Heavy metalalternative metalhip hoprap metalfunk metalindustrial metalgroove metalgrungehardcore punkalternative rock
Early to mid-1990s, California, U.S.
Electric guitarbassdrumsturntablesynthesizersamplingvocals (rappingsingingscreaminggrowling)
Nu metal (also known as nü-metal and aggro-metal) is a form of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres such as hip hop, alternative rock, funk and grunge. Nu metal bands have drawn elements and influences from a variety of musical styles, including multiple genres of heavy metal. Nu metal rarely features guitar solos; the genre is heavily syncopated and based on guitar riffs. Many nu metal guitarists use seven-string guitars that are down-tuned to play a heavier sound. DJs are occasionally featured in nu metal to provide instrumentation such as sampling, turntable scratching and electronic backgrounds. Vocal styles in nu metal include singing, rapping, screaming and growling. Nu metal is one of the key genres of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal.
- Terminology and origins
- Musical characteristics
- Vocal styles
- Hip hop elements
- Fashion and style
- 1980s1993 Predecessors and influences
- 19931998 Early development and rise
- 19982003 Mainstream popularity
- 20032009 Decline
- 2010present Minor revival
- Nu metalcore
- Criticism and controversy
- Rejection of nu metal label
- Controversy over nu metals association with heavy metal
Nu metal became popular in the late 1990s with bands and artists such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, and Deftones all releasing multi-platinum. Nu metal's popularity continued during the early 2000s, with bands such as Papa Roach, Staind, and P.O.D. all selling multi-platinum albums, and came to a peak with Linkin Park's diamond-selling album Hybrid Theory. However, by the mid-2000s, the oversaturation of bands combined with the under-performance of a number of high-profile releases led to nu metal's decline, leading to the rise of metalcore and many nu metal bands disbanding or abandoning their established sound in favor of other genres.
During the 2010s, there has been a slight nu metal revival; many bands that combine nu metal with other genres (for example, metalcore) emerged and some nu metal bands from the 1990s and early 2000s returned to a nu metal sound. Nu metal has been criticized by many fans of heavy metal and has been looked at as not being "true heavy metal". Many nu metal musicians have rejected the nu metal label and also have rejected being labeled as heavy metal.
Terminology and origins
Nu metal is also known as nü-metal and aggro-metal. It is a subgenre of alternative metal. MTV states that the early nu metal group Korn "arrived in 1993 into the burgeoning alternative metal scene, which would morph into nü-metal the way college rock became alternative rock." Stereogum has similarly claimed that nu metal was a "weird outgrowth of the Lollapalooza-era alt-metal scene". Nu metal merges elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres such as grunge, hip hop, funk and alternative rock.
Nu metal bands have been influenced by and have used elements of a variety of musical genres, including electronic music, funk, grunge, gothic rock, hardcore punk, hip hop, punk rock, dance music, new wave, jazz, post-punk, symphonic rock and synthpop. Nu metal bands also are influenced by and use elements of genres of heavy metal music such as death metal, rap metal, groove metal, funk metal, alternative metal and thrash metal. Some nu metal bands such as Static-X and Dope made nu metal music with elements of industrial metal.
Nu metal music is heavily syncopated and is based mostly on guitar riffs. Mid-song bridges and a general lack of guitar solos contrasts it with other genres of heavy metal. Kory Grow of Revolver wrote, "... [i]n its efforts to tune down and simplify riffs, nu-metal effectively drove a stake through the heart of the guitar solo". Another contrast with other heavy metal genres is nu metal's emphasis on rhythm, rather than on complexity or mood, often its rhythm sounds like that of groove metal. The wah pedal is occasionally featured in nu metal music. Nu metal guitar riffs occasionally are similar to death metal guitar riffs.
Nu metal bassists and drummers are often influenced by funk and hip hop, respectively, adding to nu metal's rhythmic nature. Blast beats, which are common in heavy metal subgenres such as black metal and death metal, are extremely rare in nu metal. Nu metal's similarities with many heavy metal subgenres include its use of common time, distorted guitars, power chords and note structures primarily revolving around Dorian, Aeolian or Phrygian modes. While loud and heavily distorted electric guitars are a core feature of all metal genres, nu metal guitarists took the sounds of "violence and destruction" to new levels with their overdriven guitar tone, which music journalists Kitts and Tolinski compared to the "...sound [of] a Mack truck being crushed by a collapsing skyscraper."
Some nu metal bands use seven-string guitars that are generally down-tuned, rather than traditional six-string guitars. Likewise, some bass guitarists use five-string and six-string instruments. Bass guitar-playing in nu metal often features an emphasis on funk elements such as slap bass, a percussive style of playing in which the thumb slaps the low strings and the fingers "pop" high notes. In nu metal music, DJs are sometimes featured to provide instrumentation such as sampling, turntable scratching and electronic backgrounds. Nu metal tends to have hip hop grooves and rhythms.
Nu metal has participation by female musicians, in contrast with many other heavy metal subgenres; Kittie is an all-female band and there is at least one female member in nu metal bands such as Coal Chamber and Otep.
Vocal styles used in nu metal music include singing, rapping, screaming and growling. Vocals in nu metal are often rhythmic and influenced by hip hop. Although some nu metal bands, such as Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park have rapping in their music, some nu metal bands, such as Godsmack and Staind, do not have rapping in their music. However, a few Staind songs, such as the band's song "Wannabe", do have rapping.
Lyrics in nu metal songs are often angry or nihilistic; many of the genre's lyrics focus on topics such as pain, angst, bullying, emotional torture, abandonment, betrayal, and personal alienation, in a way similar to those of grunge. A lot of nu metal lyrics that are about these topics tend to be in a very direct tone. However, some nu metal songs have lyrics that are about other topics. P.O.D. have used positive lyrics about promise and hope. The nu metal song "Bodies" by Drowning Pool is about moshing. Wayne Swinny of the nu metal band Saliva said that the band's song "Badass" was "meant to be one of those 'sports anthem kind of songs' ". The Michigan Daily wrote about Limp Bizkit's lyrics, writing that the band "used the nu-metal sound as a way to spin testosterone fueled fantasies into snarky white-boy rap. Oddly, audiences took frontman Fred Durst more seriously than he wanted, failing to see the intentional silliness in many of his songs". Limp Bizkit's lyrics also have been described as "misogynistic". Dope's lyrics are usually about sex, drugs, parties, women, violence and relationships. According to Josh Chesler of the Phoenix New Times, the lyrics of Deftones, who were once a nu metal band, "tend to have complex allusions and leave the songs open to many different interpretations." In contrast with other heavy metal subgenres, nu metal tends to use the same structure of verses, choruses and bridges as those in pop music.
Hip hop elements
Nu metal bands occasionally feature hip hop musicians as guests in their songs; Korn's song "Children of the Korn" features the rapper Ice Cube, who performed on the band's 1998 Family Values Tour. The hip hop musician Nas was featured on Korn's song "Play Me", which is on the band's album Take a Look in the Mirror. Limp Bizkit has recorded with multiple hip hop musicians including Method Man, Lil Wayne, Xzibit, Redman, DMX and Snoop Dogg. Linkin Park collaborated with hip hop musician Jay Z on their 2004 extended play Collision Course. Kid Rock has recorded with hip hop musicians Eminem and Snoop Dogg. Trevor Baker of The Guardian wrote, "Bands such as Linkin Park, Korn and even the much reviled Limp Bizkit ... did far more to break down the artificial barriers between 'urban music' and rock than any of their more critically acceptable counterparts. Their concerts also drew huge numbers of women, which is much more than you could say for any old-metal band."
Fashion and style
Nu metal fashion typically consists of baggy pants, shirts, and shorts, JNCO jeans, Adidas tracksuits, sports jerseys, baseball caps, baggy hoodies, cargo pants, sweatpants, dreadlocks, wallet chains, spiky hair, chin beards, tattoos, bald heads, goatees, bleached or dyed hair, and piercings, especially facial piercings. Nu metal fashion has been compared to hip hop fashion. Some nu metal bands such as Hollywood Undead, Motograter, Mushroomhead, Mudvayne, and Slipknot wear masks, jumpsuits, costumes, face paint, corpse paint or body paint.
1980s–1993: Predecessors and influences
Many heavy metal, alternative metal, industrial, funk metal, alternative rock, experimental metal, rap metal, grunge and industrial metal artists and bands of the 1980s and 1990s have been credited with laying groundwork for the development of nu metal by combining heavy guitar riffs with pop music structures and drawing influences from subgenres of heavy metal and other music genres; Faith No More, Primus, Helmet, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Mr. Bungle, Prong, Rage Against the Machine, and Ministry all have been highlighted as examples of this.
Groove metal and thrash metal bands of the same period such as Sepultura, Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, and Anthrax all have been cited as influential to nu metal as well. For example, Anthrax pioneered the rap metal genre by combining hip hop and rap with heavy metal on their 1987 EP I'm the Man, which laid groundwork for nu metal's development. Korn's lead vocalist Jonathan Davis said about Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, "if there was no Dimebag Darrell, there would be no Korn". Tool, a progressive metal band cited as influential to nu metal, influenced the nu metal bands Mudvayne, Limp Bizkit, and Otep.
In the 1990s, bands described as "neo-metal" by the author Garry Sharpe-Young emerged; these bands include Pantera, Strapping Young Lad, Machine Head, Biohazard and Fear Factory. Sharpe-Young wrote that these bands "had chosen to strip metal down to its raw, primal element" and that "neo-metal paved the way for nu-metal".
Nu metal often is influenced by hip hop; Hip hop musicians Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have been a big influence on nu metal pioneers Korn; guitarist Munky said the band were trying to emulate the samples of Dr. Dre's 1992 album The Chronic. Munky and fellow Korn guitarist Head also said they tried to emulate samples by the hip hop group Cypress Hill. Both the Geto Boys and N.W.A. also have been a major influence on Korn. Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit has cited the hip hop group The Fat Boys as a major influence on him. The nu metal band Papa Roach cited rapper Nas and hip hop groups Wu-Tang Clan and Fugees as influences. Shifty Shellshock of the nu metal band Crazy Town cited Run–D.M.C. and Beastie Boys as influences. Josey Scott of the nu metal band Saliva cited Run–D.M.C., LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Chuck D, Doug E. Fresh, and Whodini as influences. Sonny Sandoval of the nu metal band P.O.D. cited hip hop groups Boogie Down Productions and Run–D.M.C. as influences. Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda's hip hop influences include Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, N.W.A., and the Juice Crew. Chester Bennington, another member of Linkin Park, cited A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, Run–D.M.C., Public Enemy, N.W.A., Beastie Boys, and Rob Base as influences. More rock-oriented hip hop acts such as Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys, and Red Hot Chili Peppers were also identified as inspirational to the genre by Stereogum writer Chris DeVille. Hip hop group Run–DMC was one of the first groups to combine rap with rock, paving the way for nu metal.
1993–1998: Early development and rise
Joel McIver acknowledged Korn as the band that pioneered the nu metal genre with its demo Neidermayer's Mind, which was released in 1993. McIver also acknowledged Korn as the band that started the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, which is a heavy metal music movement that started in the 1990s. The aggressive riffs of Korn, the rapping of Limp Bizkit, and the melodic ballads of Staind created the sonic template for nu metal. The origins of the term "nu metal" are often attributed to the work of producer Ross Robinson, who has been called "The Godfather of Nu Metal". Robinson has produced for nu metal bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot. Many of the first nu metal bands, such as Korn and Deftones, came from California; however, the genre soon spread across the country and many bands arose from various states, including Limp Bizkit from Florida, Staind from Massachusetts, and Slipknot from Iowa. In the book Brave Nu World, Tommy Udo wrote about the nu metal band Coal Chamber, "There's some evidence to suggest that Coal Chamber were the first band to whom the tag 'nu metal' was actually applied, in a live review in Spin magazine."
In 1994, Korn released their self-titled debut album, which is widely considered the first nu metal album. Korn had experienced underground popularity at this time; their debut album peaked at number 72 on the Billboard 200. In the same year, P.O.D.'s album Snuff the Punk was also released, which was later recognized as another early example of nu metal. Sepultura's 1996 album Roots features nu metal elements that were considered influential to the genre, while Roots itself was influenced by Korn's self-titled debut album. Few bands were playing nu metal until 1997 when bands such as Snot, Coal Chamber, Limp Bizkit, and Papa Roach all released their debut albums. Attention through MTV and Ozzy Osbourne's 1995 introduction of Ozzfest was integral to the launching of the careers of many nu metal bands, including Limp Bizkit in 1998.
Nu metal began to rise in popularity when Korn's 1996 album Life Is Peachy peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200 and sold 106,000 copies in its first week of being released. Korn's albums Life is Peachy and Korn both were certified 2x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on November 10, 1999. In 1997, Deftones released their album Around the Fur, which peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 chart, remained on that chart for at least 17 weeks and sold 43,000 copies in its first week of release. Deftones' albums Around the Fur and Adrenaline both were certified gold in 1999. Coal Chamber's self-titled album peaked at number 10 on the Top Heatseekers chart in 1998 and was certified gold by the RIAA in December 1999.
1998–2003: Mainstream popularity
1998 is generally recognized as the year when nu metal broke into the mainstream when Korn's third album Follow the Leader peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200, was certified 5x platinum, and paved the way for other nu metal bands. At this point, many nu metal bands were signed to major record labels, and were playing combinations of heavy metal, hip hop, industrial, grunge and hardcore punk styles. Musical artists and groups such as Cypress Hill, Sepultura, Vanilla Ice, Primus, Fear Factory, Machine Head, and Slayer released albums that draw from the nu metal genre.
In 1999, Korn's fourth studio album Issues peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200. The album was certified 3× platinum in one month. The album sold at least 573,000 copies in its first week of release and its first single "Falling Away From Me" peaked at number 8 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. A little before the album was released, Korn appeared on an episode of South Park titled "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery", in which "Falling Away from Me" was premiered. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, multiple nu metal bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit and P.O.D. appeared repeatedly on MTV's Total Request Live.
The Woodstock 1999 festival featured multiple nu metal artists and bands such as Korn, Kid Rock, Godsmack, Limp Bizkit and Sevendust. During and after Limp Bizkit's performance at the festival, violence occurred and people tore plywood from the walls during the performance of the band's song "Break Stuff". Several sexual assaults were reported to have happened during the festival; a rape that was said to have occurred during Limp Bizkit's performance and gang rape was reported to have occurred during Korn's set at the festival. Limp Bizkit's vocalist Fred Durst said during his band's Woodstock 1999 concert, "People are getting hurt. Don't let anybody get hurt. But I don't think you should mellow out. That's what Alanis Morissette had you motherfuckers do. If someone falls, pick 'em up. We already let the negative energy out. Now we wanna let out the positive energy." Durst was accused of inciting violence at the festival. In an interview about the Woodstock 1999 incident, Durst said, "I didn't see anybody getting hurt. You don't see that. When you're looking out on a sea of people and the stage is twenty feet in the air and you're performing, and you're feeling your music, how do they expect us to see something bad going on?" Les Claypool, a member of the band Primus, said, "Woodstock was just Durst being Durst. His attitude is 'no press is bad press', so he brings it on himself. He wallows in it. Still, he's a great guy." Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine referred to Woodstock 1999 as "the low point of nu metal". Despite the incident at the festival, Limp Bizkit's popularity and the sales of their then-recent album Significant Other were not affected. The album peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 643,874 copies in its first week of release, topping over one million sold in two weeks, and being eventually certified 7x platinum in 2001. Significant Other sold at least 7,237,123 copies in the United States.
Orgy became popular in the late 1990s with their album Candyass, which was certified platinum by the RIAA in July 1999. The band's cover of "Blue Monday" by New Order peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100. Godsmack's self-titled debut album was released in 1998 and was certified 4× platinum in December 2001. In April 1999, Kid Rock's album Devil Without a Cause was certified by gold by the RIAA. The following month, Devil Without a Cause, as Kid Rock predicted, went platinum. The album sold at least 9,300,000 copies in the United States and was certified 11x platinum. In 1999, Slipknot emerged with an extremely heavy nu metal sound, releasing their self-titled album, which was certified platinum in 2000 and 2x platinum in 2005. In a review of the band's self-titled album, Rick Anderson of AllMusic wrote about Slipknot, "You thought Limp Bizkit was hard? They're the Osmonds. These guys are something else entirely."
In 1999, Staind's second album Dysfunction was released; the track "Mudshovel" peaked at number 10 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Dysfunction was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA. In 2000, Limp Bizkit's third studio album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water set a record for highest week-one sales of a rock album, selling over 1,000,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release—400,000 of which sold on its first day of release, making it the fastest-selling rock album ever and breaking the world record held for seven years by Pearl Jam's Vs. Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water by Limp Bizkit was certified 6x platinum and sold at least 8,000,000 copies in the United States. That same year, both Papa Roach's second studio album Infest and Disturbed's debut studio album The Sickness were released. The RIAA certified The Sickness 4× platinum and Infest 3× platinum. Disturbed's song "Down with the Sickness" was certified platinum by the RIAA. Papa Roach's song "Last Resort" peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 2000, P.O.D.'s album The Fundamental Elements of Southtown went platinum in the United States and was the 143rd best-selling album of 2000. The album's song "Rock the Party (Off the Hook)" went to number 1 on MTV's Total Request Live. In 2000, the hip hop group Cypress Hill released their fifth studio album Skull & Bones, which features a nu metal and rap metal style. The album went platinum in the United States in two months. During the early 2000s, the nu metal band Incubus was very popular and made the albums Make Yourself and Morning View, which both were certified 2x platinum by the RIAA.
Late in 2000, Linkin Park released their debut album Hybrid Theory, which was the best-selling debut album by any artist of any genre in the 21st century. The album was also the best-selling album of 2001, selling more than albums such as Celebrity by NSYNC and Hot Shot by Shaggy. Linkin Park earned a Grammy Award for their second single "Crawling". Their fourth single, "In the End", was released late in 2001 and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 2002. In 2001, Linkin Park's album Hybrid Theory sold 4,800,000 copies in the United States, making it the highest-selling album of the year. Linkin Park's album Hybrid Theory was certified diamond by the RIAA and sold at least 10,222,000 copies in the United States. In 2000, Godsmack released their second studio album Awake, which was certified 2x platinum in March 2002. The album's title track peaked at number 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Both the album's title track and the song "Sick of Life" have been featured on the United States Navy's television commercials.
The Crazy Town album The Gift of Game peaked at number 9 on the Billboard 200, went platinum in February 2001, and sold at least 1,500,000 copies in the United States. Worldwide, the album sold at least 2,500,000 copies. Staind's 2001 album Break the Cycle debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 with at least 716,000 copies sold in its first week of release, selling more than albums such as Survivor by Destiny's Child, Lateralus by Tool and Miss E… So Addictive by Missy Elliot. Break the Cycle by Staind was certified 5x platinum by the RIAA in 2003. In March 2001, Saliva released their second album Every Six Seconds and the album was certified platinum. The album's song "Click Click Boom" was used as the theme song for WWE's No Mercy event of 2001. "Click Click Boom" also has been played during football games. Saliva's song "Your Disease" peaked at number 7 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and peaked at number 3 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart.
In August 2001, Slipknot released their album Iowa, which peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum in October 2001. Critic John Mulvey called the album the "absolute triumph of nu metal". P.O.D.'s 2001 album Satellite went triple-platinum and peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200. P.O.D.'s popularity continued in the year 2002. On June 5, 2001, Drowning Pool released a nu metal album titled Sinner, which features the song "Bodies". The album went platinum on August 23, 2001 and its song "Bodies" became one of the most frequently played videos on MTV for new bands. "Bodies" went to number 6 on the Mainstream Rock chart and was used by Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon as his theme song.
Alien Ant Farm's album Anthology, which was released in 2001, sold at least 1,900,000 copies in the United States and was certified platinum by the RIAA the same year. Alien Ant Farm's cover of Michael Jackson's song "Smooth Criminal" peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2001, System of a Down's album Toxicity peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200. In November 2002, Toxicity was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. In 2002, the soundtrack album for the film The Scorpion King was released and peaked at number 1 on the Top Soundtracks chart; it features multiple nu metal bands such as Drowning Pool, Coal Chamber, Lifer, Sevendust, Flaw and Godsmack. Godsmack's track "I Stand Alone" was the most played active rock song in 2002 for fourteen consecutive weeks. "I Stand Alone" also peaked at number 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
In 2003, MTV wrote that nu metal's mainstream popularity was declining, citing that Korn's long-awaited fifth album Untouchables and Papa Roach's third album Lovehatetragedy both sold less than the bands' previous releases. Korn's lead vocalist Jonathan Davis blamed music piracy for the amount of sales of Untouchables because the album had been leaked to the Internet more than four months before its official release date. MTV also wrote that nu metal bands were played less frequently on radio stations and MTV began focusing other musical genres. MTV wrote that Papa Roach's third album Lovehatetragedy has less hip hop elements than the band's previous album Infest and also said that Saliva's 2002 album Back into Your System has less hip hop elements than the band's 2001 album Every Six Seconds. MTV also wrote that Crazy Town's second album Darkhorse had no hit singles and sold less than the band's previous album The Gift of Game. MTV wrote that although Kid Rock's album Cocky had characteristics of the musician's 1998 album Devil Without a Cause, Cocky's song "Forever", which featured the style of Kid Rock's nu metal song "Bawitdaba", was not as popular as Cocky's country song "Picture". MTV also wrote, "Another cause for nü-metal and rap-rock's slip from the spotlight could be a diluted talent pool caused by so many similar-sounding bands. American Head Charge, Primer 55, Adema, Cold, the Union Underground, Dope, Apartment 26, Hed (Planet Earth) and Skrape—all of whom released albums between 2000 and 2001—left more of a collective impression than individual ones".
Despite what MTV wrote, the RIAA certified Korn's album Untouchables platinum in July 2002, and one of the album's singles, "Here to Stay", peaked at number 72 on the Billboard Hot 100, had a lot of radio play, and peaked at number one on MTV's Total Request Live twice. Untouchables sold at least 434,000 copies in first week of release and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200. "Thoughtless", another single from Korn's album Untouchables, also was successful; the single reached number 11 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and number 6 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. However, Untouchables still did not sell as many copies as Korn's most commercially successful album, Follow the Leader. Papa Roach's song "She Loves Me Not", which is from the band's 2002 album Lovehatetragedy, peaked at number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Despite the decline in sales of bands such as Korn and Papa Roach, nu metal remained extremely popular with bands such as Linkin Park, Godsmack, Trapt, and Evanescence. Linkin Park's remix album Reanimation was released in July 2002 and sold more than a million copies that year, which MTV described as "impressive for a remix album". Trapt's 2002 song "Headstrong" launched the band into the mainstream; the song peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 4 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart and number 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Trapt's song "Still Frame" peaked at number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band's self-titled album was certified platinum by the RIAA in 2003. Evanescence's debut album Fallen was released in March 2003. Johnny Loftus of AllMusic noted the nu metal sound of the album. Fallen's Grammy Award-winning lead single "Bring Me to Life" peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 1 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. In 2003, Linkin Park's album Meteora peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold at least 810,000 copies in its first week of being released. Meteora by Linkin Park and Fallen by Evanescence ranked third and fourth respectively on the best-selling albums of 2003. Both Linkin Park and Evanescence released high-charting singles throughout 2003 to mid-2004. Fallen by Evanescence sold at least 7,600,000 copies in the United States and Meteora by Linkin Park sold at least 6,100,000 copies in the United States. In 2003, Korn released a song called "Did My Time", which peaked at number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100. That same year, Godsmack released their third studio album Faceless, which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA in its first five weeks of being released.
According to the magazine Decibel, nu metal ended "around the summer of 2003". However, according to Ultimate-Guitar.com, Musical Urbanism and Rolling Stone, nu metal ended in 2004. After a period of mainstream success with bands such as Godsmack, Trapt, Linkin Park and Evanescence, nu metal declined in popularity. Limp Bizkit's 2003 album Results May Vary, which features elements of alternative rock and nu metal, peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200. However, Results May Vary had a very poor critical reception and consequently performed much weaker than previous Limp Bizkit albums such as Significant Other and Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. Although Korn's album Take a Look in the Mirror's song "Did My Time" peaked at number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100, the album sold less than previous Korn albums Issues and Untouchables. In 2004, classic rock-inspired bands such as Jet and The Darkness were achieving mainstream success as the popularity of nu metal declined. During the mid-2000s, the popularity of emo exceeded the declining popularity of nu metal. Also, during the mid-2000s, metalcore, a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk, became one of the most popular genres in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal.
In the mid-to-late 2000s, many nu metal bands experimented with other genres and sounds. Linkin Park's third studio album Minutes to Midnight, released in 2007, was noted for its complete departure from the band's nu metal sound. Nu metal bands such as Disturbed and Drowning Pool moved to a hard rock or standard heavy metal sound. Slipknot also departed from their nu metal sound and included elements of groove metal, death metal and thrash metal into their music. Staind and Papa Roach moved to lighter sounds. Staind's 2003 album 14 Shades Of Grey does not express as much anger as the band's previous albums and shows the band's departure from heavy metal elements and a movement towards a lighter sound. Papa Roach abandoned the nu metal genre with their 2004 album Getting Away with Murder, moving to a hard rock style.
Soulfly moved away from the nu metal style and moved to styles such as death metal and thrash metal. Kittie abandoned the nu metal style and started making music with elements of genres such as black metal and death metal. Korn and Mudvayne maintained their popularity during the mid-2000s, although they did not completely abandon the nu metal style. Korn combined their earlier sound with influences from other genres, such as industrial. Korn's songs "Coming Undone" and "Twisted Transistor", which both are on their 2005 album See You on the Other Side, reached the Billboard Hot 100; Pop music producers The Matrix helped produce the album. Mudvayne's 2005 album Lost and Found was seen as gravitating towards a more accessible sound. The album's song "Happy?" peaked at number 89 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 91 on Billboard's Pop 100 chart. In 2005, Limp Bizkit released a record called The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1) without promoting and advertising the record. The album was not very popular; its sales fell 67% during its second week of release. In 2006, Limp Bizkit went on hiatus.
2010–present: Minor revival
During the 2010s, there was a discussion within media of a possible nu metal revival because of bands fusing nu metal with other genres, the return of nu metal bands, extant bands going back to the nu metal genre and nu metal bands forming. Despite the lack of radio play and popularity, some nu metal bands recaptured some of their former popularity as they released albums in a nu metal style. Korn's 2010 studio album Korn III: Remember Who You Are sold 63,000 copies during its first week of release and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200. As of December 6, 2011, the album had sold at least 185,000 units in the United States. Korn's vocalist Jonathan Davis said with their new album the band "want to go back to that old-school vibe". He also said "It's gonna be very raw, it's gonna be old school like the first Korn records".
In 2011, Limp Bizkit's long-awaited sixth studio album Gold Cobra was released; it sold 27,000 copies during its first week in the United States and peaked at number 16 on the Billboard 200. That same year, Staind's self-titled album was released; it shows the band returning to their heavier nu metal style. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, selling 47,000 copies in its first week of release, making it the band's fifth consecutive top-five album. In October 2011, Evanescence's self-titled album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and other United States charts and sold over 127,000 copies in the first week. In December that year, Korn released their album The Path of Totality, which sold 55,000 copies in its first week. The album combines nu metal with dubstep. Both the Phoenix New Times and the LA Weekly cited The Path of Totality as a new direction for nu metal. The album won a Revolver Golden God award for "Album of the Year".
In 2014, Linkin Park returned to their nu-metal roots with their sixth studio album The Hunting Party. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 110,000 copies in the United States. In 2014, Slipknot released its fifth studio album .5: The Gray Chapter. With .5: The Gray Chapter, Slipknot returned to the nu metal genre. .5: The Gray Chapter peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. That same year, Coal Chamber released Rivals, their first studio album since 2002's Dark Days. Many critics noted the nu metal sound of the album. In one review of Rivals, 100% Rock wrote that Coal Chamber have taken early 2000's style nu metal and "modernized the sound for the current day."
In the 2010s, "nu metalcore" emerged as a popular trend with many metalcore and deathcore groups. Emmure, Of Mice & Men, Suicide Silence, and Issues all either gained moderate popularity or an underground following, and all of the groups claimed influence from nu metal. Suicide Silence's 2011 album The Black Crown, which features elements of nu metal and deathcore, peaked at number 28 on the Billboard 200. In 2014, Issues' self-titled debut album peaked at number 9 on the same chart. The album features elements of metalcore, nu metal, pop and R&B. Of Mice & Men's 2014 album Restoring Force, which features elements of nu metal, peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200. Bring Me the Horizon, previously known for a much heavier style of music, released their fifth album That's the Spirit, which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200, in 2015. The album draws from multiple genres, including nu metal; however, the band completely abandoned their metalcore style.
Criticism and controversy
In spite of both its popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the fact that it is widely considered to be a genre of heavy metal music, nu metal has often been criticized by many fans of heavy metal music, often being labelled with derogatory terms such as "mallcore" and "whinecore". Gregory Heaney of AllMusic called nu metal "one of metal's more unfortunate pushes into the mainstream". Lucy Jones of NME called nu metal "the worst genre of all time". In Metal: The Definitive Guide : Heavy, NWOBH, Progressive, Thrash, Death ..., Garry Sharpe-Young described nu metal as "a dumbed-down and—thankfully short[-]lived exercise". When Machine Head moved to the nu metal genre with their album The Burning Red and their vocalist Robb Flynn spiked his hair in the fashion of many nu metal musicians, the band were accused of "selling out" and many fans criticized their change of appearance and musical style. Machine Head's drummer Dave McClain said, "Pissing people off isn't a bad thing, you know? For people to be narrow-minded is bad ... [i]t doesn't bother us at all, we know we're going to piss people off with this record, but some people hopefully will actually sit down and listen to the whole record". Robb Flynn, Machine Head's vocalist, said
"There's a minute and a half of rapping on that album. The other 53 minutes of the record are like a giant scar being ripped open while I projectile-vomit through it. If all that people got out of [The Burning Red] was rap-metal, then they didn't fucking listen to it".
Jonathan Davis, the vocalist of Korn, spoke about the criticism of nu metal from heavy metal fans, saying
"There's a lot of closed-minded metal purists that would hate something because it's not true to metal or whatever, but Korn has never been a metal band, dude. We're not a metal band. We've always been looked at as what they called the nu-metal thing. But we've always been the black sheep and we never fitted into that kind of thing so ... We're always ever evolving, and we always piss fans off and we're gaining other fans and it is how it is."
Lamb of God's vocalist Randy Blythe criticized the nu metal genre and spoke about its loss of popularity in 2004, saying, "Nu-metal sucks, so that's why that's dying off. And I think ... ... people are ready for angrier music. I think people are ready for something that's real, not, you know, 'I did it all for the nookie.'" Dave Mustaine of the heavy metal band Megadeth said he would "rather have his eyelids pulled out" than listen to nu metal. Gary Holt, a member of the thrash metal bands Exodus and Slayer, said that he "was so glad about" the decline of nu metal. Despite the large amount of criticism that the genre received, Jack Porter of The Michigan Daily defended nu metal, writing
"Unfortunately, some barriers prevent listeners from understanding nu-metal bands apart from the identity that genre label has given them—picture a bone-headed suburban white kid sporting a backwards baseball cap. What used to be a descriptor for a specific strain of alternative metal turned into a ghetto for every band that a) plays extremely heavy yet radio-friendly music and b) sucks. Because the genre came to be defined by its lack of quality, many 'serious' music fans have missed out on what it has to offer."
Additionally, Jody Macgregor of FasterLouder called nu metal "music's most hated genre" and wrote that nu metal is "not as bad as people think".
Some musicians who influenced nu metal have tried to distance themselves from the subgenre and its bands. Mike Patton, the vocalist of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, tried to distance himself from the subgenre and criticized it, even though he is featured on the song "Lookaway" on heavy metal band Sepultura's album Roots, which also features Jonathan Davis. Patton said of his music's influence on nu metal, "I feel no responsibility for that, it's their mothers' fault, not mine". Helmet member Page Hamilton said, "It's frustrating that people write [us] off because we're affiliated with or credited with or discredited with creating nu-metal and rap metal ... which we sound nothing like". However, Page Hamilton appeared on the song "All for Nothing" on Linkin Park's album The Hunting Party,
"When I'm asked what do I think of a lot of the nu-metal bands that are out there, my response is that it seems really insincere to me. 'I've had a really shitty childhood and I'm really upset and I'm really ugly and I've put a lot of make-up on and I'm harder and faster and my voice sounds more like the cookie monster's than yours does'. To me it all comes across as being comical, as being a parody of itself."
In response to reports that Fred Durst, lead singer of Limp Bizkit, is a big fan of Tool, the latter's vocalist Maynard James Keenan said, "If the lunch-lady in high school hits on you, you appreciate the compliment, but you're not really gonna start dating the lunch-lady, are ya?" While Durst has cited Rage Against the Machine as a major influence, Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine is open about hating Limp Bizkit's music. At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Limp Bizkit won the Best Rock Video category for their song "Break Stuff", beating Rage Against the Machine's "Sleep Now in the Fire". When Limp Bizkit accepted their award, Commerford went on stage and climbed 20 ft (6.1 m) up a backdrop, rocking back and forth. After the incident, Commerford was arrested and spent a night in jail. Years later, Tim Commerford called Limp Bizkit "one of the dumbest bands in the history of music". Years later, Commerford also said, "I do apologize for Limp Bizkit. I really do. I feel really bad that we inspired such bullshit ... They're gone, though. That's the beautiful thing."
Rejection of nu metal label
Some nu metal musicians have rejected the label nu metal and have tried to distance themselves from it. Slipknot prefer to distance themselves from other nu metal groups, describing their own music as "metal metal" and equate their link to nu metal as a coincidence of their time of emergence.
Jonathan Davis has rejected the nu metal label, saying "We're not 'rap rock,' we're not 'nu-metal ... We might have invented a new genre of heavy music or rock, but I believe the term 'nu-metal' was made up for all the bands that followed us. Those guys to me are nu-metal. And we're just Korn." In 2014, Davis spoke about the nu metal label, saying:
"I've always rejected [Korn's pigeonholing] into some kind of genre that we helped create. It seems like when a band comes out and we do something new and something different, that's all great. When a whole bunch of bands jump on the bandwagon and start copying what that one band did, then it gets called something and those bands are cheap knockoffs of what the original thing was. So, to me, that's why I never liked the 'nu metal' term."
Staind's vocalist Aaron Lewis rejected the nu metal label, saying, "if we get called a 'nu metal' band one more time, I don't even know what I'm going to do!" Chino Moreno, vocalist of Deftones, rejected the nu metal label saying "We told motherfuckers not to lump us in with nu metal because when those bands go down we aren't going to be with them". As Deftones abandoned the nu metal sound of their early work, Moreno tried to distance himself from nu metal bands and began to criticize the bands and their albums, including Korn's 2002 album Untouchables; he said, "As Korn go on, it's the same things—bad childhoods and mean moms. It gets too old after a while. How old is Jonathan [Davis]? Thirty? How long has it been since he lived with his parents?" Davis responded saying, "Obviously, Chino hasn't listened to the words on the rest of my albums because they're nothing about my parents or my childhood." Moreno also said, "A big problem for me was opening for Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, two bands that wouldn't exist if it weren't for me, straight up!". Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park spoke about the nu metal label in an interview with NME, saying "We never held the flag for nu-metal—it was associated with frat rock. Arrogant, misogynistic, and full of testosterone; we were reacting against that." Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit said that he "never liked or condoned" the term "nu metal" in any way, and said he does not understand "how so many bands that sound nothing alike can be put into" the nu metal genre. Mike Wengren of Disturbed said that he doesn't think Disturbed "were ever a nu-metal band to begin with".
Despite the fact that multiple nu metal musicians rejected the nu metal label, Limp Bizkit's vocalist Fred Durst defended it, saying "Nu metal let people open up and it meant something to people. It really did." Coal Chamber's vocalist Dez Fafara also defended nu metal. He said he is proud to be associated with the subgenre and that nu metal bands "broke new musical ground" saying, "I think 'hair metal' was cheesy. [But] I think 'nu metal' was different. I think what's beautiful about 'nu metal' is it's different. And you've got so many different influences." Chester Bennington of Linkin Park said he accepts the nu metal label, saying:
"I think for the first time in our history, we're actually OK with being recognized as a nu metal band, especially for what we did early in our careers, because the truth is that when we were first doing it, nobody else really was, especially in terms of the hip-hop thing."
Controversy over nu metal's association with heavy metal
In addition to criticizing nu metal, many heavy metal musicians and fans of heavy metal music have rejected nu metal as a legitimate subgenre of heavy metal, saying it is not "true heavy metal". Some nu metal musicians have tried to distance themselves from being heavy metal at all. For example, Korn's Jonathan Davis rejected the "heavy metal" label. When talking with Vice, Davis spoke about Korn being called a heavy metal band, saying, "I never thought of us to be metal to begin with. Yeah, we're heavy and downtuned, but metal, to me, is like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. That's metal, man. I always thought of us as a funk band. That funky, groovy shit." Godsmack's vocalist Sully Erna also rejected the "heavy metal" label and said he views Godsmack as a hard rock band. In an interview, Linkin Park's vocalist Chester Bennington said "I don't think we're a metal band" and also said:
"[We] wanted to make clear from the very beginning when we were kind of tagged as a 'nu metal' band. Not that we have anything against metal ... [w]e aren't just one thing. So there are elements of the band that are metal, there are elements of the band that are pop, there are elements that are electronic, and hip-hop as well. And we've kind of always felt like we weren't bound to just one genre. So after we made 'Hybrid Theory' and 'Meteora', we really wanted to take risks beyond what we had already done on those first two records, creatively, and show the world that we can do a lot more than just make nu-metal songs."
However, some nu metal bands do consider their music heavy metal. Shortly after releasing their debut album Spit, Kittie's drummer Mercedes Lander said her band wanted to be recognized as simply a "metal band" rather than as a "girl metal band". Slipknot described their sound as "metal metal". John Connolly, a member of the nu metal band Sevendust, described their music as "some kind of heavy, some kind of rock and some kind of metal".