On Nu-Metal

“Hey, remember nu-metal? That shitty form of music that everyone hates. Wasn’t that stupid? So bad. I never liked it and everyone that did is worse than me. Nothing good came of it.”

Is that you? If so, shut your stupid mouth.

I have been hearing this sentiment for a long time; this idea that nu-metal somehow set music back by its mere existence, and I’m here to tell you that frankly, it’s wrong. Stupid and wrong. I have been defending nu-metal since Limp Bizkit did the musical equivalent of kill a puppy on stage and everyone else in the room got blamed for it and I’ve had enough. Not only is nu-metal not as bad as you say it is, but also, it may be the last innovative genre in rock that has broken into the mainstream.

Now let’s get some things straight right off the top. No, not everything in nu-metal was groundbreaking or thought-provoking, which I didn’t realize was required in a world where Cannibal Corpse is a band some people take WAY too seriously. Hell, some nu-metal isn’t even good. I mean, I just mentioned Limp Bizkit. But even though there is bad in there, there is a lot of good. 

First and foremost, all of you that blanket state that “nu-metal is bad” don’t even have a handle on what nu-metal encompasses. You just know bands that are “supposed to be there,” and therefore, you must dislike them. Papa Roach, Staind, Korn, P.O.D., Slipknot; all of these bands sound radically different, yet they all somehow fall within nu-metal? How? Because the definition is arbitrary and expands and contracts to fit bands people like or hate as need be.

This arbitrary picking and choosing which bands are nu-metal based on how much a person wants to like them is extra infuriating to me. “Oh, the Deftones / Linkin Park aren’t a nu-metal band,” or, the classic, “Well, X band may have had a nu-metal record, but that’s not them now,” said with the type of distancing that is frankly shameful. Yeah, Machine Head have some nu-metal records, and they’re good, just like Fear Factory and countless other bands who decided to put out an album during a legitimate musical movement. Just admit you like some bands or albums that are nu-metal. What’s the problem?

“Oh, but Andrew,” I hear in your serious music critic voice, “isn’t it all a little… dumb?” 

Oh… I never thought about that before. I guess you’re right. Real quick though, can you tell me what was so thought-provoking about AC/DC? Perhaps it was the song where Bon Scott sang cleverly about how he had “big balls,” which made you think he was talking about his testicles but was ACTUALLY referring to grand dances he threw on the regular. Do you see what he did there? How positively drole!

No friend, I don’t believe your assertion rock and metal music was pushing forward the intellectual discussion and reasoned debates and then nu-metal came along and dumbed the place up. Even at the time, bands like Mudvayne and System of a Down were highlighted as bands doing unique, “smart” music. Some of these bands even had things to say, like System of a Down writing songs centered on things like the Armenian genocide and P.O.D. talking about the broken state of the US. Even Papa Roach came out of the gate with a song highlight struggles with suicide and then followed that with a song about domestic violence.

But I’m just cherry-picking, right? Most of the songs were about drinking and lifting weights or whatever got meatheads to enjoy themselves. And my answer to that is, “So fucking what?” Lots of things are dumb and have horrible fans, just look at Hatebreed and Dream Theater who are dumb in different measures with awful fans and yet they seem to get a pass.

There are so much more I could write on these points, and truthfully so many other ones I could mention. Hell, I didn’t even begin to jump into the idea that nu-metal may be the last original forms of music that got played to a mainstream audience, something which I truly believe and could prove to you. I could even mention that some people’s hatred of it could have something to do with the influence and mixing of black culture into a predominately white music, an idea that sounds crazy until you remember one of the refrains at the time, “Get your rap out of my metal.” Of course, maybe in another rant, I’ll go more into them, but let’s start small. 

Get off your high horse about nu-metal, because chances are your hate is misplaced, and while we’re at it, get off your high horse about your favorite band too. In fact, next rant, I’ll have something to say on that.

Written by Andrew Wieler
*Edited by Dominic Abate

About Andrew Wieler 6 Articles
Now residing in Montreal, Andrew originally hails from rural Pennsylvania, where there isn’t much to do except listen to music endlessly. From this he became obsessed with music of all types, though ultimately focusing more on heavier genres (rock, metal, industrial). Through this, he became enamoured with radio and completed a degree in Communications with a focus in Broadcasting, which he kind of uses while doing his show on CJLO 1690AM every Sunday from 4 – 6PM EST. He is currently the Metal Director at the station and was at one point also the Electronic Music Director. He also sometimes writes things, which you may have already guessed if you read an article on Bucketlist. You might also see him standing in the back at shows since he’s always been “too old for the pit.”

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