The Black Sheep’s Shepherd: The Influence of Nu Metal
Writer: Rhett Perez
History shows that for every grand movement, there’s always a hiccup, and in this case, for every Korn, there’s a Limp Bizkit. In music, this is prominent, with the movement of all sorts of genres stemming from other cracks in the ground of the last generation. The rock community got their dues, but in another direction. Instead of a single event, one massive event in the 90’s took place; the movement of the Nu Metal genre. In layman’s terms, Nu Metal is a genre with no defined structure, but with all the distorted guitars as normal. This movement ushered in copious amounts of new experimentation, structure, ideologies, and tips from other forms of music entirely. Of course, by most of the populace standards, this era came and went, but influence of the sheer number of mistakes and success came directly from this product out of the darkness.
Photo courtesy of Roadrunner Records Press/ Modified by Rhett Perez
One product of nu metal is the popularity of rock and hip-hop at a balance, which brought us the pleasure (or displeasure, depending which person you ask,) of bands such as Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Kid Rock, and Rage Against the Machine. These pioneers in the balance of opposing forces showed the community that one way or the highway wasn’t going to fly, and instead instilled the message of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” While Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock talked about the subjective and ego energized lifestyle that much modern hip-hop rhymes about, Rage Against the Machine took to the political game, screaming change in the America they live in. The band was, ironically, indirect inspiration for Fred Durst, the lead vocalist of Limp Bizkit, and was noticed by Rage’s Tim Commerford, who, in a Rolling Stone Interview in 2015, expresses his disdain for the band, cold heartily saying, “I do apologize for Limp Bizkit. I really do. I feel really bad that we inspired such bullshit.” Despite this, many of the works of rap metal began to form, such as Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, Tech-n9ne, Ghostemane, and even XXXTentacion.
On the opposite scale of things came tones about emotional sensibility across the board, and making insane riffs and blood-pumping tracks to match more traditional metal. One of the most popular groups being Slipknot, who have grown to superstardom out of the backwoods of Iowa. The band itself is a label of the angst and pure rage that their music portrays, and has become a household name for itself, mainly with concerned parents. A more melodic but politically heavy band is System of a Down, who combine Armenian folk elements, along with unique guitar techniques, and a vocalist who produces his own orchestral pieces. However, the crown to the kingdom is, of course, Korn. To explain what Korn mixes together each album would be a potpourri of genres across all spectrums of the industry. Dubstep, rap, scat, jazz, you name it, Korn has a track for it. All three of these bands influence many of the metalcore genre, along with the new wave of accessible rock music. From all regions of music, these bands have a place, case in point being the boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, where one member was spotted with a Slipknot shirt, and the band members themselves enjoys hard rock. Slipknot liked this so much, they requested them to play at their festival “Knotfest,” for the reason of quote, “They’re really cool guys.” Many more bands exist from these influential bands such as Viza, Machine Head, Sepultura, Coal Chamber, Celldwelller, and so many more acts in rock.
Nu metal was always the outcast of the rock community, but it gave realization to the styles that can emerge from seemingly impossible combinations. It gave the buzzword “metal” a sense of style, and a fashion sense in the process. The quality of it may be varied and sometimes muddy, but the impact this movement as one had, was the push the early 2000’s needed to get off its feet. Most the bands mentioned are still together to this day, and sell out venues in a matter of hours. If their fans are the black sheep, they are in good care of their shepherds.