Top 13 Nu-Metal albums of All-Time

Scroll through the gallery to see what's No. 1.

13. Sepultura, 'Roots' (1996)

The last Sepultura record to feature frontman Max Cavalera also happens to be their best. On the album the band’s Brazilian roots are explored as tracks show influence from the indigenous cultures and overall cultural landscape. As a result, ‘Roots’ is by no mistake a groove-metal album as reggae-inspired rhythm contrast against the tuned down guitars and often experimental melodies. The album holds an immaculate legacy in the genre— and one listen explains why.

12. Papa Roach, 'Infest' (2000)

Infusing hip-hop with their brand of funk metal and even hints of reggae, Papa Roach’s second album sent their uniquely layered musical motif to new heights, even earning the group a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. ‘Infest’ was a commercial success for the group, selling 7 million copies worldwide. The multi-faceted sound throughout the record allowed the band to experiment, involving rapping and funkier beats to a larger extent than many of their contemporaries.

11. Limp Bizkit, 'Three Dollar Bill Y’all' (1997)

Limp Bizkit are one of the most mocked bands of today, but let’s give credit where credit is due: they changed the game. The weirdos of the genre, Fred Durst and Co. provided a breath of fresh air for a genre that was beginning to sound homogenized. Their creativity and shamelessness inspired bands new and old to change the formula, and on their debut, every dial was turned up to 11. Who knew we needed a nu-metal cover of the late George Michael’s “Faith”?

10. Mudvayne, 'L.D. 50' (2000)

There was a definite clown-metal trend in the 90’s, and while acts like Insane Clown Posse leaned into the act, Mudvayne was clowning in appearance only. While looking like the cross between Violent J and Darth Maul, the band put out some truly impressive work— with L.D. 50 sitting at No. 1. Topping the Billboard Heatseekers chart in 1998, the album mixed a Math-Rock unconventionality with the heavier expectations of the genre. It grooves, it growls and it’s certainly not an album to clown around about.

9. System of a Down, 'Mezmerize' (2005)

Start at the beginning of ‘Mezmerize,’ press play, let album intro “Soldier Side” lull you into a false sense of security… and then prepare to have your face melted by one of the band’s best tracks of all time, “B.Y.O.B.” For all of ‘Mezmerize’ System of a Down’s originality is tighter than ever as they masterfully switch from lightning fast thrash with just as sharp punch-like vocals, to influences ranging from R&B and Middle Eastern eccentricities. The highly contrasting sonic shifts in this album make it one of the band’s most dynamic, to where even their most absurd tracks like “Violent Pornography” still manage to add to their well-crafted madness.

8. Korn, 'Issues' (1999)

Despite receiving varied reviews at the time of its release, ‘Issues’ produces a groovier and more refined sound than its immediate predecessor, ‘Follow the Leader.’ Lead singer Jonathan Davis’s voice had matured and the rhythms became more defined, culminating in a cleaner record - one full of intense anger yet more consideration for melody and harmony. The album included one of Korn’s greatest hits, “Falling Away from Me,” and it instantly became a fan favorite.

7. Limp Bizkit, 'Significant Other' (1999)

After the critical success of their debut album, 1999’s ‘Significant Other’ saw Limp Bizkit set in motion the first stages of the iconic nu metal sound, selling a solid 16 million records along the way. With a heavy use of turntables, ragged riffs and some satisfyingly punchy lyrics, the ambitious record laid the foundation for the nu metal genre and launched the group into a career of abrasive, angry and altogether seminal rock stardom.

6. Slipknot, 'Vol 3.: The Subliminal Verses' (2004)

Slipknot’s third album shed a light on the dark abyss of pain and addiction and as a result, it became one of their most memorable. Disturbingly heavy riffs and primal emotions fuel ‘Vol 3’ as a band on the verge of self-destruction turns their pain into some of the most artistically victorious tracks of their career. Take one listen to the Grammy Award-winning track “Before I Forget,” and you’ll see just how much of a triumph the Platinum selling album is, considering it almost didn’t happen.

5. Evanescence, 'Fallen' (2003)

Possibly one of the most influential debut albums in metal history, 2003’s “Fallen” took eight years to come into fruition, and boy are we happy they spent time on it! An incredibly intricate editing process included using 414 microphones to record the ride and hi-hat of the drums. The orchestral and choral sound which has come to define Evanescence found its place in the record and Amy Lee’s fantastically clean voice offers light relief to the largely male-dominated, growling vocals of metal contemporaries.

4. System of a Down, 'System of a Down' (1998)

Before ‘Toxicity,’ System of a Down’s self-titled debut album quickly set apart the Armenian-American rockers from the crowd. The passionately inspired debut effort received almost universal praise thanks to Serj Tankian’s unique vocal performance and a constant fusion between nu metal, speed metal and the band’s own musical heritage. Moreso, the tracks lyrically are worlds above that of most in the genre— thought provoking and political, the album is one to mosh to, and one also meant to make you think.

3. Linkin Park, 'Meteora' (2003)

Radio-friendly yet metal to the core, ‘Meteora’ allowed Linkin Park t0 preserve their complex and layered sound first heard in ‘Hybrid Theory’ while showing the world what grungy lyrics, disciplined songwriting and slick editing can achieve in a record. The 2004 album, which includes the epochal slammer of a song ‘Numb,’ saw the group entertain themes of anger and aggravation, subjects that would unfortunately feature heavily in lead singer Chester Bennington’s untimely passing years later.

2. System of a Down, 'Toxicity' (2001)

Combining an array of musical elements and genres including jazz, folk and Middle Eastern music, System of a Down’s 2001 sophomore album molded their raw early sound into a complex and innovative record. After initially recording over 30 songs for the LP, System refined it down to help make this a metal instant classic. ‘Toxicity’ received critical acclaim from the rock and metal press and set the bar high for heavy metal albums in the decade to come.

1. Korn, 'Korn' (1994)

There was no way this album wasn’t going to be on the list. The debut album by Korn arguably started the genre itself by creating THE sound others strived for. Disturbing imagery paired with funk-inspired thrash with riffs so dirty none have been able to imitate let alone recreate their sound. “ARE YOU READY?!” Jonathan Davis screams as he opens the album with “Blind,” and frankly none of us were; but thank god we have this album. Korn led the charge towards a new genre of music in 1994—creating not only a new genre, but one of the most iconic bands and albums of modern metal.