2021 is over. It looked like Nu Metal was actually going to come back somewhere along the line in 2021. But now, it looks like SKA is coming back?! I don’t think that the world can sustain the two worst genres of the 1990s coming back at the same time, so if Ska is coming back, Nu Metal cannot. This is like Omicron displacing Delta.
Nonetheless, I started this series when people were stoked to never think about Nu Metal again, and I’ll occasionally keep it going in order to prevent people from moving on with their lives.
This is the first post, I think, where I’ve landed on a band that is arguably one of the “big” Nu Metal bands. Not to sap any of the drama that this post may have otherwise conjured up, but… I can’t imagine Drowning Pool not taking this. Even just based on the one song. It’s practically the “Eye Of The Tiger” of Nu Metal. I will not elaborate on what I mean.
I had originally drawn a band from the Wikipedia list of Nu Metal bands called Maximum The Hormone. They are from Japan. I decided that I could not include them in this series. Part of my reasoning is that they’re simply too current. They’ve been around since the early 2000s, sure. But they’re still quite active, and this series is mainly for the purposes of looking at over-the-hill, defunct acts. Another reason for cutting them: they have some Nu-elements, but they’re not really a new metal band. And lastly, they’re just probably better than every Nu Metal band I’ve ever heard, so it wouldn’t be fair. None of the bands that I’m going to cover are close to being as much fun as this:
So I threw them back and drew Deadsy instead. Oh boy.
I remember this band name, but I do not remember this band. As I read the wikipedia entry, it seems likely to me that this band was lumped in with Nu Metal due to timing and due to some associations to Nu Metal acts. Specifically, it looks as though they were friends with Fred Durst, who by the end of the 1990s was some kind of bonehead music kingmaker. They landed themselves on the Family Values tour, but looking at their aesthetic and sound… it looks like they fell victim to the same Nu Metal umbrella label that claimed bands like Orgy (who they basically sound like a shittier version of).
Their most popular song on Spotify is called “The Key To Gramercy Park”.
I wonder how these guys look back at this video now. They all look very dumb in it.
The song is… not good. Begrudging respect for the really fat and ridiculous bass/guitar tone, though. It sounds pretty bad, but it is also kind of fun. I’m clocking… three guitars in the video and this definitely only sounds like one. I’m not sure that there’s even a bass guitar on this? Is this even a real guitar? It could be a very blown-out midi guitar for all I know.
The keyboard player… can not really play keyboards. I am sensitive about this topic, because when I was a younger person, I was also a keyboardist who could not play keyboards in a band where they wanted me to play keyboards. That being said, there’s nothing funnier than a guy with a huge keyboard, farting out single-note lines while they clutch on to their keyboard and swing their body around like they are absolutely slaying it. The choice of synth sound on this track is also… not good.
The vocal approach seems like a synthesis of someone trying to imitate Marilyn Manson and someone trying to rap out some very weak beat poetry. It’s difficult to pin down what the most embarrassing element of this tune is, but I think that the vocals are going to win out. I’m not sure if he’s trying to sound menacing or sexy or… something else? I don’t know, it’s really shamelessly Manson-esque. Say what you will about Marilyn Manson (and there’s plenty to say), he was able to harness his unique… vocal abilities… to achieve a number of effective moods. This Deadsy guy is just kind of monotone and silly. If this track is their most popular, I’m not hopeful for the others.
This band’s aesthetic is very funny. Going for a prep school fascists-in-training vibe!
Checking out the remaining “top songs” on Deadsy’s Spotify page, I had an “it couldn’t be” moment, but it very much… is. Deadsy covered Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”! On their debut album! THE HUBRIS!
Unsurprisingly, “Tom Sawyer” is Deadsy’s best song. Because “Tom Sawyer” was written by people with talent. It’s a pretty faithful version of the tune, with way more guitar distortion and a much worse vocalist. The guitars even occasionally sound like guitars. The drummer gets to go ham on this cut a little bit, and although I will never listen to this again – I did not have a bad time! There were a few chugging change-ups that made me laugh out loud. How was this not a hit as big as Orgy’s cover of “Blue Monday”?
“Mansion World” doubles way down on their 80s-aping vibe, with liberal splashes of e-Drum tom toms and more densely layered (and interesting) synth work. I think that this song is actually a little hookier than “The Key To Gramercy Park”. It still sucks, but this one has more of a dorky charm, which is really just what these guys embody.
Best Song: None of this is Nu Metal, so I’m not sure how I’m going to rank this. But their best song is “Tom Sawyer” and it’s not close.
Let’s get this out of the way:
I’m not sure what spot “Bodies” would get on the list of the 10 most important Nu Metal songs of all time, but I would argue that it’s on there. This track is a perfect go-to example of Nu Metal as pop phenomenon, arriving at a time when all of the nuance and creepiness of early Nu Metal had been sucked away and all that remained were bonehead mosh riffs, big dumb hooks and bad facial hair.
But honestly? This song is fun. It’s still fun. The video makes me laugh out loud. It manages to kinda chug and be danceable at the same time. The lyrics include counting. It is the greatest. The inclusion of hip hop hype “here we go here we go here we go” backing vocals? Writing a song with a plainly violent lyrical hook in the chorus and then claiming that it’s about having fun in a mosh pit? *chef’s kiss*
I think that there are maybe only two good varieties of Nu Metal. One pile of the good Nu Metal music comes from a very small handful of acts that created good, challenging and durable music that actually transcended the genre itself. And the other good pile? Shit like “Bodies”. Even with the saddest of sad-sack angst lyrics, this song just doubles down on fun for its entire duration. Been streamed on Spotify nearly 300 million times. An all-time banger.
A lot of boxes being checked here. Two of these men are balding and only one of them has accepted it. Balding guys resorting to braids/dreads are probably my fave kind of balding guys. Some spikey hairs. Some eyebrow piercing. 100% chin coverage and 0% lip coverage. These dudes know how to do it.
The first three songs on Drowning Pool’s Spotify top five are from their first album. From what I recall, their vocalist passed away before the second album was released. Also, the internet tells me that they are still touring. That is insane to me, but whatever.
“Tear Away” doesn’t have the pep of “Bodies”, and feels much more unremarkable and generic. When divorced from the fist-pumping and… counting that make “Bodies” such a treat, this guy’s lyrics are particularly embarrassing. Now that I’m about 10 years older than guys like this were when they wrote these songs, I’m stunned that 30 year old men could be emotionally stunted to the extent that they could write lyrics like this without cackling maniacally the whole time about how dumb they’re being. Some really boring musical work on display in “Tear Away”. Terrible solo. Bad song.
“Sinner” doesn’t fare much better. Jesus Christ, this band can’t keep their foot off of the wahwah pedal. Sounds bad! Both of these other tunes rely pretty heavily on the trope of doing all of the heavy growling stuff in the verses and trying to bring things back to a melodic alt-rock hook in the chorus. It doesn’t work for them.
The two tracks on the top five that don’t feature the original vocalist are probably not worth going into. “Step Up” has a peppy stomp, but it also sounds like a song that was written by a nameless group for the end credits of a film produced by WWE. “One Finger And A Fist” sounds kinda like they recruited the Billy Talent guy and took him to somebody’s basement and recorded an album into someone’s phone. Sounds awful!
This band should have just broken up when that guy died, probably?
Best Song: Lol, come on. They only had one song.
This one is partially really easy. There’s no world in which Drowning Pool is not the number one Nu Metal band out of the group of bands that we have gathered so far. They literally could have released “Bodies” as a single without an accompanying album and then immediately broken up, and they would still top this list.
That being said, the rest of their music is very bad.
Deadsy is not really a Nu Metal band. Really, neither was Godhead. I guess the question is: was Godhead’s cover of “Eleanor Rigby” better than Deadsy’s cover of “Tom Sawyer”? It’s awfully hard to say. Emphasis on “awfully”.
I think that I laughed more during the “Tom Sawyer” cover, and I think that I would rather not listen to anyone cover “Eleanor Rigby”. So I think that I’ll give Deadsy the edge over Godhead, while reiterating: these bands were not Nu Metal and Wikipedia’s list of Nu Metal bands is very weird.
The new ranking is:
- Drowning Pool
- Trust Company
- Twisted Method
- Wicked Wisdom
Drowning Pool is the greatest Nu Metal band of all time!
Click here to read the other installments in this ranking series!