Is Dubstep the New Nu-Metal?

Love it or hate it, it's looking inevitable: dubstep isn't going anywhere for awhile, and a lot of ambitious metalheads are pairing their riffs up with wobble wobble sounds in a bid for commercial success.

It reminds me of a coked-out Paris Hilton making a sex tape with Slayer's Kerry King. It would be kind of like a train wreck, but as much as you'd want to look away you just can't Will the sex be awkward or hot? Will there be domination involved? And, more importantly: Is it going to turn me on?

Dubstep has been around for years, but gained significant traction in the US by way of Skrillex's signature lurching and aggressive style (and the guy's got metal roots, starting off in From First to Last, a mid-2000s post-hardcore band). The sound, when combined with metal, is a little addicting I'll admit -- in small doses.

The combination's success hinges on revealing the raw sexuality heavy metal fans always thrived on, but the mainstream never took the time to decipher. The breakdowns in metal dubstep are like orgasmic reactions every three minutes. And who doesn't gravitate towards that?

It focuses on the middle register, emphasizes the bass--which I love because bass rarely gets credit in heavier music--and it features gritty, robotic type of aggression. I would definitely agree that it appeals more to fans of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails than candy-flipping ravers in the UK.

Korn's single "Get Up" from their newest album The Path to Totality is the most commercial example of dubstep being forced into metal. Granted, Jonathan Davis has been saying the past couple years that Korn is "not metal and never was." But c'monnnn ... we all know that's not the case, regardless of the kilt. Korn paved the way for millions of metal fans, and is practically one of the gateway drugs to metal's purgatory.

So, right before the release of the album, Jonathan Davis claimed in an interview with MTV Hive, "Dubstep is the new metal. Metal shows are all hate, like, 'I'm going to fuck you up in the mosh pit.' Electronic shows are all peace and love. They rage harder than metal fans."

First off, I'm just going to pretend that this quote isn't from Jonathan Davis. Secondly, he may have just been super excited about his new "peace and love" album, where his most commercial single's chorus screams "shut the fuck up, get up."

"Get Up" was interesting -- far removed from dupstep's murky, atmospheric UK origins, but I think the dubstep breakdowns could have been more articulate and unique. The sound is now already being recycled through different metal bands and it's wearing quickly.

The problem with genres jumping on the dubstep wagon --metal is obviously not the only one -- is that we will soon grow tired of it. That's what happens when trends are manipulated, exploited, and overused. It seems fresh at first, after being underground for several years. Then, artists in new genres entice us to follow them with the smell of blood. It works for awhile -- just think of Autotune. During the last decade, it's gone from "this sounds sort of cool" to "this shit is annoying as hell."

But that's not to say incorporating dubstep into metal is an entirely lost cause. There's no doubt that it will open up a whole new audience to metal, and I also think it's going to help refresh the world of moshing. Anytime something seemingly new and exciting is introduced to a crowd they feed off of it and the energy condenses into physical action. And while it can be categorized as a fleeting trend on one hand, on the other it will genuinely change the facets of metal forever. Within the next five years, there will be new, fresh, young metal bands, influenced by dubstep who have found a way to combine the raw heaviness of metal with the gritty chest-rattling quality of dubstep. Or maybe, create the perfect moshing dubstep beats, accented by the metallic trills and such growling vocals reminiscent of Hatebreed's "Last Breath" or Pantera's "Slaughter."

And it works both ways -- electro artists like Justice and Bassnectar have borrowed elements of rock and metal, creating some interesting, dance-friendly work.

It's a shame that in this country, many think that Skrillex = all dubstep. He may be a fresh American face for the sound, but many famous dubstep artists in the UK criticize the fact that the genre is being incorporated into other genres, particularly metal.

For example, Martijn Deykers, one of the most innovative and influential Dutch DJs and the first foreigner to infiltrate the tight London dubstep scene, explained his take on how America understands dubstep:

"Dubstep in the US has taken the place of nu metal. An electronic music rave in America now is like a Limp Bizkit concert 10 years ago."

In the end, that may just be foreign bitch-ass DJs worrying about the effect warehouse mosh pit condensation will have on their bouffant hair and hipster image. Or it could all be just another abused trend to cash in on. Only time will tell.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise