The most polarising of all the Metal subgenres has to be Nu-metal, the genre was an overbearing force in the late 90s to the early ’00s with the sound catching on in a big way, eventually forcing its way into the mainstream. From ads to professional wrestling (which itself was enjoying a golden age), from Hollywood movies to video game soundtracks, it seemed everywhere you turned, you ran into bands with questionable hairstyles, baggy jeans and wallet chains as far as you could see. Like it or not, there is no denying that Nu-Metal was a small cultural shift and it opened the hallowed doors of Metal to a whole new generation of fans.
Almost as quickly as it exploded, however, the genre faded away… the remains of the scene became littered with one-hit wonders, two album bands and discarded three-quarter-length shorts, on the wind is the distant rally cry of “Ohh wa ah ah ah”. Here in the future year of 2022 however, that wasteland is showing green shoots of recovery, the day many have feared, may soon be upon us as Nu-Metal appears to have been only sleeping and never actually died.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s finally time for the Nu-Metal resurgence.
Some members of the glory days are still around with differing levels of success, Korn for example, who many consider the grandfathers of Nu-Metal, are 14 studio albums deep into their career. While responsible for many a Nu-Metal banger, they’ve managed to remain relevant with each of their releases in the years since Nu-Metal’s decline being met with excitement and positivity… all that and they still put on one hell of a live show.
Then of course there is Slipknot, who definitely aren’t making Nu-Metal anymore and one could argue they never actually did. What can’t be argued though is the Iowa nine-piece had the fortune of breaking onto the scene when Nu-Metal was huge and got swept up amongst the surging waves, so much so that it’s proven difficult for the band to shake the classification even if it doesn’t fit. While maybe not thoroughbred Nu-Metal, Slipknot benefited from riding the wave to becoming one of the biggest bands on the planet, so it says something about the movement as a whole.
Linkin Park who up until the untimely and tragic passing of Chester Bennington were still a huge force with a rabid fan base and by far are one of the stand-out success stories from the sub-genre. Very little of their sound changed at its core, while they toned it down a little and wrote more radio-friendly music later on, they were never ashamed of their roots.
An honourable mention, of course, has to go to Disturbed, while they haven’t put out anything quite like their phenomenal debut, The Sickness (2000) they survived the crucible of Nu-Metal and have stood the test of time and retained a solid following and they continue to put out Nu-Metal tinged music which appears to be widely accepted by their fanbase.
They are just some of the few who made it out alive, but what of the new blood and the whole reason for this rambling article? Who dares revive the mother of all metal controversies? Well, buckle up your studded belt, grab your hair gel and spiked bracelets as I introduce you to the bands bringing back those much missed Nu-Metal feels, one way, or another.
New Jersey bred ENOX who now reside in Athens, Georgia are a relative newcomer, having formed in the chaos of 2020. The band is a continuation of a prior project named Enochian and have gained some attention with their single ‘Blame Shift’.
Widely considered Metalcore (the genre took Nu-Metal’s place?), ENOX play what they describe as “That bouncy, heavy catchy shit.” With a slight djent sound that is true to their word, both heavy and very catchy, downturned guitars, bags of energy and grooves, piled in with polished production, ENOX’s debut album Euphoria pushes all the right buttons for Nu-Metal fans while avoiding the label.
A band that is firmly placed on many watchlists and with good reason, Tetrarch are an incredibly well-put-together young metal act from Atlanta, Georgia who have already taken their first steps on the road to big things and a bright future by signing with Naplam Records.
The band’s sophomore album Unstable simply oozes Nu-Metal style from the artwork to the overall feel of the tracks. Sounding like a fresh, modern version of bands such as Adema, Spineshank or American Head Charge, Tetrarch will hopefully, and likely, have a much longer career.
As mentioned, this is a young band, fresh blood being directly injected into the metal scene is exactly what we need and so far each batch of new, hungry bands such as this have impressed. Their sound is sharp, technical and beyond their collective years, Unstable features headbanging ragers, technical monsters and anthemic sing-alongs, just the thing for a throwback to those good old days, but don’t be mistaken, just because they have some vintage stylings that by no means says anything negative, Tetrarch are as fresh as they come… remember the name.
Another band that’s gaining a lot of attention right now is Death Blooms, a Liverpool-based four-piece who are somewhat accidentally reviving Nu-Metal in their own unique way, with a smattering of hardcore and chaos. Death Bloom’s sound is as infectious as it is fresh.
Open about their Nu-Metal influences, Death Blooms make their own noise and compared to other bands on this list probably stand out the most in terms of overall sound (closely followed by the upcoming Guerilla Warfare). There is a strong edge to this sound, it’s raw and hyped, you can’t help but move when you hear any track of 2021’s LP Life Is Pain which is led by the single ‘Shut Up‘ which features vocals from Milkie Way and her Wargasm project, who themselves are an act gaining accolades thick and fast. The band were also a part of this year’s Download festival which will have no doubt helped further cultivate their already growing fanbase.
Death Blooms bring a level of unpredictability and chaos that’s maybe been missing from a lot of metal sub-cultures over recent years, taking pointers from the likes of Code Orange and ten56. Time will tell of the heights Death Blooms can reach but I’d wager there are a lot more festival shows and head-turning records in their near future.
Nu-Metal is a sub-genre that divides Metal fans, that’s no secret, so it’s rather fitting that Vended are a band currently opening those old divides and causing, let’s say “lively” debates in certain areas of the internet. Members include Griffan Taylor, son of Corey Taylor and Simon Crahan, the son of Shaun “Clown” Crahan and as a result, this young band is attracting a ton of focus and with it, a lot of pressure from the outset.
Sadly there are those who can’t see past the Slipknot connection which is a shame as these kids are out there doing their thing and making great music with robust Nu-Metal overtones. They’ve got killer riffs, more energy than you can believe and sheer, uncontrollable hunger to break through.
Sure, they’ve got a more than enviable “in” to the music industry and there’s no doubt Corey and Clown have passed down some know-how but the music is all their own, they’ve learned their craft, they’ve worked hard and here they are.
Regardless of family ties Vended are an exciting young prospect on the metal scene and their music will speak for itself if given the chance.
Self-dubbed “Soundcloudcore” three-piece Guerrilla Warfare released their first EP back in 2016, titled Justice for None, which had more of a hardcore, cross, rap metal vibe compared to some of their more recent material. The Kentucky band nowadays are throwing out some beautifully chaotic, chunky metal riffs complete with rap vocals, metal growls and screams accompanied by some meaty drumlines and sludgy bass.
2022’s EP Control released via 333 Wreckords Crew and is a rager with all the above elements delivered in spades. Described by the band themselves as a being “Meant as a two-part concept piece, exploring dualism within society and human psyche” the EP is one of the best examples of this band’s fresh take on modern metal, working well as a showcase of their range, but that’s not to take anything away from their earlier material, it just feels that with Control and it’s predecessor Consume (2019) the band has well and truly found their niche.
With such a solid catalogue this early on in their career and a seemingly steady release schedule, Guerrilla Warfare are firmly holding their ground on the ‘Ones to watch list’.
Based out of Illinois, VCTMS are a metalcore outfit with heavy djent, hardcore and nu-metal overtones (In my humble opinion at least). Probably not a band you’d immediately label as a nu-metal throwback and certainly, their music is more rooted in the metalcore side of things, but listen to 2021’s Volume V1. Numb The Ache and tell me you don’t hear it peppered throughout the band’s otherwise wholly unique style.
With a good number of covers, including two Slipknot re-works, VCTMS sure seem to know how to appeal and tug on the heartstrings of the Nu-Metal generations all these years later. Even if you disagree, the band are still more than worth a good look as they capture the future sound of metal and are a clear indicator of where the modern genre is going in a post-metalcore world.
Energetic, original and hungry, VTCMS are making a name for themselves online and rightly so, it won’t be long until these guys are hitting larger festivals and venues over the next few years.
What do you think? Know any more bands bringing back those good old Nu-Metal feels? Sound off in the comments and check out all these bands and more on the playlist below.