When nu metal first emerged in the mid-90s it was one of the most exciting things to ever happen to heavy metal. Bands like Korn, Deftones and Limp Bizkit re-shaped the boundaries of what metal could look (and sound) like. The genre's appeal may have become more selective after 2001, but its legacy endures.
Bands like Death Blooms, Wargasm, Tetrarch and Tallah represent a new breed of nu metal artists helping to re-popularise the sound, bringing a whole new generation of metalheads into the baggy jeans-wearing fold.
Besides, without nu metal pretty much every rock club in the world would be filled with hours of silence and a lone bloke hoarsely shouting for The Trooper - and who wants that?
With that in mind, this list represents the very best nu metal has to offer, as voted by you - our wise and wonderful readers.
50. Ultraspank - Progress (2000)
Santa Barbara’s Ultraspank had a lot going for them: a deal with major label Epic, a frontman in Pete Murray who had the whole hunched-over angst thing nailed down and, on their second album Progress, an-of-the-moment sound that wove together nu metal, industrial and electronic music. But the world remained immune to their charms, and they split soon afterwards, leaving them as one of the scene’s great ‘What ifs?”
49. Tallah - Matriphagy (2020)
The face of nu metal in 2020 is a grotesque one, if the genre-disfiguring Philadelphia outfit masterminded by Max Portnoy, son of Dream Theater’s Mike, are any measure. Embellishing chaotic tales with venomous raps and despairing clean vocals courtesy of singer (and sometime YouTuber) Justin Bonitz, Matriphagy paints gruesome pictures you can’t tear yourself away from, picking up where Korn’s self-titled debut left off all those years ago. It’ll have you reaching for your JNCO jeans.
48. Taproot - Gift (2000)
The only nu metal band to take their name from a Neil Diamond album (Taproot Manuscript, since you ask), Michigan’s Taproot leaned heavily on the Korn-style clacky bass and angsty vocals on their third album and major label debut. But what they lacked in uniqueness, they made up for in an ability to hit the sweet spot that every nu metal kid wanted to hear in the year 2000.
47. Spineshank - The Height of Callousness (2000)
Fuelled by a whirlwind of energy, a masterful production job from Garth Richardson, and Jonny Santos’s incredible vocals, Spineshank were one of nu metal’s all-time great rock club floorfillers. Electronic soundscapes, the classic stomp-and-groove combination and choruses that last for days (even if you think you don’t know Synthetic, you do), The Height Of Callousness is a tour de force from front to back. If you like to go running, listening to this bad boy will shave minutes off your time.
46. Sevendust - Anomosity (2001)
Anomisity might have opened with a track called Tits On A Boar, but by-and-large Sevendust weren’t given to the daftness that cluttered the lower ends of the genre. If anything, for a while it looked like they were going to be massive – they even rang in the new millennium by supporting Metallica in December 1999. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be, but Anomisity still slays with its combination of soulful vocal melodies and stabbing staccato riffs.
45. Chimaira - The Impossibility Of Reason (2003)
There was a fine line between nu metal and parts of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal explosion that followed, and Chimaira had a foot in both camps. The Cleveland standard-bearers delivered one of the definitive albums of 2003, offering up a pummelling mixture of groove metal clobber, thrashy hooks and nu metal swagger. Chimaira may have become metal’s ultimate Nearly Band, but this was still a post-millennial classic.
44. Coal Chamber - Chamber Music (1999)
Crucified in the press at the time as a pallid follow-up to their landmark debut, Coal Chamber’s second album Chamber Music is way better than legend has it. Dez Fafara and co stripped away the cartoon elements of their sound (and their look) and delivered something darker, stranger and more gothic. That Ozzy-assisted cover of Peter Gabriel’s Shock The Monkey still sucks the big one though.
43. (hed)pe– (hed)pe (1997)
LA’s (hed)pe were there at the birth of nu metal, and avoided the cliches that came later. Frontman Jahred ‘MCUD’ Gomes could actually rap unlike many of his peers, and the hip hop, reggae and dub influences woven throughout their self-titled debut album were both inventive and convincing.
42. Tetrarch – Unstable (2021)
While the Korn and Slipknot influences are undeniable, Tetrarch’s second album Unstable saw the Atlantans assert their own sense of identity across 10 tracks packed with colossal grooves and sing-alongs. Decidedly more in the camp that’s all about pushing out club bangers than questionable hip-hop crossovers, Tetrarch are exactly the infusion of fresh vitality nu metal needs to make a proper comeback.
41. Soulfly - Primitive (2000)
The first two Soulfly albums are star-studded affairs, the likes of Chino Moreno, Fred Durst and Tom Araya all popping up on guest features. The gold medal goes to Primitive's Jumpdafuckup though, which brought in Corey Taylor for an utterly colossal floor-destroyer. Tracks like Back To The Primitive and Bring It showed Soulfly could bring it even without added talent, Max Cavalera making full use of the mix of tribal beats, low-end menace and thrashy breakouts that had made Roots such a breakthrough.