A guide to metal subgenres can help any newcomer or devoted fan find the perfect band with so many options.
Any newcomer to metal is almost immediately overwhelmed by the cornucopia of existing metal subgenres. Names don’t mean too much when you look on paper. Iron doom? Dark metal? Black? Metal death? They practically sound the same, but what’s the main problem about combining terminology? Who will care? Who will care?
Well, the truth is that the distance between doom and death metal is enormous. While you really should listen to all the different subgéners of metal to appreciate their diverse styles, you also want to understand the theoretical differences between the different genres of metal, so you know what you are interested in and what you should be looking for. This guide to metal subgenres will help you understand how each metal genre varies.
The central metal subtype, which all other metal subtypes draw from is heavy metal, is music that primarily draws inspiration from the original metal bands. These are bands that line up Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, without changing distortion, speed or intensity in any significant way.
For example, KISS, Judas Priest and Alice Cooper.
Thrash Metal is one of heavy metal’s first principal offshoots, which increased the prominence of the early metal scene-higher intensity, tempo, intricate guitar rifts and the pitch for the lyrics. Oh, and that has almost become an art form, the shredding of guitar solos.
E.g. Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer.
The Metal Subgenres Guide must contain power metal. This emphasizes clear, unaffected noise and high voice. By fact, it is a beast that is very different from the doom and death metal. It’s perhaps the most melodic and fluid of all music styles of all metal genres. The lyrics also play with fantasy elements to create a great, epic sound.
E.g. DragonForce, Helloween, Kamelot.
Symphonic metal mixes metal with symphonic music, integrating a range of string instruments and keyboards, to give their metal music a classical dimension.
For example, Nightwish, Within Temptations, and Epica.
Glam metal is not as common as it was in the 1980s, but it is a must in the Metal Subgenres Guide. It remains distinctive in part because of the volume of a commodity of its duration. Glam metal introduced the elegance and esthetics of glam rock into the early metal trend. For short, you’re taking the Black Sabbath and tossing it in some David Bowie.
Alice Cooper, Van Halen, Motley Crue and Dokken are examples.
Distortion is the black metal game name. Black metal stresses intense noise. Shrieked vocals, unbelievably fast tempos, distorted instruments. Black metal is often criticized in the media for its lyrics (who can be recognized as words) deal with iconoclastic ideologies (specifically lyrics and break down and oppose religion and religion).
Two separate types of black metal exist: early black metal is a thrash metal, which is just more extreme. However, in the late 90s many German bands took the early black metal style to its logical extreme, becoming an entirely different metal subgenre.
Examples in black metal for the first millennium include Acid, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. The Darkthrone, King, and Immortal are representatives of the second wave black metal.
Death Metal is an offshoot of first wave black metal and thrash metal, an incredibly distorted and loud metal subgenre, defined by intense drums, distortion of guitar rifts and a loud, grumbling vocal.
However, with Death Metal growing more popular, various off-shoots of the genre began to form, often mixing other genres and styles into the subgender of Death Metal. Death metal has become a particularly innovative subgenre full of exciting new music.
Slayer, Kreator, and Venom are examples of extreme death metal. Gorefest, Archenemy, Sacramentum and Nocturnus are the offshoots.
Industrial music takes and puts some metal into elements of industrial rock. Strong guitar. Strong guitars. Art warped. Art warped. But along with that, there is a lot of electronic art that offers an almost unnatural feel for the distorted guitar rifts. These are often very dark, both in mood and in lyrics.
For example, Rammstein, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson.
Christian music is sometimes classified as “white metal” (as opposed to black metal), but with Christian songs it is metal. Stylistically, Christian metal as a subgenre is nothing different. A project can thus be a thrash metal or an nu metal band as a Christian metal band at the same time. This subgenre of metal is only characterized by the content of its lyrics and not the style of music.
The Resurrection Project, Jerusalem, Underoath, and Demon Hunter are some examples.
Stoner metal incorporates a psychedelic feel more than normal metal in order to create an almost retro-rock feeling, a slower, blues-influenced metal subgenre. Stoner metal bands can integrate weed images into their esthetics or not.
The Queens of Stone Age, Mastodon and Electric Wizard are some examples.
Doom metal is likely one of the oldest metal subspecies since it is inspired by Black Sabbath, one of the first major metal bands. Doom metal depends on slow tempos, low tuning guitars and a “thicker” all-round style. The aim of doom metal is to make the audience sound awful.
Forms include Christian Alter, Pentagram and Count Raven, and Black Sabbath, of course.
The trademark of gothic subculture, Gothic punk, blends Gothic rock with death metal heaviness. It is renowned for its gloomy, horror-esthetic environment and plenty of leather.
Examples include Lacuna Coil, Tiamat and Paradise Lost.
Sludge is a death music derivative. This blends doom metal elements with heavily distorted noise. Screaming and harsh lyrics are often used to describe drug abuse and human depravity. It’s a bit faster than the normal doom metal.
Crowbar, Eyehategod, and Acid Bath are examples.
Heavy music blends alternative rock with industrial elements. One of the features of this metal subgenre is its emphasis on melodic tunes and lighter tracks. The genre chooses to experiment with metal music’s typical structure or sound.
Examples are: Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, Godsmack and Down’s System.
Unlike progressive metal, avant-garde metal takes the form of metal and deals with the framework of traditional metal music. Nevertheless, avant-garde metal pushes the boundaries through the introduction of various other musical styles and genres.
While avant-garde metal can be quickly dismissed as a simple alternative metal, the fact is that the music that emerges from this metal subgenre is sometimes too strange and too crazy to be categorized properly.
Celtic Frost, Boris and Sunn are examples.
Dance Music blends progressive music elements with funk music to create a jazzy, soul-infused genre of metal. The genre began in the 1980s, and is very similar to thrash metal, as the two styles also integrate aspects of the other trend.
For example, Rage Against the Machine and Mordred.
Crust punk is a metal subspecies characterized by its ground-up writings, which are often cynical perspectives on culture, politics and the social environment. His music is primarily punk, fast-tempoed and sometimes slow. It originated in the 1980s in Britain and has since been a subgenre on the metal scene.
For example, Doom and Amebix.
Nu metal – oh boy, how can we even continue this one? Nu metal is a combination of hip-hop and alternative metal that is dismissed by many as a short fad. The focus is on the integrated rapping guitar rifts. For worse or worse, many bands that started as nu metal have grown into straighter alternative metal over the years.
Highlights include Korn, Linkin Park, Papa Roach and Deftones (for early years).
Metalcore mixes heavy metal with hardcore punk to create a truly violent esthetic. Hardcore guitar rifts, grumpy vocals and hardcore drums, metalcore frequently drive the music down to the lowest possible level so that an extreme, distorted sound is made.
For example, Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold, My Valentine Bullet and Killswitch Engage.
Folk metal combines metal with traditional folk music, of all things. Throughout the music scene, folk metal usually incorporates either traditional instruments or folk singing forms. Lyrics often include historical or mythological references to establish an almost nostalgic reversal of past days.
For example, Moonsorrow, Finntroll and Sally Subway.
When you combine J-pop craze with metal, kawaii metal is translated literally into “cute metal.” Combining power metal music and traditional Japanese pop aesthetics, kawaii metal contrasts serious lyrics, sometimes abruptly cuteness with music.
Types include Babymetal, Dazzle Vision and Ladybaby.
In many ways, post-metal is the industrial counterpart to post-rock. The post-metal trend mainly ignores singing in place of instruments. The aim is to create swelling emotions without relying on the vocals.
Examples are Osiris, Luna cult, Pelican, and Neurosis.