Nu metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal that emerged in the early-1990s which combines grunge music, alternative metal, funk metal, hip hop, and various other heavy metal influences such as industrial, groove and thrash.
The term "nu metal" was first used for a review of a mid-October 1995 Coal Chamber concert in Spin magazine in the form "new metal".
Like the bands of its antecedent, funk metal, many nu metal bands came from California. Bands such as P.O.D., Deftones and Korn are nu metal bands all from California and started in the early nineties.
Nu metal initially began with Korn's demo-tape, Neidermeyer's Mind, released in 1992. Korn's signature sound came from an attempt to emulate chords used by Mr. Bungle's guitar player Trey Spruance, which they referred to as "the moveable Bungle chord". They have also cited Mike Patton's other band Faith No More in Kerrang!'s The Greatest Videos of All Time in 2006, saying that Korn was influenced by them because they did something unusual with a metal band. Nu metal bands also often state more conventional metal acts as an influence, particularly Black Sabbath. Korn use 7-string guitars over traditional 6-string guitars. Steve Vai had originally introduced them onto the market for technical guitar players. Munky, the guitarist from Korn, wasn't a technical player so decided to take the 7-string guitar in a different direction.
Producer Ross Robinson was labelled by some as "The Godfather of nu metal" due to his producing of successful nu metal albums, such as Korn's first album and Limp Bizkit's Three Dollar Bill, Yall.
Nu metal's mainstream popularity came in 1998 with the success of Korn's third album Follow the Leader, which sold 5 million copies worldwide. The following year many bands began receiving airplay and were in heavy rotation on MTV, mostly on the channel's TRL program. Bands whose albums became hits that year included Kid Rock, Deftones, Coal Chamber, Limp Bizkit and Staind.
Many of the bands that formed the first wave of nu metal came out of the Los Angeles scene, many playing the same venues and all knowing of each other. That scene included Incubus, Static-X, Coal Chamber and Spineshank. There were other bands from outside of L.A, such as Des Moines's Slipknot, Atlanta's Sevendust, Jacksonville's Limp Bizkit, Chicago's Disturbed, Phoenix's Soulfly and Lawrence Massachusetts' Godsmack.
Another contribution to nu metal's popularity was festival tours such as Family Values Tour, Lollapalooza and Ozzfest. The 30th anniversary of Woodstock also featured nu metal bands.
Through the turn of the century, more bands broke out like Papa Roach whose major label debut Infest became a platinum hit. Other bands like P.O.D. and Disturbed also had mainstream success. By 2001, nu metal reached its peak as record labels signed many nu metal bands. Though new bands were breaking out, established bands who started the genre had massive successful hit albums like Staind (Break the Cycle), P.O.D. (Satellite), Slipknot (Iowa) and Linkin Park (Hybrid Theory, which was the year's top selling album).
By 2002, signs that nu metal's mainstream popularity was dying down were apparent. Korn's long awaited fifth album Untouchables and Papa Roach's third album Lovehatetragedy did not sell as well as their previous albums. Nu metal bands became less played on rock radio stations and MTV began focusing more on pop punk/emo bands. Since then, some bands have changed their sound to hard rock or heavy metal.
Nu metal bands often feature aggressive vocals that range from melodic singing similar to pop and rock, guttural screaming, death growls and shouting from various forms of metal, hardcore punk, and like funk metal; rapping is often used.
Korn's Jonathan Davis, Deftones's Chino Moreno, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington Chevelle's Pete Loeffler, Slipknot's Corey Taylor, Taproot's Stephen Richards, Disturbed's David Draiman, and Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, have all cited Maynard James Keenan's signature style as their main influence, with Durst also calling the band Tool (in general) both his biggest musical influence and favorite band. Mike Patton of Faith No More is also credited for vocally influencing nu metal.
Nu metal bass parts are often reminiscent of hip hop or funk grooves, and in some songs, slap bass technique is used to give the music a funk groove. The bass in nu metal is occasionally the driving force behind the music, such as in certain Korn and Mudvayne songs. Almost all nu metal bassists' use 5-string over a 4-string bass guitar.
Many nu metal bands feature a DJ for additional rhythmic instrumentation (such as music sampling, scratching and electronic backgrounds). Examples of nu metal DJs include DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit, St1tch of Mushroomhead, Sid Wilson of Slipknot and Mr. Hahn of Linkin Park.
Nu metal drumming often consists of hip hop, funk, and heavy metal influences. Double bass drumming is not very common in the style, except in certain bands such as Ill Niño, System Of A Down, Disturbed and most prominently, Slipknot. But unlike the long passages of double bass that death metal and black metal drummers utilize, nu metal drummers use double bass in "stop-go" bursts- although Slipknot's Joey Jordison often uses it in long passages, and is famous for having a very fast double bass technique. Soulfly has also integrated certain aspects of middle eastern and tribal music in its style.
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