Aesthetics Wiki

Nu-Metal is a subgenre of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal music with elements of other music genres such as hip hop, alternative rock, funk, industrial, and grunge that was popular from 1997 (after grunge fell out of style) to 2004 during the Y2K Futurism era. As time went on, eventually Nu-Metal gave way to Emo and Punk rising in popularity (which eventually gave way to Scene music).


Nu-Metal's rise began in the early 1990s as rap metal band Rage Against the Machine started gaining some buzz with their fresh and unique sound at the time. The band KoRn helped to define the nu-metal sound with their 1994 debut album and gained further popularity with their 1998 album Follow the Leader. By the late 1990s, other bands started to help push Nu-Metal into the mainstream like Deftones, Limp Bizkit, and Sugar Ray (yes, THIS Sugar Ray. They used to have a very different sound). Eventually, whole concerts were held that catered to the Nu-Metal crowd, such as the Family Values Tour and Ozzfest.

Despite the popularity of Nu-Metal, some Metalhead purists had a strong disdain for the genre because of its strong departure from much of metal's previous traditions, and were glad to see its eventual decline. In the mid-to-late 2000s, Nu-Metal began its fall after some of its stars started evolving away from the Nu-Metal sound into other genres (like death metal, pop, punk, hard rock, or pure alternative rock), though some Nu-Metal songs (like Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'" and "My Way", Disturbed's "Down With The Sickness", Linkin Park's "In the End", and Drowing Pool's "Bodies") remained popular via early YouTube AMVs and Myspace pages at at this time. Around this time, the youth of America had found emo, a new genre of music to express their negative feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger, which later gave way to scene.

While there has been some interest in a "Nu-Metalcore" that takes a lot inspiration from Nu-Metal, which has also taken on names like "emo rap" and "trap metal", it does seem like original Nu-Metal is being examined in a more neutral-to-positive light in today's day and age (which could have some ties to the Y2K resurgence in recent years) with most of the heavy hitters in the genre being looked back at fondly (such as KoRn, Deftones, Linkin Park, Slipknot, and even Limp Bizkit).


A key difference between the Nu-Metal and Metalhead fashions is Nu-Metal fashion borrowed more from Hip-Hop, Raver, Skater, and Grunge fashions of the time and often times crossed over into those other subcultures. A lot of Nu-Metalheads wore band shirts, wife beaters and heavy cotton athletic tees, fitted baseball caps, baggy pants and JNCOs, Dickies brand clothing, skater shoes, sports jerseys (especially MLB, NFL, and NBA jerseys), stainless steel ball necklaces, short-sleeves over long-sleeves, wallet and pocket chains, cargo shorts and pants, camo print, and beanies, often emulating the style set forth by the members of various Nu-Metal acts at the time. Popular hairstyles and facial hair included short and long spikes, "frosted tips", sideburns, chin straps, soul patches, and goatees, dreadlocks, mohawks, and buzzcuts. Hair was often bleached, highlighted, and/or dyed vibrant colors, with sometimes clashing patterns. Sometimes, nu-metalheads would adopt goth-adjacent trends, like dark nail polish, fingerless leather gloves, and even dark eye shadow or lipstick. Facial and body piercings were also popular among nu-metal heads - this includes septum, lip, and tongue piercings, nipple bars and rings, and multiple large earrings, studs, or stretchings.


Nu-Metal music has a tendency to take the metal sound and strip it down, taking inspiration from Grunge before it (which has lead to a lot of bands in the Nu-Metal genre getting the label "Post-Grunge"), and some bands incorporating elements of Hard Rock, Funk, Hip-Hop, and Industrial sounds, the songs often playing on pure shock factor or raw emotion with songs about drug usage, self-harm, depression, sex, death, and other dark, macabre, or otherwise controversial subjects. While nu-metal had a large following of fans and listeners, some critics and metal purists of the time had a disdain for the genre, because of its strong departure from a lot of the traditions of metal music, and its association with the Jock/Frat stereotype. Some purists derided Nu-Metal with terms like "Mallcore".

  • Linkin Park
  • KoRn
  • Deftones
  • Limp Bizkit
  • Slipknot
  • Papa Roach
  • System of a Down
  • P.O.D.
  • Mudvayne
  • Incubus
  • Coal Chamber
  • Snot
  • Ill Niño
  • Dope
  • Kid Rock
  • My ruin
  • Sugarcoma
  • Kittie
  • Disturbed (with their first 2 albums The Sickness and Believe)


Limp Bizkit

Limp Bizkit in typical nu-metal fashions

Nu metal

Kids in nu-metal fashion


Woodstock '99 cast the nu-metal subculture in an infamous light