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The 50 best nu metal albums of all time

40. Alien Ant Farm - ANThology (2001)

Alien Ant Farm were the court jesters of nu metal’s second wave, a bunch of goofy, gurning wackos who called their debut album Greatest Hits and whose biggest hit was a heavied-up but faithful cover of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. But there was substance behind the gags – second album ANThology crackled with energy, attitude and a big shot of pop nous that saw them become radio staples, albeit fleetingly. 


39. Static-X – Machine (2001)

Channelling the futuristic heaviness of Fear Factory into the brave nu world, Machine was a slab of industrial molten metal. As a genre, nu metal was never famed for its ferocity but Static-X combined danceable grooves with white-hot metal fury and a guitar tone to die for, topped off by the late, lamented Wayne Static’s guttural bark.


38. Disturbed - Believe (2002)

Disturbed were shifting towards more melodic territory with their second album, while not losing sight of the sound that made The Sickness a multi-platinum success. But despite the increased emotional depth of the lyrics and David Draiman's voice taking on a much more anthemic bent, Believe couldn't quite escape the shadow of its predecessor. Ooh-ah-ah-ah-ah indeed. 


37. Mushroomhead XIII (2003)

Has there ever been a more ridiculed nu metal band than Mushroomhead? (OK, Crazy Town, we’ll give you that). But there was way more to the masked Cleveland marauders than the ‘Slipknot copyists’ tag, not least cos they were out of the gate long before their Des Moines counterparts had even thought about buying red boiler suits and pig masks. 

Their confusingly-titled fourth album XIII (so called because they had eight members) is an overlooked classic that owes way more to Faith No More at their gnarliest and most inventive than any of their contemporaries. Sadly, the nu metal town wasn’t big enough for both the ’Head and the ’Knot, and there was only going to be one winner in that battle.


36. Incubus – Make Yourself (1999)

Dismissed as pretty-boy bantamweights by nu metal’s knucklehead army, Incubus offered something more unashamedly spiritual and romantic than a man-baby in a red cap bawling about doing it all for the nookie. Their third album shared the same DNA as many of their peers - chiefly Faith No More – but the Californians refused to lock themselves into one single sound, throwing fleet-footed funk and sunset ballads into the mix. Make Yourself was a hit at the time, but its stature has only grown over the years.


35. Machine Head - The Burning Red (1999)

Naysayers may scoff at Machine Head for the nu metal-indebted The Burning Red but if you take your attention away from the garish tracksuits and ridiculous haircuts, their fourth album rips like a motherfucker. Robb Flynn’s rapid-fire delivery on Desire To Fire and From This Day are undiluted adrenaline rushes, while Silver and Five are among the most sinister material the band have ever recorded. Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for the Message In A Bottle cover, we’d say there isn’t a duff moment on it.


34. Ill Niño – Revolution Revolucíon (2001)

Coming in the aftermath of Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, Ill Niño took that band’s penchant for colossal, poppy choruses, beefed up the guitars and added a little Latino flair to the proceedings. For a genre that has occasionally dated terribly, the likes of the pulsating God Save Us and crunching flamenco flair on Nothing’s Clear still sound remarkably fresh and have lost none of their bite. If you’ve got a taste for a chorus, Revolution/Revolución is essential.


33. Sevendust - Home (1999)

Blessed with one of the most soulful and heartfelt deliveries in nu metal, Lajon Witherspoon has a serious claim to have the best vocal performance in the history of the genre on this overlooked classic album. Ably backed up by the grinding, powerful band behind him, his vocal trade-offs with both Chino Moreno (Bender) and Skunk Anansie frontwoman Skin (Licking Cream) are on the next level. It never quite happened for Sevendust on this side of the Atlantic but they remain massive in the States to this day. One listen to Home and you’ll understand why.


32. Kittie - Spit (2000)

When Kittie released their debut album, Spit, in January 2000, it cut through the baggy pants bravado like a knife. Not only did it go harder and more aggressive than any nu metal album doing the rounds, with shades of death metal cutting through mountainous Korn-esque grooves, it also had thought-provoking and defiant songs like Choke and Suck, and sought to subvert gender expectations. And with Brackish, the band hit upon nu metal’s only genuine anthem of empowerment.


31. Korn - Issues (1999)

When Issues was released in 1999, Korn were bona fide superstars – it hit No.1 on the Billboard 200 the week it was released, keeping Dr Dre and Celine Dion off the top spot and selling well over half a million copies in six days. The album itself saw Korn return to the darker themes that they eschewed in the main on previous album Follow The Leader, while keeping in the shiny, massive production sound that made that record such a hit. 

The result is, for the most part,  great: Beg For Me, Make Me Bad and Somebody Someone are all as good as anything Korn have ever done, and Falling Away From Me is one of their very best anthems. The only reason it sits so low on this list is that the bar is so high.

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