Which Bands Defined 2000s Rock?


Evanescence, the "Fallen" reissue album cover.

Evanescence, “Fallen” reissue album cover – Story by Anne Erickson, image via Craft Recordings

What were the best rock bands from the 2000s? Here are some of the heavyweights from that era

When you think of the decades that really stood out as rock decades, 2000 to 2010 doesn’t often come to mind. The classic rock ‘n’ roll from the 1960s and 1970s are usually praised as the big decade for rock, when the genre was starting to take form and ruling the world. Then, of course, there was the big, hair metal of the 1980s and grunge rock of the 1990s. But, the 2000s shouldn’t be ignored. Some of the most interesting and pastorate modern rock came out of that area. So, which bands defined 2000s rock? What were the best rock bands from the 2000s?

In the 2000s, we witnessed the thriving of young, angsty genres such as nu-metal, pop-punk and emo. Additionally, there was a revival of garage rock, a surge of U.K. alt-rock acts in the middle of the decade and the rise of the heavy-yet-melodic metalcore. It’s safe to say that rock and metal enthusiasts had an abundance of options to choose from during this time. But, a handful of acts really brought the most excitement to the table.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard a band such as Linkin Park or Shinedown. I had never heard anything like these bands. The way Linkin Park combined rap-rock with Chester Bennington’s emotive vocals was something special. Moreover, the way Brent Smith from Shinedown crooned with such a powerful voice was something I’d never experienced before. I ended up interviewing these bands a bunch. It was thrilling to see them rise to become some of the biggest rock bands in the world.

When making this list, we’re highlight bands that released their first major-label debut between the years 2000 and 2010. When creating this list, we’re focusing on bands that launched their first major-label album between 2000 and 2010. So, which bands were the talk of the town? What were the tunes that played non-stop on the radio? And which concert tickets were the must-haves? Read on for the answers.

Linkin Park

Linkin Park’s debut marked the peak of nu-metal, leaving no question about their impact. The band, formerly known as Hybrid Theory, released their debut album, which was actually called “Hybrid Theory,” on Oct. 24, 2000. By the time the album dropped, fans were already going wild for the perfect combination of Mike Shinoda’s agile rhymes and Chester Bennington’s powerful singing and screaming vocals on “One Step Closer.”

From there, Linkin Park continued to captivate audiences with hits like the Grammy-winning (Best Hard Rock Performance) single “Crawling,” as well as “Papercut” and “In the End.” The album reached No. 2 on the charts. Each single kept Linkin Park dominating the alternative and mainstream rock airwaves for more than a year. That’s a huge feat that’s very rare to accomplish. This success set the stage for a remarkable decade, solidifying Linkin Park as one of the most beloved rock acts of their era.


The year 2003 was huge for newer rock acts. Shinedown was one of the biggest rock acts to debut that year, but they were in good company, as you’ll see from other bands on this list that also debuted in 2023. Shinedown’s debut album, “Leave a Whisper,” had a slow but steady rise with hits like “Fly From the Inside,” which eventually hit No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock chart. “45” climbed even higher to No. 3, and “Burning Bright” peaked at No. 2. The deluxe edition of the album also included a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” which became a rock radio staple and fan favorite at their live shows. “Leave a Whisper” is the album that started it all for Shinedown. Now, they’re one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

Three Days Grace

The guys of Three Days Grace knew how to write angry music, but with lots of singable melodies and catchy phrasing. Three Days Grace released their debut album the same year as Shinedown, in 2003. They were also kind of the Canadian answer to post-grunge. Their self-titled debut album produced four singles, including “I Hate Everything About You,” which reached No. 4 on the charts. “Just Like You” became their first chart-topper, while “Home” peaked at No. 2. Eventually, Three Days Grace went on to achieve double-platinum status with their debut album.

Five Finger Death Punch

Five Finger Death Punch had an interesting start, as the guys were brought together in Las Vegas in the hopes to create one of the next big rock bands. It almost sounds like how boy bands are created, but these guys are no boy band. Five Finger Death Punch noticed a gap in the music scene, where new bands with influences from metal’s early pioneers were lacking. They were determined to fill that void.

Their first album, 2007’s “The Way of the Fist,” had a more lo-fi sound than their subsequent releases, which were very radio-friendly. But, even that first record scored the guys a hit in “The Bleeding,” which reached No. 9 on the Mainstream Rock Chart, becoming their first Top 10 hit. While the band has undergone some lineup changes over the past few years, they’re still one of the biggest on the circuit and constantly sell out arenas.

Them Crooked Vultures

The term “supergroup” was definitely a popular one in the 2000s. But, it was also given to some bands that didn’t deserve it. Them Crooked Vultures deserved that label. The band consisted of the talented Dave Grohl on drums, teaming up with his Queens of the Stone Age buddy Josh Homme and the legendary Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. Their 2009 debut album, which was self-titled, made its way to No. 12 on the U.S. charts. Not only did it produce the popular hit single “New Fang,” but it also gave us the incredible track “Mind Eraser, No Chaser.” This project was short-lived, but we would love to see them back together at some point.


Let’s continue along this trajectory of 2000s supergroups, shall we? In a rare occurrence where a supergroup truly lives up to its reputation. But, that certainly happened with Audioslave, and the project lasted for years, to boot. Former members of Rage Against the Machine – Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk – joined forces with former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell to form Audioslave. This exciting collaboration kicked off with the electrifying track “Cochise,” showcasing Cornell’s powerful vocals in all their glory. The band continued to captivate audiences with the mesmerizing hit “Like a Stone,” featuring Morello’s impressive guitar skills. A bevy of other hits followed, including “Show Me How to Live” and “I Am the Highway.” The album itself reached an impressive No. 7 on the charts. It achieved triple-platinum certification in the U.S., solidifying Audioslave as more than a Rage knock-off.


Gothic rock wasn’t really in the mainstream until Evanescence appeared with their debut studio album, “Fallen,” which arrived on March 4, 2003 via Wind-up Records. Band co-founders Amy Lee and Ben Moody had been writing and recording songs as Evanescence since 1995. After releasing two EPs and a demo CD, they signed to Wind-up in January 2001. Several of the songs from their earlier independent releases are included on “Fallen,” but with some very shiny production behind those songs. “Fallen” really started a musical movement, spawning other gothic-type bands to pop up. It’s also one of the most successful rock albums from the 2000s.

Check out some nu-metal songs that should have been bigger here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Music, Rock