We all did dumb stuff when we were 14. We overate on candy without remembering how much we puked last time, we lost teeth to concrete trying to nail the stupidest stunts, and we tried and failed horribly at being cool enough for that one girl that kick-started our hormone production the summer before. One of the (un)cool things we did was listen to what passed as edgy at the time, and considering this would be 2003 for me, that would be Mudvayne and Static-X. Now I have a brand new nu-metal promo by Invidia, a supergroup featuring members from Skinlab, Five Finger Death Punch and In This Moment, colliding all of the above with such heroes as Godsmack, a manure-filled dump truck and a frat house full of drunk jocks, and I now realize that I was a goddamn idiot at 14.
The moment opener “Now or Never” begins, two-dimensional power chords and insufferable tough guy vocals start digging under my skin like thousands of little parasites. When the half-rapped half-sung verse begins I’m already considering whether it would be better to listen to the rest of the album or begin headbutting a running table saw. The lyrics make Six Feet Under sound like eloquent philosophers and I don’t think there’s a single phrase that wasn’t a cliché before the turn of the century. And it’s not even the worst song on the album!
The question that keeps going through my head is why? What studio executive considered it a good idea to send this to any source that does not cater directly to 14 year olds? I pleaded with management while “Feed the Fire” mercilessly battered my senses with horrific, nasal whining about a devil in her eyes, as if there wasn’t one in my ears. Management laughed and left me to my torture1. As I was reduced to a shaking, weeping puddle of a man by the start of “Marching Dead” with its oh-so-clever allusion to The Walking Dead, incessant chugga-chugga-chug ‘riff’ and arena-rock-ready chorus, I knew I had to dig deep and come up with some positives to survive this ordeal. I might even have to opt for the dreaded objective review.
Well, to be frank, as horribly written as all the instruments and lyrics are, the individual performances are alright, and the mostly slapped bass actually has a fairly pleasing sound. Some of the songs, like “Till Death” and “Making My Amends,” are merely forgetful instead of making me want to slice off any body part that could be stuffed into my ear canals. It’s quite telling when forgetful is the positive option, but here we are.
That is when “Step Up” started and all my attempts at happy thoughts were obliterated with the power of a thousand Tsar Bombas. This is the apex of awful nu-metal, and it’s pulling out all the stops: rap like a constipated Fred Durst with an anger complex, shitty Static-X synthesizers, and the absolute worst kind of jumpdafuckup lyrics. I thought someone was screaming and howling in agony throughout the track as well, until I noticed that was just me. The song title is dropped 40 times throughout the 3 minute song. I counted. It’s an indicator of how Neanderthalean this album is.
The worst part is how it’s all manufactured to be catchy like a virus, and just as sickening. Manufactured is the right word, by the way, as none of this feels like organic songwriting. The melodies are as cloying as mainstream pop and dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. I was surprised less often than a gynecologist visiting a brothel. The last played song kept drilling into my mind space after listening to it, like the whole album exists to continue inflicting horror after I hit the stop button, even if I heard only one track. Once opened, it can not be closed, like a Pandora’s Box of shit.
Nu-metal is such a poor excuse for metal music, even most bands considered its pillars try to distance themselves from the word. Invidia may try to do the same, but they nonetheless dug up the genre’s slimy, pus-filled corpse from its 10-year grave and embraced it wholeheartedly, breathing deep the aroma of stale beer and desperate anti-conformity. If you are 14, feel catchiness is the sole mark of quality, and have the musical taste of a rabid dingo, feel free to dig into As the Sun Sleeps. Everyone else would be better off staying at least a continent away from the nearest copy of this watered-down edgy pop metal. Maybe that way we can prevent an epidemic of aneurysms among discerning metalheads.