A Guide To Heavy Metal Genres & Sub-genres

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Genre Index
Traditional   NWOBHM   Speed   Thrash   Death   Grind   Black   Gothic   Doom   Industrial   Melodic   Power   Progressive
Neo-classical   Symphonic   Folk   Epic   Nu-metal   -Core   Others

Blast Beats
Blast Beats
Double Base
Double Base
            Speed Metal, as its name implies, is a form of Heavy Metal that stresses (who could guess?) speed. The term has largely become synonymous with Power Metal, but in fact actually includes Thrash, Power, and Death Metal. Guitar playing is very up-tempo with intricate and blisteringly fast solos. Speed Metal also features an evolution in drumming style featuring blast beats and rapid double basing.
           Blast beats are drum beats consisting of rapid alternating strokes on the snare and bass drums, with a cymbal matched to one or the other, usually the base. Jazz musicians have used double basing since the 1940ís, but Metal drummers have increased the tempo and frequency of use to unprecedented levels. These techniques combine to give the music a more thunderous and heavier feel than Traditional Heavy Metal.



Thrash  
Thrash  
            Thrash evolved in the early to mid 1980's, and differs from Heavy Metal in its extensive use of Palm Muting. This technique, which involves using the heel of the picking hand on the strings, produces a heavy but dampened sound. Thrash is also played using short, choppy staccato riffs resulting in an abrupt feel to the music. The vocals are usually delivered in a harsh shouting or roaring style. The combination of these elements give Thrash a very aggressive quality.
            Thrash achieved widespread popularity in the late 1980's with the success of Metallica, Megadeth, Antrax, and Slayer, commonly considered the "Big Four" of Thrash. That popularity lasted into the mid 1990's marked by the accomplishments of younger contemporaries Pantera, Chimaira, and Machine Head.

Examples of Thrash artists: Metallica, Testament, Kreator, Sepultura, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus, Annihilator, Dark Angel.



Death
Death
Gothenburg
Gothenburg
            Death Metal represents a progression from Thrash's harshness to pure brutality. Death expounds upon the bloody, violent, and Satanic themes of the harshest of Thrash bands... Slayer. In addition to the lyrics becoming more violent and hate filled the guitars were down tuned, and the vocals devolved to a guttural growl.
            In 1985 the band Possessed released the first recognized Death album "Seven Churches" upon the world. Possessed vocalist Jeff Becerra is credited as one of, if not the first, to use Death Growls. Also referred to as Death Grunts, Death Vocals, or Cookie Monster Vocals, this style of lyrical delivery has become the trademark of Death Metal.
            Not to be outdone on their own musical turf Slayer released "Reign In Blood" in 1986. Although this album retained the Thrashy vocals it is undoubtedly one of the most influential albums in the history of Death Metal. In 1987 the Orlando, Florida based band Death released their debut album "Scream Bloody Gore," resulting in an explosion in the Florida Death Metal scene, which would quickly spread globally. This school of Death, like most forms of Metal at the time, was buried under the tidal wave of Grunge in the 1990's.

            Death Metal has undergone a resurgence in popularity both in its original style and the modern Gothenburg style. Gothenburg, or Melodic Death, originates from the Swedish city of the same name. While this style of Death retains the Death Growl style vocals, clean vocals are often integrated. Also there is a marked absence of violent and Satanic subject matter, with lyrics drawn from a wide variety of poetic and expressionist themes.

Examples of Death Metal artists: Slayer, Possessed, Death, Entombed, Dismember, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Massacre.

Examples of Melodic Death artists: In Flames, Soilwork, Mercenary, Dark Tranquillity, Scar Symmetry, Hypocrisy.



Grind  
Grind   
            As Thrash begat Death, so too did Death spawn Grind. Grind in its various forms, Grindcore, Goregrind, Deathgrind, et cetera, is basically Death Metal pushed to it's limits, if such limits even exist, and often fused with other heavy music like Punk Hardcore. The combination results in intense, hard-driving, fast tempo songs featuring blast beats, down-tuned guitars, and universally incomprehensible growling vocals. The songs are also extremely short reflecting the influence of their Punk genes.
            Despite the brutal delivery of Grind, the actual lyrics are often profound, poetic, and articulate. The subject matter of Grind songs encompasses everything from social, political, and theological ideology to the most grotesque of human behaviors. Goregrind in particular is all about the offensive, with bands attempting to establish themselves as the meanest, scariest, grossest, and noisiest band around. Nothing is off limits to Goregrind. Lyrics include descriptive acts of Rape, Murder, Impalement, Human Sacrifice, Dismemberment, Disembowelment, and Cannibalism. Goregrind is arguably the vilest music on the planet, and it is intended to be.

Examples of Grind artists: Bitchsplitter, Exhumed, Napalm Death, Carcass, Anal Cunt, Cannibal Corpse, Autopsy.



Black  
Black   
            Black Metal is the evil sister of Death Metal, and the two share the same mother in Thrash. The seed for Black Metal came from Thrashers Venom who released their second album "Black Metal" in 1982. Other early Black Metal bands include Celtic Frost, Merciful Fate, and Bathroy all of whom developed the raw form. Later Mayhem would introduce more melodic elements to basic Black Metal giving rise to the school of Symphonic Black Metal.
            If the evangelists and Christian activists of the 1980's intended to make an enemy of Heavy Metal they certainly succeeded with the advent of Black Metal. Much Black Metal is distinctively about hate and evil, with overtly blasphemous and anti-Christian lyrics delivered in a high-pitched shriek. The vocals may be clean or an extreme rasp, but the higher pitch is what differentiates them from the low-pitched growls of Death Metal. In addition to the lyrical content Black Metal also incorporates a visual aspect in corpse-like contrasting face paint originally applied in patterns that resembled plagued or decaying skin. Corpse paint is now often applied in more patterned designs in the vein of KISS, but few artists in the genre have discarded it.

Examples of Black Metal artists: Venom, Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved, Emperor, Cradle of Filth.



Gothic
Gothic
Ambience
Ambience
            Ahhh, Metal for the Adams Family. Gothic Metal is very atmospheric, very contrasted, and has a great sense of dark aesthetics. Gothic Metal relies heavily on bass guitar played in lower tones in combination with keyboards to set the mood of the song. To add further contrast dual vocalists are frequently employed: One female with soprano or operatic vocals, and the other male using Thrash, Death, or Black Metal styled vocals. This combination of singing styles is commonly referred to as "Beauty and the Beast" vocals. Some bands do elect to use a single vocalist, and the singers- be they male or female- tend to sing in eerie tones. Thus the combined effect gives Gothic Metal its characteristic haunting quality.

            Much to the chagrin of old school Gothic fans the term is bandied about a bit loosely. Often the press will label any music being listened to by Goth or Vamp kids as Gothic Metal, based solely on the association with the listeners. In addition, the association with keyboards and female vocalists tends to lead some to label any music with these elements as Gothic. These notions are of course dismissed by Gothic Metal fans.

            Gothic Metal has spawned an offspring of its own, albeit the most mellow of all forms of Metal. This lighter and somewhat sedate style of Metal has been dubbed Atmospheric or Ambience Metal. Though Ambience Metal will often be brushed off by some Metal fans, it is a style of Metal generally accepted within the Melodic, Progressive and Gothic Metal crowds. Ambience has abstracted something usually rather prominent in Metal: the edge. Unlike most genres Ambience Metal endeavors to provoke rather non-aggressive sensations. It's moody, smooth, casual listening; nevertheless, it technically meets the criteria of Metal due to its structure and use of at least mildly distorted guitars. Like the other sub-genres of Gothic Metal it has a similar haunting feel, but the feel is a bit airier.

Examples of Gothic Metal artists: After Forever, Tristania, Sirenia, The Gathering, Leave's Eyes, Lacuna Coil, Moonspell.

Examples of Ambience Metal artists: Within Temptation, Beto Vasquez Infinity, Edenbridge, Marble Arch, Eros Necropsique.



Iron Man
Iron Man
Doom
Doom
Iron Man
Funeral
            It happens often in Metal that a whole genre can be born from a single band, album, or even song. Doom Metal derives specifically from the early works of Ozzy era Black Sabbath. Almost anyone who listens to popular music would at least casually recognize "Iron Man" from Sabbath's 1970 release "Paranoid," which makes Doom Metal very easy to describe. Long slow songs with crushingly heavy riffs and despairing lyrics are the trademarks of Doom. Doom Metal is a channel for emotion: melancholy, anger, darkness, sadness, depression, self-pity, and other inevitable human feelings.
            The foundation for Doom may have been built in the 1970's, but it remained unused for 15 years. In 1986 Candlemass released "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" thereby launching the current Doom movement. And as is also prone to happen Doom has spawned sub-genres of it's own. Death/Doom, pioneered by bands like My Dying Bride, combines the elements of Doom with... you guessed it... Death vocals. Thergothon and Skepticism would later decelerate the already slow pace of Doom and Death/Doom to an unbelievably slothful crawl in the development of Funeral Doom.

Examples of Doom artists: Candlemass, Cathedral, Anathema, Forsaken, My Dying Bride, Wytchcraft, Solitude Aeturnus.



Industrial  
Industrial 
           Industrial Metal is a fusion of Heavy Metal and electronics. There is heavy usage of synthesizers, mechanical sounds, and electronically distorted vocals. Industrial emerged in the late 1980's, and Ministry's guitarist Al Jourgensen is credited as first to apply Metal licks to industrial music.
           Industrial Metal's popularity peaked around the turn of the century with bands like Rammstien and Fear Factory enjoying a fair amount of commercial success. Since no form of Metal seems to escape some form of criticism it should be mentioned that some Metal purists consider it a form of Nu-metal and reject it as a legitimate form of Metal.

Examples Of Industrial atrists: Ministry, Rammstein, Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, Treponem Pal, Seven Of Nine.


Genre Index
Traditional   NWOBHM   Speed   Thrash   Death   Grind   Black   Gothic   Doom   Industrial   Melodic   Power   Progressive
Neo-classical   Symphonic   Folk   Epic   Nu-metal   -Core   Others
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