NEW METAL (also: neo metal, nu-metal, alternative metal)

What is metal?

Heavy Rock originated in the late 1960s, when some bands started dropping more and more of the blues and classic rock and roll influences that reigned the period. The bands taking Heavy rock even further, turning up the volume and the speed were quickly dubbed Heavy Metal - This resulted in the metal we know today; Loud and characteristic guitar riffs that are repeated mechanically throughout the songs. By the early 70s the style had started taking over the Rock'n'roll scene completely.

Varying wildly between the highly technically advanced rock and your average run-of-the-mill three-chord metal, the style staid on the charts for a long time, before basically just disappearing in the mid-80s.

What is New Metal?

New metal is a hard-to-define style that has once again dragged the Metal music genre from its underground caves and out into the mainstream. The style has taken a few steps away from the riffing of the original metal styles.

The New Metal songs usually have fairly advanced drum patterns, either electronic or a combination of using a drum machine and a live drummer. In the original Metal, it would be the drums and rhythm guitars forcing the song forward. This gradually changed - in New metal, the bass player and the vocals seem to have taken over these roles.

Typical of New metal tracks, the songs would consist of quieter parts, with heavier passages inserted to spice up the song (or vice versa).

The lyrics of New metal tracks can be quite varied, from heavily rap-inspired, via the typical primal-scream kind of singing, to melodic chanting from singers who obviously can sing. In general, New Metal lyrics tend to include a load of seemingly unprovoked obscenities.

Where does New Metal come from?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly where New Metal came from, and who invented it. It is commonly accepted that the whole evolution peaked with Korn's first album - this can thus be called the birth of New Metal.

Before Korn started to become a known name in the music underground, and later in mainstream music in 1994, lots of significant things happened in the music (yes, Haddaway had a smash hit with What is Love, and no, that's got absolutely nothing to do with new metal :).

Main influences

One of the new influences in the beginning of the 1990s was the brand new rap metal style. Rap Metal, incorporating the most hardcore elements of heavy metal and rap culture. The early influences of rap metal was the infamous Run DMC and Aerosmith cooperation on making a new version of Aerosmith's Walk This Way, all based on Beastie Boy’s insane music style. Bands like Anthrax, Kid Rock, White Zombie, Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine all experimented with the rap metal style to various extents.

This style of rhythmically shouting the lyrics (As opposed to the (at least slightly) more refined vocal artistry of the rap genre) gained quite some impact in the music societies, and many of the New Metal styles (Especially Limp Bizkit's) can be traced back to the rap metal roots. However, it wasn't just the singing style that survived from the rap metal era - many of the beats and some bass lines that appeared in New Metal have obvious influences from Rap and Hip Hop.

In addition to the Rap Metal style, Industrial Metal also has some heavy influence on the evolution of New Metal. The distorted guitars and electrical beats are two of the technical influences the style has had on New metal. In addition to the technical influences, the all-round more urbanized, dark, depressive, sombre sound that New Metal tends to have can be traced to Industrial Metal. The most obvious contributor to the Industrial Metal genre was Nine Inch Nails, but Ministry and Type O Negative* also needs to be mentioned, as both styles are traceable to today's New Metal.

*) Technically, Type O is usually classified as Goth metal, but this style is closely related to both Industrial and New Metal

Annotated Timeline

  • 1981
  • 1983
  • 1986
  • 1989
  • 1992 - All the premises for New Metal meet up
    • Rage Against The Machine release their first, self-titled album. Their music starts containing the first traces of New Metal; The lyrics bear rap characteristics, and the bass player drives the song ahead. This, along with the variation between calmer and heavier passages in the songs has been to much inspiration to later New Metal actors.
    • Insane Clown Posse release their Carnival of Carnage album, an album distinguished by its heavy riffs with rap lyrics on top.
    • Biohazard Ditto as for Insane Clown Posse - Rap Metal evolves
    • Fear Factory launch their first album. Death metal meets industrial metal meets a set of double pedals. Fear Factory has turned out to be a major inspiration for the New Metal wave, in particular to the heavier acts (Soulfly, Staind etc)
    • House of Pain are another shoot on the tree of rap metal. Their major hit "Jump Around" received massive airtime on MTV. Chances are that this opened the gates for later metal acts to be more commonly accepted to MTV, i.e into the mainstream music scenes.
  • 1993
    • Tool showed that bands that were willing to experiment with the darker sides, and uses several of the New Metal genre characteristics in its songs.
    • 311, a band relatively unknown outside the US start crossing the punk and rap genres to a larger extent - hitting the mainstream audience and selling a load of albums.
  • 1994 - The birth of New Metal
    • Korn's self titled album is released, without really catching on at first. After touring with Marilyn Manson, 311, Megadeth and Ozzie Osbourne, the band gains popularity... The New Metal wave is a fact.
    • Marilyn Manson releases his debut album (Portrait of an American Family), generating heavy debate by parents and politicians about the future of music, resulting in a number of media appearances, propelling Manson to new hights
  • 1995
    • Deftones release their first album, making the New Metal wave significantly harder and heavier, without actually leaving the genre completely. Deftones seem to have been part of the reason of the New Metal wave "growing up" past its infancy - The New Metal music genre went from being a novelty to being a full-fledged music style.
    • Incubus release their first album, which really passed by without receiving much notice, however, it did pave the way for their 1997 release, S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
  • 1996
    • Heavily industrial, Rammstein did the exact opposite of Deftones. Instead of being more serious, Rammstein became a parody of the New Metal style. Ironically, many of the New Metal fans embraced Rammstein as strongly as they had the other bands in the genre, causing the genre to include Rammstein as well.
  • 1997
    • Limp Bizkit, a phenomenon on the charts
    • Coal Chamber, although as heavy as Deftones, gained significant respect from their intense lyrical value and more technically rich sound, without using any significant technological gadgets.
    • Creed
    • For the nine nutcases in Slipknot, everything had to be harder and sicker. Their stage show (which is an experience in itself) and the music widened the New Metal genre to well beyond the limits of sanity.
  • 1998
    • Soulfly - The regeneration of Max Cavalera's heavy metal band gone new metal
    • System of a Down - Bringing some political values and (to a certain extent) intelligent lyrics to the genre
  • 1999 - 2001
    • New bands: Papa Roach, Linkin Park
    • The market seems to get saturated with New Metal music. The "older" bands seem to be repeating themselves. There are a few newcomers to the genre, but bands such as linkin park seem to be combining the boyband appearance and quality with New Metal music styles. The style seems to become more insecure, and has probably broken into some new fractions.


Updated and expanded sept 22, 2002. Please /msg me with any further suggestions or corrections.

I been thinking about nu-metal, and why everyone hates it so much. I've seen people who say "I despise nu-metal", "limp bizkit sux" etc etc. However, I've also seen the same people say that the love KoRn, MudVayne and System of a Down. I've seen people say that KoRn are industrial, and Limp Bizkit are punk rock. This really got me puzzled as to what actualy defines nu-metal, in one sturdy sentence. So, I got thinking. During this thinking, I decided to come here and see if anyone figured it out.

While the above does give a general discription of the genre today, it didn't feel right. It doesn't describe what nu-metal is on it's own. No offense joeevans, but you have assumed that all nu-metal bands have had a hip-hop influence. I have never believed this, as bands like Slipknot and System of a Down have no obvious hip-hop sound. Yet, they are both called nu-metal.

A quick visit to helped out. Their definition is:

"the one thing that unites them all is a rejection of the values and attitudes of, for want of a better phrase, old metal."

I suddenly realised something - Ever since KoRn apeared, metal was never the same. There didn't seem to be any bands (in the mainstream) that sounded like them (the exception is Faith No More). Their down-tuned, distorted guitars and blind white rage sounded nothing like Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden etc.

I almost got a definition, but then Limp Bizkit crept into my head. They were rap-rock, and pretty much every other nu-metal band out there is as well at this present time. Then I realised - there were only hundreds of rap-rock bands after Limp Bizkit hit the big time. But bands before Limp Bizkit didn't use rap lyrics or Djs ( with the exception of Rage against the machine and a few others, but the point is that it didn't become a massive craze until Limp Bizkit).

I concluded that Limp Bizkit had merged traditional nu-metal with hip-hop to create the current state of nu-metal today. This can also be applied to Slipknot - they merged speed/death influences with the traditional sound, and System of a Down - they merged traditional Armenian and nu-metal music. The only reason nu-metal is associated with rap-rock is that Limp Bizkit inspired hundreds of other bands to do exactly the same thing.

Therefore, the definition of traditional nu-metal is:

Distorted, down-tuned guitars with plenty of angst

This is backed up further more with the mosh-pit phenomenon. On the documentary on MTV (Yes, I watched it), it said that bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit caused the mosh-pit to generally get more violent. Could this be due to the angstful lyrics the crowd can relate to? So before you go bitching about nu-metal and then supporting another nu-metal band, remeber this:


Nu-metal, thanks to Limp Bizkit, has become a big, all-encompassing force that cannot be stopped by conventional methods. Much like everything2.

It's great what you think about when listening to SoiL.

Some more information on what bands mix what:

  • Slipknot - speed/death metal with nu-metal
  • System of a Down - Tradional Armenian with nu-metal
  • Vex Red - Industrial with nu-metal
If you can think of anything else, please tell me.

These bands are NOT nu-metal:

These bands ARE nu-metal:

Got anymore, please tell me.

* Note: Korn did however introduce some hip-hop elements later on in their career (thanks Asterphage!).

I am blaming Limp Bizkit because they are the ones that toured, they are the ones that recruited DJ Leathal, Korn simply tok their demo tape to Ross Robinson. They are indirectly responsible, but really Limp Bizkit are directly to blame. I don't care what anyone says either!

**nyte says re: nu-metal, i liked your wu, but i have to point out that deftones is definitely not nu-metal; particularly since white pony, they fall much more into the art-rock/metal category

-- Can someone help out in this? Just /msg me, thanks.

I was (and still am) against nu-metal. I feel the bands mentioned above in Kage Prototype's (rather good, admittedly, if a little uninformed (See below)) writeup have absolutely nothing to offer musically, and serve to take focus off bands and movements which might actually deserve it. Still, that is only my opinion, and the light is definitely on and burning for the masses.

A couple of years ago (ie: 2000/2001)(or maybe last year, my memory's shot)in a rather boring maths class at school, I wrote these rather simplistic lyrics for a song that was never intended to go anywhere. I should really compose some music to go with it. In fact I will, using this Casio SA-20 for maximum cheesecore. ((Cue diddly-dee music with tinny drum samples)).

I hate nu-metal, it is shit
From Linkin Park to Limp Bizkit
Look at the shite that's on TV
Bands like Korn and (Hed) PE

Peddling easy answers with a baseball cap
To stupid kids who don't know crap
It's getting worse than Gangsta rap
But with just as much currency

Musical fads will come and go
Look at Marilyn Manson two years ago
Where he is now, nobody knows
And his ex-fans listen to Counting Crows*
Just you wait and see.

All you people had better wake up
And stop acting like you are corporate sluts
Take a stand for good music, take it up today
Or just blame your bad taste on Triple J**

*Okay, I don't know, but hey - poetic license!
**"Yoof" orientated government sponsored station Australia-wide.

I'm receiving a lot of negativity about this (well deserved though, I might add), but let me re-iterate: I have heard many more nu-metal bands then the ones I mention here, and I still hold my views that it really does suck as a genre. Thank you.

theboy says re nu-metal: heh - i'm picturing the beastie boys covering your nu-metal song. they do it justice, in case you're worried.

Hell yeah, three MC's and hang the (nu-metal) DJ

To kage prototype, I wouldn't put too much faith in what Kerrang magazine (and it's associated non-print publications) says. I remember a section in that magazine about the five greatest rock musicians ever. Off the top of my head, it was; Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Manson, Fred Durst, that twat singer out of System of a Down and some other guy who I can't remember. Because Elvis, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly (insert about a billion other more important rock figures) did nothing for the genre.

Kerrang seems to be run by a bunch of fifteen year olds who just stepped off a time-warp from 1997. And they're probably all baggy-pant wearing Croxtons.

Nu metal (also spelled New Metal) is the newest form of Heavy Metal, which in itself is a kind of Rock music. Unlike traditional forms of Heavy Metal, Nu Metal turns up the groove up a bit and often incorporates Funk, Grunge, Rap / Hip Hop, Electronica / Industrial music, multiple vocalists and DJs. Since elements of Rap are often present in Nu Metal, it is often confused with Rap Metal, which is ANOTHER genre; this is so because Nu Metal may have Rap INFLUENCED lyrics, while the lyrics in Rap Metal sound JUST like Rap. The same thing occurs with Rap Rock; Rap Rock is NOT Nu Metal; Rap Rock is merely a combination of non Metal kinds of Rock with Rap. Nu Metal was born with the release of Korn's first album in 1994. Later on, Nu Metal would evolve, with artists such as Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and Linkin Park incorporating DJs and electronic/industrial music. This is yet another confusing element; just because Nu Metal has elements of Industrial, doesn't mean that it can be considered Industrial Metal, which is another sub - genre of Heavy Metal altogether. Key artists:

  • Korn (Jonathan Davis, Reginald Arvizu, James Shaffer, Brian Welch, David Silveria)
  • Linkin Park (Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, Phoenix, Brad Delson, Rob Bourdon, Joseph Hahn)
  • System Of A Down (Serj Tankian, Shavo Odadjian, Daron Malakian, John Dolmayan)
  • Papa Roach (Jacoby Shaddix, Jerry Horton, Dave Buckner, Tobin Esperance)
  • Limp Bizkit (Fred Durst, Sam Rivers, Wes Borland, John Otto, DJ Lethal)
  • Adema (Mark Chavez, Dave DeRoo, Mike Ransom, Tim Fluckey, Kris Kolhs)
  • Slipknot (Corey Taylor, Paul Grey, James Root, Mick Thompson, Chris Fehn, Shawn Crahan, Joey Jordison, Craig Jones, Sid Wilson)
  • Coal Chamber (Dez Fafara, Nadja Peulen, Miguel Rascon, Mike Cox)

Linkin Park is a one of the best examples of a 21st century Nu Metal band: 2 vocalists, 2 sampling artists, DJ and the standard guitar, bass and drum combo.

Disclaimer: The following write-up is a bit subjective, but then again, everyone has opinions about music. I tried to be as informed as I could and not just say X band sucks. It was hard, and I dunno how good a job I did. I tried to add to the previous write ups. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

Many can argue until they're blue in the face about what started nu-metal. Whether it was Run D.M.C. rapping over Aerosmith's Walk This Way, or Biohazard's underground shenanigans, 311 and their smooth grooves, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who combined fun, funk and rock. There is no one band to point to, nor artist to exult in creating this genre of watered down musick. Several bands, already named, and many that haven't, have had a helping hand in this looked-down-upon musical genre.

The time before the prefix:

In the 80's, glam rock ruled supreme across the land. White boys everywhere wanted to tease their hair, stuff their pants, and put god-knows-what up their nose. Oh yeah, and play guitar too, I almost forgot. Bands like Motley Crue, Poison, and the anti-glam glam band Guns N Roses ruled the land. However, there was trouble in glam town. The underground scenes were growing. Tired of partying all the time, and singing lyrics about sticky sweetness, whatever the hell that's about, the underground Metal and hip hop scenes were growing. They were vary different genres with metal being angry, and loud, and rap being in its forming stages, and still simple. They would make for very strange bedfellows indeed.

Rap's popularity rose in the late 80's, throughout the 90's to it's modern day dominance in the musical world. Feel free to laugh at anyone who says otherwise, but you're not going to have a metal act come out anytime time soon and have their debut record go platinum in a week, like 50 Cent just did, even if they were signed by Metallica, recieved Ozzy's blessing and all the band members were related to either The Beatles, Led Zepplin, or Jimi Hendrix, it wouldn't happen. But I digress.

The 90's brought about some very interesting musical stylings. The influx of grunge, AKA "the Seattle Sound", allowed for once metal gods Metallica to break through huge with their sell-out effort, The Black Album. Go on, try and tell me they didn't. Metallica slowed down their sound, muted their bass even more, and moved away from the melodic thrash that got them where they were. Not only this, but Nirvana exploded in the early 90's. With their simple iffs and angstful, introspective lyrics, they modeled grunge as a slow punk without the punk eliteism or garb. Bands like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and the quintessential Pearl Jam extended this sound to new levels.

On the complete opposite of the spectrum we have Rap, which did nothing but grow in popularity and push various aspects of Black culture, more commonly referred to as Hip Hop. Albums by The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, and Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre pushed rap into livingrooms across America. Although, perhaps the most influential to what we're concerned about was House of Pain, and their hit single, Jump Around. For in that single, White America got to see a rapper, who was white, and not a corporate slut, like Vanilla Ice.

That's spiffy, what's nu-metal though?

Nu-Metal is nothing more than the bastard offspring of these musical genres, and cultures, with the skill of neither. Several bands have put out good nu-metal albums, Korn's self-titled debut, as well as Life Is Peachy and Follow The Leader, System of A Down, Slipknot's selftitled album and Linkin Park's debut CD, Hybrid Theory. Not to forget Rage Against The Machine. However, that's not the birth of the Genre.

Here's where it gets sticky. Where does this stuff actually start? It's nice to know where it came from, but where did it begin? Some might say Biohazard, the underground New York Hardcore rap-rock act, who, on several occasions, laid down lyrics in a rap style, while rocking away with heavy backing. Some others might say 311, who's sleek sound penetrated radio with their debut album, or was it the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who successfully combined Funk and Rock, two genres that molded metal and rap.

Nu-metal, oftenly mistaken for the horrid rap-metal or other such nonsense, is its own genre, one that has produced several great albums and bands. However the sound is hard to pinpoint. Several good examples of the nu-metal sound can be found on (sic), off of Slipknot's self titled, Blind and All In The Family, by Korn, SOAD's entire Toxicity album, several works by RATM, as well as more songs than I care to mention. The idea of nu-metal is expanding the soundscape of metal. This is important.

Korn expanded the idea of metal by giving it a little groove, and adding a lot of dissonance. Korn is not a rap-rock band, unless you consider the gutteral growling of Johnathan Davis as rap. Korn's style is based off the slap-happy groove created by their bassist, as well as the guitar tag played by Munkey and Head. On the first track to their self-titled album, Blind, a classic display of this is shown as one guitarist plays low power chords and the other plays powerchords on higher pitch strings and higher on the neck of the instrument. Their timing creates the sound. On later albums, the two play stranger chords than the straight forward power chords. The notes they play would not agree, creating a noticeable wave sound and a sort-of oddness, like the notes didn't belong together. They found their nitch, and they rocked it.

But Korn is not your typical Nu-Metal, they're a standout. If I had to pick an album that was the purest of the nu-metal, I wouldn't pick an album, only half of one. The first 6-8 tracks on Slipknot's debut disc are the Plato's ideal of nu-metal. The songs are heavy and aggressive, like metal. Their lead singer raps, without focusing on rapping, and is ready to scream when need be. Their percussion is heavy, and layered, and when combined with their DJ, sampler and the two guitarists and bassist, a heavy, insane, thick groove is produced. And groove is what it's all about. Slipknot managed to take the groove of rap, the heavyness of metal, the layered soundscapes of techno and trance and spit out a rough and brutal album that will rock your fucking socks off.

However, Slipknot was not the first in the nu-metal field, shoing up near the late 90's. Their success was built on several other great bands that came before them, as I have mentioned several times before. Other bands, though, do deserve mention. The first of which when from multi-platinum to multi-hated, and that's Limp Bizkit. Mayhaps the most generic nu-metal/rap-crock band there is. Bizkit got popular off a cover song after acquiring a small fanbase with their appropriately titled first single, something many bands have attempted to immitate over the 90's. When I say popular, I mean popular. You almost couldn't escape the nasal, whiney voice of front man, and all around dickhead, Fred Durst, who would do anything to suck the cock of the public. Even with Fred's stupidity (the man got into a fight with Trent Reznor about who had better music! I mean serously), Bizkit soared with its tight rhythm and amazing, innovative guitar work by Wes Borland. Not only that, they warmed America up to the idea of a white rapper, mostly because Bizkit had more than one hit.

Another such band, commonly hated, is Linkin Park. LP is perhaps the most stereotypical Nu-metal act, as they have a DJ, a rapper, a singer, and the rest, guitarist, drummer, and bassist. Yet no one can deny their popularity, and their sleek, overproduced sound, which successfully blends each influence and sound into a cohesive unit. However, it remains to be seen, at this point, whether their follow-up to Hybrid Theory will be any good, or if they're going to go the route of Slipknot, and have a lackluster sophomore disc.

So, you ragged on some bands, and praised others, but what is Nu-Metal?

The easiest answer to this is whatever eMpTyV and your radio station tell you the Label executives decide to be nu-metal. Nu-metal is a pishposh of everything. It's like giving a three year old a piece of white paper and 128 crayons of varying colors. You're gonna end up with splotches of colors, randomly spread around the page, and not much else. That's assuming the kid stays on the page. Nu-Metal is variety, it's all these different influences coming together, while trying to sound like neither. Mostly, Nu-Metal is the attempt at adding more of a hip-hop groove and flow to metal music. Metallica had groove, their own kind of groove. Put on Battery, One, or another such cut, and you will be banging your head in the rhythm. If people are around you, they will be too, and you'll be a mass of headbangers all grooving together. Hip-Hoppers dance, c-walk or do whatever they do, but they groove too. If you can't sense the bounce in good rap you must be dead.

The future of nu-metal is still around the corner. It will be washed out in another few years, and by the looks of it, the weak and pathetic are taking over. The music of metal is following a trend started in nu-metal, and that's one of weakness. The tempo has slowed, and there's a distinct lack of thrash in most new nu-metal made today. Not for a long while will you hear the tightness of Megadeth, Fear Factory or Pantera on a record. While there are highspots in modern rock music, mostly a band called Audioslave, but otherwise a lot is lacking. But that's what happens when you give slackers who don't want to learn music theory guitars.

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