Did you have a cringe-worthy nu metal phase like me? Don’t be ashamed! Believe it or not, there are many bands worth listening to from your edgy teenage years.

Crowd at a nu metal concert.
Most nu metal bands are pretty bad, but some absolutely still rock!
Photo by Sebastian Ervi from Pexels

From disco to hair metal, there are plenty of musical genres that have not exactly aged well. If you’re like me, your mind instantly jumps to nu metal when thinking of genres that have aged like spoiled milk. Funny enough, it happened to be one of my favorite types of music as a teenager. Like many kids in the 2000s, I probably just related to its angsty guitar riffs and overly aggressive vocals. As time passed, I looked back at some of my old CDs with embarrassment. Today, nu metal is laughed at for being whiny, stupid, and just plain hilarious sometimes.

But is the genre completely bad in hindsight?

In re-evaluating the bands I listened to as a teenager, there is actually good music buried beneath some of the awfulness. Believe it or not, there are bands that could be classified as “nu metal” that won’t make you double check to see if your car windows are rolled up. Sit back, relax, and try to forget about Limp Bizkit as we make our way through 5 great nu metal bands you can listen to without shame!

Linkin Park

Possibly Linkin Park’s most well-known song, “In The End.” The song perfectly captured the hard hitting, emotional sound the band had in their early years.

We’re starting this list off with perhaps the most well-known nu metal band, Linkin Park. Though they went more mainstream with their sound in later years, their first two records are some of the most pivotal nu metal material. On first listen, some of their songs can be cringe-worthy for being rather over-dramatic. However, after a thorough inspection, it’s clear a lot of them are definitely worth listening to time and time again.

With hard-hitting beats, great vocal performances from Chester Bennington and Mike Shioda, and a unique sound all their own, it’s no wonder Linkin Park’s music has stood the test of time. Through their Hybrid Theory and Meteora albums, there are plenty of tracks to keep you rocking out without feeling too ashamed about it. Rather than some of the overblown angst from their contemporaries, Linkin Park’s raw emotion reads as genuine through almost all of their tracks.

Tragically, their lead singer passed away in 2017. He truly left behind a legacy; not only being part of possibly the best “nu metal” band, but being part of a band that’s constantly changing its style and creative spirit. Linkin Park has inspired so many in the rock community to do better. We’ll miss you, Chester.

Three Outstanding Nu Metal Tracks From Linkin Park

  • “Lying From You”
  • “Papercut”
  • “Faint”

Slipknot

“Wait and Bleed” is a defining nu metal song with its ear-splitting vocals and heart-pounding rhythm section.

We move on to probably my favorite nu metal band, Slipknot. Like Linkin Park, Slipknot’s sound evolved over time and hardly resembles what they were like when they first debuted in 1999. That said, there is still a distinct nu metal flavor that coats their music 20 years later. From their blistering anger on albums like their self-titled debut and Iowa, to their more mature sound on The Gray Chapter and We Are Not Your Kind, the nu metal forefathers are still going strong with great music. The band also has one of the most distinct images in the metal scene. Their haunting masks change with every album and are perhaps the most defining feature of Slipknot as a band.

Though some of their music hasn’t aged the best, overall, they remain one of the easiest to listen to bands of the sub-genre. They are constantly switching up their style and dropping songs that sound completely different from the ones that came before. Corey Taylor’s switch between primal screams and melodic singing sections, coupled with pounding guitars and their one-of-a-kind percussion, will have you banging your head unashamed.

Did I forget to mention that they are hands down one of the best bands to see live? If you’ve never listened to the group before and are a fan of metal as a whole, I highly recommend giving any of their albums a listen. Works such as Iowa and Volume 3: (The Subliminal Verses) are easily some of my favorite albums of all time.

Three Outstanding Nu Metal Tracks From Slipknot

  • “Left Behind”
  • “Duality”
  • “Unsainted”

System of a Down

With it’s haunting lyrics and iconic vocal stylings, “Chop Suey” is often considered to be System of a Down’s signature song

In the third position on our list, we have the always passionate and relevant System of a Down. Though noticeably different in sound compared to every other selection in this article, System of a Down is often classified as nu metal. Despite not releasing any new music in over 15 years, the band remains a common talking point in the metal community. The band’s music not only has a complex and original style but also delivers thoughtful lyrics with some extremely heavy subject matter. Even with their absence, their political messages remain pertinent in today’s social climate.

Aside from excellent lyricism, the band boasts a sound that is unlike any other band that came before or after them. Their fast-paced guitars and complex rhythm section combine with Serj Tankian’s wailing vocals to give the listener an experience they can’t get anywhere else. I will admit that new listeners may take some time getting used to them, but once you get used to their sound, you won’t be able to get enough.

Sadly, it seems unlikely that we will ever get new music from System of a Down. Still, their work from 1998 to 2005 remains some of the best material in the nu metal genre. Albums such as Toxicity remain groundbreaking works in a highly competitive music scene.

Three Outstanding Nu Metal Tracks From System of a Down

  • “B.Y.O.B”
  • “Toxicity”
  • “Hypnotize”

Taproot

Cycling between aggressive screams and melodic prose, “Poem” is an extremely catchy and fierce nu metal song.

Unlike the previous entries, Taproot might actually be a band some in the metal community haven’t heard of. Despite not being as well-known as some of the other bands in the sub-genre, Taproot’s music has aged comparatively well in the nu metal scene. Stephen Richards proves himself a skilled vocalist in each song they release, and the lyric writing is always masterful.

Their sound could be described as a sort of “calmness in the chaos.” Richards’ vocals beautifully switch between peace and anger, with his vocal range piercing through often chaotic sounds from the guitars and drums. Their fast-paced style puts them at home in the nu metal genre, but their focus on instrumental harmony and winding vocals separates them from the pack.

Their last release was a single in 2017, but there have been rumblings of a seventh studio album in the last few years. Taproot fans can cross their fingers for another dive into the unique style of Stephen Richards and the rest of the underrated nu metal group. If you haven’t listened to them before, I highly recommend giving them a chance. It really is a shame that the only thing many people know Taproot for is that bizarre voicemail message they got from Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst way back in the day. Outside of that drama, Taproot is one of the best nu metal bands out there.

Three Outstanding Nu Metal Tracks From Taproot

  • “Poem”
  • “Again and Again”
  • “Fractured”

Static-X

“Push It” captures the bizarre but accessible wild sound of Static-X perfectly.

We close this list with one of the strangest bands out there, Static-X. Since bursting on the scene with their debut album Wisconsin Death Trip in 1999, Static-X has been rocking audiences with their fast-paced brand of nu metal. Self describing as “evil disco,” Static-X is a sort of melting pot of several different influences. While being undeniably nu metal, the band combines the familiar rage and rhythm of the genre with industrial, thrash metal, and even electronic music. The result of this mashing of sub genres is an awesome listening experience you can’t get from any other band.

Despite being bizarre, the band is still quite accessible to outsiders. While perhaps lacking the lyrical depth of some other bands on the list, Static-X excels at simply making fun music. Whether you’re looking for something intriguing and different to listen to, or you need something hard-hitting to bang your head to, Static-X has you covered.

Their lead singer Wayne Static tragically passed away in 2014, but the band has continued on in his memory. They just released a comeback record back in June that serves as their first new music in 11 years. The record is called Project Regeneration Vol. 1, and I highly recommend it!

Three Outstanding Nu Metal Tracks From Static-X

  • “I’m With Stupid”
  • “The Only”
  • “Bled for Days”

Well, what did you think of the list? Are there any nu metal bands out there you think deserve a spot on the list? Let me hear all about them in the comments section below!