10 terrible nu metal albums with one classic song

Fred Durst, Dez Fafara, Shifty Shellshock and Mark Chavez
(Image credit: Getty)

Nu metal, more than any other subgenre in heavy metal's rich and vast tapestry, is the absolute king of rock club dancefloor bangers. For well over two decades, the scene that turned Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park et al into household names has been dominating DJ mixes, its greatest hits influencing everyone from Spiritbox to Rina Sawayama. 

Sadly, when it comes to world class albums, nu metal's hit rate slows down a little. Sure, heavyweights like Korn, System Of A Down, Deftones and Slipknot have put out absolute, iron-clad, classic records, but by the time the New Millennium kicked properly into gear, it seemed that for every White Pony or Toxicity, there was a bucketload of also-rans and one-hit-wonders clogging up the joint, unable to produce the goods for long enough to sustain a full LP. Within a few years, even some of nu metal's most reliable names had become guilty of putting out sub-par material.

With that in mind, here are ten nu metal albums that just didn't live up to the genre's heady heights - but at least managed to sneak in one certified anthem along the way.

Metal Hammer line break

Limp Bizkit - Eat You Alive (Results May Vary, 2003)

By the time Limp Bizkit were finally able to put out the follow-up to 2000's squillion-selling, hit-stacked Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water, nu metal was dying on its arse. Meanwhile, Bizkit themselves had lost their talismanic guitarist Wes Borland, meaning they were lacking both a key songwriter and an iconic part of the band's larger-than-life image. Results May Vary needed to make an almighty statement to keep the Jacksonville crew on top of the metal mountain. Sadly, the record was a monumental drop-off from Chocolate Starfish...; Fred Durst's attempts to embrace a slightly grittier, more serious side to the band were commendable, but the songs just weren't up to scratch. While their earnest cover of The Who's Behind Blue Eyes has since taken on a life of its own, there's only one original Bizkit composition worth anyone's time here: the driving, crushingly heavy Eat You Alive

The Union Underground - Turn Me On "Mr Deadman" (An Education In Rebellion, 2000)

Signed to Columbia and armed with an absolute beast of a lead single in Turn Me On "Mr Deadman" (albeit one whose lyrics haven't aged entirely well thanks to the clunky inclusion of a Dire Straits-inspired slur in the second verse), Texan nu-industrial mob The Union Underground had all the tools to be massive. Unfortunately, An Education In Rebellion just didn't match up to its most famous cut, leaving the four-piece resigned to residing in nu metal's great dustbin of also-rans. The Union Underground wouldn't even release another album after this, although they did get a brief stay of execution by providing the theme to WWE Monday Night Raw for a couple of years with Across The Nation. 

Korn - Evolution (Untitled, 2007)

Remember that period in the mid-00s where Korn had that backing band made up of musicians in animal masks? That was weird, wasn't it? Anyway, musically that era was undoubtedly a mixed bag for nu metal's founding fathers, reaching a nadir in the almost entirely forgettable Untitiled album that landed in 2007. We say almost entirely forgettable because, to be fair, Evolution remains an absolute worldie of a track: a catchy, up-tempo, no-nonsense Korn rager that we'd happily see return to the Bakersfield boys' setlists soon.

Taproot - Poem (Welcome, 2002)

Taproot were probably just a little too late to the game when they got their first real breakthrough hit with Poem. Dropping in 2002, it was one of the last insta-classic anthems of nu metal's great takeover, peaking at Number 5 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Chart and earning the Michigan mob their place on nu metal greatest hits playlists forevermore. Sadly, that's as good as it got for the band, not least because the album from which Poem came, Welcome, is as derivative and by-the-nu-numbers as it gets. Ah well.

Adema - The Way You Like It (Adema, 2001)

Hailing from the same town as Korn and featuring Jonathan Davis' half-brother Mark Chavez in their ranks, Adema certainly had the DNA of nu metal royalty running through their veins. Unfortunately, they just didn't have the chops to stand out in an increasingly crowded field, with 2001's self-titled album - the closest they got to any real widespread recognition - doing little more than rehashing ideas other bands had done better. There was one gleaming diamond in the rough, though: The Way You Like It, whose propulsive, r'n'b-inflected beats and gleaming production makes it sound way ahead of its time when revisited over two decades later. 

Crazy Town - Butterfly (The Gift Of Game, 1999)

Look, no one is saying that Shifty Shellshock is amongst music's most subtle lyricists, but Butterfly isn't one of the most popular songs of its era for nothing. Firstly, it packs one of the most simple but effective uses of a guitar sample ever, lifting John Frusciante's woozy riff from Red Hot Chili Peppers jam Pretty Little Ditty to rock club immortality. Secondly, it's just catchy as hell; an instant earworm that helped its parent album, 1999's The Gift Of Game, eventually shift millions of copies. Which is a miracle, really, given that the rest of the album is somewhat bum.

Papa Roach - She Loves Me Not (Lovehatetragedy, 2002)

When you've produced one of the greatest albums of nu metal's boom period, you can be forgiven for letting your foot off the gas a little, but there can be no arguing that Papa Roach's follow-up to the mighty Infest, 2002's Lovehatetragedy, brutally pales in comparison to its predecessor. It'd be churlish to say everything here is truly bad - Time And Time Again would be an upper tier Roach track were it not for its laboured chorus - but the fact that She Loves Me Not is the record's only cut with any kind of legacy speaks volumes. Thankfully, Papa Roach would go on to prove they were no flash-in-the-pans with later efforts, but Lovehatetragedy wouldn't come close to troubling 2000s nu metal's Mount Rushmore of great albums.

Staind - Mudshovel (Dysfunction, 1999)

You wouldn't know it from the amount of time he spends ranting and regurgitating nonsense conspiracy theories on stage these days, but Aaron Lewis has a band! Staind would ultimately find their biggest success in the 2000s by pivoting towards the post-grunge sound that'd dominate much of the US metal scene as the decade progressed, incredibly nabbing a UK number one album with 2001's Break The Cycle. While that album at least boasted a couple of classic tracks in Outside and It's Been A While, 1999's Dysfunction really offers nothing of interest other than Mudshovel, a groovy, angsty burst of late-90s nu metal that remains one of the band's biggest hits. The rest of the record is one to skip, though. Much like an Aaron Lewis gig in 2023.

Drowning Pool - Bodies (Sinner, 2001)

Perhaps it's a little unfair to write off Sinner completely - Tear Away was also a minor hit and has over 75 million streams, for a start - but the fact is that everything else on Drowning Pool's debut album is completely dwarfed in terms of quality and lasting impact by Bodies. One of the all-time-great nu metal ragers, it proved that when they put their mind to it, the Dallas brutes were capable of crafting arena-worthy anthems. Sadly, with the sudden death of vocalist Dave Williams the following year, we never got to see if the band were truly capable of capturing lightning in a bottle for a second time.

Coal Chamber - Fiend (Dark Days, 2002)

Such is the strength of the nostalgia train currently doing laps around nu metal that some people seem to forget that, as fun and colourful as Coal Chamber were, Dez Fafara's output with Devildriver has spectacularly eclipsed that of his previous band. Case in point? Coal Chamber's 2002 album Dark Days, a record that didn't do anything to disprove the notion that the LA spookycore squad's schtick was starting to feel out of step with metal's evolution. The record did, however, produce a world class track in Fiend, still one of the best songs of Fafara's career and a classic of the era.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.