Is Nu Metal Heavy Metal?

Heavy Metal is like a tree with many branches, or subgenres.  Some of the popular subgenres are Black Metal, Alternative Metal and Glam Metal, while some of the less known genres are Christian Metal, Crust Metal and Stoner Metal. Within these subgenres there are even more specific (and bizarre) sub-subgenres of Heavy Metal. Heavy Metal has very strict codes used to define it, so realistically, all of the subgenres do not follow Heavy Metal code. Nu Metal breaks many of Heavy Metals codes. It features considerable female and African American influence, Pop Music structure, and urban clothing styles. These characteristics that define Nu Metal contradict traditional Heavy Metal code, so Nu Metal should not be considered Heavy Metal.

The development of Nu Metal was influenced by females and African Americans. Both of these groups are excluded from Heavy Metal according to code. Usually Heavy Metal has been performed by and attracted younger, working class white males, not females and other races. Heavy Metal has roots in Jazz but many African Americans have not made a real impact on the genre. The code practically dictates that performers be white males, so the genre continued to conform until the rise of Nu Metal in the 80s. Nu Metal adds hip hop styles to Heavy Metal and gives African Americans significant impact on the genre and attracts a more diverse crowd to metal. Nu Metal also has more gender diversity. Nu Metal bands Evanescence, Flyleaf, and Otep,  have females vocalists. Females have usually been groupies, and occasionally accepted fans if they conform to all other parts of the code, but never band members; Especially not in the arguably most important position of vocalist. Having female vocalists and African American influence separates Nu Metal from the larger Heavy Metal genre.

The structure of Nu Metal is another break from code. It follows a Pop Music structure instead of a metal structure. Really, besides the occasional guitar solo required by Heavy Metal code, there is not a specific structure to the genres’ music. The structure is made by individual artists based on the topic of their song. Heavy Metal doesn’t have its own structure, but it does not have a Pop structure either. Nu Metal draws on Pop Music structure rather than unique Heavy Metal structure. Pop Music structure has a verse-chorus style that is used in most other musical genres. It encourages fans to sing along, but Heavy Metal is not meant to be sung. Lyrics aren’t even meant to be understood. Its sounds that the words make and the emotions that these sounds evoke that matters. Nu Metal’s use of verse-chorus structure creates a large break in its Heavy Metal foundation.

Nu Metal artist and fans break Heavy Metal code with their clothing. Heavy metal dress code is very specific. Heavy Metal fans usually wear concert t-shirts, jeans and other street clothes, spandex, anything black, leather jackets, denim jackets, long hair and tattoos. Nu Metal fans and artist have a more Hip-Hop look. They wear football and basketball jerseys, cargo pants, crew cuts, baggy shirts, hoodies, track suits and sweatpants. While they wear black, it is not worn alone. White and other colors are also commonly worn by Nu Metal bands and fans. The clothing worn by Nu Metal bands separates Nu Metal and Heavy Metal even more.

Heavy Metal is usually seen as a broad genre because it has so many subgenres, but the classification of those subgenres as Heavy Metal is questionable at best. Nu Metal in particular should not be included under Heavy Metal because it breaks fundamental gender, ethnic, structural, and fashion codes.


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