Since gaining prominence a few years ago, the term “nu-metal” has come to be somewhat of a pejorative, often associated with simple musicianship and songwriting, weak vocals, and self-obsessed, often whiny lyrics. While those criticisms are often justified, fortunately there are bands like Nonpoint to prove that the nu-metal formula can work. Relying on old-fashioned devices like proficient musicianship and sharp songwriting, Nonpoint score once again on “Development” with a pack of tightly-coiled and often explosive songs. Nonpoint’s approach is characterized by the contrast between soft and harder parts that many nu-metal bands use, but I think Nonpoint are a lot better at it. For one thing, they don’t rely solely on the slow-verse-chanted-chorus formula that bands like Korn and Disturbed have been doing to death lately. Nonpoint keep their tempo shifts far more unpredictable than the typical nu-metal band, so their sound wears a lot better in the long run. Perhaps more importantly, they have the chops to make their diverse sound work. Elias Soriano is a terrific vocalist who can effortlessly shift from clean singing to a more aggressive and menacing tone. Guitarist Andrew Goldman is no Stevie Ray Vaughan, but compared to many guitarists in his genre he might as well be. His range goes well beyond the downtuned chugga-chugga riffs that have become the norm in today’s heavy music, as he throws in chord shifts and lead notes that help make the band’s sound interesting and distinctive. Drummer Robb Rivera can not only keep a beat better than most of his peers, but he throws in just enough fills to function as an extra instrument rather than a mere timekeeper. In sum, “Development” marks a step up from its solid but unspectacular predecessor “Statement,” with a more mature and though-out sound. Nonpoint are far from the best band out there, but in a nu-metal genre marked by increasingly low expectations, they differ from the norm more than enough to stand out. Look to them to be a band that survives the trend and keeps getting better.