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Nu-metal, yesterday.


The bête noire of many a music fan, maligned by most for its screamingly ham-fisted mélange of monosyllabic rawk, picture-book hip-hoppery and one-dimensional ’emoting’. The prime suspects are notable in their massive worldwide success – appalling jock rockers Limp Bizkit who have, admittedly, managed to implode, executive drama kings Linkin Park and Slipknot. The latter have always intrigued me the most, mainly due to their elaborate, carefully constructed image and legions of supremely devoted fans (notable even in this field).

A three night run at the Hammersmith Apollo seemed a good a time as any to sate my curiosity so, suitably liquored, we boarded the Piccadily Line. That feeling of being in the field of an enormous music magnet returned as you see unusually animated commuters, some clutching beers, dotted amongst the crowd following a similar bearing. The ratio increases, and as we arrive it’s a strikingly clear split between obvious young enthusiasts and rubberneckers – people just as curious as I.

It is undoubtedly a mesmerising spectacle. In the broadest terms they are the torch bearers for the brand of trashy shock rock invented by Alice Cooper and celebrated by Marilyn Manson. The comic book horror of the ever-changing outfits combined with their pop-metal anthems create a potent beast, a 100% showbiz monster. It’s unsurprising so many teens fall under the spell of a troupe of heavy metal cartoon characters, led by a demented Barney the dinosaur. Teletubbies for teenagers anyone?

Regardless of their proficiency or enthusiasm, for the cynical the cogs of the machine are laid bare. Cameras soar above the crowd recording the band’s latest DVD, there’s a promotional Xbox installation and at least a dozen t-shirts on sale. I guess this is run-of-the-mill for bands and gigs of this size but what it drives home is how efficiently they play on the the eternal angry teen, whatever the age of the listener, in order to shift units.

It is nonetheless genuinely exciting, in a sort of of shlock-horror circus way. This level of slick production is put into practice with most bands this size, and it would be wrong to suggest that it’s members are any less sincere than the majority of musicians out there. For the kids as well, their experience –  however crafted it may be – is a valid and worthy one. This is gateway metal, opening doors to the more extreme and experimental sounds out there.

Good luck to them all.


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