I grew up in the 90s and have always been passionate about music in one way or another. My leaning towards heavy and/or alternative music was established early, with the emerging trend of Californian punk rock from bands like The Offspring, whose album S.M.A.S.H. remains the best-selling release ever by an independent label (the legendary Epitaph Records).
Midway through the decade that gave rise to musical styles like pop punk, grunge, and gangster rap, these same styles began to converge and be eclipsed by a new trend that truly came to the top of the music world. The style was eventually dubbed "nu metal," derived from the term "new metal" and most often used as a pejorative. These were bands such as Korn, Deftones, and Coal Chamber, who were later joined by the likes of Limp Bizkit, System of a Down, and Linkin Park, among many others.
The very name "nu metal" had never gathered consensus until now, and over the past two decades, I have seen each of the bands I mentioned and many others change their minds about the term: sometimes they rejected being nu metal, sometimes they were proud and adopted the term.
I'm not criticizing anyone; I am also guilty of inconsistency in the way I related to the style over the years, especially after 2003/2004, when the style had a vertiginous drop in popularity for reasons that are still debated today.
But I certainly lived the moment, and between 2000 and 2003, I had the opportunity not only to attend shows that over the years became historic but also to meet some of my teenage idols, experiences that certainly had weight when I chose to follow journalism as a career.
In my high school years, I became the coordinator of my school's radio station, and in an era when traditional radio stations were no longer reaching these audiences, I did my part to immortalize tracks like "Freak on a Leash," "Last Resort," "Wait And Bleed," "Chop Suey," and many others.
And I had the privilege of getting to know, at a younger age, several artists not only as idols but as human beings, an experience that enriched me tremendously. In 2002, for example, I got a meet-and-greet with the original Disturbed line-up, whose autographs I still keep.
In 2003, I met Corey Taylor, lead singer of Slipknot and one of the greatest ambassadors of heavy music of his generation, during Stone Sour's first visit to Portugal, on the stage of the old (and for some, legendary) Paradise Garage. In this place, I had the opportunity to meet several other bands, from Ill Niño to Killswitch Engage, already at the time when nu-metal was supplanted by metal core.
It's rare for a musical movement to fade away as quickly as nu-metal did, but by 2003/2004, the style had completely run out of steam and found itself despised by the elitist underground and ignored by the mainstream, which had already made the necessary profits from it and moved on.
I welcome the current revival, in which nu-metal and its aesthetics are now more valued than they ever were, and we see traces of the style present across the spectrum of heavy or alternative music, thus fulfilling the promise of hybridization with the sound and culture of hip-hop that was originally part of this movement. It's hard to say when the coin flipped, and the style went from despised to incredibly popular, but at some point, it was undeniable. These influences can currently be discerned in the deathcore of bands like Emmure, Atilla, or Alpha Wolf, in mass-appeal metalcore like Bring Me The Horizon or Architects, or in the trap metal spectrum that has emerged in the past decade, initially on platforms like Soundcloud and now represented by artists like Zillakami, Scarlxrd, or Ghostmane as well as groups like $uicideboy$, Fever 333, or Dropout Kings. This blending of genres has always been at the root of nu-metal's popularity, but I would argue that it was part of what brought the movement to such an ignominious end. The cultural chasm that existed between the rock and metal universe and that of hip-hop led many fans and even many artists to "choose a side," and hence I read interviews years ago of all the bands that this year toured the US with the Sick New World festival, where at the time they spoke badly or tried to distance themselves from that nickname, "nu metal." But we know that music at this level of popularity is above all a business, and not taking advantage of this moment of rediscovery of the style would be almost criminal.
And this time, since there is no longer a mainstream to be conquered, there are also no traditional gatekeepers to stigmatize the musical genre in the same way. In fact, in a musical and cultural context where strictly categorizing musical styles is increasingly difficult and anachronistic, codifying personal identities based on the bands or artists we listen to seems to be more and more a thing of our parents' time. And we are once again faced with the passing of the baton, where it is the younger ones who revitalize trends that the previous generation dropped. The more things change, the more they stay the same.