The War between "Old Metal" and "Nu-Metal"

The war between old Metal and Nu-Metal

In my periodic travels in the tunnel of memories, I cannot forget having lived as a protagonist in a real stylistic war - actually rather stupid - that has dragged on for years, dividing extreme music lovers into two distinct fringes " formally" (only to adopt different behaviors in private) between" True Metal" and "False Metal". But let's go in order.

Let's face it clearly, in the early 90s the classic metalhead was not doing very well. First of all, there is a crisis of the historical pillars such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (both protagonists of the split with their respective singers) and the change of flag of the standard-bearers of thrash metal (Metallica and Megadeth towards a "lighter" genre, Slayer on hardcore and Anthrax towards a rather questionable alternative rock); Added to this is the emergence of a new rock movement called "grunge" (a term that is very spurious and devoid of a true stylistic connotation), well represented by colossal bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. Of course, it would be wrong to deny the flourishing of new movements (black metal in the first place, but also power and progressive metal), but there were, at least in my opinion, two events that began to heavily shake the waters and throw the basis for what happened next. First of all, I point out the stylistic contamination operated by a seminal band in the field of death thrash, the Brazilians Sepultura, who achieved commercial success at high levels by inserting ever more massive doses of tribal inserts in their works at the expense of the traditional component of their works. classics; and if Chaos A.D., which I still like to a large extent, retained a bit of nastiness, Roots - for me damn indigestible - marked the crisis of an old conception of heavy metal in favor of a new mentality. Meanwhile, elsewhere, other bands took to the extreme consequences of the contamination with other musical genres once considered too distant, such as funk, fusion, electronica, hip pop, and rap. We know that experimentation had already been mentioned in the past, we think of Faith No More or even the rapped refrain of Deep Purple's splendid "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming", or even collaborations such as Aerosmith with Run-DMC and Anthrax with Public Enemy, but here it is a question of merging the various elements to give life to something new, which even comes to be cleared even by the general public (see MTV). There is no doubt that among the fathers of this movement, there are Korn with their - as beautiful as it is dramatic - self-titled debut album, merciless in content, angry in its stylistic mix, with a purebred singer ready to express all his pain and irrepressible fury.

Nu-metal was born, yet all this took place almost in the undergrowth, slowly insinuating itself into the musical reality; the conflict was ready to break out and, for me, in Italy all this would have coincided with an event very dear to the people of hard music... the Gods Of Metal. 

2000s, Monza, Brianteo Stadium, two summer days of fire, two luxury headliners (Iron Maiden and Slayer), a bill that would make any contemporary festival pale... and banners hanging on the walls that read "NU METAL IS NOT METAL"... Tommy Lee's Methods of Mayhem, who in the meantime had put aside Motley Crue and Pamela Anderson's breasts, had been submerged by an ocean of bottles during the performance of the first track in the set (with consequent cancellation of the show) and on stage, a really strange ensemble goes up: there are 9 of them, masked, and their furious and experimental metal literally displaces the crowd, making it clear that things would never be the same again; they were Slipknot (R.I.P. Joey).
Since then the Nu-metal label has been attached to everything that is more or less distant from certain coordinates, putting, under a single category, bands very different from each other such as System of a Down, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Korn, Slipknot and Soulfly (let's be aware!), just to name a few. The problem is that many of these hit the general public (MTV itself sends their video clips repeatedly) and even the most chavvy friends play many of these songs at parties... and this only makes them even more hateful to the upright fan of traditional metal.

Between declarations of hatred by groups like Manowar (which in the meantime are certainly not churning out masterpieces) and groups that are affected by it (see for example Metallica with St. Anger or Alice Cooper with the overrated "Dragontown") in those years come out really beautiful records, but the metalhead can not possibly say it because it is not "true"!

Beautiful albums like "Toxicity", "White Pony" or "Hybrid Theory" are listened to in secret, carefully avoiding talking about them in public, all this for the usual, stupid habit of giving a label to everything, even the most diversified.
Over the years, the "true" judgment has softened a lot, a little because of the decrease in interest in the genre in favor of metalcore (my God!!!) and a little because of the thinning out of the aforementioned bands (some loose and others changed of skin and others still too fluctuating in the quality of the proposal like Korn - except the last one which is beautiful for me -), but on record this is the first time that metalheads were pitted against each other, casting a shadow over some of the best publications of the new millennium.

Personally, I do not deny that I felt a notable hatred towards this reality, a bit for addiction and above all for the presence of friends who bombarded me with these songs alternating with bad ones and the hated Ska-P, and only in recent times have I made peace with the bands I mentioned (but not with "Roots" !!!), recovering a whiff of that controversial musical adolescence with listening. 


KORN KORN (1994)
Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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