It would seem there has been a resurgence of Nu-Metal in heavy music these days. You can see how this genre now influences the music that kids make today and I am here for it. I’ve been pretty excited over this revival, so why not post a few of my favorite albums from the prime of Nu-Metal (the late 90s-early 2000s) that I still listen to today. Disclaimer: not every album here may fall into the genre of Nu-Metal but the albums are roughly 20 years old so that counts for something.
In addition to my top 10 albums, I also tried to add a few of my favorite tracks from each outside of the singles. Sometimes the singles lose their luster or they get overplayed, so I omitted them from my favorites. If you think having to narrow down the list to 10 albums was hard, it was much harder deciding my favorite tracks. This list is not ranked in any way, I’m not saying one album is better than the other either – these are all great in their own ways.
My Nu Metal List
10. Incubus – Make Yourself (1999)
Not so much of a traditional “nu-metal” record, but hear me out on this one- Incubus toured with (a personal favorite of mine) Limp Bizkit and KoRn a lot back in the early days of the band. Also, a best friend of mine loved Incubus, so they were a band I was around a lot of the time. However, this is the big break-out album for Incubus and rightfully so- this album includes both Open Mic classics “Drive” and “Stellar” on it, but outside of those two tracks, the majority of the tracklist is gold.
Favorite Tracks: Privilege, When It Comes, Make Yourself, Pardon Me
09. Swift – Thoughts Are Thought (1999)
One of the greatest things to have ever come from my first attempt at running a music-zine was finding Swift from Winston Salem, NC. Their song “Diamond” was in a flash intro for another website (yes, a splash page to enter a website) and once I heard it I fell in love. Swift was quickly one of my favorite bands at the time and since they were based out of North Carolina, they would typically play Florida dates on regional tours. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed this group too- most of my friends throughout the state (who also worked in music) also loved this band. Honestly, this is a true underground nu-metal classic, it even contains my favorite cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence“. (I could also make a claim that this band more than likely directly influenced some of the music that came out of North Carolina area in the years to come)
Favorite Tracks: Diamond, Perhaps, Why, Swell Guy, Whack It.
08. Ill Nino – Revolution Revolucion (2001)
Simply put, this album blew me away. I love drums and percussive rhythms- so throw in some heavy nu-metal guitars, a splash of turntable scratches, and a bit of Latin flair into the mix and you have my attention. I can remember playing the crap out of this cd in my 1998 Chevy Blazer with the windows down and the volume too loud. This album gave me my first real glance at “breakdowns”, that may be why it still holds up even now because it’s not hard to sense the “hardcore” influence to it. It was tough for me to choose just a few of my favorite tracks for this album, so I would stress that literally every song is great. With that being said I’ll leave off the singles from the list but they are a great place to start.
Favorite Tracks: If You Still Hate Me, Liar, I Am Loco, No Murder.
07. System Of A Down – Toxicity (2001)
Do I even have to write anything here? You could’ve probably guessed that this album was going to be somewhere on the list. The second you hit play, the album punches you right in the face and it doesn’t stop for 44 minutes. Not only is the album heavy, but it’s also wildly entertaining. (Almost) Every song is a classic to the point that even the singles are enjoyable to this day. A fun fact about this album- it came out the week before Ill Nino’s album we just talked about.
Favorite Tracks: Prison Song, Deer Dance, Jet Pilot, Shimmy, Psycho.
06. Limp Bizkit – Three Dollar Bill Y’all (1997)
In high school, you could label me the biggest Limp Bizkit fan around. Especially since they were a local band for me long before they made a name for themselves. Somehow I received the single “Counterfeit” on tape. I actually remember having to hide it from my parents, for the obvious reasons. Instantly I fell for the band, I just thought they were the craziest thing I’d ever heard. My parents eventually (and reluctantly) let me attend their local concerts after years of trying. I would also be willing to attribute my love for music in general to them, too. I guess watching a band from your city make it to one of the biggest levels of rock culture can do that to you. You could also swap this out with 2001’s “Significant Other” on the list, I just think this is the real Limp Bizkit. (That’s not to say I didn’t play the shit out of Significant Other too, don’t get it twisted it is also up there on my list too) The single releases that came from this album are “Counterfeit” and their “Faith” cover (a cover I can still listen to today).
Favorite Bands: Pollution, Stuck, Sour, Clunk, Leech.
My Top 5 Nu Metal Albums
05. Rage Against The Machine – The Battle Of Los Angeles (1999)
By the time this record came out, I was already a fan of RATM. I loved the previous album, “Evil Empire“, but this one hit a little different. There definitely was a cleaner sound overall on the album with the recording and mastering, but with only having 4 members and 3 playing instruments, the band makes a lot of noise- a lot of funk is also thrown into the mix for this album and I am here for it. As I am typing this I battled on swapping out “Evil Empire“. However I know that I do listen to this album the most out of all the RATM records. This album is so good, I could listen to it on a loop all day without an issue.
Favorite Tracks: Calm Like A Bomb, Sleep Now In The Fire, Born Of A Broken Man, Voice Of The Voiceless, New Millennium Homes, War Within A Breath.
04. American Head Charge – The War Of Art (2001)
I received this album as an advance to review it before it came out and, at the time, it wasn’t on my list of favorites. It was one of those albums I tried to like but for some reason couldn’t, so I kept forcing myself to listen to it. I caught them live at Ozzfest 2001 and my opinion of the band changed and I found myself getting into songs I’d never liked before. So to sit here almost 20 years after it was released and say that I literally listen to this album maybe once a month (if not more), is kind of mind-blowing. Over the years, every song on this album just imprinted itself into my head. I don’t listen to any other albums from AHC, it’s just this one and this one alone. Musically, it is genuinely great nu-metal, lyrically it’s shocking and perverse. At times I kind of thought to myself, “This guy has definitely killed someone and got away with it” when I listened to it. Specifically, the song titled, “Never Get Caught”.
Favorite Tracks: A Violent Reaction, Pushing The Envelope, Never Get Caught, Just So You Know, Seamless, Effigy 23, All Wrapped Up.
03. TOOL – Lateralus (2001)
I mean it’s Tool. Not only is it Tool, but this is by far their best album. I was a fan of the band prior to the release of this album, I’d be willing to say they were my second favorite after Limp Bizkit. I remember this cd was JUST long enough to not be able to fully fit on a CD-R (74 minutes and the album was 78 minutes long), which was a bummer, but if anything just leave off the interlude tracks, right? Some of the tracks on these albums, I listen to weekly and can definitely admit to overplaying the hell out of the title track “Lateralus“. Seeing the band play it live in Daytona in 2001 is one of the most memorable concert moments of my life and that was before I even considered the song one of my favorites. This album is a journey, to say the least- it is meant to be played at one time. It’s an amazing piece of music history, let alone Nu-Metal and/or Prog Rock. Bonus points for having awesome cover art and exposing me to Alex Gray.
Favorite Tracks: The Grudge, Parabol/Parabola, Ticks & Leeches, Lateralus.
02. The Apex Theory – Topsy Turvy (2002)
Coming out of leftfield is the band The Apex Theory! I can’t remember how I found this band really. It probably had something to do with how the singer was the old drummer for System of a Down. None the less I came into possession of their demo sampler. The song “Shhh… (Hope Diggy)” was on there and it definitely caught my attention. It was weird but groovy and catchy. I fell for this band, I even joined their street team at one point. They didn’t really do much more after this album, other than a few EPs and singles before breaking up. This album isn’t technically “Nu-Metal” and it isn’t really heavy either. However, they were always playing those kinds of shows and tours (like Ozzfest). I kid you not, I can put this cd on and just let it repeat, I love it that much. Choosing favorite tracks for this is dumb, you should just play the whole cd!
Favorite Tracks: Add Mission, Come Forth, Shhh… (Hope Diggy), Bullshed, Bravo, Apossibly, In Books
01. Glassjaw – Worship & Tribute (2002)
We have made it to the last record on this list. This is also my favorite album of all time, let’s all just agree to loosely call this a Nu-Metal album. I am a huge Glassjaw nerd and I have been a member of their cult for some time now. I’ve overplayed this album for days and days on end. You maybe can swap out with the band’s previous release, “Everything You Wanted To Know About Science” here. But to me, this album is their musical masterpiece. For the sake of not having two Glassjaw albums on the list, I made the executive decision to just have this one on it). The record opens with “Tip Your Bartender” and from there takes you on a musical journey showcasing all the aspects that the band can master. Some songs are heavy and chaotic, some are very light and melodic. My favorite song in the world is on this album, “Ape Dos Mil“, I listen to it weekly. Choosing only a few tracks as my favorites will not do this record justice, so that has to be said. This album should be listened in full and there is not a bad track on the entire album. So do yourself a favor and take it for a spin.
Favorite Tracks: All of them. Listen to them all.
I did leave a bunch of albums and bands off this list that we both can agree are great. But this isn’t the greatest Nu-Metal Albums or Awesome Nu-Metal Bands lists. This is a list of albums I still keep in full circulation today. I won’t lie, in making this list I found it hard to choose only 10 albums. 40 albums were on my initial list, but I figured I had narrow it down somehow.
Why aren’t I seeing bands like Korn, Slipknot, or even the Deftones on here? I can clear that up for you. I honestly don’t listen to Korn at all anymore. Outside the self-titled and “Iowa” releases, I kind of moved on from Slipknot too. As far as the Deftones are concerned, I definitely consider myself a big fan. I am guilty of loving the back half of their catalog more than the front half.
Thanks for checking this out. If you haven’t heard some of the albums listed above, do yourself a favor and check them out. We all know music from this time frame is a lot better than most of the newer stuff today. Feel free to leave a comment or share this with some friends who make also enjoy Nu-Metal. Also, one last thing, if you are interested in podcasts with bands check out mine.