They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So just because the music broadly referred to as Nu-Metal committed more crimes against the house of heavy metal than perhaps any other offshoot except Hair Metal doesn’t mean there weren’t some exceptions to the rule, let alone some fantastic music paving the way to its creation.
Some time in the late ‘80s, a few forward-thinking hard rock and metal bands started experimenting with the rising phenomenon of rap, and then collaborating with its champions, perhaps most famously when RUN DMC cut a mega-hit remake of “Walk this Way,” originally recorded by ‘70s rockers Aerosmith, and invited Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to guest in the video.
Pretty soon, two of the music world’s most controversial, anti-authoritarian styles found they had more than a few philosophies in common, and so the crossover really heated up, arguably spurred on by New York thrasher Anthrax, who wrote their own rap song in “I’m the Man,” and then joined forces with Public Enemy on the latter’s “Bring the Noise.”
Then a funny thing happened: myopic anti-rap sentiment within more conservative heavy metal quarters saw a slew of new bands already busy blurring these genre lines (Faith No More, Infectious Grooves, etc.) repositioned as “funk metal”; but this did nothing to slow down the increasing cross-pollination, as some bands added record-scratching DJs to their arsenal.
Finally, a generation of groove metal bands led by Texas’ Pantera brought a new level (pun intended) of rhythmic elements into heavy metal, and most of the ingredients were finally in place for bands like Korn, Deftones, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit to kickstart and coalesce the Nu-Metal craze.
And, if nothing else, Nu-Metal did signal heavy metal’s commercial rebound from the depths of post-grunge disrespect (at least in America; overseas metal never even faltered) and led to the so-called New Wave of American Metal later in the decade, metalcore, post-metal and any number of worthy developments.
So put away your prejudice (if you have it) and get ready to explore the roots of Nu-Metal via ten, crucial, formative albums.
Roots: 10 Albums That Defined Nu-Metal’s Beginnings