Nu-metal (also known as 'nü metal' or 'aggro-metal') is a sub-genre of heavy metal that combines heavy metal music with hip hop, gothic rock, electronica, industrial metal, thrash metal, hardcore punk, and grunge. It is generally classed under the title of 'alternative metal'. Hip hop, standard heavy metal, and hardcore punk being the main influences over all.
The term 'nu metal' is often attributed to Ross Robinson, a.k.a. "The Godfather of nu-metal".
One of the main pioneers of the style was Korn with the release of their debut album in 1993. California proved to be the cradle of the fledgling sound during the 1990s, with other pioneering bands like Staind from Massachusetts, Limp Bizkit from Florida, and Slipknot from Iowa appearing soon after.
Korn proved to have repeated fame when it came to nu-metal, and at a time when grunge dominated the scene, it was Korn's 1994 single Blind (as a video) that received MTV airplay that offered the genre mainstream exposure; the addition of Korn to Ozzy Osbourne's 1995 Ozzfest festival then led to major media attention, enough to say that metal, which had been in the doldrums since the fall of glam a few years before, was returning. Limp Bizkit was another band featured at Ozzfest that met fame as a result.
1998 once again saw Korn in the spotlight pioneering the genre, and is generally recognized as the year nu-metal broke into the mainstream. Korn's third album, Follow the Leader, peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and became a multi-platinum smash hit. That album finally opened the way for the genre to expand.
Nu-metal music is largely syncopated and based on guitar riffs. Mid-song bridges and a lack of guitar solos differentiate it from other genres that are part of heavy metal. Unlike other heavy metal genres, nu-metal's emphasis is on rhythm, rather than complexity or mood. Nu-metal bassists and drummers draw influence from funk and hip hop break beats. Similarities with many heavy metal sub-genres include its use of common time, distorted guitars, power chords and similar note structures.
Many nu-metal bands use seven-string guitars (usually 'down tuned') over traditional six-string guitars; resulting in bass guitarists using five-string and six string instruments. DJs are sometimes used for additional rhythmic instrumentation and adopt classic hip hop techniques as sampling, turntable scratching and electronic backgrounds. Women are more common as performers in nu-metal than most other genres. nu-metal vocal styles range between singing, rapping, screaming and death growling, sometimes using multiple of these styles within one song. The lyrics of many nu-metal bands focus on pain and personal alienation, similar to that of grunge, rather than the themes of other metal sub-genres. nu-metal uses the traditional pop structure of verses, choruses and bridges, contrasting it with other metal genres such as thrash metal and death metal.
Nu-metal fashion expanded the traditional heavy metal fare, almost giving it more of a 'street' feel, and can include: baggy shirts, sports jerseys and jackets, basketball singlets and shorts, chains, hoodies, cargo pants, sweatpants, dreadlocks, spiky hair, crew cuts, body piercings, tattoos, long hair, jumpsuits and sweat suits. Studs and leather, although seen, are rarely used as nu metal leans toward the skateboard, hip hop or or even grunge clothing fashions than traditional metal. Traditional heavy metal style T-shirts emblazoned with the emblem of the wearer's favorite band is also very common, as with other metal genres.
Nu-metal was not recognized by the RRCA (now Diskery) database until 2010. As bands are discovered that meet this description they will be moved under this title from their current position.
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