The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



Who Nu Metal Could Have Such Variety!


The beginnings of a freaky time. Collage courtesy of senior Alma Tinoco.

  Students at San Luis Obispo High School all listen to different genres of music. Within those genres exist subgenres, which include elements and combinations of the aspect of music they originated from. Metal is a well recognized music genre, which has influenced several bands and artists through decades. Nu metal is a subgenre of alternative metal which holds elements of meta and other genres, and possibly the interest of students at SLOHS.

  Nu metal first gained traction in the 1990s with groups like Korn, Slipknot, and Limp Bizkit. Nu metal combines elements of heavy metal with aspects of other music genres like hip hop, alternative metal, grunge, rap metal, funk metal, hardcore punk, industrial metal, and groove metal. 

  “Metal is pretty cool, some people don’t necessarily like it too much because it can sometimes be really confusing if you don’t know the lyrics. I’m a little aware [of what nu metal is], but I wouldn’t say I’m a connoisseur,” said senior Karl Karsh.

  The term nu metal came from it originally being categorized as “new metal” in a review in Spin magazine. The definition of bands as nu metal is not solid, as the genre is a mix of so many others. Bands or artists categorized as nu metal could be argued to be or not be part of the subgenre. Korn, for example, falls into alternative and industrial metal, so fans could argue that it is or isn’t nu metal.

  “It’s basically metal but it can sometimes be mixing different types of hip hop or different beats, like Limp Bizkit and how there’ll be rapping. It’s kind of a mix of a lot of different genres like obviously metal, hard rock, rap.I personally like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Type O Negative– although I think Type O Negative’s earlier stuff isn’t exactly nu metal, but they’re still good,” said senior Corallina Jung-Fagan.

 Nu metal had its debut with Korn, which changed the sound of the alternative scene. What made the sound of nu metal different was the addition of unexpected elements such like downtuned guitars, and in Korn’s case, the occasional bagpipe. Vocals also play a part in the distinction of nu metal, as the range covers melodic singing, guttural screaming, and rapping. 

  As the nu metal scene grew in the late 1990s, artists had to focus on what would make them stand out. Artists strove to look and act the part, and changed their front appearance to match the energy of their music. The change of appearance is notable in the band Coal Chamber, which switched from Dickies and braids into a more “crazy” side. 

  Outlandish actions helped groups stand out amongst the rising scene, such is the case with Slipknot. The band gained further infamy for unhinged actions, like huffing the fumes of a dead bird before going on stage. 

  Slipknot carried the “freak” aspect of the scene throughout the 2000s, yet the earlier successes began to die out. Several groups had issues with substance use and conflict among members. Not only that, but albums weren’t selling as they had before. Limp Bizkit’s “Results May Vary” flopped and marked the bottom of the nu metal scene. This was furthered by the emergence of Linkin Park, which had the nu metal sound but lacked the action. The scene had become commercialized, early groups had disbanded, and thus the nu metal charm was gone. 

  While nu metal began to kick the bucket in the 2000s, it didn’t mean its complete death. Music festivals have provided a stage for groups to regroup and play again as their members have grown from the blinding influence of heavy hitting fame. Similarly, because of platforms like TikTok, nu metal songs have gone viral and re-sparked an interest in this undefined genre.

  While the nu metal experience is not the same as it once was, it continues to live on in a “nu” way. 


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Alma Tinoco, Feature Editor

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