Heavy metal was in the middle of a sea change in 2002. Nu metal had recently dominated the US charts thanks to the likes of Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, but the mainstream overexposure and enormous number of wannabes made the genre grow stale fast. Meanwhile, more ’80s-inspired aggressors from Lamb Of God to Shadows Fall were on the up and up.
The death knells were ringing for nu metal and, capitalising on the shifting landscape, one label went so far as to declare its death in 2002. The Australian branch of Roadrunner Records were promoting Killswitch Engage’s second album Alive Or Just Breathing at the time, and needed something big to get the newly signed band noticed. What better than a funeral for the genre that Killswitch, with their obvious classic metal influences, were out to usurp?
The hilarious footage of the publicity stunt (seen below) shows a group gathered into a church by a gloriously OTT vicar, who stands solemnly in front of an open coffin. “We are gathered here tonight to acknowledge and, in some cases, mourn the death of a musical genre,” he declares, before truly twisting the knife into nu metal: “It is time to perform the last rites on this spent and sorry carcass.”
He continues, his disgust obvious: “Many of you own albums attributed to it. Some of you, in moments of weakness, have even adopted its affectations.” Cue a perfectly timed camera cut to a mourner in a scarlet baseball cap.
The vicar then sentences a number of nu metal’s “stylings” to his open casket. “We cast out the following unholy items: sportswear! Unsuitable for the stage!” he cries. “White, middle-class, self-directed angst! We cast you into the hot dog-flavoured water!” The same fate then befalls a turntable (“bringer of so many unnecessary band members!”), a seventh guitar string and a baseball cap.
Finally, the coffin’s shut and taken outside, where it’s lowered into the earth. But our good reverend isn’t done. “In the name of Halford, I compel you!” he screams, spraying holy water into the grave. “By the power of Dio, I compel you! By the blood of Dickinson, I compel you! The body of Blackmore compels you!”
For a grand finale, the vicar only grows more and more animated as he repeatedly yells, “The power of Ozzy compels you!”, complete with his hands throwing the metal horns as if they were a sacred holy symbol.
“You may desecrate the deceased as you see fit,” he finishes as the scene fades to black. And, considering nu metal would take almost 20 years to make a stylistic comeback, we can assume the coffin was then buried very, very deep.
Watch the classic piece of footage below.