Nu-metal, eh? Despite it being 2018 it’s still regarded as the marmite genre of the alternative music scene. Both equally loved and loathed, it’s a genre and a subculture that’s been boiling on the surface for many a year, despite it’s heyday being way back in the last millennium. With this in consideration, when New Orlean’s Cane Hill dropped their debut full length Smile in 2016 many where either concerned or relieved that they were finally seeing the second coming of this divisive genre. Sure, while the act were quick to dismiss any influences and ties to the genre, Smile was the exact embodiment of the nu metal movement. Swaggering, smutty, aggro and ever so corny, it was an album praised as the spearhead of a modern nu metal revival.
Of course, whilst the alt scene isn’t awash with chain wallets and wide leg jeans, Smile certainly left it’s mark within the underground scene. With this in mind, when the act announced their follow up album Too Far Gone, many pondered what such a release would bring. Would they continue down the path paved by personalities such as Taylor or Durst, or would they distance themselves from such a scene? In essence, they’ve done a bit of both here. Too Far Gone is predominately a nu-metal album but one that is self-conscious, creative and explorative of other genres. Without a doubt, nu-metal is the very core, the foundation, but there’s more than meets the eye here.
The opener and title track fully sets the tone of the record. Abrasive and pounding fretwork is intertwined with barked harsh vocals and growling cleans to conjure the classic obnoxious nu-metal tone. It’s nostalgic of the trendsetters of the scene but there remains to be an ambience that’s both modern and self-aware of it’s tone and projected atmosphere. In regards to this, it’s much the same from here on out. On the surface, the release is seething and chaotic to an adolescent degree, but thought, reflection, and understanding has been implemented to ensure such chaos has substance and levels of engagement. As seasoned listeners of the genre would agree, such consideration is often absent within nu-metal material.
Whilst the Too Far Gone aims to modernise and mould pre-existing understandings of nu-metal there are moments where the group indulge on stereotypical nu-metal conventions. With it’s spoken word vocals, grungy leads and towering chorus, ‘Lord Of Flies’ sounds like the lead single from a Powerman 5000 album. In relation, the tastefully titled ‘Fucking Hateful’ evidently draws inspiration from Slipknot and similar influences. As you can imagine from such a moniker, the track is lyrically juvenile and musically exaggerated to the point where some listeners will shrug it off as needlessly aggro and a comical architype of the genre.
As aforementioned however, various tracks present on the record pursue more creative and original territories. ‘Singing In The Swap’ and ‘Erased’ contain more clean and withdrawn elements and shuns such nu-metal conventions in favour for a more calculated metalcore tone. Yet, they fully retain the ideologies present within their foundation. In relation, there’s no doubt ’10 Cents’ will be a fan favourite and staple within their live sets. It’s discordant, abusive, and claustrophobic but contains enough substance for the violence to be justified. Plus you’ll be unable to deny the sheer level of bounce and groove found within ‘It Follows’.
In all, Too Far Gone is an album that embodies nu-metal but doesn’t embrace it, and in turn, takes inspirations from other sources. Sure, many will disregard it as another childish nu-metal product, but under the surface there’s a level of calculation and passion that set’s it apart of it’s peers and the respective genre. This release isn’t for everyone and will no doubt divide opinion, but if you’re after something bolstering and swaggering whilst retaining a level of integrity, you could do far worse than this.