Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of Korn, chose a good time to release his solo debut, Black Labyrinth. Nu-metal is now hip, for some reason, despite the zeitgeist’s aversion to everything this style of music embodies: white dudes with dreadlocks, white dudes throwing temper tantrums, unaddressed mental illness and trauma as an excuse for abuse, and white dudes rapping. The current, inexplicable cachet surrounding nu-metal seems to have originated in the underground, as most trends do; I’ve heard multiple people who play in hardcore bands argue that Slipknot’s Iowa is one of the heaviest records of all time. Modern hardcore and screamo certainly owe a lot to nu-metal in their monochromatic humorlessness, and a band like Code Orange wouldn’t seem out of place on Korn’s “Family Values Tour.” Now, finally, the People Whose Opinions Matter have caught on: Last fall, Pitchfork ran a piece titled “The Unlikely Resurgence of Rap Rock” that was littered with bursts of laughable hagiography. (“Korn’s sound was really about stasis or paralysis: How you feel when you are trapped and have no further room to maneuver. From this purchase, Davis grilled relentlessly inward. ‘I have no place to run and hide,’ he insisted.”) In some ways, this pendulum swing is predictable—every generation buries their adolescent tastes only to proudly exhume them as adults, like naked baby photos that become Facebook profile pictures. But any straight-faced critical reappraisal of nu-metal feels like poptimist retconning at its absolute worst. Sometimes the music you liked as a kid actually just sucks
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