the greatest ever. What was I listening to, you might ask? I had just discovered Violent Femmes, Smithereens and the Dead Milkmen and there was the always reliable Chili Peppers and 311.

It seemed in the wake of Limp Bizkit and KoRn, the floodgates opened and all these shitty bands started coming out of the woodwork, circa 1999 and by 2000, we had been given some of the most horrific shit ever heard: Liquid Gang, Primer 55, Dope, Crazy Town, Brougham and Factory 81. It got so bad that Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee quit the band and began rapping with his own project, Methods of Mayhem. Suddenly, it seemed like OZZFest, which had bands like Primus, Melvins, Tool and Sepultura on bills in the past were now overrun with this terrible crap.

Fortunately, there were some good bands that came out and they actually had decent singers like Static-X, Cold and Taproot. It was with these bands that an interesting trend emerged: when the singers would start rapping, they sounded completely disingenuous and horrible but when they sang like real people, they weren't half bad. But not enough singers got the message so we were stuck with a lot of white bands trying to look as urban as they possibly could while wearing suits and khakis and spiky hair in their videos.

About this time there was this other band that came out, a little band you may have heard of: Linkin Park. When they first came out, they were marketed in the same way as bands like Tidewater Grain and Shuvel. But then "Crawling" and "In the End" came out and it started to mark a shift in this music. Bands heard the softer stuff and thought, "Hey, we need to do that too!" When Staind released their sophomore record in the spring of 2001, the first single was an ultra-ballad, "It's Been Awhile," which subsequently blew up all over radio. Unfortunately, for most people, the rest of the record didn't sound like "It's Been Awhile." By this point, Staind weren't really into rap-rock anymore and were focusing on just being as angry at all times as humanly possible. You had bands like 40 Below Summer, Unloco and the unbelievably awful No One and Lifer also getting super angry and making very harsh music and if there wasn't some type of soft song that might win over a bigger audience, then chances were they'd get the shaft from the majors once their records didn't sell like Linkin Park or Papa Roach. Things got so bad that Clutch recorded a song called "Careful with That Mic..." where frontman Neil Fallon rapped complete nonsense and ripped these bands mercilessly; ironically, it became one of the band's best known tracks.

As the years rolled on, bands continued getting signed even though it seemed that the genre was on the decline. Acts like Grade 8, Twisted Method, Depswa and Element Eighty were signed for reportedly millions of dollars, promoted through street teams and MTV2, thrown on tour together, managed to get some songs on rock radio and when their records failed to sell due to extreme oversaturation of the market, they were dropped and left to grumble on their websites about how their labels 'didn't understand them' and all that nonsense. It was during this time that OZZFest's second stage was overrun with these bands and before the end of the tour in the summer of 2003, almost all of them had been dropped by the majors and a majority of them ended up splitting due to a lack of support all around.

By 2004, Papa Roach had stopped rapping, Linkin Park had gone more alternative and KoRn were going towards just plain out metal in their sound. The biggest act of them all, Limp Bizkit had had a very nasty split with the only member with genuine talent, guitarist Wes Borland and searched high and low for a replacement before settling with a guy who'd previously played in hardcore punk band Snot. The resulting album, released three years after their last album, the well named Results May Vary, was a massive disappointment with some terrible songs and possibly the worst cover ever made, The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes." The album only went platinum, compared to the previous one, which had sold over 6 million copies in 2000.

By the time Linkin Park released their third studio album in 2007, rap-rock, nu metal, whatever you wanted to call it, had been declared dead and buried and most of us were more than happy with the declaration. Most of the people that I knew that listened to stuff like Lifer, Sinch and Apex Theory had long moved on. Of course there still are people and many of them are good friends, who still religiously listen to KoRn, Disturbed and Slipknot. Hell, I have one friend who just may be the biggest Cold fan of all time and that's fine, if that's what they enjoy, then that's what they enjoy most. People used to mock me for worshiping Faith No More but guess what? I STILL don't give a shit! In the end, most people will look at listening and enjoying nu-metal like bad acne: you may have gotten rid of it, but it will always be in your memory.


A Guide to Nu-Metal/Rap-Rock

THE GOOD THE MEDIOCRE THE GODAWFUL
Taproot 40 Below Summer Dope
KoRn Adema No One
Biohazard Boiler Room Twisted Method
Papa Roach Flaw Depswa
Headstrong Ill Nino Darwin's Waiting Room
Cold Mudvayne Brougham
Static-X Pressure 4-5 Dry Cell
Alien Ant Farm Sevendust Element Eighty
Deftones Staind Onesidezero
Faith No More American Head Charge From Zero
Rage Against the Machine The Apex Theory Hollywood Undead
Godsmack Trust Company Unloco
Linkin Park Drowning Pool Lifer
P.O.D. Hotwire Coal Chamber
Slipknot Saliva Grade 8
Incubus Nonpoint Limp Bizkit
Powerman 5000 Motograter
OPM Methods of Mayhem
Trik Turner Primer 55
Distrubed Reveille
Five Pointe O Trapt
Dragpipe
Liquid Gang
Factory 81
Hed PE
Bionic Jive
Crazy Town
ICP/Bloodhound Gang
Bad Ronald
FAT
Hot Action Cop


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