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Aug 15

LIMP BIZKIT – “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)”

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#889, 27th January 2001

Bizkit “Take my advice,” says Fred Durst on “My Generation”, “you don’t want to step into a big pile of shit.” Wise words. But shit comes in many forms. The spoor of Durst, the self-styled chocolate starfish, the anus, is compacted nuggets of resentment, pinched out rabbit-style in single form, delivered with a constipated grunt or haemorrhoidal yelp. Wes Borland, in skullpaint and bodystocking a guitar-FX Eno to Durst’s reverse Ferry, takes a contrasting approach, conjuring torrents of colonic sludge, shitrush splatter effects and bowl-cracking divebombs. In the parade of number ones, between a career-building film star and a girl group’s last-chance classicism, “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” is more than a surprise, it’s a dirty protest. Back up, tell me what you’re gonna do now! Grit my teeth, reach for the imodium.

They’re an easy target. How bad is it really? “Rollin’” is one of the worse Limp Bizkit singles, because it moves away from their standard M.O. of reflexive bitterness, anger at a world that isn’t giving them what they want. They were good, I grant them, at packaging that up into noisy, hooky, usefully unspecific grievance bombs. “Nookie” – if ever a word signalled how old an intended audience was, that’s the one – is as targeted as they get. Otherwise they’re sticking up a finger to nothing, forever on the edge of a violent tantrum whose stakes we never know. Is that what being a 14 year old boy feels like? Sometimes. Often enough to win them an audience. Early adolescence – Durst was 29, but this doesn’t feel like grown-ups’ music to me – often means being promised a world and told, by your parents, your peers, your body, “not quite yet”. There will always be a market for catharsis: Limp Bizkit was one iteration. And it wasn’t just boys who responded – nu-metal in general had a mixed audience it never got credit for and barely respected, enough that fellow travellers Linkin Park could be derided as a “boy band”.

Durst strikes me as a goon though, a jock on the make, his self-pity dredged from nowhere deeper than his own reserves of entitled impatience. “Rollin’” finds Limp Bizkit in unusual, celebratory mode, on top of the world, not finding sullen fault with it. This is a grisly development: it means that on the verses Durst drops his low growl and raps in a higher voice, hatefully quavering and quacking. It’s an infuriating sound, and Borland’s music – an aggressive, inventive soup of riffs and lunges – deserves a lot better. But any music would. A gollumish peak arrives when he chides the haters: “you need some better beats and, uh, better rhymes”. It’s all in that “uh”, a condescending little chuckle from a man whose rhymes would shame a Five single. Hearing it, though Fred Durst is older than I am, the generation gap yawns in front of me; I become a retired Colonel spluttering over his port. The gall of the man! The effrontery!

It’s a ridiculous reaction, just what Fred would have wanted – he picked the name of the band to actively repel the curious, and paid a radio station to play their debut single a nerve-straining fifty times in a row. Trolling, button-pushing, and us-v-them posturing were apt games for a man whose records were such a sulky churn. Durst played them remorselessly, even after the wretched depths of Woodstock ‘99, when his band became the soundtrack for a weekend of searing heat, price-gouging, arson and ultimately rape. Were Bizkit to blame? No – start with the negligent organisers. But Durst’s asinine on-stage commentary – “Don’t let anybody get hurt. But I don’t think you should mellow out.” – exposed the limits of catharsis, “letting out the energy”, as he put it. Energy is cool and all, unless you’re in its way.

No shit stuck to Durst, or at least the people whose dollars mattered didn’t think he was a prick, even if the matter was settled for anyone else. The band carried on as before, spun the notoriety into “Rollin’” and “My Generation”, and the Chocolate Starfish And The Hot-Dog Flavoured Water album, their sales peak. “Rollin’” was a brag, a cry of triumph, for the ladies and the fellas and the people who don’t give a fuck. In Bizkitland, not giving a fuck was the highest known virtue. And yes, part of me wants not to give a fuck, to meet “Rollin’” on its own terms. Someone once played it at Club Popular – the trollish esprit du Durst manifest in the DJ booth. It was horrific, and hilarious, and the best way to hear it, as Borland’s propulsive hippo-rock drowned out Fred’s mewling.

So you can find contexts where “Rollin’” works, where its dump of noise and half-competent rapping is a vulgar virtue. Maybe the number ones list is one of those. But mostly it’s a painful chore, and that’s squarely because of the very dreadful Fred Durst. He’s the law of unintended consequences made flesh, the point where a bunch of 1990s ideas – House of Pain’s frat-hop, Rage Against The Machine’s spluttered fury, Kurt Cobain’s self-loathing, Black Francis’ screams and yelps, Beavis and Butthead’s wit – are driven first to their grim conclusion, then right over a cliff.

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Comments

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  1. 61
    AMZ1981 on 11 Aug 2015 #

    #56 Butterfly was indeed a RHCP sample – from Pretty Little Ditty, originally on the Mother’s Milk album. And I omitted The Strokes from my list of great 2001 albums – I knew there was one I’d left out.

  2. 62
    Edward Still on 11 Aug 2015 #

    I have no interest in nu-metal’s past, present or future, especially LB’s, but for a brief period they had a great run of fun pop-rock singles that I have no shame in still loving . 8 for this, Take a Look Around and My Way would have been 9’s and all else I have heard from them 3 at most with that George Michael cover being the worst of the lot and also the worst thing I was continually subjected to in my best friend’s Fiesta after being the first of our group to pass his test (and we spent much time in that car).

    #36 – I completely agree about a sudden generation gap in regards to the rock of this point. No one my age (32) gave more than a fleeting thought to Blink 182 and their ilk. To my current group of friends (aged 27 – 30) they are the universally proclaimed “best band ever”. I just can’t get it, and I really have tried….

  3. 63
    Edward Still on 11 Aug 2015 #

    #61 If you add Gorillaz, White Blood Cells, Discovery, The Blueprint, Your New Favourite Band ( although admittedley more of a best of), Free All Angels…. it really was a fantastic album year to my ears.

  4. 64
    JLucas on 11 Aug 2015 #

    I always found Linkin Park the most palatable of this crop because their songs felt more melodic. Maybe it was just that Chester Bennington seemed like he could sing (or at least scream) in tune compared to Durst. The cover of Behind Blue Eyes was a strange moment, a bit like a nu-metal equivalent Aqua going from Dr Jones to Turn Back Time I suppose, except not even a quarter as good, and of course not an original song.

  5. 65
    GLC on 11 Aug 2015 #

    Confession time: I liked Limp Bizkit when this was popular (and I’m a girl). To be fair, I was a pre-teen at the time (and the local rock station played a *lot* of nu-metal), so I at least have an excuse. The same pair of excuses also explain why I have a lingering fondness for Nickelback’s first major hit single (How You Remind Me) and other nu-metal songs; I know they suck, but I can’t fully hate on them.

  6. 66
    Sausagebrain on 11 Aug 2015 #

    Hi all. Long time lurker, first time poster.

    And how better to open my account than with what gets my vote as the worst UK number one ever?

    Where to start with Limp Bizkit? Well, I’ll try and start by being positive. Wes Borland and the other three at the back seemed like capable musicians to me. On the quitter bits of tracks like ‘My Generation’ or ‘Take A Look Around’, they brew up some fine, tense musical backing.

    As for the frat-ass at the front – even he had a well developed sense of how to get a big crowd going in a live setting, even if it was by appealing to his (adolescent) crowds’ most base instincts. If you can bear the awful racket, check out live footage of him at his commercial peak.

    Of course, Durst the Worst rabble rousing antics sometimes – unintentionally – had tragic consequences. Witness Woodstock ’99 or Big Day Out ’01, where a young fan was trampled to death in the pit (in both cases, the organisers were to blame – I’m not going to suggest for a minute that Fred or Limp were culpable).

    And now for the negative – I won’t dwell on the lumpeness of BratDurst’s ‘flow’ but his lack of skills is painfully apparent when put next to Redman et al on the ‘Urban remix’ (still, next to Mike Shinoda of LP, or Shifty Shellshock of Crazy Town, he’s friggin Chuck D!). The music? Pure repetitive sludge to my ears, with none of the light and shade that Borland and Co used to leaven some of their other work. The lyrics? Those would embarrass a 13 year old doing a ‘rapping’ routine at a school talent contest.

    Apart from the music – why is the Nu-Metal genre remembered with such disgust by most? It’s probably the unfailingly obnoxious attitude of most of the bands. As others have alluded to, it’s a genre that really divided the generations. I remember an anniversary retrospective by Mojo Magazine (whose core demographic must be late baby boomers), which pithily dismissed the genre thus – ‘It was the worst music ever made…’ I can’t disagree, but along with pop punk it may be the last rock genre to pit parents against teenagers. Hasn’t that been the point of rock since it’s inception. Well, yessssss…. But at least previous generations of young rebels had some wit, intelligence and style – not just a melange of grunts, squeals and swears.

    Back to Freddie Flint-Brain at the front – you could applaud him for turning all of his trolling abilities into pay-dirt. The confrontational attitude of his was on one level a brilliant way of tapping into his target audience’s id. Another memorable example not yet mentioned here was the time he led his band in climbing out of a giant toilet at the start of their live shows. And he must have had some sort of business nous to have been made a VP of Interscope.

    On the other hand, the attitude overall stank worst than shit. His persona made him seem like just a thoroughly unlikeable individual. And his rants went beyond the ultimately harmless parent baiting streams of consciousness into far darker territory. Seek out, if you dare, his truly horrific duet with Korn ‘All In The Family’ from 1998. He truly was the Katie Hopkins of rock.

    @#13 – Limp actually seemed very popular on Rock Radio in the US – around the time of ‘Chocolate Starfish’, I found myself taking long roadtrips in the US on two separate occasions. Lots of happy memories, one of which was NOT constantly hearing this song (both versions) and ‘My G-G-Generation’ on constant radio rotation.

    Like a lot of places, the Nu-Metal craze hit suburban West London hard. It’s hey-day was during my sixth form years. The musically inclined of us hardened into three tribes – Nu-Metallers, Garage/R&B fans, and lovers of Ibiza toons. Which tribe was I part of? None of them – I was the weirdo in the corner of the Common Room, listening to Queen’s Greatest Hits on the Walkman.

  7. 67
    Doctor Casino on 12 Aug 2015 #

    D’oh! Of course y’all are right about the Frusciante sample. Color me embarrassed.

    “Isn’t there a Limp Bizkit track with members of Wu Tang on it?” – Yes, “N 2 Gether Now,” a single that appears to be basically a Fred Durst/Method Man solo joint (though perhaps DJ Lethal was somehow involved in the beat? it sounds very much like the Wu house stable of this era though). Obviously, Meth is considerably fleeter on his feet than Fred, but if the latter’s flow isn’t devastating, the lyrics are at least slightly more memorable than those of “Rollin'” if not always coherent (“Discretion is advised for the blood of virgin eyes,” “And that alone will keep John Gotti on the phone,” etc.). Overall it suggests that the *especially* clunky approach to “Rollin'” might in fact be purposeful. I feel like at least one Popular entry has pointed up some so-simple-anybody-can-do-it rapping as a strategic move by the performers, but it was probably back around 1992 and it does seem that by 2001 it shouldn’t be necessary.

  8. 68
    flahr on 12 Aug 2015 #

    “I feel like at least one Popular entry has pointed up some so-simple-anybody-can-do-it rapping as a strategic move by the performers, but it was probably back around 1992”

    I can think of one in 2013… (yes I know that timeline’s not quite fair)

  9. 69
    Jonathan on 12 Aug 2015 #

    #56: “The link between Limp Bizkit and, for want of a better expression, ‘credible’ rap always perplexed me a bit. ” — I sorta suspect this had a lot to do with hip-hop recognizing in nu-metal/rap-rock the opening of a new potential market and fanbase. Rappers have a tradition of holding rather suspect tastes in rock music anyway — see Lil Wayne’s Rebirth, for instance — likely stemming from a rather superficial interest, and I imagine lots of these guys figured that if white dudes with guitars and turntables offered a route to suburban audiences that had once been out of their reach, why not take it? Particularly considering that at the time there was no indication rap-rock was a bubble on the cusp of bursting; “Rollin'” arrives more than a decade after Public Enemy’s Anthrax collaboration.

    #62: I’m also 32, and pop-punk was huge amongst me and my friends back in high school — especially Blink!

  10. 70
    Ed on 12 Aug 2015 #

    A great post, Tom, which raises the question: was this the first – and only – Arsequake number one?

    There is definitely something of Paul Leary (Sweat Loaf, in particular) about Borland’s playing.

  11. 71
    Tom on 12 Aug 2015 #

    I certainly had arsequake in mind! But honestly my knowledge of that genre is not all it should be, so I didn’t want to draw the comparison directly.

  12. 72
    Tom on 12 Aug 2015 #

    Or possibly it IS all it should be.

  13. 73
    anto on 12 Aug 2015 #

    Moving in the sort of circles I do, I was well aware of a lot of nu-metal before it broached the mainstream in 2001 even though I wasn’t a fan. I could recognize some virtue in System Of A Down and their Zappa-esque combination of the righteous and the berserk, I could appreciate Deftones and their variations on a permanent downer almost reminiscent of The Cure on ‘Pornography’. I could even see the appeal of Slipknot’s wildly grotesque self-projection. Similarly I could withstand listening to Korn in small measures and admit that they had sculpted hard rock into a new shape just as assuredly as any other metal innovators who came before them.
    Limp Bizkit, however was where I drew the line. ‘Rollin’ was as horribly clenched and ugly as all their other singles, and as ever there was Fred Durst wielding his attitude in his stupid baggy pants and brimless cap. The posturing like the music would quickly date and Limp Bizkit would seemingly flounder at the realization that having got bigger than they were really meant to be, they were now obliged to build a career. I suspect Durst’s real problem wasn’t so much that his detractors couldn’t stand the sight of him, but that before long nor could his admirers.

  14. 74
    anto on 12 Aug 2015 #

    I think it was Lars Ulrich who insisted on pointing out that there were some rocking vibes at Woodstock ’99 early on before it turned horrible, which is rather like Alan Partridge reminding his guests that the Titanic’s maiden voyage was pleasantly uneventful before it met the iceberg.

  15. 75
    weej on 12 Aug 2015 #

    re: #69 The missing link here is Ice-T’s Body Count project, which was around as early as 1990.

    re: #66 Anyone taking a stroll around Camden market at the turn of the millennium would see that rock had long since superseded indie as a youth movement

  16. 76
    fivelongdays on 12 Aug 2015 #

    Oh Tom, why did you have to post this this week, when I’m on holiday?

    Suffice to say, I can critique LB and the whole nuMetal phenomenon for you from the perspective of someone who actually likes metal …but it’ll be later.

  17. 77

    Alright, comrades. Vote Jez Corbyn. You know what Liz Kendall is.

  18. 78
    fivelongdays on 12 Aug 2015 #

    Oh, and an addendum to my last post – most non Metal fans critiques of nuMetal make me think of what it must’ve been like as an old Labour sort to hear Tories attacking Blair…’you’re having a go for the wrong flipping reasons, guys’.

  19. 79
    Matt on 12 Aug 2015 #

    It’s interesting to hear ‘at the moment’ reactions to Limp Bizkit. I was very young at the time and not old enough to grasp any sense of what music norms were, so inheriting my tastes from my older brother, I loved Limp Bizkit. The only component of them I identified as crass was their tendency to use coarse language (there’s a track near the start of the album that has about 80 f-bombs which I wasn’t allowed to listen to). For association with Linkin Park, I think I was again conditioned by my brother to dislike them for being comparatively uncool.

    It was really only when I’d grown up years later and gotten an internet connection that I learnt just how loathed the band were. With all the radio/TV airplay they got, and minor things like the WWF Undertaker association, it never seemed like anyone was taking issue with them.

    Unsurprisingly I’m less charitible to them nowadays. As has mostly been said, Borland is the saving grace, Durst finds a way to be a nuisance every time he gets to hold the mic, and there’s just a generally mess about them that disrupts potentially workable hooks. “Take A Look Around” is really the only track of theirs that still works for me, because it’s more under control and keeps in tune when they decide to go louder.

    “Rollin'” gets by somewhat for nostalgic purposes. All their worst tendencies are there so I can’t really disagree with Tom’s review/score. But it does feel like the Limp Bizkit track that has the most moments that stick out, even if in a Rebecca Black way, that mean I can’t not enjoy listening to it on that level.

    Incidentally also, Limp Bizkit are a connection to one of my first experiences with the concept of music charts. There was a music channel on TV I remember watching, and I seemed to notice that “My Way” would often be the last song played on a certain program. I distinctly remember one day they ended with the host saying they’re playing the #1 song and that it was the same as last week. I confidently claimed to my mum that I knew what song it was going to be, but to my surprise, it wound up being a certain upcoming bunnied track with 1/4 of its artists having been seen by Popular. Presumably the show was being accurate as I discovered later down the track that it was a #1 while the Limp Bizkit track never cracked the top 50 here in Australia (though I see it did rather well as a follow up to “Rollin'” in the UK).

  20. 80
    katstevens on 12 Aug 2015 #

    #75 Hello yes that was me in ’99, with my cargo trousers and wallet attached to a big old chain that was slightly too heavy, so the side of said cargo trousers kept sagging. If you got the 31 at Swiss Cottage, you only had to cough up for Zones 2-6 which was an extra £1.20 to spend on leather bracelets.

  21. 81
    Phil on 13 Aug 2015 #

    Blimey, that was awful. On the positive side: Robert Sandall (interviewing Butch Vig) described grunge as “a sonic airbrush of punk”, and what Wes Borland’s doing here is very much a sonic airbrush of grunge; not in a bad way, either, although without the wit or light & shade of Vig’s own Garbage, say. I perked up momentarily when somebody mentioned a remix upthread, but of course it was a remix without Borland. Shame – a Durst-free remix might rise to a 5 or 6.

    As for that piggy-eyed manchild with the squeaky voice, the lack of rhythm and the limited vocabulary… just no. You remember the guy who stood on stage with Jilted John doing nothing except a rather basic hand-jive throughout the song? I’d rather watch him for three minutes than suffer Durst’s moves again – and Sid Snot was a better rapper.

    Somebody upthread said that 2 seemed a bit too low when you think of all the awful stuff there is; I partly agree, but I also think this is the awful stuff. 3 if I’m generous, and if you promise me I never have to look at or listen to it again.

  22. 82
    Chris on 13 Aug 2015 #

    “Rollin'” is crap, and I could never understand it being such a big hit.
    Paradoxically “Take A Look Around” and “My Way” are superb – I bought them both, still enjoy hearing them (loud, preferably ) and they stand up well 15 years later.
    I was 27 years old in 2000/2001 so don’t have the excuse of youth or belonging to the generation mistakenly believing the majority of ‘nu-metal’ represents anything other than a dumbed-down generic rebranding of rock music aimed at people who believe tattoos & facial hair are an acceptable substitute for thought.

  23. 83
    Tommy Mack on 13 Aug 2015 #

    For a guy who I claimed to hate, Fred Durst sure gave me and my mates a lot of laughs during 2001. ‘Get some better beats and, uh, some better rhymes’ became one of our put-downs of choice and we never tired of bellowing “Chocolate Starfish!” or “You don’t wanna step into a big pile of shit!”. I went to a fancy-dress party as Fred. It was (appropriately enough) the laziest costume ever: a backwards red cap, a USA T-shirt and a drawn on goatee. I also made a T-shirt of Fred with ‘This Is Your Enemy’ underneath (which makes me wince in its indie-piety far more than listening to Limp Bizkit again) and wrote a column in my short-lived satirical music paper Malady Maker* headed ‘Fred Durst Was Mistake admits God’** Seemingly I was unhealthily obsessed with the man!

    IIRC, everyone urged Wes Borland to go solo, he did so, the following year, with a project/album called bigdumbface, it sold sod-all and he went back to Bizkit only for their next album (entitled Pantysniffer, I believe?) to sell sod-all too.

    As for Rollin’. I’ll stretch to 4. Clearly it’s rubbish but there’s something audacious about stringing such an almighty racket out of absolutely no ideas whatsoever. I recall bouncing around on the ICU dancefloor to it a couple of times (with, of course, an ironic-mugging expression on my face so anyone watching would know I was actually above it. In retrospect, I was a bit of a dickhead at 19)

    *Other headlines included Lemmy To Join Coldplay, Bubbles Solo Album ‘A Classic’ and ‘Mouse Band Eaten By Cat Band.

    **In the Limp Bizkit piece, they’re plugging an album called Piss Poo Botty-Hole Dogfucker…

  24. 84

    Not remotely in a position to judge its quality — tho I’ve seen guardedly positive comments from ppl who certainly are — this piece in Decibel is a detailed look at the rise of and reasons behind Nü-Metal

  25. 85
    Cumbrian on 14 Aug 2015 #

    I thought that Decibel piece was pretty decent (though the objections to Nu-Metal from Metal heads strike me as typical rockist arguments against pop) but I would be interested in reading something similar that doesn’t take as an already agreed upon premise that Nu-Metal is primarily, and with few exceptions, shit. I mean, I didn’t like it much but it’s still an incredible slant on the story. As I said up thread, a lot of people liked this stuff – and the idea that it’s all young teenage boys might be largely true but it wasn’t wholly true by any stretch of the imagination; I saw that moshpit in Leeds and there weren’t that many teenage boys at the festival, there were plenty of older people and women in that pit – and a cursory glance at the Limp Bizkit or Kid Rock sets from Woodstock 99 on Youtube will show you that the audience there wasn’t just teenage boys either.

    I also spent most of that article thinking a) if Korn = Suede, Sepultura = Blur (a stretch but turned from baggy to Britpop so just about fits) and Limp Bizkit = Oasis, this is the story of Britpop and b) it that’s a plausible comparison, I wonder whether it is the story of every fast burning musical trend.

  26. 86
    thefatgit on 14 Aug 2015 #

    Sepultura, as you say, a nu-metal band is a bit of stretch, unless Max Cavalera = Damon Albarn, then Soul(Brundle)fly = Blur/Gor****z /The Good, The Bad & The Queen type of thing fits quite nicely.

  27. 87
    weej on 14 Aug 2015 #

    I also enjoyed the article, with some reservations – agreed that it didn’t present the ‘pro’ side enough, but also felt it odd that it needed to tie it all to the mainstream metal scene when the lineage seemed to be more linked to the pre-Nirvana 80s hardcore punk scene and heavy alt-rock / rap crossover stuff like RATM. This, I should say, is just from listening – I don’t actually know what their influences were, but I know what they sound like, and without the growly vocals and high-speed drumming ‘Nu Metal’ never really sounded like ‘Metal’ to me. Is the hatred of Nu Metal really a problem of appropriated genre names, like the way some Dubstep fans take pains to distance themselves from ‘Brostep’?

  28. 88
    Ed on 15 Aug 2015 #

    @84, etc. It is a good piece, although a couple of things about it made me laugh.

    1) There’s a very straightforward division of music into good and bad, and as Cumbrian and Weej pointed out, it simply goes without saying that nu-metal is bad. It is variously compared to garbage and to a virus, and the writer doesn’t feel he ever has to explain *why* it is so terrible.

    2) There is a similarly unproblematic certainty that quality is synonymous with technical difficulty. One of the most telling indictments of Sepultura’s Roots is that it is easy to play. As a mainstream rock and pop fan, I thought that ideology had disappeared in 1976!

    Truly Planet Metal is a different world.

  29. 89
    Tommy Mack on 16 Aug 2015 #

    So I went for a jog to Limp Bizkit. Like the Chuckle Brothers doing rap metal. Except that it’s really, really sad. When he’s not wholly incoherent, Fred might well be describing depression: everything is wrong, he can’t say why, he can barely even articulate it. “I know why you wanna hate me, cos hate is all the world has even seen lately ” – he doesn’t even blame his detractors for hating him, hate is just an abstract quantity that’s sloshing around in excess, happening to land on poor ol Fred and his red hat.

    My Generation is easily the worst of their hits, being the sloppiest, most incoherent and most bereft of ideas. I didn’t think until they covered Behind Blue Eyes that the G-G-G-Generation hook might have actually been in homage to the Who song of the same name.

    When he says (on Rollin) ‘Hey fellas, hey ladies and the people who don’t give a fuck’ I’d like to think he’s reaching out to the Trans community…

    Also listened to Linkin Park: only entertaining when they’re at their most melodramatic and hysterical. And Korn, conversely, only entertaining when they’re at their spikiest and most amelodic. And Jonathan Davis isn’t singing. Their choruses suck! Give me dislocated guitar grunts and mad animal noises over dreary lumpen angst. Their cover of Word Up is quite nifty mind!

    On to Atomic Kitten, the Limp Bizkit of post-Spice girlpop!

  30. 90
    Fivelongdays on 17 Aug 2015 #

    Right, late to the party as ever, but I need to get this off my erm, motherfucking chest, erm, y’all. Not that you, quite rightly give a fuck what I, or indeed any motherfucker, think.

    I’ve been into heavy metal since I was 12. I saw the (edited) video for Metallica’s One in 1994 and I was hooked.

    I grew up in a sleepy backwards town, where fans of heavy music stuck together, for pretty obvious reasons, and the small group of us who liked the music all knew each other and were at least on friendly terms. And it was a pretty broad church, too – whether it was thrash, or old-school classic rock metal, or stoner rock, or doom, or even grunge and alt, if it was covered by Kerrang, the chances are you listened to it, and you loved it.

    Sure, there were some pricks – people who played up to the stereotype of people who like Rock music being morons – but it was all cool.

    But then something awful happened.

    It didn’t start off as something awful, though. It started off as something new.

    I first heard Korn at some point towards the end of 1996. It was when I was REALLY making my transition from ‘naive Britpop kid’ to ‘lover all all things proper Rocking’, i.e. its when I started reading Kerrang! on a regular basis.

    (And let it be known – while the NME has been reduced to giving itself away for free, Kerrang! is still doing relatively well, even if I only buy it every couple of months or so when they do a piece about a band I like)

    I’d love to say that hearing ‘Good God’ blew me away with its intensity and emotional honesty but it didn’t. It was, however, something DIFFERENT. There wasn’t anything that really sounded like it. So, I cautiously started to get into them. They were alright. A bit samey, though.

    Now, fast forward a year or so, and there was an emergence of something coming out of the West Coast of America. Something vaguely rap-influenced, but undeniably heavy. The genre hadn’t quite got itself a name, so we called it ‘New-School Californian Metal’, but mostly it was ‘Bands Who Sound A Bit Like Korn’. Coal Chamber’s first album featured a run of five tracks which define what nuMetal were, while the Deftones fused hip-hopish beats and down tuned guitars with a Cure-Depeche Mode-Smiths-Radiohead sensibility which valued space as much as it did noise. So it was new, and different, and good.

    (and – random tangent time – the idea that Max Cavelera was in some way the godfather of nuMetal is complete, utter and abject bollocks. Korn didn’t end up sounding like Sepultura. Sepultura ended up sounding a bit like Korn, but that’s because Ross Robinson produced Roots. And the idea that Roots wasn’t good because it was simple to play is not one I’ve ever heard before in my life. If anything, Roots’ problem is that it gets kinda boring. As I’ve said before, Roots Bloody Roots is an excellent two-and-a-half minute blast of heaviness and intensity dragged out to four minutes).

    That all changed in 1999. Suddenly, the world was flooded with bands who confused down tuning your guitars and being a bit noisy with actual heaviness. You couldn’t open the pages of Kerrang! without some American twunt with a stupid haircut, baggy shorts and a fucking tracksuit whining on about their dads. And do you know what made it worse?

    The fans. Dear God, the fans.

    Fake, posturing, sad bastards who deliberately chose to play at being an outsider, knowing their mates and girlfriends and what have you would always be there, shunning anyone who didn’t play their fucking fancy dress pose games and refusing to listen to anything that happened before 1991, pretending they were ‘fucked up’ when they quite clearly weren’t.

    I suppose if I’d been a couple of years younger, I would have been part of it, and I suppose if I’d been a couple of years older, I’d have got over myself enough to have appreciated it. But I was at the worst possible place.
    I was an angry outsider who wished I knew more people would like the same sort of music as me so I could fit in…and then people who were dicks started to like it. Sigh.

    So, why did it become so rubbish? If you ask me, one band is to blame. And it isn’t Limp Bizkit.

    Slipknot (or as I so hilariously called them, Shitknob) were fucking dire. A fake gimmick, a shit vocalist, and a tendency to confuse noisy with heavy. They were the fakest of the fake, the shittest of the shit and, although there are some songs of theirs I like (Left Behind and that one about having a migraine). And they encouraged a bunch a trendy, fake, popular posers to get stupid haircuts (I mean, I’ve always had stupid hair, but that’s because it ended up that way, not because I did it deliberately) and pretend they were fucked up when they weren’t.

    So I had to find my salvation. And I found it in Stoner Rock and what we’d now call Middle School Emo (i.e. Jimmy Eat World, Get Up Kids et al).

    Again, irony alert here – I was condemned for liking Metallica (who are now as big as they’ve ever been), and the aforementioned Stoner Rock and Middle School Emo. MSE I’ll talk about later on in Popular, when it’s more appropriate, but Stoner Rock is doing a darned site better than nuMetal. If nothing else, Queens of the Stone Age must be one of the most influential American bands of the last 20 years.

    BUT!

    Sometimes people slagged off nuMetal because they were Indie Children, and thus did it for the wrong reasons.

    Here are some of them.

    *It’s too loud! (oh, fuck off you Starsailor loving poltroon)
    *It’s too shouty and they’re pissed off! (sure beats what a pretty colour Yellow is, or what a lovely horse Arkle was)
    *It’s just like 80s glam metal! (Easily disproved by actually using your fucking ears, you fucking pillock. Besides, if it was ‘just like 80s glam metal’ it would be frickin’ awesome)

    So there you go.

    That’s not to say that all nuMetal was shit. Deftones were utterly glorious -White Pony is easily in the top three albums (it might even nick top spot) of 2000, a year which had an awful lot of good records. System Of A Down were always interesting and weird and wonderful, and – let’s be honest – Korn were actually quite good.

    Of course, I’ve not mentioned LB properly yet, but that’s because I can’t really deviate from the consensus (i.e. Borland was an excellent guitarist, and Durst is a bit of a twat). However, I need to make some observations…

    *Take A Look Around is fucking BRILLIANT, best single of 2000, a combination of paranoia and inarticulate rage that happens to be my Kareoke jam (and I was mentioned in the Reading 2000 Melody Maker roundup for being a top performer at the Maker Fakers tent) and would be a 10 any day of the week.

    *This song has actions!

    *It’s stupid, but it kinda knows it’s stupid and it has fun

    *It manages to piss everyone off

    *When it came out, we kinda knew nuMetal was dying. It was a slow, painful death, but luckily bands that didn’t suck slowly took its place. The end seemed to be heralded by Linkin Park, a band that led many people to go ‘Ooh, saturation point. They’ll be a one-hit wonder.’ HOW WRONG WE ALL WERE.

    *I’d still rather listen to this than, ooh, at least 90 per cent of anything The Strokes or The White Stripes have ever put out.

    *LB’s 2011 album Gold Cobra is the best comedy album of the decade.

    *Fred Durst may be a class-A, copper-bottomed, atomic-powered tosser, but he’s sort of our class-A, copper-bottomed, atomic-powered tosser.

    So, not that Fred gives a fuck what I, Tom, or any motherfucker thinks, I will give this.

    Eight.

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