There's no doubt that nu-metal is having a bit of a resurgence right now: Just look at Sick New World, the May 2023 festival that broke the internet when it revealed its stacked throwback lineup topped by headlining acts System of a Down, Korn, Deftones and Incubus.
There was a moment of time in the late Nineties/early 2000s when everyone quoted South Park, was fully invested in the WWF/WCW Monday Night Wars, terrified of the world shutting down when the date turned "2000" — and nu-metal was the soundtrack to all of it.
As popular as nu-metal was at the start of the new millennium, though, like anything else, it still had its haters. Especially among the people making it, who didn't always feel like they were well-represented by a tag as contentious — and admittedly vague — as "nu-metal." Below, are five bands that hated the genre they helped make popular.
Korn are often credited with inventing nu-metal — and rightly so, given they were doing the sound years before other bands jumped on. But in a recent interview with Metal Hammer, frontman Jonathan Davis said that he hated the tag when he was younger.
"You don't just call Metallica some thrash band, they're Metallica!" Davis recalled feeling many years back. "You don't call the Red Hot Chili Peppers some funk band, they're the fucking Chili Peppers!"
In fact, Korn's 2002 album, Untouchables (incidentally, one of the most expensive albums ever made), was a direct response to how popular and predictable music tagged "nu-metal" had become — a rebellion, of sorts, against the very beast he helped birth. However, over the years, Davis has become more accepting of the nu-metal tag. "Nowadays, I don't mind it," he said. "They named an entire subgenre after my band. Holy shit! That's cool!"
Deftones' inclusion in the nu-metal canon never made complete sense: The band's shoegazy sound has little of the funk and hip-hop influence that acts like Korn and Limp Bizkit do. 'Tones frontman Chino Moreno didn't understand it either — in fact, he and his bandmates went so far as to turn down a Family Values Tour offer with Korn and Limp Bizkit because they didn't want to be lumped in with that scene.
"Anything called new will one day be old," Moreno said of his dislike of the nu-metal tag during a 2017 interview with Metal Hammer. In 2020, Moreno doubled-down, calling much of the nu-metal from back in the day "stupid" — though he added that no one should be embarrassed for liking it.
"It's fucking stupidly good, some of it," Moreno told Vulture. "But they knew back then that it was stupid. I mean, listen to the words. It's stupid ... And that's OK. No one should be embarrassed by shit they like that's dumb. Just like what you like."
Papa Roach's "Last Resort" might be one of the defining tracks of the nu-metal era, but vocalist Jacoby Shaddix despised the label. "I hated it," Shaddix revealed in 2022. "I couldn't stand it. Everyone was trying to compare me to Fred Durst and I was like, 'I am so much more fucking punk rock than this dude.' He's on the hip-hop side. No disrespect to Fred. I think he's fucking great at what he does, and I dig him."
However, like Moreno and Davis before him, Shaddix has now developed a more nuanced and appreciative understanding of the genre, even if he didn't feel like he belonged in that club back in the early 2000s. "It was a new interpretation of what metal music could be," he cushioned his comments.
When Evanescence signed their first major record deal, the label wanted a male rapper on their debut album, Fallen. The band hated the idea and were ready to walk away from the deal, but the label conceded. However, they still insisted there at least had to be a dude rapping on the LP's lead single, "Bring Me to Life," because the song was going to be used on the Daredevil soundtrack and the movie studio wanted that nu-metal vibe.
Evanescence agreed, but vocalist Amy Lee was not happy about it. She felt like it would be confusing to someone hearing the band for the first time. In a 2021 interview with Rolling Stone, she called the entire experience a lost battle and said it felt like the label just didn't have confidence in a rock band led with female vocals.
"Nu-metal was something that they called a lot of hard-rock music back then that wasn't, like, happy rock," Lee explained. "The kind of harder, a little bit heavy, a little bit darkness and the male rapping vibe. So the fact that that was on 'Bring Me to Life' instantly [made people think], 'OK, you fit into that same category as Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Korn and whoever."
Below, check out the final installment in Jesea Lee's TikTok video version of this list.