Guy with dark beard, sunglasses and sword next to a silver statue of a half-naked warrior with metal helmet

Spring break in Downtown Las Vegas. As is typical of my well rounded personality, I was calmly minding my own business and not causing any trouble. My serenity was even more impressive given a streak of rotten luck which included a closed video arcade and the tragic disappearance of DuPar's Restaurant. More significantly, the shark tank at the Golden Nugget pool was temporarily sans sharks due to “routine maintenance on the waterslide.” This caused a bit of tough sledding, given that said sharks were the major selling point in getting my family to stay at this particular hotel (along with the arcade and the restaurant).

You might think that my luck would be evened out by success at the tables, but you would be wrong. Despite a mathematically impeccable betting strategy, my one night out ended in swift defeat at the El Cortez craps table.

Nevertheless, I retained my composure and set a positive example for other downtown revelers like a good Ohio boy should.  I was comforted by the fact that I had intelligently insisted on a room facing the rear of the hotel instead of the noisy Fremont Street Experience.

Pleased with my foresight, I was smugly looking at a third consecutive night of high-quality sleep which would power me through my 5:45 AM wakeup call and subsequent plane ride. I would land in Columbus refreshed, and immediately start on some long-overdue yard work with the sun on my back, the wind in my hair, and the Beach Boys playing on the little boombox I keep in the garage. This would be followed by a lawn chair, a cold beer and the effusively congratulatory words of the woman I love.

Sadly, it was not to be. As I walked to my hotel room in blissful ignorance, a great evil was awakening in the parking lot next door -- Stage A of the Las Rageous Music Festival. For the next five hours, I would be desperately trying to fall asleep in the face of a shudderingly terrible line-up of Nu Metal bands, the most miserably pathetic music the world has ever produced.

According to Wikipedia: “Nu metal (also known as nü-metal and aggro-metal) is a form of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres such as hip hop, alternative rock, funk and grunge.” This seems overly complex – an easier definition would be bands formed in the late 90's that dress in black and have stupid names.

Case in point, a quick sampling of some of the bands that ruined my beauty rest: Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold, Killswitch Engage, and All That Remains. Names of Nu Metal bands not featured at Las Rageous include Korn, Limp Bizkit, Staind and (my personal favorite) Puddle of Mudd. These names appear to be proffered with even a hint of irony or sarcasm.

The Nu Metal sound is a combination of third-rate Alice in Chains riffs and pointlessly aggressive “power” chords. Such chords lack a major or minor third and thus permit guitarists to fearlessly bumble in the easy-to-learn pentatonic blues scale. Moody (whiny) verses are punctuated by overly dramatic choruses signaled by guitarists hitting their distortion pedals for additional volume and what passes for intensity.

The singing is soaring and anthemic, and seems to be primarily focused on wringing all of the emotion out of asinine relationship vignettes. Sort of micro-level Wagnerian themes for assholes. Relationship failures inevitably lead to the three primary themes of being broken, experiencing darkness and standing alone. Of these, standing alone is by far the most popular. They really, really like standing alone.

Where did this garbage come from, anyway? Some say that it is just bands that were late to the metal party by about 10 years. They were invited, but due to significant literacy issues and lack of self-discipline they missed by a decade. Through some vile version of serendipity, they just happened to arrive at the same time as their dipshit audience counterparts.

Another, far more sinister, theory is that in the late 90's marketing advances allowed record companies to realize that there was a vast untapped market of twenty-somethings who were simply too dumb to understand Hootie or the Backstreet Boys. This revelation coincided with the new availability of music online, which eliminated several of the music purchasing skills which had previously eluded Nu Metal fans such as arranging transportation, locating a record shop and communicating with a store clerk in a mutually understandable language.

To meet the needs of these consumers, record companies promptly dialed up a Gettysburg Address of musical stupid: of the stupid, by the stupid and for the stupid. Nu Metal was born, and every day we hear it on 99.7 The Blitz, blasting out of the pickup trucks of those for whom modern country music was just a little bit too intellectually demanding.

It’s enough to keep you up at night.

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