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Burton C. Bell (Ex-Fear Factory) Feels Anthrax Could Be Considered A Nü-Metal Pioneer


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While getting their start as a death metal/industrial metal hybrid, Fear Factory would also later flourish amid the late 90s explosion of nü-metal. Their third studio album, 1998’s “Obsolete“, remains their most commercially successful effort, having attained gold certification in the United States back in 2001.

While nü-metal crept into that record, the group would fully lean into that genre in 2001 with their fourth album, “Digimortal“, though unable to reach the same heights as the record’s predecessor or many of their peers at the time.

That is all to say that the band’s now former vocalist Burton C. Bell has some experience in the field, having taken part in numerous tours amid the genre’s rise and also being cited as an influence among a number of the genre’s pioneering acts. There’s also Fear Factory‘s early associations with nü-metal godfather, producer Ross Robinson (Korn, Slipknot), which helped inspire some of the genre’s founding fathers.

As for nü-metal itself, the 1986 rework of Aerosmith‘s “Walk This Way” done by Run-D.M.C. is often seen as a key step in the early formation of the genre, with its eventual platinum-certification proving that the genres of rap and rock could co-exist on the same track. Also key in the sonic coalescence was the Beastie Boys‘ 1986 hits “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn“, with the guest involvement of Slayer‘s Kerry King lending some credibility.

In the years that followed, Faith No More, Anthrax, Biohazard, and even the “Judgment Night” soundtrack, helped pave the way before Korn struck upon the blueprint for success that ultimately saw the genre explode into the mainstream. Often seen as a pillar of thrash metal, Anthrax‘s contributions to the cause are also well-documented, albeit sometimes overlooked.

In 1991 Anthrax helped rework “Bring The Noise“, a 1987 track from the politically radical rap stars Public Enemy. While that song remains as a seminal work in the rap metal catalog, Anthrax themselves had already dipped their toes into the genre back in 1987.

Their somewhat comical track “I’m The Man” and EP may have been a a tongue-in-cheek parody of the Beastie Boys at the time, but its influence did break down a few doors.

This brings us back around to Burton C. Bell, who feels that Anthrax could be considered a nü-metal pioneer. Appearing recently on the Nu Pod, Bell weighed in on that subject.

After the podcast’s co-host Ro Kohli mentioned that Biohazard could also be considered an early stepping stone to the nü-metal genre alongside Fear Factory, Bell responded:

“I’m glad you said that, because Biohazard, other than AnthraxBiohazard was influenced by Anthrax when Anthrax did “I’m The Man“, you could say that Anthrax pioneered nü-metal by fusing together thrash and hip hop. And that inspired Biohazard to work with other artists like… They were like connected with Onyx in a way, maybe it was that soundtrack they were a part of [“Judgment Night” soundtrack.]

But I remember when we did that tour with Biohazard in 1993. It was Fear Factory, Sick Of It All and Biohazard, and Biohazard was already at that point experimenting with hip hop beats.”

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