Metal Evolution - "Nu Metal"

Metal Evolution: Nu Metal - Episode 108
Sam Dunn
VH1 Classic

All Access Review: B+

Woodstock ’99 was burning and blame for the mayhem was placed squarely on Fred Durst and the rap-metal hooligans of Limp Bizkit. Destruction of property, flat-out arson, even the reports of rape that allegedly occurred in the mosh pit – at least in part, Limp Bizkit was responsible for all of it. Witnesses for the prosecution, some of whom give their testimony in “Nu Metal,” the most recent episode in Sam Dunn’s “Metal Evolution” series, which appears on VH-1 Classic, say Durst, in particular, fanned the flames of the riots that forced organizers to prematurely bring Woodstock ’99 to an ugly end. Even Korn’s Jonathan Davis, a one-time Bizkit ally, turns on Durst, telling Dunn that instead of attempting to calm a crowd that was growing increasingly mad, Durst egged them on. He exhorted the crowd to “break stuff,” and the mindless thugs followed his lead.
Durst, unapologetically, remembers things differently. Expressing little, if any remorse, Durst recalls the Bizkit Woodstock ’99 show as the “greatest concert ever.” And then, showing a little of that adolescent petulance that Durst is infamous for, he sulks about how nobody ever wanted Limp Bizkit playing in the same sand box as the nu metal children. The rap guys didn’t want to be lumped in with metal and the metal guys didn’t want anything to do with hip-hop, continues Durst. That’s too simple of an explanation of why Limp Bizkit has been ostracized from the music community since the violence at Woodstock’99. Battles with other bands, the departure of guitarist Wes Borland and lukewarm albums in the aftermath of Three Dollar Bill Y’All and Significant Other all combined to doom Bizkit, and to his credit, Durst admits to Dunn that this monster that he created called Fred Durst could have handled things better. Clearly, some anger management counseling would have done him a world of good. Or, maybe he just needed to grow up a little.
The story of Limp Bizkit dominates much of the second half of Dunn’s look at “Nu Metal,” and with good reason. Bizkit blew up in the late ‘90s on the strength of Significant Other’s massive single “Nookie.” As crazy as it sounds, considering his explosive temper, Durst even became a label executive at Interscope Records – that fact escaping Dunn, along with the failure to mention that Bizkit’s Woodstock ’99 performance came a day before the disastrous riots. Still, there’s something unsatisfying about placing so much emphasis on Limp Bizkit, especially considering there are far more influential nu metal bands Dunn could have spent more time on. Ah, but perhaps that’s just a personal preference, even though you get the feeling from “Nu Metal” that Dunn – who plainly admits to not being a big fan of nu metal, while also reluctantly admitting that it does, indeed, have its place in the history and developmental of heavy metal – also wish he could give more attention to the Sepulturas, the Korns, and the Rage Against The Machines of the world.
All of them get their moment in the sun in “Nu Metal,” and this is where Dunn gets it right. Where the Limp Bizkit segments seem to focus too much on the controversy surrounding the band, when the subject turns to Pantera, Rage, Korn and Sepultura, Dunn digs his fingers into the groundbreaking nature of nu metal. With Pantera, Dunn’s interest lies with the band’s adherence to deep grooves and an unyielding devotion to what Phil Anselmo refers to as the “money riff.” As for Rage, it’s the combination of music and message that gets top billing, with guitarist Tom Morello also talking about the band’s meshing of ‘70s hard rock riffs, thick grooves and his own role as a sort of DJ bringing his six-string “eccentricities.” And Korn’s Fieldy and Davis discuss at length about the band’s Sacramento origins and its innovative use of detuned strings.
But, it all goes back to Anthrax and the band’s monumental summit rap-metal summit with Public Enemy on their collaborative 1991 reworking of “Bring the Noise,” and Dunn starts his exploration of “Nu Metal” there before moving on – at Scott Ian’s request – to Faith No More. Even if nu metal has its detractors and those who aren’t so sure that the integration of metal and rap was done as artfully as it could have been, there were, and still are, bands that do it well. Dunn’s interviews nicely hone in on what was crucial to the rise of nu metal, and his dexterous use of concert images and video footage, as always, is on display here, as is Dunn’s singular ability to make you feel as if you are accompanying him on this journey and that his interest in the subject matter is genuine and sincere. Time, again, is his enemy. There’s only so much a filmmaker can pack into an hour’s program, and Dunn’s fills to the brim with insightful commentary and well-paced storytelling. Woodstock ’99 may have been nu metal’s Altamont, but as Dunn shows, it didn’t end there. And neither does the story of heavy metal.
-        Peter Lindblad

Metal Evolution Nu Metal
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