Just like we’ve seen before, everything old becomes new and everything that was once deemed embarrassing is now cool and Nu-Metal is no exception. Once seen as the ugly cousin of Metal, Gen Z have fully taken the genre and embraced it. There’s been a rise in popularity with bands like Deftones, KoRn and yes, even Limp Bizkit. Seemingly overnight all the festival line ups, clothes and playlists of this new generation hark back to what us nerdy alternative kids of the late 90s and early 2000s liked, except this time it’s not shamed… But why?
Well, it could just be the simple fact of time. It happened for boy bands and it happened for ‘emo’. Nostalgia tours are one of the biggest sellers in recent years and it’s not just us millennials that are wanting to turn back the clock and cling onto our ever dwindling youth, it’s the teens and young adults of today that are coming out in their droves to see bands like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and N Sync and now it’s the turn of the metal scenes bad boys.
Nu-Metal remains one of the most interesting sounding sub genre within the metal category. Like 90s grunge, there’s not a one size fits all sound to the groups that come under this umbrella. Gaining in popularity in the early 2000s Nu-Metal was all about not caring. It was an antithesis not only to the mainstream media and popular generic music of the time but also to Metal itself. The idea that to be a fan of the genre, meant you had to live, breathe and get punched in the face by a certain type of music within it, was much more prevalent at the time. Old dudes in faded Metallica tees and war stories of gnarly mosh pits, telling younger people that what they liked wasn’t metal and what it was to be Metal was one of the new and more off putting things about the genre at the time. The “name 3 songs” mentality in order to protect and gatekeep a genre that was meant to be enjoyed by all, that was meant to stick it to the man had started to be run by the very man itself.
Then guys wearing studded kilts, Adidas tracksuits and Dickies shirts with backwards red caps burst onto the scene. They weren’t pretty boys singing about love and dancing on MTV to screaming hoards of teen girls and they weren’t long haired dudes screaming about the Devil and authority and being real all whilst riding in lambos and building various pools in each wing of their mansion. These guys and gals were real, unpolished and definitely unfiltered. They were us!
They sang songs that made you dance, that were stupid, that were angry at the world and most of all captured the state of the youth at the time. They embraced everyone and they were a commonality among those that were becoming divided. Not to mention, the songs were catchy! They weren’t all just looks, on reflection a lot of this music was written and performed by brilliant musicians, who always put on crazy and atmospheric live shows. It sounded different but no matter what people say, it was rooted in Metal. It helped to bring the genre back into the mainstream and helped to build back a community that was starting to become lost. One that I am grateful every day to be a part of.
I think that’s what the Gen Z of today like about it. Not only is the music fantastic (do yourself a favour and listen to the first Linkin Park and Deftones albums) but it includes everyone. It never tried to disallow anyone based on age, gender or race, something which this generation also has right. I as a young woman of colour, felt like I could be a part of something and I see why the youth of today are taking the genre to levels we never thought it could again. Metal is and has always been one big accepting melting pot for everyone and for a small time it felt like that was slipping away. I’ve always thought that Nu-Metal helped us to see that and it’s doing it again for the new kids on the block who don’t want to sit silent and want to go out there and use their voices and Break Stuff!