Maybe you’re too old or (nowadays) maybe you’re too young, but there is a teeming, unfortunate mass of us out there who once saw nu-metal as our anthemic genre. While I would love to say my musical history began with Altars of Madness or was somehow nonexistent until the Napalm Death/Coalesce split, Korn and various other pimp rockers at one point seemed like musical heavyweights. The extent and depth of my personal interest isn’t important and neither is yours- whether we lost interest after Life is Peachy or can still name every guest vocalist on Strait Up, we were bonafide nu-metal fans. That’s why reading this article from the A/V Club is so enjoyable.
It’s a brief look at how the genre became a hit, a mass-marketed sound and feeling that used the apathy of grunge as a springboard into blind, suburban testosterone. Not that this should surprise anyone who has ever paid attention to the shills Korn quickly became (keep in mind that releasing their debut album on Immortal/Epic/Sony and opening for Biohazard somehow passed back then as “paying your dues”) and the ascendancy of William Frederick Durst. But there are some details I never knew (such as Fieldy revising the band’s musical history and a Limp Bizkit payola almost-scandal) and it really is interesting to see how nu-metal, the true post-grunge, operated during the last ticking moments of the orthodox music industry, free from the muddlings of Youtube, Wikipedia and infinite Myspace band pages.
This article, which is the 1998 section of a multi-part look into the 90s music scene, doesn’t go very far into the whole bulldozer Adidas-clad movement, and it’s written by someone who admittedly would “never get” these bands. But there’s still enough juice to make it an interesting read and, for some of us, it’s an appreciated reminder that for all our bluster and high opinions, every time someone hits a ride cymbal in that certain way, we all want to howl out, “Are you ready!?”