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As nu here is the common pop-music respelling of new, the term pretty much explains itself — it’s a revitalised form of the heavy metal musical genre of the seventies and eighties, a style of loud, vigorous and often harsh-sounding rock music that was linked to an intense and spectacular performing style. Metal drifted out of fashion in the nineties, though it never went away completely.

The nu-metal format is most closely associated with bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, the Deftones, Amen and Papa Roach, and the genre is often linked to the American music producer Ross Robinson, often called “the guru of nu-metal”. The performing style is still as heavily amplified and intense as ever; nu-metal gigs were described recently by Nicholas Barber in the Independent on Sunday as being “costumed, pyrotechnic riots of blood, sweat and earth-shaking volume”, though he also complained that the lyrics were self-pitying and peevish.

At the same time, the tremendous popularity of nu-metal acts like Korn and Limp Bizkit means kids are getting into heavier music again and thus might harbour a new interest in some of the longer-lived bands on the metal circuit.

Toronto Star, Jun. 2000

They call his music “nu-metal” but it sounded pretty old to me. Pounding guitars, hammer horror keyboards and bam bam drums compete with Manson’s creaky old hag-like voice — which bears an uncanny similarity to Mr Punch’s wife Judy.

The Mirror, Jan. 2001

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 17 Mar. 2001

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-num1.htm
Last modified: 17 March 2001.