Why Does Everybody Hate Nu-Metal? Your Metal Questions Answered

Chris Fehn of Slipknot told us: "Metal fans in general just have a passion for life that a lot of people don't get."

It's not for everyone, but Metal is deep and powerful, and it's an escape from the norm.

To learn more, we asked Albert Mudrian, author of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, these 10 burning metal questions.
Why does everybody hate Nu-Metal?
Because it undermined much of the progress that underground made in the early to mid-'90s. After hair metal died and "alternative" music supplanted it, most listeners demanded more "authenticity" from their music. So, underground metal was able to build on the foundation laid by the early waves of death metal, black metal, grindcore and hardcore crossover and branch out in many new progressive directions (this is the period where a band like Neurosis really came into their own). So, just as metal was turning a corner in terms of its perception from outsiders, the invasion of the mooks began.

Oh, and that bass sound is really stupid, too.

Exactly how much of a debt does modern metal (speed, death, doom) owe to punk rock?
Hard to say. Obviously the faster stuff (thrash, death and grindcore) owes a considerable debt. But despite the fact that Saint Vitus were originally signed to SST, I don't think doom metal was influenced a whole lot by punk. Unless, of course, you consider Black Sabbath a punk band. Most modern metal bands that have had chart success (Lamb of God, Tool, Mastodon) have very little to do with the punk genre at this point.

Metal amazed us by hanging around long enough to attract a whole second generation of fans. Will there be a third?
It's never going away. Sure, there will be an ebb and flow in the genre's popularity. And, at the moment, it's clearly experiencing a boom period. But even when it wanes in popularity, it never completely goes away. Think of it like a virus in your system: once you've got it, you're stuck with it, even if the symptoms don't always reveal themselves.
As far as converting that third generation of fans goes, I think that's already happening. The fact that at least a third of the current audience at Iron Maiden concerts is in their teens suggests this as well.

Can anybody find out what, exactly, the lyrics to Black Sabbath's "Children of the Sea" mean? Is it a science fiction story, an allegory, or what?
It's a shame we didn't ask Ronnie James Dio in the Hall of Fame story we did on the making of Heaven and Hell because now we may never know.

Is there common ground between the goth scene and extreme metal?
There's some. The link manifested in the gothic doom metal subgenre. Celtic Frost were definitely progenitors in that sense, incorporating operatic female vocals and strings into their mid-'80s compositions. By the early '90s, an entire subgenre of bands led by Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride followed. Eventually it splintered with some acts getting more gothy, others more Pink Floyd/OK Computer era- Radiohead influenced. There are still some new goth metal bands popping up here and there. But they're generally from Europe and—more often than not—cringe worthy.

Quite a few bands show influence from Crowley, Lovecraft, Poe, and other horror authors. What is it about metal that makes it so intellectual?
I've never really thought of metal as intellectual. I think it's maybe more literary than anything. As you mention, Crowley, Lovecraft, Poe definitely informed the lyrics—not to mention the album art—of several metal bands. But it hardly stops there. Just look at the impact Lord of the Rings has had on extreme metal. Cirith Ungol, Gorgoroth, Morgoth, Isengard, Amon Amarth and Nazgul all took their band names from the Lord of the Rings. There are probably at least a dozen more acts that have done the same.

In your introduction, you talk about the ones that got away. For one thing, you couldn't interview Helmut because of "some midnight blood pact" between John Stanier, Peter Mengede, and Henry Bogdan. Come on, give us some clues!
I might be embellishing things a bit there. But the truth is that John Stanier, in particular, REALLY doesn't see eye to eye with Page Hamilton. We've asked Stanier to participate in an interview about the making of Helmet's 1992 record Meantime on no fewer than three occasions over the past five years and he declined each time. However, he's never provided a reason for passing. If I had to guess, I'd imagine it has something to do with money. More often than not, that's the reason a lot of these relationships fall apart.

From the same introduction, what's the situation on Danzig?
Think of Glenn as the Page Hamilton of Danzig.

What act of God or Cthulhu would it take for some of these bands to get a charting Hot 100 single? Or even airplay on the radio (beyond Sabbath and Slayer, of course)? Should we just nuke the music industry from orbit and start over?
For better or for worse, it's never gonna happen unless an extreme metal band drastically changes their vocals to a more "traditional" singing style. And then we probably wouldn't count that anyway! But if a flagship band like Iron Maiden can't get played on the radio, then what chance does Prostitute Disfigurement really have?

"Keep trading the tapes" is the battle cry of indie music fandom. What is the consensus of most of these band's position on music-sharing?
Every artist feels the pinch of file-sharing, but metal bands feel it slightly less. Most metal fans - myself included - are collectors and crave corporeal product. So, we still buy CDs, LPs, shirts and deluxe box set editions of records we already own. I think the general consensus of most younger bands on file-sharing is, "download our record and if you like it, please buy it." Probably more so than in any other genre, they stand a chance of that plea actually being heard.

~Pete Trbovich
July 30, 2010

Further reading:

Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath

More Song Writing

Comments: 32

  • Jamboree Handoot from Yo Mammy's CribLimp Bizkit was pretty talented. Im a guitar player and a lot into blues/rock.. Clapton Hendrix SRV, etc, but Wes Borland guitar and John Otto drums were pretty good. Korn has some bumping songs when you wanna get hype.
  • Dan Gillespy from Courtenay BcI like some Nu Metal.
  • Andy Mogg from LeedsI hate nu metal because when i go to a show i wanna see something it'd take me 20 years to learn to play, not something i could play 20 minutes after buying a guitar! zero musicianship, and zero self respect whining about their mothers all the time!
  • Someone Who Will Never Grow Out Of Nu-metalForget about reputation! I've always loved nu-metal and always will. As a matter of fact, I think I'll plug in my headphones and listen to it right now!
  • Unknown from Unknown Land Of Nu-metal Headsto my opinion Nu-Metal is really great! im actually being serious.
  • Noah from CaliforniaYou guys should check out KEYCHAIN! Best NU METAL band of 2016!!! Hands down!
  • Jo from MamaBecause it's horrible and you're an idiot, that's why.
  • John from Maryland"Metal, a derivative of classical music"

    Ridiculous. You clearly spend too much time listening to the pretentious neckbeards at deathmetal.org. Metal evolved out of blues rock and heavy psych. It has moved far from its roots, but any similarities to classical are superficial at best and mostly filtered through progressive rock. I think metalheads say stupid stuff like this in an attempt to legitimize their favorite genre. Are they really so self-conscious? Just accept metal for what it is. It's not like outsiders are paying much attention anyway. Even if they did, rock critics tend to prefer simpler genres like punk over stuff like progressive rock, and classical snobs don't care about any of it -- if King Crimson didn't turn their head, why would Death or Agalloch? Learn to love yourself, metal, and don't worry about what others think.

    "I admire metal's integrity, brutality, and obsessiveness, but I can't stand its delusions of grandeur" -- Robert Christgau

    Anyway, I can't stand stand most nu-metal, but I do like two bands: Deftones and System of a Down. Korn's first album was fine, but it was all downhill from there.
  • Sam from LiverpoolGood Nu-Metal is amazing and bad Nu-Metal is f--king terrible. If you listen to Incubus' S.C.I.E.N.C.E, Korn's Life Is Peachy and Slipknot's eponymous album they're all really good albums. It's difficult to call it metal however. It's essentially the same genre of music that bands like Helmet, Faith No More, Primus and Rage Against The Machine had been doing for a good 5-10 years already. That's why I never understand when these bands get complimented left right and centre but when bands like Kittie, Linkin Park, Korn and Slipknot came out they got so much hate.
  • Morgan Lefay from Silver Spring, Maryland@Drew from Uranus Actually, though not being a fan of Lady Gaga myself, I hear she's a massive heavy metal fan, and the woman's been raped in the past. I personally don't listen to her but when I saw her when I turned on the TV one day talking about how she'd been raped in the past, I thought how cruel some metal fans can be for harassing her about something really traumatizing. Last time I checked, being raped wasn't fake angst. Also, I'm diagnosed Bipolar, and a musician, so while I certainly have never felt self-pity, what would someone like you know about another's suffering? Some people with bipolar feel hopeless and that suicide is the only option. It's actually pretty frightening to think about; the fact that it could happen to me someday as well.
  • Nicos from BarbadosI was never a fan of the whole nu metal scene. not my kinda thing. never could see the big deal about linkin park, slipknot and all those other guys who make their guitars sound like an annoying swarm of bugs. Korn I liked when i first heard them in the 90s. that song they had called blind(i think) was cool and that was before this whole "nu metal scene" became popular with the kids( I think). whether the old school guys were jealous of their success i dunno I hardly believe that that would apply to th glam and pop metal guys of the 80s though who got it quite good in their time nor the zeppelins and deep purples who sold out arenas as for the extreme metal guys, well I always thought that the whole gig was to remain on the outside of all the glitz and glamor of things therefore a thrash band being jealous of a nu metal bands success would be kind of contra to the whole culture that they always represented. but that does not say that jealousy does not exist in some circles
  • Drew from UranusIt's strange how this subject matter is dissected in so many ways, all with very convoluted statements (such as this one that I'm writing). There's no denying the impact that parents have on kids, and how this often translates into some form of aggression in adulthood. Hating Nu Metal, I'd say, is an interesting manifestation of this aggression. In all seriousness, I believe the music is about an attitude, a spirit, a subculture, which involves what we like to call an "image," with mostly negative connotations attached to the term. I think what matters most is if that "image" is coming off as sincere--not just to win over teenage fans. How do we know if a band is sincere? Well, if they continue to do what they've been doing, and don't succumb to altering their musical style to suit whatever genre is popular at the time (i.e. "Selling Out"), that is about as sincere as one can be.
  • Bcrich from UsFor me, the least desirable characteristic about "nu-metal" is that it whines about everyday human events. Metal, a derivative of classical music, typically expresses resistance to oppression and submission by employing means of force. To whine about one's mommy and daddy is not a metal thing to do. That's more a Lady Gaga modus operandi. But, many bands do not always hit the metal bullseye. Some do it accidentally. Let's take the band disturbed, for example. "Down With the Sickness" is a little bitch song. In contrast, "Indestructible" is metal in nature. Take the country song (Country??? WTF???) "Highwayman" by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings. The music... bleh, but the content is metal as Hell. Metal is so much more than just pounding on pots and pans. There has to be metal philosophies, as well. True metalheads are good, productive people who use the music to drive toward overcoming obstacles. To just throw on a t-shirt, use profanities, and drink a bunch of beer is something that even popfans and bumpkins do. Metalheads create for good.
  • RandyI don't get the hate that Nu-Metal gets, but then again the metal community in general is very set on their specific genre. I love Nu-Metal, but I also love early Heavy Metal and early Thrash Metal. I love the fact that Nu-Metal mixes metal and hip hop, not for commercial reasons, for musical reasons because Hip Hop (good hip hop, not the garbage that is on the radio, but underground lyrical hip hop) is a great genre that is misrepresented by the mainstream and then crapped on by the metal community. I hate Limp Bizkit for that same reason, they didn't understand real hip hop, so they got this faggy poser wannabe who can't rap and just talks about drugs and how great he is.

    You can love Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Dio, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Evile, Exodus, Testament, Kreator, Destruction, Overkill etc. and also love Linkin Park, Slipknot, Korn, Disturbed (debatable on if they are Nu-Metal or not), System of a Down (again debatable), Nonpoint, Skindred etc.

    You can also love both metal and hip hop. Both communities are too ignorant about the other to this day.
  • KrisWhat does that first answer in the article mean by "that bass sound is stupid?"
  • Tanner from Nova ScotiaI hate the term nu metal. I prefer to call it rap metal. I would describe korn as heavy metal because I can't hear any rap influence in korn whatsoever.
  • Everydaynormalguy from City Of Dislook,you can't be childish and pissy because some aspect of "metal" has changed. Metal is ridiculously broad and everyone has their likes and dislikes about all the subgenres that are inherent with something as broad and ever-changing as metal. At the end of the day were all metal-heads, whether you like hair-metal, nu metal (me personally), gothic metal etc. Sure I don't like symphonic metal, but that doesn't mean I'll bitch and moan about it.

    People, let's just turn our attention towards the afront that is "post-hardcore". I'm sure that's something all us metalheads can agree on.
  • Samuel from AustraliaKoRn is the Only Good Nu-Metal Band, Limp Bizkit sucks, Not Even worth Mentioning, Slipknot Never Was and Never Will be Nu-Metal (more like Soft Death Metal) And Disturbed was also Never Nu-Metal, More Traditional than you think.
  • Lu from Rotterdam, HollandThe 'Children of the Sea' are the animals that live in or around the sea that die because of pollution - at least that is what I think the song is about....

    And Iron Maiden is definitely punk influenced ;-)...........
  • Dave from UkI think people hate it because it gained mainstream success, Once something is accepted by the masses it's not cool anymore. I for one would much prefer to have nu metal songs blasting on the radio over what we get at the moment.

    There are still nu metal bands coming out of the wood work (few and far between) but you can find some in the upcoming & unsigned section of my forum @ nusick.com - its like a nu metal appreciation website i set up in my free time :)
  • Dave from TexasNumetal and mallcore have been pushed more in the last 10 years... they've been picked up by the younger generation.. I blame the media for destroying metal in the 90s these kids today... most of them wouldn't know what metal used to be... the hair got shorter and the sound got watered down to drum riffs and screams..... and then you got the bands that sold out... and to top it all off any metal you hear today on broadband channels is either mallcore or numetal... the media (and government) knew they couldn't annihilate the movement.. so they just censored it and ripped out it's balls and represented it as a byproduct which gets crapped out of a radio or a tv program every day.
  • HahahahaAll the elitist hate on here, as if demanding a certain quality to the music we love is bad and makes us elitist. Oh woe.

    Nu-Metal isn't even a Metal sub-genre. The closest thing to Metal in there is the slight Groove Metal influence. It's undertalented, simplistic Alternative Rock for angsty teens, nothing more, and even less. The only reason it got popular is the same reason people like Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber do; the majority of people like dumbed down crap.
  • WillDaniel... I salute you, that is what i've felt for years, nu metal is great and screw the elitist extreme metal fans who say nu metal reinforces all metal stereotypes, they should look closer to home with their awful death metal and black metal (sounds like noise to me, thank god i grew up and listened to real music). Just cos i don't like the crap you metal elitists worship (cannibal corpse, deicide, etc. the type of garbage i liked when i was 15) doesn't make me a poser.
  • Daniel SpizzirriThe 'extreme' metal community was jealous that Nu Metal bands were getting the money and attention that they wished they had. Extreme metal can blast beat, growl and scream and constantly write songs about hopelessness, death, anger, frustration and various social and global atrocities. Truth be known, when it comes to 'posing' and 'following trends', Extreme metal fans are some of the worst offenders.
    They adorn themselves in military surplus clothing, black t shirts, pentagrams, skulls, snakes and anything else that makes them look dark and intimidating.
    But in actuality, they are really just sensitive guys that spend alot of their time playing world of war craft coz they are shy.

    Where as alot of the nu metal bands can use clean vocals, grooves, are open minded to metal taking other paths. They want to evolve.
    They explore different lyrical subjects, utilize other colours in their clothes and aren't anywhere near as depressive to watch and listen to. The exclamation mark on the point is... girls don't make fun of them.

    This ultimately exposed the extreme metal community for the minimalistic, repetitive, boring, social elitists that they were.
    The funny thing is "Metal isn't about fashion, its about the music". Well, if that is true... then why did the extreme metal community care so much what nu metal did? If you are unwilling to accept someone else version of creative expression, why should anyone accept yours?
    Oh that's right, you're 'real metal' and everyone else is a corporate poser and has no idea what real music is about... how is that opinion work for you now?

    I was part of the original Nu Metal scene and all of the extreme metal bands that were around when I was playing, are less popular and get less gigs now then they did 10 years ago.
    There is a rise in Nu Metal in Australia at the moment. This time around. We will not make the mistake of letting the fundamentalists polute of scene and our resolve. Seeing as how they think we are all 'gay', then they wont want anything to do with us anyway.
    Yeah... be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.
  • Robin from ChicagoSludgefiend what are you talking about? You go figure it out; Maiden is NOT punk!!! Maiden was around before punk hit mainstream!!! Maiden is NOT thrash metal either, Megadeth and Slayer are examples of thrash!!! Know something up before you speak!!! Maiden is British Metal and/or Classic Metal!!!
  • Robin from ChicagoI like METAL!!! Raise the HORNS!!! OH YEAH!!! Who is with me, huh?!! METAL!!!!!!
  • Noahnew medal Isn't a real kind of music. . . .its false and not even spelled correctly
  • Brandon from Indianaactually according to ozzy black sabbath is "scary blues" and it realy is, look at the structures, chords, and scales, there based out of blues.. just with distortion, articulated bass, and ozzy!
  • Sludgefiendtheres a lot of metal thats punk influenced. i mean iron maiden is a prime example. they were sort of a response to punk, but they definitely have a lot of punk elements when compared to earlier bands like Sabbath. thrash is extremely hardcore punk influenced, with hardcore also being influenced by metal.

    so basically it all comes down to the band. if they are fast, they probably have some punk influences. If they are slow, then they have more Sabbath.
  • Richard from IpswichIf you count Black Sabbath as Metal (I certainly do) then Metal cannot have come from Punk (rather the other way)

    Also If you count Black Sabbath as being metal we are in a 4th Generation!

    I think there is a big cross over between Punk and Thrash eg. Anihilated where a punk band before Slayer came along :-)
  • Weiss from New YorkI never got the impression that metal came from punk. Where did that come from? The link between Goth and metal, I can see.
  • SpeedfreakMetal elitists are a disgrace to metal.
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