Dropout Kings are an Arizona-based six-piece recently signed by Napalm Records for “bringing back Nu Metal” (the exact quote from Napalm Records when they signed the band). It’s not often I see news about upcoming nu metal albums, let alone one that is bringing the genre back. As a huge nu metal fan I had to check this out…
First song “Something Awful” starts and there’s no heavy instruments to be heard. It’s a very strange intro, with a slow beat of what sounds like one high chord on repeat. The rapping starts and nothing is changing. I’m starting to get worried I’ve been sent a hip-hop album by mistake. After a minute I’m finally hearing a heavier guitar and drum beat, although it’s still very slow in speed. At almost two minutes in the screaming vocals finally start along with some classic “chug chug” sounds (I’m sorry to anyone who plays instruments that’s reading this, I have no other way to describe it). By the end of the song I’m still not convinced by its label of “nu metal”, and honestly, I think the rapping sounded better alone, as the screaming vocals seemed out of place with the music behind it not being heavy enough.
The next song introduces us to a third style of vocals. A clean singing vocal style, which goes in and out of auto-tune. Once again, I’m feeling that these vocal styles aren’t going together well due to the actual instrumentals not really changing in beat/tempo/speed with the different vocal styles. However, next song, “Going Rogue” has its merits. The chorus is actually quite catchy, and the music is finally changing with the vocals this time. Also, it has a small guest vocal from Landon Tewers from The Plot in You.
Fourth track “Bad Day” has finally got me thinking “Damn this is good, and this is nu metal”. It starts with a telephone call from a boss asking the employee to come in on their day off – I think we can all relate. And finally, what I’ve been waiting for, the classic nu metal guitar sound. That distorted, deep metallic, tuned down sound. It’s here. And the screaming vocals start this song off which I think is a definitely a good idea for a band trying to appeal to metal fans. Even when the rap hits the music is still just as heavy and keeps up that “Korn” inspired sound.
The rest of the album is a mix of songs that are actually nu metal, and songs that lack that nu metal sound completely. To my disappointment, the latter is the majority. The lyrics are hit and miss depending on your view on the classic “smoke weed, don’t kill my vibe, pussy bitch motherfucker, fuck hoes, suck my dick” type lyrics. I can enjoy those types of songs when I just want to have a good time (e.g at a rock club or a live show), although for a serious rock fan, you will not be amused.
Overall, I think “bringing back nu metal” is too big of a statement for this band. “Reinventing nu metal” though – that I give them. A genre can’t always stay the same, and if it did, we’d all get bored. So perhaps Dropout Kings are the new sound of nu metal with their diverse vocals, and songs that focus more on a rap beat than heavy metal. Some will be a fan, some won’t. Personally, I guess I’m in the middle.
Highlights: Scratch & Claw, Bad Day, Going Rogue
Purchase their new album here.