That nu metal revival we’ve been talking about for a few years is properly in full swing right now. Not only are OGs Korn and Limp Bizkit squarely back in the public consciousness, but a bunch of new bands are taking the blueprint they drew up more than 20 years ago and reworking it for the 2020s.
One of these bands is Sicksense, the group fronted by vocalists Killer V and Rob The Ripper – aka The Agonist’s Vicky Psarakis and Stuck Mojo co-frontman (and Vicky’s husband) Robby J Fonts. Their debut EP Kings Today reaches into the back of the metaphorical wardrobe and pulls out the baggy jeans and wallet chains, then proceeds to bounce up and down on the back of some vintage nu metal grooves like the last 20 years never happened.
Given their love of the scene, we asked Killer V and Rob The Ripper to run through the 10 nu metal singers who influenced them. Are… you… ready?!?
Chester Bennington (Linkin Park)
Killer V: “You can’t think of nu metal and not think of Chester’s voice. Going back to Hybrid Theory and its impact on the scene, all the chorus melodies were memorable, relatable and super catchy. It’s so much more than that though. Chester was a remarkable frontman for the pain and emotion he gave through his vocal delivery. You held on to every single word he said, you felt every note he chose to sing. This was something extremely apparent in his live performances, as well. His energy often came as a direct contrast to Mike Shinoda’s. They brought this beautiful dynamic that has 100% inspired me to this day.
Jonathan Davis (Korn)
Killer V: “Jonathan Davis is just the creepiest vocal mastermind. Everything he’s ever done is uniquely unique. You’d recognise his voice from the first second. I recently went back on a Korn nostalgia trip and I’d almost forgotten how much I loved that band in my teenage years. Everything from the choice of melody and groove to the delivery itself is just mind-blowing. I love how he lures you in with dark, eerie melodies and then out of nowhere hits you with a major, happy-sounding scale change. Another perfect example of not being afraid to draw outside the lines and not care about playing it safe.”
Amy Lee (Evanescence):
Killer V: “Although I don’t necessarily consider Evanescence to be a nu metal band, they came out during the time that the genre was huge, so they’re often brought up in those conversations. I remember blasting Fallen on repeat and singing along to it to the point where my family would get sick of hearing it from downstairs. Amy Lee’s brain when it comes to songwriting and vocal layering is a major influence on my own work. I never realised it until I went back to the album 10-plus years later and I noticed all the backing vocals and underlying harmonies in the music that just complemented what the main vocal was doing and made the entire part sound 10x better. Another thing to take note is the crazy high energy performance she always delivered. A lot of front-people play it safe in their live shows, they’re more focused on nailing all the notes and sometimes fail to deliver a show. Not Amy. She goes all out and does not care what anyone has to say about her.”
Sandra Nasić (Guano Apes):
Killer V: “When you think of nu metal it’s particularly rare to see women in the spotlight, especially back in the early 2000’s when it was at its prime. I remember hearing the song Open Your Eyes on the radio and thinking, ‘Huh this dude has a pretty interesting -but cool- voice.’ So I started listening to their tracks and suddenly a softer ballad came on and I realised it was a woman singing all along. My mind was blown, haha. Sandra just has this raw power in her voice and delivery that even dudes would struggle to deliver.”
Corey Taylor (Slipknot):
Rob The Ripper: “Corey Taylor of Slipknot was one of the first vocalists I ever heard who did screaming vocals that are highly pronounced and mid-range. It makes it easy to understand the lyrics on the first listen without having to read them. I tend to make a conscious effort to enunciate my words when performing screaming vocals, because of him. On early Slipknot albums, he also incorporated a frantic style of rapping that sounded uneasy and vulnerable at the same time, which I thought was unique and you can hear his influence in many bands from today.”
Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against The Machine)
Rob The Ripper: “Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine has incredible energy and passion in his performances, both in the studio and live. The aggression in his vocal delivery is unparalleled. His flow can go from screaming in your face with fury to dropping it down to a calm and collected whisper-like tone. His vocals take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions that fits in perfectly with the chunky groove and rhythm of Rage Against The Machine’s music.”
Bonz (Stuck Mojo)
Rob The Ripper: “Bonz of Stuck Mojo is truly a one-of-a-kind frontman. He’s the embodiment of a spitfire: a pissed off man, with a quick flow, barked rapping vocals and confrontational lyrics that challenged the world we live in. It’s difficult to match the energy of a man who constantly brings it at 210%! Bonz has an infectious energy that can get any crowd or doubters moving by the end of the set. He and Stuck Mojo are a highly underrated band that don’t get enough props for changing the metal scene for the better. Bonz was way ahead of his time.”
Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit)
Rob The Ripper: “Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit has always been honest in his lyrics and he always appeared to have fun with everything he was doing. I love that. The balance of seriousness and jokiness in his lyrics is perfect. He always knew when to throw in a perfect punch line and come up with massive hooks in his songs. Fred is a master of bringing the bounce and a good time through his music and live performances. People love to hate on him, because it makes them uncomfortable seeing him unashamedly be himself, but I appreciate and respect the hell out of him for it.”
Serj Tankian (System Of A Down)
Rob The Ripper: “I absolutely love the voices, sounds and varying vocal styles Serj Tankian from System Of A Down incorporated into his music. It reminds me a lot of voice acting, as if he was portraying numerous characters who have their own unique personalities. His vocals pull you into this mad world he has created with his voice. He’s one guy doing all these different voices and he’s able to do seamless transitions from one voice to another within the same song. It’s incredible. The ad-libs and character-based bridge section in our song, Kings Today is definitely inspired by Serj’s colourful vocal range.”
Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park)
Rob The Ripper: “You can’t be in a new nu metal band incorporating rap vocals without shouting out Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park as a definite influence. He just has such a calm and confident presence that gets your attention. He always sounds honest and heartfelt, which is a breath of fresh air to hear compared to traditional rappers that are oftentimes either writing about self-destructive behaviour or tend to deliver their raps in an aggressively obnoxious manner. Mike’s the type of guy you wouldn’t expect to even be a rapper, but when he starts rhyming, your jaw drops from his talent and he’s hands down one of the smoothest MCs of all time.”
Sicksense’s Kings Today EP is out now