The sheer number of metal subgenres available to fans is overwhelming for anyone new to the genre. Names don’t mean much if you look at them on paper. Doom metal? Black metal? They all sound the same, so why not mix the terms up a bit? You don’t have to care.
There is a massive difference between death and doom metal. While you should listen to every subgenre of metal to enjoy their different styles, it is also essential to know the theoretical differences between each genre to decide what appeals to your tastes and what to seek. This guide will show you the differences between each genre.
- 1 What is Metal Music?
- 2 A Brief History of Metal Music
- 3 Different types of Metal music (Subgenres)
- 3.1 Original Metal
- 3.2 Heavy Metal
- 3.3 Power Metal
- 3.4 Avant-Garde Metal
- 3.5 NWOBHM
- 3.6 Thrash Metal
- 3.7 Glam Metal
- 3.8 Alternative Metal
- 3.9 Death Metal
- 3.10 Symphonic Metal
- 3.11 Black Metal
- 3.12 Rap Metal
- 3.13 Groove Metal
- 3.14 Industrial Metal
- 3.15 Progressive Metal
- 3.16 Nu Metal
- 3.17 Christian Metal
- 3.18 Doom Metal
- 3.19 Stoner Metal
- 3.20 Viking Metal
- 3.21 Sludge Metal
- 3.22 Gothic Metal
- 3.23 Post Metal
- 3.24 Symphonic Metal
- 3.25 Funk Metal
- 3.26 War Metal
- 3.27 Prog Metal
- 3.28 Crust Punk
- 3.29 Metalcore
- 3.30 Djent
- 3.31 Kawaii Metal
- 4 Last Thoughts
- 5 The most extensive list of Metal genres on the Internet
What is Metal Music?
Metal music is a subgenre of rock. It’s best known for its powerful drumming and aggressive vocals. Because it focuses on a few key elements, it is easy to learn and study. Sometimes, metal musicians can add speed to the song by playing fast-shredding solos or speeding up the song’s pace. However, the components are the same.
There are crossovers between metal and rock in some subgenres of metal. Other than that, the two genres have very little in common. There are more similarities between rock and blues than there are with metal.
A Brief History of Metal Music
Heavy Metal Music Comes in Many Styles and Subgenres;
Many people assume that loud music is heavy metal music. They don’t realize that this type of music can be categorized into many styles and subgenres. The term “heavy metal” is a generic term that describes a genre of music that is loud and aggressive.
Metal Genres Created in the Late 1960s and Early 1970s;
There are many genres of metal music that can be both mainstream and melodic. In addition, some genres are extreme or underground. When heavy metal music was created, some of the most popular metal genres were developed in the 1960s and 1970s.
Each Metal Genre Has Different Characteristic.
Occasionally, these metal genres overlap and can be challenging to tell apart. You can still identify them by their specific characteristics. These are some ways they can differ:
- Vocal style;
- Song structure;
- Style of playing the guitar;
- Drumming style and so on.
First Heavy Metal Bands
The 1960s Steppenwolf song “Born To Be Wild”, which featured metal lyrics, was the first to use the term. It also included the words “heavy metal thunder”. Some argue that Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple were the first heavy metal acts.
Metal styles have evolved over the years, eventually extending to many subgenres and genres. However, this music style is still an essential part of today’s music. Many metal singers have sold out their CDs and toured without any mainstream media exposure.
The Backbone of Metal Music
The backbone of metal music is the electric guitar. Metal music is incomplete without at least one guitarist. Many heavy metal bands have at least one guitarist.
Some Metal Music Has Mellow and Quiet parts
Metal music tends to be loud, intense, fast, and aggressive. However, some metal songs have more delicate and peaceful parts. Metal music can be sung in a variety of styles, depending on its genre.
Different types of Metal music (Subgenres)
One band is the best for OG Metal. We won’t get into any discussion about Steppenwolf’s invention of the term “heavy metal thunder” because they’re not Metal in the least. Black Sabbath is the first and most crucial Metal on this planet. It could not be any other. Sabbath is the core of all Metal, from the demonic riffs and the visual and lyrical occult imagery to the lurching, demonic riffs.
Heavy Metal is the core subgenre of Metal from which all other subgenres are derived. It draws its inspiration primarily from the original bands. These bands directly link to Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin without changing the level of distortion, speed, intensity, or speed.
Examples: KISS, Judas Priest.
Power metal is all about fantasy, dragons, and mythical creatures. These topics are the main focus of the lyrics, which incorporate metal elements into the music.
This subgenre is known for its undistorted noise and high vocals. This subgenre is as distinct as dark Metal and other subgenres. However, it quickly becomes the most melodic of all subgenres due to the fantasies associated. It is also closely related to gothic Metal. HammerFall, DragonForce, and others were pioneers in this subgenre.
This type of heavy metal music, as the name suggests, is at the tipping point. This is a new genre of metal music that has never been heard before. You will also hear unusual instruments in this type of metal music.
These songs are genuinely different. This style of Metal will be apparent if you listen to the songs by Vintersong, Peccatum, and Mr. Bungle.
Yes, that big acronym! In the late 1970s, journalists invented the term “New Wave of British Heavy Metal”. It was the Metal that rose after Punk’s year zero. This included long hair, guitar solos, and songs about ghosts or dragons. Saxon, a classic example of this type of band, is also the inspiration for Spinal Tap.
Iron Maiden is still the most famous and significant example of this sound. The massive sounding, theatrical, and deeply rooted in their mythology, Iron Maiden were renowned for their iconic riffs and galloping rhythms. They also had a mascot, Eddie, who was formidable.
After 40 years of performing and writing, they still have the best of the best. Iron Maiden are the lynchpins in Metal for everyone.
Thrash metal was one of the main offshoots from heavy Metal. It increased the scale of early Metal – increasing the intensity, speed, and pitch of the lyrics to create an energetic, intense subgenre. This is also where shredding solos on guitar became almost an art form.
Examples: Metallica and Megadeth.
Glam metal is no more a reality today. However, you may have heard it called hair-metal. Glam metal bands are most well-known for their glittering appearances and glam aesthetics.
These include Van Halen, Dokken and Alice Cooper. Although their music was great, the absence of crucial components did not help them. In addition, Glam Metal was more conservative than doom and black Metal, which embraced controversial topics. Glam metal bands were the Lady Gaga’ of heavy Metal and captured the attention wherever they go due to their looks.
Alternative Metal was born in the middle of the 1980s. This mix of heavy metal and alternative rock was called Alternative Metal. However, it took a while before it became popular in the 1990s. This metal genre has a predominant characteristic: a mid-paced, ‘chug-like guitar with heavily down-tuned riffs.
Melodic vocals often characterize metal bands that sing alternative metal music. They may use unconventional song structures and experimental music. Alternative Metal bands include Rollins Band and Alice in Chains, Helmet, and Tool.
Examples: Three Days Grace
Death Metal is a mixture of Thrash and Black Metal. We’ll be looking at it next. Death Metal can take many forms, including Behemoth’s Blackened Death Metal. However, the general idea is that Death Metal takes Thrash and tunes it lower while making more out of the drums. You’ll also hear the ‘Death Growls,’ which are low, guttural, and primarily incomprehensible vocal stylings.
As you would expect, the subject is horror/gloomy/dark. Slayer can be considered Death Metal, except for the vocals. Kreator, Death, and the early Opeth are great examples of Death Metal.
Symphonic Metal is a combination of metal and symphonic music. It incorporates a variety of keyboards and string metal instruments to add a classical touch to their music.
Examples: Nightwish, Within Temptations.
Black metal screams’ distortion.’ It is the essential component of this genre. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t seem to be a massive fan of Black Metal. However, it does not have to do with the fact that their music can be loud.
This is more due to their controversial lyrics that mainly revolved around iconoclastic and religious ideologies. However, the writers also included satanic themes.
Spooky, isn’t it?
Black metal bands that you might like include Darkthrone, Emperor, or Mayhem are some examples.
Bands of rap-metal use the lyrics and vocals of hip-hop. This style of metal music is often mistaken for numetal or rapcore. While Nu-metal may have some similarities, rap music does not use sampling or turntables.
Rapcore, however, blends hip hop and hardcore punk. Rap-metal bands typically have front rappers. As a result, this genre doesn’t have the melodic singing and growling associated with nu-metal.
Pantera became a modern metal band in the 90s. Pantera was a massive success, with massive riffs that were welded to swaggering rhythms and intense vocals. Dimebag Darrell, perhaps the greatest guitarist since Eddie Van Halen, was also a part of this gumbo. Lamb of God and Sepultura are other great groove metal bands.
Industrial Metal combines elements of industrial rock with some metal. Heavy guitars. Distorted music. Synth music is also available to give the guitar rifts an almost robotic sound as it drives along. These songs are often very dark in both atmosphere and lyrics.
Examples: Rammstein, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson.
Progressive metal music features long songs, complex song structures, technical prowess on the guitar, changing time signatures, and intricate song structures. In addition, this metal genre often allows for the merging of different rock-sounding groups into one.
This type of music is performed by many bands, including The Contortionist and Dream Theater, Symphony X. Queensryche, and Animals as leaders.
While Fred Durst’s red-capted, baseball-capped head is the clear image of Nu Metal, the actual creators of the sound were Korn. Korn transformed small-town harassment and personal dread into a massive, bruised, lurching movement that infused hip hop beats with slowed tempos.
Korn was also the first to make seven-string guitars a part of the Musical lexicon of Metal. Although many others copied Korn’s work, he remained the innovator.
Slipknot is the biggest name in this genre. However, Slipknot’s inclusion as a Nu Metal group is more based on their history than its sound. In truth, Slipknot is a sonic amalgamation from many subgenres.
The masks remain in place twenty-one years later, and the barely concealed psychopathic intensity is still evident. System of a Down and Deftones are two other influential Nu Metal bands. They could also fit in the ‘Alternative Metal” category.
Examples: Memphis May Fire, Like A Storm, Wage War, Etern Fire.
Sometimes called “white metal”, in opposition to black Metal, Christian Metal has Christian-themed lyrics. The subgenre of Christian Metal is stylistically similar. Therefore, a band can be both a nu-metal or thrash band and also be Christian Metal. The subgenre of Metal is determined by the content of the lyrics and not the music style.
Examples: Demon Hunter, Jerusalem.
Doom metal is a slower-paced genre. Doom metal is a genre that emphasizes melancholy and gloomy music. Doom Metal is slower than Black Metal and doesn’t lose its ‘edge’, contrasting with Black Metal’s speed.
Metal music can have more diverse themes than other genres, and occasionally it borders on religious or sacrilegious topics. This type of music is performed by Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Candlemass.
Stoner Metal is a subgenre of Metal that has a more psychedelic vibe than regular Metal. It’s slower-paced and blues-influenced, with a retro-rock feel. Stoner metal bands might or may not include marijuana imagery in their aesthetic.
Examples: Queens of the Stone Age, Mastodon.
Viking metal was a combination of black metal and Nordic folk music. This music style has thematically and lyrically focused on the Viking Age, Norse paganism, and Norse mythology. It is slow-paced with a heavy guitar riffing style and anthemic choruses. Keyboards are used to create an atmospheric effect.
This metal genre is performed by the bands Bathory, Thyrfing and Burzum, Falkenbach, as well as Storm, Darkwoods My Betrothed, and Enslaved.
It’s a cool name! Sludge Metal is very similar in style to Doom, but it is slightly faster (‘faster’ is a wrong term, it is still downtempo) and is more groove-based, sort of like a slower Pantera. Crowbar and Eyehategod, are two excellent examples of Sludge Metal.
Gothic Metal is the signature subculture of gothic rock. It combines gothic music with heavy doom metal. In addition, it is known for its dark atmosphere and horror aesthetics.
Examples: Lacuna Coil, Paradise Lost.
Post Metal is closer to rock, which they are often grouped together into. Although they borrow elements from rock, the Post Metal music genre can be more relaxed or ambient than other metal music.
This category of bands tends to focus on personal issues and use metaphorical and poetic lyrics. This type of music is performed by bands like Cult of Luna and Katatonia and Deafheaven, Neurosis, and Neurosis.
Symphonic Metal sounds very similar to Power Metal, but it adds keyboards and string sections for more melodrama. There are still elements of classical music, but they are very much in a Metal context. Night Wish is the main Symphonic Metal band, followed closely by Within Temptation.
Funk Metal combines elements from alternative Metal with funk music to create a jazzy and soul-infused genre of Metal. Funk Metal was born in the 1980s. It is similar to thrash Metal in that both genres incorporate elements from the other.
Examples: Rage Against the Machine, Mordred.
This type of metal music is sometimes called bestial black Metal or war black Metal. These songs are often chaotic, noisy, discordant, and aggressive. This type of metal music is performed by Impiety, Blasphemy, Possessed, Archgoat, Sodom, Zyklon B, Archgoat, In Battle, and Sodom.
Prog Metal’s scope has changed over the years. King Crimson was a band that started in the 70s and then returned with more brutal music in the 90s. We’d define Prog Metal as any Metal that features extended song lengths and non-standard time signatures.
Meshuggah is more intense and therefore less widespread, but they are almost as influential on other bands in the genre. Devin Townsend is one of the essential players in the scene. He is best known for his solo music, but also his iconic Strapping Young Lad Metal band. Opeth and Mastodon are two other influential Prog Metal bands.
Crust punk is sometimes called “crust” and is a sub-genre of Metal known for its grungy lyrics. These lyrics often contain pessimistic thoughts about society, politics, the environment, and society.
Its music is fast-paced, bass-heavy, and has occasional slow moments. It was born in England in the 1980s and has remained a fringe genre in the metal scene ever after.
Examples: Doom, Amebix.
This genre of Metal is closer to contemporary Metal. Although the music can be pretty heavy and aggressive, it’s not complicated. These songs are cleaner and have more precise vocals. They also tend to be better-produced.
This genre is favored by bands like All That Remains and Shadows Fall. Killswitch Engage, Trivium, As I Lay Deading, Trivium, Citizen Soldier, Etern Fire and Like A Storm are examples.
Djent refers to the percussive sound that is created by tapping your guitar while you are laying down. Djent is an extension to Prog Metal and includes many elements from Metalcore.
This sound requires complex riffs and unorthodox time signatures. Periphery is an excellent example of this. They would also include Haken as well as Tesseract.
Kawaii Metal means “cute metal” and is the result of combining J-pop with Metal. Kawaii Metal combines power metal music and traditional Japanese pop aesthetics. Thus, it is a combination of Japanese pop music with power metal.
Examples: Babymetal, Ladybaby.
Well! That’s a lot of genres! We didn’t explore the split-genres (Post-Doom, whatever) because that would have been too difficult.
What did we do?
Did we cover all the significant genres? Did we miss multiple genres? Are you opposed to our conclusion? We hope that we were able to put enough dirt into the appropriate buckets. However, please let us know what you think about these and other metal sub-genres. It’s more of a game than a set of rules. Metal is constantly evolving and expanding.
We appreciate your reading. We hope you enjoyed it!
The most extensive list of Metal genres on the Internet
The Musicgenres.net website covers many popular styles of metal music. This will hopefully be the definitive listing of metal music genres available on the Internet.