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The Nu-Metal Revival Is Real

By John Hill

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It’s seems that after months and months of quasi-ironic buzz, the so-called "emo revival" has finally died down. Sure, a handful of the bands that got thrown around in that conversation are pretty decent, but the sheer number of bands coming out of it made it seem corny as shit after a while. It became a paradox where bands would use deceitful means of coming across as sincere. The cream's already risen to the top, and the bands that make shitty music will probably fuck off soon. But forget all of that right now. Right now, it's time to focus on the revival everyone should be paying attention to: Nu-metal.

It goes without saying, but nu-metal gets a lot of shit. A lot of it's probably well-deserved—back in the late 90s/early 2000s, it inspired a lot of douchebag bravado by dudes in JNCOs and most of the music from that era is unlistenable now. It combined the danger and excitement of the hip-hop of the time with the Slayer and Metallica albums sitting on the shelves of Tower Records. Sure, hardcore and other sub-genres were alive and well but nu-metal had the pop sensibilities to cater to anybody feeling angst, and way more label backing.

In 2014, nu-metal is ceasing to be a dirty word to a lot of people. If you told someone six years ago that you were into Limp Bizkit or Slipknot, you'd probably be laughed at, and they'd probably make a passive aggressive blog post about you. But now, bands are openly admitting their influences with no shame, and being totally honest with others about what they dig. Going back to nu-metal now is exciting; the idea of bands cherry picking elements of what made nu-metal so huge and popular and combining them with other genres to create an amalgam of heavy music. Much like the emo revival however, most bands having some kind of tangential relation to this revival will probably object to being thrown on a revival train. But screw it, here are seven bands that are saving music by bringing back nu-metal…

 

ISLANDER

When Islander first dropped a music video for an older song, "New Colors," it seemed like they were jocking Deftones way too hard. There was some potential; the riffs had some bite, and it was obvious they knew how to write a song. Their new track "Coconut Dracula" shows a lot of restraint with their influences, allowing them to just fucking play. Islander's able to really illustrate the potential of this genre. They sonically demonstrate that fragile dichotomy between softness and weight in a riff, and juggle it around over catchy hooks. I don't know what the fuck a Coconut Dracula is (I hope it's some kind of drink) but this track still WRECKS.

 

MY TICKET HOME

My Ticket Home is mainly the inspiration for this article. Their album Strangers Only shows what could happen when a band pushes themselves to make a record time zones away from their comfort zone. Every song off the album coincides so perfectly with the next, and mixes together all sorts of influences that turn it into an entity (their preferred moniker is "puke rock") outside of the bounds of nu-metal, but still carries that influence on their sleeve. "Spit Not Chewed" sounds like it could fit perfectly on the soundtrack for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 60. The mid-portion of the song has an awesome use of guitar picking, sounding like it's straight off of the fingers of Tom Morello. They have the grit to sound like they're straight out of some condemned hellhole in Bakersfield, and it works out nicely.

 

SWORN IN

I chalk Sworn In up as the patient zero of the rebirth of nu-metal. A lot of groups in metalcore were mixing Slipknot-sounding riffs and shit, but most of it ended up either being too afraid to move out of metalcore into newer territories, or way too far into pop land that made it sound cheesy. But Sworn In throws it all together to create something really chunky. The singer goes from trying to hang himself with his vocal cords to rap-talking (or something), showing what would happen if Slipknot had no singing whatsoever, and dedicated 100% of its energy to trying to scratch and tear up their listeners.

 

DANGERKIDS

Dangerkids puts me in a really weird spot. Every comment I've seen on YouTube or wherever, people are hailing them as what would happen if Linkin Park didn't drop that sound from Meteora and Hybrid Theory. The band makes no attempt to hide it either, name-checking the band in their own music. Having no shame is awesome, and I admire them for it, but I don't think they've hit where they could be yet. I sort of have the feeling that with their current stint on Warped Tour, they're going to blow up huge by the end of the year and be 2015's Issues, but they really need to do more to be their own band, other than throwing in breakdowns at random intervals. Still, I think their output has been pretty fun, and they have something on their hands with this formula.

 

STRAY FROM THE PATH

Stray From The Path's been around for a bit now, but I think they're starting to break through to a larger fan base. This track off their newest album Scissorhands shows a culmination of everything they've been releasing to this point, as well as an attempt to ritually turn their singer into the second coming of Zach de la Roca. It's that re-contextualizing of nu-metal into their own style that lets the track seamlessly flow into their discography. It's also got Jason from letlive. who always brings the noise.

 

BEAR TOOTH

There’s something pretty poetic about Caleb Shomo, former screamguy for crabcore architects Attack Attack(!) being in a band incorporating nu-metal elements. Everyone fucking hated that band when they were kicking, yet much like nu-metal, kids loved it and a million bands tried to rip it off. I guess he got tired of all the shit he got, because Shomo came back with a band that tries to throw in every kind of heavy element he can fit on a periodic table. Dude’s voice sounds like he’s trying out for Panic At The Disco! while moonlighting for a Pantera cover band. Rules.

 

HUNDREDTH

Bridging the gap between the aforementioned revivals seems like it would be really fucking hilarious, but Hundredth is sort of there. It’s got all the ingredients; there’s some mathy noodly guitar parts for the sensitive guy, and then stompy weightlifty parts for the bro in all of us. They stand as the middle man who you wouldn’t be weirded out if they were opening up for P.O.D. or Title Fight. On their new EP tracks run the gamut of everything from breakdowns to post-rock arpeggios. Seriously, this should be awful but Hundredth make it digestible.

 

John Hill is on eBay, searching for original JNCOs. Follow him on Twitter - @johnxhill

If you like nu-metal and/or revivals, read these:

There's No Emo Revival, You Just Stopped Paying Attention

Fred Durst: The Interview

Linkin Park: Hunting for the Perfect Beat

 

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