Industrial Strength Rock For All Your Paving Needs
There has long been a debate among people who are paid to think about such things (sociologists and academic types) whether social conditions caused Rock or was it the work of malcontents bent on elevating their "outsider" status. When it comes to Nu Metal it is relatively easy to trace the social cause. For many, growing up in the '70s and '80s, economic conditions, single parent homes and the prevalence of drugs gave kids a jaded view of the world.
While the U.S. billed itself as the land of boundless opportunity there was a growing sub-culture who felt disenfranchised. As Hip-Hop road into the mainstream, many of its themes and attitudes struck a chord with young listeners regardless of race. It spoke to their reality or, at the very least, their perceived reality.
Early adapters included Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock. The former was fronted by an ex-Navy pleb named Fred Durst and the latter, a Michigan native who had kicked around, and been kicked around, for years. Hip-Hop's sexual bluntness was front and center here too. But the guitars, propelled by a Rock beat, had a density and power that could level buildings.
Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor, wrote the book on creating a brutal, nihilistic sound. Others followed, seeking both commercial success and a release. Godsmack (a name taken from an Alice In Chains song), System Of A Down and Slipknot (with masked members) reached a disaffected audience with dark themes. Angry voices lashed to blistering guitars seemed about the only thing that could blow away the pain. The sonic assault kept the real world at bay - where it should be.