"Man, I wish LIMP BIZKIT was back," said someone, apparently.
Plant a sextet of Arizona millennials into a would-be Compton plot, boasting a "don't give no fucks" attitude and dressed in letterman jackets like Archie Andrews's Red Circle avenger jock squad (other times running like Southside Serpents) on "Riverdale", and you have DROPOUT KINGS. You said you were glad nu-metal died? Wake up on the wrong side of any ugly nightmare, suckas, it's baaaaaaack...
What's the upgrade to a nu-metal revival, if such a thing can be stomached once again now that most of its original audience has grown up and assimilated into the collective hive? Hashtagging, for one, as in #numetalrevoltion. Consider yourself checked. Unfortunately, what DROPOUT KINGS may bring in the way of a slight modern polish to a long-dead vibe, the band offers nothing substantial in its raps, since much of it comes from the same chocolate starfish-dropped swirls Fred Durst drew inspiration from.
The bass-busting digibeat skulking behind the rap of "Something Awful" leaves you either taking the song's title as gospel at face value, or, if you're the right age with enough untamed machismo, it'll be your new backseat jam. The boisterous spike in guitars and the elevated screaming on "Something Awful" are about all that quantifies as metal, nu or whatevs.
Every generation needs its own daily-do bitch-a-thon jam. For those who rolled with this noise the first time around, LIMP BIZKIT's "Break Shit" was the rally cry. DROPOUT KINGS in turn drops not one, but two back-to-back fuck-work bellyaches, "Been a Bad Day" and "503". Real shit, fuck it 9 to 5. Yeah, seriously, fuck it.
"Scratch & Claw" is one of the few genuinely crafted and wholly played songs on the album, Rob Sebastian's gnarly bass groove and an organic beat from Trevor Norgren gives the album a breath of fresh air—even if what this cut becomes is a rap-flavored take on emo. "20 Heads" is closer in execution to PRIMER 55, though obvious Fred Durst worship lights up the song's mike-dogging tripe. Feel the combined keyboard and string-flung bass of "Street Sharks" quake your ear canals, or simply check out and drop some DEFTONES, one of the few bands escaping the nu-metal era and thriving with all of its cred firmly intact.
If anything, this stuff has better production than the late nineties rap rock that was miscalculated as a potential carryover vibe into the new millennium. To be fair, the raps here are dropped sharply, the rapid plugs on "Nvm" are a standout. Problem is, nu metal went away for a reason. While DROPOUT KINGS is having an obvious blast attempting to resuscitate this ungodly racket, they have an uphill battle finding new ears, since hip-hop and rap are independently annihilating metal in sales figures—the few traceable duckets actually brimming out there. Some tour dates opening for OTEP ought to swing new disciples to DROPOUT KINGS, God help us.