Final Six: The Six Best/Worst Things to Come out of Nu-Metal

Chris "Down with the Fatness" Krovatin is the author of the young-adult novels Heavy Metal & You and Venomous, as well as's “Final Six” blog. The latter book was the inspiration for Deadlocke, a one-shot published by Dark Horse Comics.

I was there. It was awful! Awful, I tell you. Lord knows how we even survived it. The worst parts of metal and the worst parts of hip-hop, meshed together to form a lumbering force of adolescent rage that threatened to tear us apart. Everyone cutting their hair, or worse, spiking it up and dyeing it blue. Album covers more heavily inspired by manga comics and Elemental Skateboards ads than by Satan or Vietnam. And “Nookie,” Jesus. It was our generation’s great shame, the way that Bon Jovi and Winger must have been to those before us. I know. I was there.

That said: nu-metal produced some interesting results during its short reign over the extreme-music world. Yes, it’s easy to simply dismiss the genre entirely, but to do so would be forsaking the few precious things that the movement spawned, cultural gems we must cling so as not to admit that we completely wasted the late ’90s and early 2000s getting tribal tattoos. So here, ladies and gentlemen, are my Six Best and Worst Things to Come Out of Nu-Metal.*

The Six Best Things to Come Out of Nu-Metal:

1) Higher levels of human tolerance For all it’s jock-rock machismo, nu-metal songs were mainly about feeling different and achieving an open mind. It began condemning the racism, sexism, and homophobia that oft plagued its extreme predecessors. No one likes a bigot.
2) The seven-string guitar Many purists may hate it, but the seven-string guitar, popularized by Steve Vai for his wheedling solos, creates a cool rumbling atmosphere that can add a certain level of guttural doom to any song. Just so happens it was popularized by this era.
3) Making fashion freakish again After a decade’s worth of flannel had come and gone, it was nice to see hard music adopting a tradition of dressing like a complete sideshow again. A few piercings and bondage straps never hurt anyone. Except the piercings, actually, those usually hurt.
4) Digitalization Nu-metal was coming up at the same time as the Internet, and much of its culture and fashion was straight out of Hackers. Any metal band today who does most, if not all, of their business online owes nu-metal a nod.
5) Slipknot Des Moines’ nine-headed metal monster is such a product of the nu-metal age, but they’ve remained relevant to this day, and they brought back the death and terror to extreme music. A truly intrepid group of psychotic drug-addled cultural pariahs.
6) Metal pride restored After grunge, no one wanted to be metal anymore—it was “hard rock” and nothing else. Nu-metal revived the pride in listening to riffy, incomprehensible noise, and taking pride in being crazy. The Gin Blossoms can suck my fat cock. Get down with the sickness.

The Six Worst Things to Come Out of Nu-Metal:

1) Limp Bizkit Sad thing is, Limp Bizkit embodied all five things on the ‘Best’ list, and then Jesus, they took it in the wrong direction, becoming a beacon of misogyny, obnoxiousness, and poor musicianship. Truly the worst thing to come out of the worst trend in metal.
2) The death of the guitar solo In its efforts to tune down and simplify riffs, nu-metal effectively drove a stake through the heart of the guitar solo (a single lead on a wah pedal does not a solo make, guys). Yes, punk was only three chords, but at least that was played fast.
3) Ecstasy chic Nu-metal tapped into the fear of the modern parent, but much of that fear was of AIDS and meth, which resulted in a weird obsession with rave and club culture that made everyone just look like the hippie assholes they should’ve been hating.
4) The big fucking pants In an attempt to take their hip-hop influence even further and more extreme, nu-metallers took the baggy jeans of the time and made them fucking massive, resulting in a generation of rockers who couldn’t see their shoes. What were we thinking?
5) Rock-star bullshit Another trait nu-metal tried to adopt from hip-hop was a sense of swagger, but instead they became parodies of the hair bands of the ’80s, marrying chopped-up porn stars and flipping off their fans. Repulsive.
6) The music When’s the last time you actually listened to an Adema song? Oh man, they have not aged well…

DISCLAIMER: I’m not some snarky hoity-toity asshole. I was into nu-metal when it came out. I had a Korn poster on my wall at age 13. I still kind of love Powerman 5000. So remember, part of my condemnation is shame, and I know I’m not God. Back to trashing Limp Bizkit…


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  • Stiles Fifield

    I would take the absolute worst parts of nu-metal over the shit that’s around in 2012 any day.

    • R. G. Price

      Actually there is a lot of good stuff out these days, just a little harder to find since the record companies are promoting it. To name a few:

      Kreator (still)
      Vader (still)
      High on Fire
      Electric Wizard

      • Stiles

        I guess nu-metal is just my personal preference when it comes to metal (though definitely not always, I love groove metal and older thrash metal), and I respect what others prefer over it. I can understand why many people don’t look back on it fondly.

  • bgt

    Baggy pants is cooler than your sister’s crutch pants

  • Lord Wenger

    When did nu-metal condemn racism sexism and homophobia? I know Lajon of Sevendust did with black but one person? same with Otep with sexism and homophobia but listen to any Limp Bizkit and Hed Pe, KoRn All in the family and K**t there is numerous examples of both misogny and homophobia 50% of the songs are angsty bitter about ex gf’s music. If I was to give nu-metal credit it would be for how personal the lyrics could get about abuse Davis sung about his molestation so did Rob Flynn Otep and the guy from Nothingface and there was a couple of others I can’t remember its just unfortunate the scene was cloaked in poor musicianship and tough guy attitudes.

    Also the scene gave us Deftones so theres another thing to be greatful for but they were always too talented for the nu metal label.