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100 Best Alternative Metal Bands

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These alt-metal bands are truly the best around.

These alt-metal bands are truly the best around.

The unconventional styles and sounds used in alternative metal have helped to make it popular around the globe. While the genre has not garnered mainstream success, a number of acts associated with alternative metal have achieved a great deal of commercial success. Since coming into existence, this style of music has diversified, influencing bands and musicians from other genres.

Although the alternative metal scene has evolved into many subgenres, the raw aggression of its glory days remains an integral part of this colossal genre.

The list below showcases an epic number of alternative metal bands. If you are a fan of this genre, you will definitely have something to say. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Alternative Metal Bands

  1. System of a Down
  2. Deftones
  3. Korn
  4. Slipknot
  5. Disturbed
  6. Helmet
  7. Limp Bizkit
  8. Rage Against the Machine
  9. Drowning Pool
  10. Linkin Park
The Les Paul guitar is a favorite in alternative metal.

The Les Paul guitar is a favorite in alternative metal.

What Is Alternative Metal?

Alternative metal, also referred to as alt-metal, is broadly classified as a rock music genre that fuses heavy metal and alternative rock. Typically, bands associated with this genre are characterized by heavily down-tuned guitar riffs accompanied with melodic or harsh vocals and extreme drumming styles.

The unconventional mid-paced guitar riffs, played in a chug-like tempo, give this genre a unique identity. The alternative metal movement helped influence other metal subgenres, such as rap metal, funk metal, nu metal, hardcore punk, industrial metal, and thrash metal.

Best Alternative Metal Bands #11–20

11. Tool

12. Stained

13. Papa Roach

14. Mudvayne

15. Alice in Chains

16. Karnivool

17. Marilyn Manson

18. Godsmack

19. Sevendust

20. Melvins

Alt-metal bands put on incredible concerts.

Alt-metal bands put on incredible concerts.

How Did This Genre Emerge?

Although alternative metal emerged in the '80s, the genre gained prominence in the ‘90s. The experimental metal scene of the ‘80s played a pivotal role in shaping the alt-metal scene of the ‘90s. Certain bands in the funk rock genre started experimenting with a heavier sound that helped diversify the funk metal sound in the ‘80s.

Simultaneously, a few bands from the hardcore punk scene shifted their musical structures to incorporate new styles that would later influence the alt-metal genre. The first wave of alternative metal bands that arrived on the scene were influenced by a diverse number of influences. Certain bands took experimentation to a new level by combining varied elements of noise rock, stoner rock, gothic metal, industrial metal, and progressive rock.

Vocalists in this genre often switch between melodic vocals, screams, and growls. In the ‘90s, grunge helped resurrect alternative rock, and a number of alternative bands sought to develop a unique sound by incorporating elements of metal into their music. A number of bands from the independent rock scene developed a crunch-riff sound that gained attention from mainstream audiences. Certain acts that were influenced by thrash metal and industrial music became popular within the genre.

Best Alternative Metal Bands #21–40

21. Soundgarden

22. Jane’s Addiction

23. Faith No More

24. Evanescence

25. Static-X

26. Chevelle

27. Fear Factory

28. Tomahawk

29. Coal Chamber

30. Nine Inch Nails

31. Sepultura

32. Nothingface

33. Mushroomhead

34. Primus

35. In Flames

36. Mr. Bungle

37. Kyuss

38. Stone Sour

39. Five Finger Death Punch

40. Life of Agony

Alt-metal bands are fashion trendsetters.

Alt-metal bands are fashion trendsetters.

Alt Metal in the ‘90s

The alternative revolution of the ‘90s shook up the music industry and made people rethink genres. Alt-metal both influenced and branched off into many different subgenres. A few alternative metal acts gained popularity after being promoted on music television channels, MTV in particular. Some of these music videos became excessively popular with the moshing community.

Best Alternative Metal Bands #41–60

41. Ministry

42. P.O.D.

43. Breaking Benjamin

44. Alter Bridge

45. Type O Negative

46. Rollins Band

47. Flyleaf

48. Bloodsimple

49. Therapy

50. Soil

51. Incubus

52. Sick Puppies

53. Lacuna Coil

54. A Perfect Circle

55. Scars on Broadway

56. Living Colour

57. Shinedown

58. Red

59. Alien Ant Farm

60. The Gazette

Nu metal bands blend multiple genres to create new soundscapes.

Nu metal bands blend multiple genres to create new soundscapes.

Nu Metal in the ‘90s and 2000s

In the latter part of the ‘90s, the grunge movement faded as the nu metal onslaught came into being. The second wave of alternative metal was called nu metal. It emerged with a fury of heavy sounds influenced by thrash metal, groove metal, industrial metal, hip-hop, and hardcore punk.

While the majority of nu metal bands maintained a standardized sound that was easily recognizable, certain bands refined their sound with avant-garde metal and gothic metal influences. A number of nu metal bands gained mainstream exposure in the ‘90s, thereby helping the alternative metal genre expand its growth globally. Nu metal dominated the metal scene in the late ‘90s and early 2000s and played a big role in shaping the metal sound of the future.

Best Alternative Metal Bands #61–80

61. Anthrax

62. Fudge Tunnel

63. Three Days Grace

64. Rammstein

65. Audioslave

66. Filter

67. Seether

68. Atreyu

69. White Zombie

70. Ill Nino

71. Cold

72. Art of Anarchy

73. Dir En Grey

74. Otep

75. Trust Company

76. Earshot

77. Adema

78. In This Moment

79. Godflesh

80. Theory of a Deadman

Alternative metal bands often use multiple guitarists.

Alternative metal bands often use multiple guitarists.

Alternative Metal Post-2010

Since the year 2010, a number of alternative metal bands have incorporated a diverse set of experimental sounds into their music. The prevalence of nu metal acts in the 2000s (alongside post-grunge acts) made different forms of heavy metal hugely popular in global markets.

The success of nu metal paved the way for a new wave of bands in alternative metal. While nu metal was criticized by certain music critics for commercializing the core structure of heavy metal, there is no denying the subgenre was responsible for influencing many of today's most popular acts. A number of new alt-metal bands owe a great deal to the metal scene of the '90s.

Best Alternative Metal Bands #81–100

81. Mastodon

82. Stone Temple Pilots

83. Nonpoint

84. Bad Brains

85. Waltari

86. Halestorm

87. Puddle of Mudd

88. 12 Foot Ninja

89. Nine Lashes

90. Mother Love Bone

91. 36 Crazyfists

92. Nickelback

93. Creed

94. Flaw

95. Tremonti

96. Dog Fashion Disco

97. Kittie

98. Passenger

99. Saliva

100. Echobrain

Other Notable Alternative Metal Bands

  • Clutch
  • Fozzy
  • 10 Years
  • Trapt
  • Fair to Midland
  • CKY
  • Maximum the Hormone
  • Babymetal
  • 12 Stones
  • Clawfinger
  • Mind over Four
  • Spineshank
  • Quicksand
  • Project 86
  • Eye Empire
  • Powerman 5000
  • American Head Charge
  • Submersed
  • Tad
  • Crossfade
  • Lostprophets
  • Guano Apes
  • Skindread
  • Dope
  • Black Light Burns
  • Amatory
  • 24-7 Spyz
  • Fear and the Nervous System
  • Device
  • The Deadlights
  • Head Phones President
  • Taproot
  • Motionless in White
  • Green Jelly
  • Voivod
  • Digital Summer
  • Hurt
  • Janus
  • Fuel
  • Tracktor Bowling
  • Bring Me the Horizon
  • Fantomas
  • Coldseed
  • Mind Funk
  • Unloco
  • 40 Below Summer
  • Reuben
  • Stabbing Westward
  • Pillar
  • Failure
  • Djerv
  • Ra
  • Snot
  • Gemini Syndrome
  • L7
  • SugarComa
  • Infectious Grooves
  • Biohazard
  • Fallen to
  • Blindspott
  • Raunchy
  • Dead By April
  • Pulse Ultra
  • 311
  • Sonic Syndicate
  • Hamlet
  • Emigrate
  • Sweet Noise
  • Decyfer Down
  • Ultraspank
  • Jesters of Destiny
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Lo-Pro
  • Motograter
  • Glassjaw
  • Egypt Central
  • Downset.
  • Scar the Martyr
  • Leprous
  • Emphatic
  • Skizoo
  • The God Machine
  • Sara
  • Black Stone Cherry
  • Sucioperro
  • Demon Hunter
  • Breed 77
  • AqME
  • Kilgore
  • Deli Creeps
  • The Revolution Smile
  • Hotwire
  • Stereomud
  • Emil Bulls
  • Grinspoon
  • Roses Are Red
  • Smile Empty Soul
  • All Ends
  • Seven Wiser
  • Memory of a Melody
  • Baroness
  • Twisted Method
  • Paw
  • Finger Eleven
  • Dark New Day
  • Atomship
  • The Letter Black
  • Destrophy
  • Adrenaline Mob
  • Mt. Helium
  • Earthtone 9
  • Come to Dolly
  • Apartment 26
  • Disciple
  • Parabelle
  • Defrage
  • Full Scale
  • My Ruin
  • Dragpipe
  • Tura Santana
  • Hail the Villain
  • StillWell

© 2020 Ansel Pereira


Cray Deschain on July 23, 2020:

Great List! Korn, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit pulled me out of my electronic music through nu metal to alternative metal. That is the music of my heart. A poppy voice, dancable rhythms, variety of drum beats inside a song, some pointed shouts before a beautiful refrain smases in...oh yes!

My two newest discoveries not mentioned here are Kingdom Collapse and Ded. The first one is simply awesome and the second is more crazy and aggressive if you need a mental punching bag to ged rid of bad feelings ;) Have a great living!

Nella DiCarlo from Guelph, Ontario on February 04, 2020:

Very comprehensive list. Well done