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CHIMAIRA's MARK HUNTER Discusses Why The "New Wave Of American Heavy Metal" Tag Was A Reaction To Nü-Metal

"We loved Morbid Angel, Deicide and Suffocation, so being labelled 'nu metal’ stung a little bit."

chimaira mark hunter

The new wave of American heavy metal is largely accepted as beginning in the late 90s and encompassed everyone from groove metal bands like Pantera and Machine Head to then-emerging metalcore acts like Killswitch Engage and Unearth. The term was potentially coined by Chimaira vocalist Mark Hunter, who recently said in an interview with Metal Hammer that the term was purely a marketing trick. And hey, it clearly worked – we're using the term to loosely define an era of music over two decades later.

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In the interview, Hunter said the term came about between Chimaira's transition from their nü-metal leanings on 2001's Pass Out Of Existence and the more groove-and-death oriented The Impossibility Of Reason that came out in 2003. Though Hunter notes that Chimaira was far from the only band leaning into their love of bands like Morbid Angel and Suffocation at the time.

"It was just a marketing trick. When I bought CDs back in the day, a lot of albums had a tag that said New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and I thought it was really cool. I’d never seen anyone promote themselves that way over here.

"We were working on The Impossibility Of Reason at the time and transitioning from the 'nu metal' of Pass Out Of Existence. We loved Morbid Angel, Deicide and Suffocation, so being labelled 'nu metal' stung a little bit. The marketing around Impossibility… became about being metal and this whole new feeling of it. Coincidentally, a lot of our peers were doing the same thing: they were starting a new feeling, a new movement, themselves."

Hunter later notes that while bands in the scene were certainly friends, their competitive nature drove them to try and be better than one another. "When I speak with [Lamb Of God guitarist] Mark Morton, we reminisce on how much we wanted to completely annihilate each other. It drove us to perform better."

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This is all at least a little funny considering new wave of American heavy metal genre was a blatant attempt to get away from being labeled nü-metal, and now nü-metal is cool again. Maybe we're due for another departure in the next few years?

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