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Got the life? Ten reasons why the Nu-Metal years weren't so bad.

Added on 6th September 2006

By Ben

Ah, the years 1997 to 2004. These were the twilight years of the metal community, when every kid would wear low slung three-quarter length jeans, knee high socks and a red baseball cap… obviously on backwards. “Nu-metal” became big commercially, but critically almost panned everywhere; particularly amongst certain crowds who disliked, nee, abhorred the Nu-metal scene. Of course, they are allowed their reasons – it didn’t help that everyone from you’re younger cousin to high street retailers such as Argos adorned Slipknot merchandise, while the spokesperson for the genre Fred Durst made enemies with almost everyone but his fanbase.

Hell, even I was a sucker for a few bands from the genre. But it wasn’t all that bad – here’s my ten reasons it didn’t totally suck for music around this time:

1) Foo Fighters – The Colour and The Shape (1997)

Before the likes of Korn and Limp Bizkit almost eclipsed conventional alternative rock, one of the greatest follow up albums made it’s first appearance. The Foo Fighters’ popularity was at boiling point after their eponymous debut release. This was the album that blew Grohl et. al from a band those Nirvana fans would dig into to rock supernovas. The al With commercial and critical success came forth singles Monkey Wrench (a UK number three, unheard of for a band like the Foo Fighters), My Hero, Walking After You and Everlong, the latter still to this day one of the best love songs written. To this day, The Colour and The Shape remains the biggest selling Foo Fighters album, selling 1.9 units.

2) Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

If The Bends proved that Radiohead weren’t one hit wonders, OK Computer proved they were ahead of their time. The critically acclaimed album exposed their cerebral blend of introspective wordplay and experimentation of the use of instruments and their recording environment took the music world by storm, with Paranoid Android and No Surprises achieving chat success unheard of for a band of their type. Indie claimed a Nu-Metal scalp here.

3) Air – Moon Safari (1998)

While 1998 saw the nu-metal machine gathering speed (this was the year kids everywhere asked if their parents’ “Got the life?”), French duo Air captured the public’s imagination with their first full length LP, Moon Safari. Their blend of electro and seventies synthesiser sounds became staple floor fillers at the trendiest of bars, clubs and indie convenes. Sexy Boy went on to become an international hit, and one of the biggest trends nu-metal promised to kill off began to help electropop breed.

4) Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999)

Although many NIN fans would cite that previous album, The Downward Spiral more commercially successful, the countless efforts Trent Reznor made to thwart nu-metal has been well documented. While Fred Durst was making Interscope millions and in the process garnering a lot more ‘stroke’ within the record company, Trent Reznor made a bold move to publicly disparage Durst (something a lot of people would do). However, such a bold faced effort was made while Reznor’s record label, Nothing, was on the same label. Threat of getting thrown off the label? Never – The Fragile was released, hitting number one in the Billboard Charts and getting four top 20 singles in the US in the process.

5) Rage Against The Machine – The Battle Of Los Angeles (1999)

Be honest – without Rage Against The Machine, the concept of rap metal, and therefore nu-metal, may have been a pipe dream. Predating Limp Bizkit’s first recorded effort by six years. The Battle Of Los Angeles would go on to be one of their last albums – however it would prove to be no teary eyes swan song; Sleep Now In The Fire and Guerrilla Radio continuing their trademark tirades against the social wrongs American and the world were faced with. Brutal, aggressive and very catchy, the somewhat grandfathers of rap-metal gave their younger lineage a lesson in chart success – reaching the Billboards top 200 and a Grammy award.

6) Deftones – White Pony (2000)

Perhaps one of the greatest turns in modern music. Sacramento band the Deftones were regarded as one of the bands that helped the nu-metal nativity. Their first two albums, Adrenaline and Around The Fur were very much enriched with the nu-metal sound. With expectations high, and nu-metal at fever pitch, Chino Moreno and company released White Pony – not a straight nu-metal album. With the band citing The Smiths and The Cure as big influences on their music, the album played more as a nod to New Wave, while creating an almost ambient alternative rock/metal approach. This was not what halfway fans expected, let alone the rest of the nu-metal crowd – although it gained mix reception with fans of the band and genre, it was well received by everyone else, regarding it as their most mature outing.

7) GlassJAw – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence (2000)

Producer Ross Robinson was the man who helped shape the nu-metal scene (he worked with Korn, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit, all three synonymous with nu-metal), however he later denounced it claming it had become complacent and new bands not expanding on the style. His mission was to ‘kill what he created’, and his first attack came in the form of Long Island five piece Glassjaw. Their debut album, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence became a massive success in music circles, many fans and critics alike in awe of lead singer Daryl Palumbo’s ability to combine heart-tearing screams with smooth, laid back harmonies. For length the album and band became well received, there was a downside to this in the long run – post-hardcore became screamo…

8) Muse – Origin of Symmetry (2001)

Before Muse became festival headliners and the biggest rock band in the United Kingdom, they were still cutting their teeth, so to speak. They gathered an impressive fan base with their first album, Showbiz, but with Origin Of Symmetry the band blew up – their fanbase became widespread across the world, they became darlings of various music publications, but more importantly, they took away the spotlight momentarily from nu-metal. Four top 30 singles and a court case against Nestlé, they would achieve their biggest success when nu-metal was on death’s knell in 2003.

9) The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)

I’d expect many people will argue that White Blood Cells was the better album, however commercially Elephant proved to be The White Stripes moment in the sun. In 2003 when nu-metal was at death’s door (Results May Vary by Limp Bizkit and Take A Look In The Mirror by Korn both destroying their legacies), the indie took the mantle of the music scene to be a part of. Bands like The Libertines and The Von Bondies became poster boys and girls, meanwhile the adulation The White Stripes were met with thanks to their third album helped pave the way for stardom, in part thanks to the relationship Jack had with Hollywood actress Rene Zellweger, the riddle of Jack and Meg’s relationship and the floor stomping Seven Nation Army.

10) Biffy Clyro – Vertigo of Bliss (2005)

On a sunny afternoon in 2005, amongst the backdrop of Donnington Park, organisers of Download, a metal/punk festival in the United Kingdom, opted to have some indie/alternative rock acts take part on their main stage. This of course would be an intimidating task – those in the crowd of course are more accustomed to the heavier leanings of the musical climate. However, one band came on stage and received one of the rapturous applause’s of the festival, from both indie to punk to metal fan alike. Biffy Clyro in the space of forty minutes accomplished what a lot of bands either trying to replicate the success of nu-metal or clinging on to those old glories couldn’t that year. With the mainstay of their crowd pleasing hits residing on their second album Vertigo of Bliss, it showed how far the Scottish boys had come – and how the once mighty nu-metal was consigned to smaller stages, with equally as unpleasant fans.

So it wasn’t really that bad. We all had to stomach Fred Durst’s outbursts, but where is he now? Meanwhile the Deftones are still going strong, Muse just get bigger and bigger, GlassJAw reformed and are in the studio, while Foo Fighters and The White Stripes are headlining venues and selling out concerts in a matter of minutes. And of course, Biffy Clyro are still proving why they are one of the hardest working bands in Britain, as we eagerly await their forth album.

Mon the Biffy!


Gravatar Simon says:-

Vertigo Of Bliss by Biffy wasnt 2005... it was 16/06/03 if memory serves me right. :)

Also - no Relationship Of Command by At The Drive-In? :O

Haha, i'm only nitpicking for the sake of a debate, it's all opinion isnt it? Decent list mostly i'd say!

8th September 2006 @ 00:21:10 GMT

Gravatar Rall says:-

Only children listened to nu-metal anyway. Most of them too ashamed to admit that only 18 months before they had a spice girls picture on their wall (one that wasn't even mutilated).

8th September 2006 @ 17:02:13 GMT

Gravatar simon says:-

When i was at Primary school i bought an Emma Bunton poster for 5p and proudly had it on my way for years.

I also had a framed Billie Piper picture back in her schoolgirl popstar days.

What a cool kid i was...

9th September 2006 @ 00:51:31 GMT

Gravatar Ben says:-

In retrospect, I missed the date of the Biffy Clro album. And I DID like At The Drive In, but Frances The Mute destroyed for me all the hard work the two members put in.

11th September 2006 @ 08:44:07 GMT

Gravatar Simon says:-

Sparta makes up for all the damage done by Mars Volta surely?!

12th September 2006 @ 00:08:00 GMT

Gravatar Peter J says:-

Air are wicked, very good live. I just find it odd that so few of my friends know who they are....? They keep everything so quiet, they don't even publicize there releases... hmmm

13th September 2006 @ 10:58:32 GMT

Gravatar human says:-

You missed out Incubus SCIENCE ALBUM!

12th June 2008 @ 07:09:38 GMT

Gravatar Emily says:-

oh bleh bleh bleh. Nu metal is fantastic, and it never left, it just got called 'alternative metal'. also lost alot of respect for ross robinson, what an dick, he should be proud of what he produced in terms of the numetal albums, as they are actually really really reaaally good. what a fickle twat.
oh and yay Air and deftones!

2nd February 2010 @ 17:51:44 GMT

Gravatar James says:-

In what you say about Robinson Killing what he created in producing Glassjaw - Everything you wanted to know about Silence it was the begining of Screamo which didn't take off until 2005 so thats 5 years later so ineffect he killed Nu Metal and gave birth to screamo .

15th July 2010 @ 20:03:12 GMT

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