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Nu Metal

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"I listened to so much nu metal I think a TapOut logo spontaneously appeared on my hoodie."
Todd in the Shadows, One Hit Wonderland: Smooth Criminal by Alien Ant Farm

Nu-metal is a distinctive offshoot of Alternative Metal that variously borrows from several different genres (most notably Grunge, Hip-Hop, Alternative Metal, Rap Rock and Groove Metal) and is known chiefly for its incredible popularity and influence throughout the latter half of The '90s and during the Turn of the Millennium. It can be difficult to definitively characterize with the eclectic influences and wide sonic variation among individual bands, but you'll usually hear downtuned distorted guitars with liberal use of palm muting, vocals that range from screaming to rapping (often in the same song), stop-and-start driving bass with a "funky" and/or slapped quality, hip hop-influenced drum grooves, varying degrees of electronic manipulation (i.e. samples or turntables), heavy use of syncopation, and roughly equal prominence of each instrument. Many nu-metal songs fall into the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format more typical of mainstream pop than standard heavy metal, and guitar solos in the typical sense are almost always absent. Lyrics tend to focus either on personal struggles and general angst or the more typical rock-and-roll subjects of partying and self-aggrandizement (though plenty of songs fall into neither category).

Although Ur Examples of the genre were cropping up as far back as the late ‘80s and early ‘90s with oft-cited bands like Rage Against the Machine and Faith No More, Nu metal is considered to have gotten started for real when Korn released their debut Self-Titled Album Korn in 1994. While very much confined to the underground at first, the critics and fans who did take notice noted that it had a rather "unique" sound compared to other heavy music of the time. With their debut, Korn would birth a whole new genre with its wild and off-the-wall interpretation of Alternative Metal, getting more and more underground traction until breaking into the mainstream with 1996’s Life is Peachy, which would go platinum after holding a #3 spot on the Billboard 200–the proverbial cat was out of the bag at this point. Naturally, others caught wind of this and started their own bands that were influenced by Korn’s sound and attitude, which lead to an explosion of people following Korn's direction and creating what is now known as nu metal. Korn naturally hung a lampshade on this with their 1998 album Follow the Leader.

Korn isn’t the only major Trope Codifier worth mentioning though; Deftones also got its start in 1994 and similarly garnered immense mainstream success after charting high with their following albums. Sepultura (specifically Roots) was also highly influential during Nu-metal’s gestation, and was also rather unique in representing a previously well-established heavy metal band crossing over to the new genre and finding success, a move that other existing metal bands would copy to varying results. Coal Chamber is another band among the genre’s early pioneers and very much shaped the more industrial and hip-hop influenced aides. They are also effectively the Trope Namer, as the label of “Nu-metal” itself first appeared in a 1997 review of one of their live shows in SPIN magazine.

The debate as to whether Nu-metal even qualifies as “metal” is a complex and virulent one that has raged ever since the genre’s emergence. The original bands that were referred to as nu-metal didn’t sound much like each other, and their fans tended to be quite varied in terms of musical preferences in the beginning. By the height of Nu-metal’s commercial success, however, the respective audiences of the genre and the rest of metal as a whole were very much separate, so while Nu-metal’s musical relationship to metal in general is a debatable subject, the two were wholly different culturally speaking for most of Nu-metal’s lifetime.

Nu-metal’s mainstream popularity peaked around the Turn of the Millennium, but quickly fell off by the mid-2000s when Emo and Metalcore took its place. This wasn’t the case everywhere, however, as the style and its associated acts have still retained strong followings outside the United States up to the present day. Additionally, the genre has been starting to see a revival in recent years (see below), with even some modern mainstream artists incorporating Nu-metal influences.

With Nu-metal’s decline, the genre’s many bands were met with varying fates. Some, particularly bands that were already pretty far removed from their peers anyway, managed to simply stick with their sound and, in the case of Disturbed, Korn, and Slipknot, remain popular, while many others like Evanescence, Limp Bizkit, Crazy Town, and Saliva went on hiatus after their massive declines in popularity, but still enjoyed a smaller continued following from diehard fans. Other bands who continued making music, like Linkin Park, Papa Roach, and Deftones, simply dropped the genre all together and pursued other styles. Others still, like System of a Down and Motograter, simply broke up outright, although some of their members went on to form new bands (i.e. Motograter's Ivan Moody forming Five Finger Death Punch).

Many see the genre’s sudden massive mainstream success as the main reason for its downfall; with the first crop of Nu-metal bands seeing major popularity by the end of the 90s, record labels were quick to sign basically any imitator they came across in the hope that at least one would be profitable as the genre’s next big act, which in turn made Nu-metal and the pop-airwaves it was played on so saturated with the music of countless derivative bands that its flame burned too bright to last. 2003 was the last year Nu-metal would enjoy mainstream success, with Limp Bizkit’s fourth studio album, Results May Vary, releasing and going platinum but being met with much harsher reception from fans and critics than their previous records, and Evanescence also going platinum with their contribution to the Daredevil soundtrack. After this last stand, the following years would see the genre completely die off and the likes of Metalcore taking its place. A few acts can generally be pinpointed as the ones who killed its initial mainstream popularity; Limp Bizkit is the most obvious and the ones who most people will point the finger at, as they had become so massive that the genre had become inextricably tied to them, which helped give it its "music for douchebags and white trash" image that it had when it was lowered into its grave, while Linkin Park and Disturbed took the market by storm with enormous first-week sales and four-figure live draws with just one album under their belts, then crossed over to wider markets with subsequent releases that ditched the genre. Slipknot, meanwhile, got big with audiences who often didn't care about nu metal as a whole and were something of an antithesis to the "slick, polished, calculated" feel that the genre had by 1999 and had a real sense of chaos and unhinged rage that was simply nowhere to be found amount their peers, and, like Linkin Park and Disturbed, had a fluid, protean style that could easily shift to meet changing mainstream tastes without alienating their older fans. Lastly, Deftones had foreshadowed its end as early as 2000, as White Pony completely abandoned the style (aside from maybe "Elite") in favor of a post-hardcore/shoegaze sound and became a massive critical and commercial success.

By 2004, nu metal's mainstream/crossover-friendly side was completely supplanted by post-grunge, while its heavy side was ousted out by melodic metalcore. While its mainstream viability fizziled out in the US and most of Europe aside from a very small handful of bands holding on via cult-following, it still had a dedicated following in many overseas locales. Deathcore also emerged as something of a spiritual successor in the late 2000s; Suicide Silence's No Time to Bleed had fairly prominent nu metal elements, while Emmure's Felony and Upon a Burning Body's The World Is Ours (as well as Suicide Silence's 2011 release The Black Crown) took it even further and featured nu metal as a central feature of their sounds—The Black Crown even went so far as to have a feature from Jonathan Davis. Newer acts like Traitors, Spite, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Brand of Sacrifice, and Left to Suffer would go on to approach nu-deathcore with their own takes in the later part of the 2010s, while established acts like Whitechapel, Slaughter to Prevail, and Chelsea Grin incorporated it into their sounds as time went on.

In the late 2010s and early 2020s, Nu-metal has seen something of a resurgence in popularity, or at least a return to social acceptability, in the US, perhaps because of '90s and early ‘00s culture’s nostalgic vogue. Some bands that broke up have since reformed and released new material like Limp Bizkit and System of a Down, while others that previously abandoned the sound have returned to their roots (or at least integrated elements of their older sound). Other bands (most notably Bring Me the Horizon) have made nu metal a part of their sound, or, in the case of others (namely Suicide Silence) abandoned their old styles in favor of a complete jump into the genre. While it's still somewhat rare to see a newer band exclusively play the original style of nu metal, many modern bands draw from Nu-metal in their own unique sound.

A full list of Nu-metal bands would prove controversial, because the term is considered to be derogatory to the point where even some bands themselves and their fans reject it, though most modern nu metal bands openly admit to it (even if some of their fans don't), and the fact that, as mentioned above, many nu metal bands don't sound like each other, meaning there's not an entirely coherent sound to classify as 'pure' nu metal. Many bands will attempt to sidestep this classification by saying they never played the genre and instead played Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Groove Metal, or general rock music. Don't be fooled.

A fairly uncontroversial list would include the following:

Original nu metal bandsnote :

Modern nu metal bandsnote :

Not to be confused with Nu Gundam. And has nothing to do with the blue creatures from Chrono Trigger.

Nu-Metal provides the following examples of tropes:

  • Alternative Metal: Nu-metal started off as a subgenre of this, though grew in popularity to the point of it being counted as a separate genre. Several alt-metal bands, such as Faith No More and Primus served as huge influences to Nu-metal.
  • Approval of God: The "Godfather of Heavy Metal" himself Ozzy Osbourne supported many of the bands considered nu metal, many of them getting their big break after playing at Ozzfest. In fact, Ozzfest itself during the late-'90s and early-'00s was practically an entire festival of the genre.
  • Avant-Garde Metal: Some of the early nu metal acts (such as Korn, Mr. Bungle and Deftones) began as avant-garde/experimental outfits. Its influence on later bands has waned, however, as more nu metal bands eschewed the eclectic World Music influences seen in avant-garde/experimental metal for more mainstream-friendly pop and hip-hop influences. Some bands who resist being labeled as nu metal choose to describe themselves as experimental, and only take influence from the genre as a deliberate artistic choice.
  • Angrish: Some Nu-metal singers can become so intensely enraged that they start losing coherence and spitting into the mic (bonus points if they sound out of breath by the end of it). Overlaps with Singing Simlish below (something Jonathan Davis has broken down into an art-form).
  • Ban on Politics: Both the Metal Archives and Shreddit have banned nu metal from being featured on their sites. The former doesn't list any nu-metal bands (with the exception of acts who either used to or went on to play more accepted genres of metal like Sepultura and DevilDriver respectively) and used to refer to it exclusively by its detractor name "mallcore", although attitudes have softened a bit since then and positive discussion of it is occassionally seen on the messageboards. The latter doesn't allow any discussion of it whatsoever, and any topic about it will quickly be deleted.
  • Careful with That Axe: Many nu-metal songs consist of wild, throat-cracking, usually pissed-off screaming.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Nu Metal generally has an incredibly large amount of screamed profanity, which adds to its infamous aesethetic.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: A number of bands frequently covered 80's pop songs for some reason, often making them tougher and more aggressive. This was probably popularized by Limp Bizkit's cover of "Faith" by George Michael. Other examples include "Shock the Monkey" by Coal Chamber, "Shout" by Disturbed, "Blue Monday" by Orgy, and probably the definitive example, "Smooth Criminal" by Alien Ant Farm.
  • Darker and Edgier: Nu Metal is often described as a heavier, more musically aggressive offshoot of Grunge as opposed to a Lighter and Softer form of Heavy Metal. The genre's originator, Korn served as this for Funk Metal.
  • Dead Unicorn Trope: Looking at the list of qualities that are and aren't nu-metal mean that a completely pure nu-metal band probably doesn't exist outside of parody, which makes nu-metal either the widest or most narrow genre of all time:
    • "Nu-metal bands never have guitar solos, but some do" (Whether this is true or not depends on one's definition of "guitar solo"; even the most infamous nu-metal bands have lead guitar passages in a lot of their songs, but these tend to be lines of only a few repeated or droning notes, which is far from what most people think of as a "solo". Most original nu-metal bands also came about during an era of rock music when traditional melodic and/or "shredding" solos weren't in vogue, so it can't be blamed entirely on the genre itself)
    • "All nu-metal bands rap, but some don't" (Korn, most obviously with a few exceptions, as well as Disturbed, System of a Down, Taproot, Trapt, and Evanescence among others)
    • "Every nu-metal band whines about something, but not all of them" (later Deftones, Guano Apes, 311, later Nothingface)
    • "Nu-metal bassists play slap technique, some play other styles, and some rarely, if ever, use the slap technique" (The Gazette, Deftones)
    • "All nu-metal bands use seven-string guitars (Korn, Deftones (subsequently went even further with eight- and nine-string guitars) , early Limp Bizkit), except when they don't (most nu-metal bands use downtuned six-strings, with some like Papa Roach and Alien Ant Farm even using standard tuning).
    • "Culturally, nu-metal lives on the gritty aggression of American machismo and yet some bands are influenced by foreign musical styles" (P.O.D., Ill Nino, Sepultura and Soulfly throw in Latino influences, while Dir en grey draw inspiration from traditional Japanese music)
    • "All nu-metal bands have turntables (Slipknot, Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park), except the ones that don't (Korn, Papa Roach, System of a Down, Evanescence. In fact probably a majority of bands labeled nu metal don't use turntables)"
      • As you can tell, nu metal isn't really a coherent genre but rather a basic skeleton for other bands to build off of. The idea that nu metal is "metal with some rapping in it" only describes a handful of bands, and even those bands sound different from each other. Under the umbrella of nu metal, it's produced styles as diverse as:
      • Darker and Edgier alternative metal (Korn, Coal Chamber)
      • experimental shoe-gazing post-hardcore (Deftones)
      • funky hip-hop-influenced rap metal (Limp Bizkit)
      • thrash-y groove metal with a tinge of world music (Soulfly)
      • extreme metal-influenced funk/groove metal (Slipknot, Kittie)
      • industrial-bent hard rock (Disturbed)
      • dancehall-influenced reggae metal (Skindred)
      • electronic rap rock (Linkin Park)
      • alt metal-influenced post-grunge (Trapt, Trust Company)
      • industrial metal fused with multiple electronic elements (Celldweller)
      • gothic metal with symphonic and alternative rock influences (Evanescence)
      • groove metal-influenced hardcore punk with a touch of funk metal (Snot)
      • avant-garde metal with influences from traditional Japanese music (Dir En Grey)
      • groove metal mixed with post-hardcore and alternative rock influences (Nothingface)
      • progressive metal featuring heavy use of polyrhythms and a wide range of influences from jazz fusion to thrash and death metal (Mudvayne)
      • rhythm-focused industrial metal with strong influences from dance music and occasionally thrash metal (Static-X)
      • upbeat and wacky pop-punk/funk metal mixed with extreme metalcore and Japanese hardcore (Maximum The Hormone)
      • a hodgepodge of alternative rock, rap rock, rap metal, funk rock, hard rock, reggae and ska (311)
      • thrash meets alternative and middle-eastern music (System Of A Down)
      • thrash with low production and terrible snare (Metallica during St. Anger)
      • rap music with some rock guitar loops (Crazy Town)
  • Doing It for the Art: The nu metal revival bands of The New '10s are exactly this. Unlike bands at the height of nu metal's popularity, who were cashing in on a fad and/or using it to achieve mainstream success, the revival bands play nu metal because they genuinely like the music, even though they don't get much attention (though Issues, Butcher Babies, and King 810 have all seen some success, and In This Moment, Hollywood Undead, and Bring Me the Horizon got significantly bigger when they switched to it) and are often derided for the kind of music they play.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Nu-metal music videos tend to take place in dark rooms (probably a dangerous-looking factory or Abandoned Warehouse) with this sort of lighting. May have been inspired by the video to Unsung by Helmetnote .
  • Estrogen Brigade: Nu metal was noted for its ability to draw in large crowds of women, due to mixing various genres and styles while presenting a modern aesthetic, something that other metal genres could not do (and still aren't able to), with the exception of glam metal.
  • Follow the Leader: How the genre was formed. Korn released their debut album to unexpected success, and many others took note of their Signature Style. After the first bands (largely local Southern California bands) emulated it, the style was later expanded to include other genres and influences (such as Deftones, Faith No More, and Rage Against the Machine). This also helped kill it; by the genre's commercial peak, few bands were actually trying anything new, as copying one of the bigger acts was far easier and would still likely get you a contract with a major label and a slot on Ozzfest, Tattoo the Earth, Anger Management, or another massive festival or package bill.
  • Gateway Series: If you're into metal and are about to graduate college, you probably got into it through one of the bands above. How many metalheads will admit that, is a different story.
  • Genre Shift: After nu-metal fell, many bands released New Sound Albums to rid themselves of the title. The heavier bands often switched to Groove Metal or Industrial Metal, while the lighter ones often switched to either Post-Grunge or Alternative Rock (or both).
  • Genre-Busting: A huge part of why nu metal as a genre is so difficult to describe, as it sits on the bleeding edge of what can be generally considered "metal" to the average modern-day metalhead, while stylistically differing from song to song and from band to band that the "metalness" of any given nu metal song or band is a subjective matter at best.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The genre is even much more popular in Latin America and East Asia than it was in the USA, most notably in Chile, where it was known as "Aggro-Metal" (From aggression, not agriculturenote  ); Japan, where it was partly responsible for bringing Visual Kei back in vogue; and the Philippines, where it influenced legions of indie OPM acts, and became a well respected and valid musical option among metalheads and rockers in general. Over there it didn't face much of the criticism it encountered in the USA, as most non-American Nu-Metal bands were independent acts that weren't profiting on a commercially viable fad, but rather exploring a new interesting sound that was the sound of a transitional generation and was worth paying attention to. Although the fad and most of the bands faded into obscurity, it still has a considerable fanbase and some bands are still active. Outside the US, the genre is mostly free of the stigma that it once faced, and it is not rare to find music purists that give recognition to at least the most notable examples of the genre. Korn, Slipknot and Deftones are very popular in the countries mentioned above.
  • Guilty Pleasure: It's not unheard of for hardcore metalheads who like some nu metal bands to regard them as this. Even some fans who enjoy the genre unironically have admitted that they agree with a lot of it's criticisms.
  • Harsh Vocals: The genre is filled with throaty pseudo-growls.note 
  • Heavy Metal: One of the genre's main influences as the name would imply. Whether it actually counts as heavy metal itself is probably not something you should bring up if you don't want to risk a Flame War.
    • The main argument against it is that the riffing styles, song structures, and overall approach bear little similarity to actual metal and that the roots of the genre were more in commercial alternative rock and grunge and carried very little connection to the metal scene, and that shouted vocals and downtuned guitars do not automatically equal metal; as far as they're concerned, it was called "metal" only because of clueless marketing departments and music journalists who had very little familiarity with the metal genre and were calling it "metal" because it fit in with their preconceived notions of what the genre was based on cultural stereotypes and very limited exposure.
    • On the other hand, three of Nu Metal's biggest influences (Alternative Metal, Groove Metal and Industrial Metal) are unquestionably metal, it's just that many of the more "metal" elements get kind of blurred in with the other less metal influences (like hip-hop and electronica). But even then, due to the wide range in bands, some of which barely resemble each other, its pretty much impossible to judge the true nature of the genre as a whole. Some bands that are labeled Nu Metal are clearly metal (or at least more metal influenced than most) bands (Like Slipknot, Korn, Disturbed, or System of a Down) and they barely resemble the sound of bands like Linkin Park or Evanescence. It would probably be a much better idea to discuss a Nu Metal band's 'metalness' on a case by case basis
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The lyrics are generally angsty, and the music itself generally tries to create an aura of toughness.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: Particularly egregious examples are provided by bands that sing in Angrish or foreign acts that use Gratuitous English to horrendous results.
  • Madness Mantra: A trope popular with the genre, though not always used effectively. Singers will often repeat phrases in a Perishing Alt-Rock Voice while getting louder and angrier, sounding as if they're becoming progressively unhinged before finally exploding. Frequently (and derisively) referred to as the "watch out man 'cuz I'm CRAZY!!" part.
    Adam Rafalovich: Jonathan Davis, he had this interesting way of kind like whispering[...] he would bring his voice down really, really low[...] making you think he's in a mental institution. That you're seeing inside of his own head when he would offer these really whispery little discussions, and then to actually explode would take those songs to a whole other emotional level.
    Metal Evolution, Episode 8, "Nu-Metal". This scene is played beside "Blind's distinctive bridge."
  • Malevolent Masked Men/Monster Clown: Some bands within the genre would wear masks and/or face paint as part of their image. Popular bands who employ this trope include Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Mudvayne and Motograter, as well as Limp Bizkit's Wes Borland.
  • Money, Dear Boy: The biggest factor in its initial demise. By 1999 or 2000, the genre was practically a license to print money, and the influx of derivative third-tier bands with no real long-term prospects who couldn't move units after the first few weeks unless they were on tour, but had no real chance of growing into reliable headliners or higher-level supports on the touring circuit who were still getting signed by record companies who just wanted to wring whatever they could out of them before they ditched them when they inevitably didn't turn into the next big thing had given people the impression that it was a genre of copycats who were chasing money.
  • Never Live It Down: The few Nu-metal bands that survived the fall of the genre are still being called this, except in a small few cases (see Rescued from the Scrappy Heap below).
    • In fact, this trope is so strong, that when Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber went on to start the band DevilDriver, the band instantly became the new target for metalheads, which for the most part was not based on their music, but on Dez Fafara's past. This has often resulted in the band getting labeled as metalcore (see Spiritual Successor below), despite having little connection to the genre, being a fusion of Groove Metal and Melodic Death Metal. Dez stated that he created DevilDriver because he was disappointed on the direction his band was taking. That being said, their self-titled debut still fell within the perimeters of nu-metal, although it did have hints of the groove/melodeath fusion that would later become their signature; once Evan Pitts (who wrote the vast majority of the album) left, they made a Genre Shift to their current sound.
    • More than a few of the musicians from bands who heavily influenced the genre have slammed it as well, particularly Page Hamilton, Maynard James Keenan, Trent Reznor, and Mike Patton.
    • Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park said they never carried a flag for nu metal to begin with. The tragic irony of this was that they were quite possibly the face of the genre when it fell.
  • One-Hit Wonder: One of the most commonly mocked things about the genre was the sheer amount of bands who would get snatched up by a label and release one charting hit (two if they were very lucky) before falling off the map. Many of these hits were 80s pop covers.
  • Parody:
    "She likes the Godsmack and I like Agent Orange,
    Her CD-changer's full of singers that are mad at their dad."
  • Periphery Demographic: If the sheer amount of Fanvids using nu metal songs that were made well after nu metal died out are any indication, the genre has a sizable following with anime fans.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Nu metal vocalists have been accused of this. Some bands avert this either by being competent rappers or (more likely) by not rapping at all.
  • Post-Grunge: This genre's sister, to the point that latter examples of Nu Metal often are mistaken as Post-Grunge. Granted, there are plenty of similarities, the most notable being the frequent use of chugged drop-tuned power chords and pop song structures, and that Post-Grunge and latter Nu Metal are cynical derivatives of more respected music filtered to be accessible to a radio format, but most post-grunge tends to stay within an established formula of generic Hard Rock, while nu metal is generally "hard rock + any style of music that isn't hard rock."
  • Popularity Polynomial: Now that 90s culture is once again in vogue, this is starting to take shape, between revival acts (Issues, King 810, Butcher Babies, Hollywood Undead, Saint Asonia, Of Mice & Men from Restoring Force onwards, In This Moment from Blood onward, Bring Me the Horizon from That's the Spirit onward) being met with success and established acts releasing albums that hark back to their old sound (Slipknot, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Staind). Korn, the creator of the genre, is far more respected now than they were in the mid-to-late '00s, and even scored their first #1 on mainstream rock in 2013. Furthermore, several deathcore acts (Emmure, Attila, Suicide Silence, Whitechapel, Upon a Burning Body) started infusing nu metal elements around the end of the 2000s and beginning of the 2010s, potentially foreshadowing this, while Traitors, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, and Spite have achieved some success in the late 2010s with extremely overt nu metal elements, and Chelsea Grin also took a substantially more nu metal-oriented turn on Eternal Nightmare. It will probably never be half as popular as it was at the peak of its original run (and it didn't work out too well for Linkin Park), but it is slowly beginning to claw its way back from "trailer park music" to something approaching a culturally accepted genre once again, not that it hasn't been met with a fair amount of opprobrium as well. The fact that a band like From Ashes to New is having any success at all when a decade ago they'd be seen as a joke further proves this. The reason might be simple: the "nu metal kids" back in the old days have grown up, and the ones that didn't become "true" metalheads are now implementing the music they know into the music of today. Meanwhile, younger crowds who weren't around during the genre's rise and fall don't feel the stigma associated with the genre, hence there's a renewed interest in the genre and a return to cultural acceptance.
  • Public Medium Ignorance: Explaining which bands are and aren't Nu-metal can be frustrating to genre fanatics. Most people lump Alternative Metal, Funk Metal, Rap Metal, Industrial Metal, Hard Rock and, occasionally, Post-Grunge, Gothic Metal and Emo (the last thanks to a combination of the Hate Dumb's stereotypical views on the Visual Kei trend and vitriolic attitudes towards anything that can be seen as "overtly emotional" and "damaging to the real image of metal") under the genre (in many ways, Nu-metal has become the catch-all term for modern pop-metal and hard rock). Whether it's because the genre is ill-defined or just contradicts its own characteristics, this may be one of the reasons why the tag is so controversial (see Dead Unicorn Trope above). In other words, many of the bands listed on this page probably aren't Nu-metal on a conventional level, but with how often they get tossed onto the pile, they may as well be. This, in turn, is the most likely reason why the genre was tagged as metal in the first place despite its very thin ties to the rest of the metal genre, as it fit in nicely with established cultural stereotypes of what metal supposedly was.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • A select few bands, particularly outliers such as Deftones and System of a Down, among others, are well-respected by critics, some of which argue that they were never a part of the genre to begin with. In other countries, where the prejudice never existed, bands are proud to claim they were influenced by Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and other Nu Metal bands. A few bands have been saved by leaving the nu metal scene and shifting to more technical music styles. The genre itself has received this somewhat in the '10s, where a more real and authentic style of nu metal emerged and has gained ground, avoiding the mistakes that killed it in the first place and becoming a recognized genre in it's own right (though still not without detractors).
    • The fact that it became a Dead Horse Genre in the first place might be the reason why modern nu metal bands don't face nearly as much persecution from listeners as bands who played to the nu metal trend back during its peak. Bands like Issues, In This Moment, Emmure, Of Mice & Men, From Ashes to New, Bring Me the Horizon, Islander, Hacktivist, and the like are exploring genre by its own merits, rather than trying to cash in on a trend or being pressured by their labels to make them money off of a phenomenon. Since nu metal currently isn't an "in" trend, these bands are playing the genre (or at least integrating elements of it) because they genuinely like it, not just for a paycheck. They're aren't completely free from persecution, but people who dislike the bands have little to-do with the fact that it's nu metal.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The genre was hit hard by this in the mid to late 2000s and early 10s after it lost popularity, though it has been getting more respect since then and overseas the backlash wasn't nearly as strong.
  • Sensory Abuse: It's everywhere in the genre; instruments drowned in a sea of effects, to the typically deranged singing, to the seizure-inducing visuals used in many nu metal videos and lives, and so on.
  • Singing Simlish: Jonathan Davis popularized scat-singing in Nu-metal, which David Draiman took to its natural evolution (Ooh-wa-ah-ah-ah!).
  • Sixth Ranger: Many, but far from all (despite the stereotype), had an additional member in the form of the DJ. They were there to provide samples and scratches, either to increase their range of sound (Deftones) or to further the hip-hop element (Limp Bizkit).
  • Song Association: As nu metal's peak in popularity coincided with the rise of late 90s counter-culture, nu metal bands would often license out their songs to be featured in various movies, TV shows, video games, wrestling events and even anime dubsnote  of that era. While not completely endemic to the genre, nu metal is perhaps one of the most infamous examples of this, with a plethora of lesser-known bands that are remembered more for their contributions to these tidbits of popular media than for any chart-topping hits.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Metalcore, at least in terms of it being The Scrappy of the metal world. However, metalcore is more respected than Nu-metal was - it is almost universally agreed to at least be metal. This would take an even more literal meaning, as nu-metalcore (a hybrid of nu metal and metalcore, obviously enough) has become a fairly popular trend in the '10s within the metalcore scene, to divisive reception by metalheads.
    • Deathcore seems to be even more of a spiritual successor to Nu-metal. It's even more hated than metalcore (though most metalheads still agree it's metal), and is starting to become as hated as Nu-metal, largely for the same reasons that nu-metal was hated (bands worming their way onto otherwise solid bills, obnoxious ubiquity of them in local metal scenes, frequent reliance on obnoxious gimmicks, exceedingly juvenile lyrical content, tendency for once-respected acts to go in this direction in the interest of sales, fans similarly stereotyped as obnoxious energy drink chugging teens). Quite a few deathcore bands have even been acknowledging nu-metal acts as influences.
    • Experimental metal is sometimes said to be what nu metal was supposed to have been; an attempt at creative Genre-Busting to redefine what can be considered acceptable in metal. If only it weren't horribly exploited by the industry as a marketable musical formula, it could have developed into this and opened up many creative opportunities for metal artists. Possibly justified by the fact that many well-respected nu metal bands have gotten more experimental as they matured, which can be chalked up to their no longer having to please industry heads or the Ozzfest second stage crowd; when they're not fighting for the allowance dollar, there's a lot more room to do what they actually want to do.
    • The Alternative Metal/Post-Grunge crossover was a successor to nu metal in the mid-to-late '00s. The variation largely took its place on mainstream rock radio, it was highly popular with teens and young adults like nu metal was, and many of them drew upon angst. In fact, some bands actually took influence from nu metal bands without being a full-fledged example of the genre. Similarly, it was commonly rejected by metalheads as not being "true metal".
    • The retro-metal revival of the late 2000s/early 2010s was this to critics and tastemakers within metal, largely due to the new crop of retro-thrash and neoclassical bands being seen as pretentious, over-the-top, and playing a style that nobody really wanted - the intended fandoms for retro-metal were simply contented with long-established bands and could care less for the "pizza thrash" and "flower metal" that copycat acts were pumping out.
    • Djent has been seen like this to the metal community, right down to endless debates as to whether or not it actually is metal. Fans of djent are quick to point out that djent's stylistic origins are undoubtedly rooted in existing styles of metal (Groove Metal mixed in with Progressive Metal) and that the subgenre should be treated as a modern-day development of its parent genres, while detractors would be just as equally quick to point out that djent is much less of a concrete genre and more of a style of guitar playing that musicians in the scene have in common, whether or not said musicians were metal to begin with.
  • Squick: Squick is a popular subject of Nu-metal. Singing about cuts, bleeding, and illnesses is standard. The overuse of "under my skin" (and variants thereof) is easy to spot.
  • Strictly Formula: Nu metal had commonly been criticized for being overly-formulaic despite the Genre-Busting premise. This, combined with oversaturation on the market, led to people getting burnt out on it. More-or-less averted with modern acts, who draw upon a wide variety of influences, and are exploring the genre on its own merits, rather than to cash in on a commercially viable fad.
  • Stylistic Suck: Some nu metal bands deliberately cash in on being hated by metalheads by putting out material that seemingly serve no purpose other than pissing off listeners. Common signs of this trope in the genre include unintelligibly screaming/singing vocalists, strong tendencies towards Three Chords and the Truth, excessive use of electronics and/or other forms of Sensory Abuse (dubstep, industrial and noise sounds are popular choices for electronic sounds), immature, indecipherable and/or nonsensical lyric writing, and so on)
  • Suddenly Shouting: A commonplace practice, mainly due to the fusion of softer vocals with vicious screams.
  • Taking You with Me: An unfortunate example, but Rap Rock, it's metal variation, and Funk Metal largely died out alongside nu metal due to the overlap being ingrained in public consciousness. Additionally, the use of turntables died out as well.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Syncopated, rhythmically-driven power chord riffs, usually in low drop-tuning, are the bread and butter of the genre. A few bands (most notably Deftones) use more Meshuggah-influenced riffs consisting of only two or three "machine-gunned" notes. Lead guitar work isn't too complicated either - the most it usually amounts to is high-pitched droning notes drenched in effects with little if any melodic soloing. Bass and drum work, however, avert this trope for the most part, as bass solos and rhymically complex drum beats are fairly common.

Nu metal songs:

Essential nu metal albums:

  • Korn — Korn
  • Deftones — Around the Fur
  • Sepultura — Roots
  • Slipknot — Slipknot
  • Limp Bizkit — Significant Other
  • Sevendust — Sevendust
  • Papa Roach — Infest
  • Disturbed — The Sickness
  • Linkin Park — Hybrid Theory
  • Saliva — Every Six Seconds
  • System of a Down — Toxicity
  • P.O.D. — Satellite
  • Evanescence — Fallen
  • Crazy Town — The Gift of Game