Niche it!
BobbyGs Info

Sony Creative Software Inc.

List of heavy metal genres

Music Sound

List of heavy metal genres

Home | Up | Next

A number of overlapping heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal in the late 1960s. Even though metal genres at times are difficult to segregate, they usually show different characteristics in overall structures, instrumental and vocal styles, and tempo. Sometimes a trait of a genre is common in several more genres however, and metal genres are normally grouped by their combination of these traits.


Heavy metal subgenres

Black metal

Main article: Black Metal

Evolving from thrash metal, black metal has a dark, cold atmosphere replacing the head-on brutality of thrash metal. Though not as brutal as death it is still considered to be on the more extreme wing of the metal scales. The bass is usually played in tremolo, vocals are usually shrieked, screamed, rasped or grunted, with the lyrical themes being very often (though not always) satanist, occult, or anti-Christian in nature. The production quality of the music is often very poor, most likely an established tradition of opposing the commercial record and music industry back in the subgenre's hayday, from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

Black metal's origins have been put to a few bands (the name black metal, is usually acredited to Venom, who coined the term, with their album called Black Metal), though the style itself is thought to have came out of Norway and many of the members of the scene were known to have been involved with the church burnings that took place in Norway in the 1990s. Black metal is now found throughout the world, with each region seemingly attributing their culture differently to the Black metal sound.

Death metal

Main article: Death metal

Death metal is a subsidiary of thrash metal pushed to more brutal extremes, with strange chord progressions, exotic scales and erratic time changes. Double bass drums are universally implemented, as well as rapid snare drums, blast beats, and chaotic cymbal crashes. Vocals are usually growled, but also can be shrieked, yelled, or screamed. Current death metal bands often dabble in neo-classicism, Jazz-fusion, medieval music, or folk and symphonic endeavors. The lyrical content usually deals with the darker side of human imagination, dealing with blood, death, gore, and satan. However, Death Metal is not limited to just blood, death, and gore. It can also range out to philosophy and even politics.

Doom metal

Main article: Doom metal

While most other metal genres emphasize fast tempos and technical proficiency, doom metal stresses emotion – usually melancholy, depression, and tragic irony. Doom Metal plays slower/mid tempos, with down tuned riffs and dark, somber, melodic harmonies. Most Doom Metal makes use of Death and Black Metal vocals, but clean ones are also often used to enhance the sullen atmosphere and dark mood of the music. Classical instruments are often used as well, like the piano or violin.

Folk metal

Main article: Folk metal

Folk metal embraces metal bands that are influenced by folklore from varying cultures and origins. Originally started as a mixture of folk rock, power metal and black metal, the term has progressed to encompass many folk-themed metal bands, that use folk based lyrical themes and composition, including instrumentation.

Glam metal

Main article: Glam metal

Glam metal was one of the most popular styles of metal during the 1980s, often referred to by detractors as “Hair metal“. The sound; as the name suggests lies somewhere between the Heavy Metal sound of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and the Glam rock sound of the Sweet and the New York Dolls. The bands were infamous for their use of guitar solos, energetic frontmen and drummers that did not only have technical ability, but the ability to put on an entertaining show; as per Tommy Lee. Many of the bands donned make-up to achieve an androgynous look, similar to that of 1970s Glam rock bands such as Alice Cooper.

Gothic metal

Main article: Gothic metal

Gothic Metal is a genre that synthesis the guitaring styles of doom metal, black metal and death metal with its own unique use of heavy keyboard atmospherics, romantic and story like lyrics and dual vocalists.


Main article: Grindcore

Grindcore is influenced by thrash metal, and also hardcore and punk, taking its name from the "grinding" sound made by the atonal riffs 'grinding' into one another. The style is characterised by a vocal style similar to death metal, rapid fire "blast beats" from double-kick drums and short songs. There are grindcore bands that are more hardcore than metal, but most bands today are heavily influenced by death metal.

Industrial metal

Main article: Industrial metal

Industrial metal (also called noise metal, cyber metal, and aggro ) fuses elements of industrial music and other electronic genres such as Synthesizers and drum machines with the guitaring and lyrical styles of heavy metal.


Main article: Metalcore

Metalcore is defined usually by bands whose music combines both the raw vocals and beat of American hardcore (generally within the Northeast US) with the guitars more often used in European thrash metal and melodic death metal.

Neo-classical metal

Main article: Neo-classical metal

Neo-classical metal incorporates elements from classical music, into the normal heavy metal sound, including tempos, instrument usage, and even melodies. Yngwie J. Malmsteen is a known proponent of this branch of metal.

Nu metal

Main article: Nu metal

Nu metal is a style that combines elements of heavy metal, hip hop and alternative rock music, with a downtuned guitar technique often different from other metal subgenres. There is some contention between metal fans, paticularlly those of extreme metal genres, that given nu metal's alternative rock ties calling it a metal genre is a misnomer. Korn is often seen as one of the core founders of this genre.

Power metal

Main article: Power metal

Power metal is a more upbeat genre than most metal genres, taking heavy influence from thrash metal and heavy metal, with more progression replacing the electro-blues style, more virtuosity in the guitar leads and solos, and stressing, jaunty tempos. Power Metal often emphasizes on clean, melodic, high-pitched vocals, fast pacing that is mostly driven by double kick drumming and melodic lead guitar. The rhythm guitar is defined by straight power chord progressions. Power metal leans towards the positive, happy side of life seeking to empower the listener and inspire joy and courage. Power metal usually has fantasy or science fiction themes though this is not always the case. Most power metal bands are continental European, though this is not always the case with bands like Jag Panzer, Iced Earth and a few others coming from the U.S.

Progressive metal

Main article: Progressive metal

Progressive metal focuses on sophistication and complexity through constant time and tempo changes, and solos with heavy emphasis on extended instrumental segments. Vocals are generally melodic, with lyrics often touching on philosophical, spiritual, and/or political themes, and instrument virtuosity is a must. Progressive Metal is normally seen to be closely related to progressive rock, commonly through earlier works of Queensr˙che and Rush.

Symphonic metal

Main article: Symphonic metal

Symphonic metal varies in form. It is known most commonly to be said to refer to any bands that use orchestral elements in their music. These include full orchestras, opera themes, vocals or keyboarding akin to that of opera or symphony music, and a more upbeat and soft nature than other metal genres.

Thrash metal

Main article: Thrash metal

Thrash metal originated, and remains, heavy metal with tempos influenced more predominantly by hardcore punk. Thrash metal also caused the tritonal chord to be heavily associated with metal and intensity a key ingredient throughout most metal genres. Thrash metal songs are usually fairly complex, and frequently contain constant time and tempo changes. Thrash metal replaces melody with brutality and speed, with the use of ample distortion. Thrash also started the use of double bass drums in metal. Vocals are usually yelled, screamed, or snarled, though, at the same time, melodic.

As is true for many of the terms in this list, the moniker "thrash metal" was not always embraced by its supposed representatives; early on, Metallica referred to themselves as "power metal" (conflicting with the above definition of this term). Conversely, many bands, like Kreator, came up with equally obscure classifications for themselves, such as hate metal.

Cross-genre references

Many terms are used to group bands from across genres that share a common trait. These terms are used loosely when used, and in some places may or not be used at all. They normally group bands of several genres together into a group due to a shared trait that is not normally a feature of any of the genres of metal the individual bands are part of.

Alternative metal

Alternative metal is a cross-genre term used to describe metal bands and metal influenced bands, which some fans consider to be unique or experimental, as well as bands of the nu metal genre that lack hip hop influence.

Avant garde metal

Avant garde metal (sometimes called experimental metal), is a cross-genre grouping which contains bands from multiple genres of metal that exhbit experimentation through non-standard sounds, instruments, and song structures akin to the genre of metal they are rooted in.

Celtic metal

Celtic metal is a cross-genre grouping which contains bands from multiple genres of metal that contain strong connections to Celtic music and imagery.

Christian metal

Christian metal is another cross-genre grouping which contains metal bands that introduce christian themes into their lyrics. Often the Christian themes are melded with the subjects of the genre the band is rooted in, often giving a supposedly Christian take on the subject matter.

Classic metal

Classic metal is a cross-genre term that refers to the first batch of bands in the heavy metal, thrash metal and glam metal genres. Characterised by thumping fast bass lines, fast, but less heavy and more melodic riffs, extended lead guitar solos, high pitched vocals and anthemic choruses, this era of metal bands boomed in the early to mid 1980s.

Dark metal

Dark metal concerns bands across genres that use what is considered to be a darker atmosphere than is normal for the genre they are in. Bands of this type are normally symphonic metal, gothic metal, doom metal and black metal bands.

Epic metal

Epic metal is a cross-genre name given to bands that use keyboarding that is considered to be intense. Bands of this grouping often belong to gothic metal, power metal and symphonic metal genres.

Extreme metal

Extreme metal is a cross-genre reference to some heavier and aggressive styles of metal including black metal, death metal, grindcore and thrash metal.


The 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' (often abbreviated as NWOBHM) is a term used to describe British heavy metal artists that emerged in the late 1970s/early 1980s in the wake of the 'original wave' of British traditional metal artists, and as a reaction against pop and punk. NWOBHM was hugely popular and has been influential to most metal genres since.


Rapcore (sometimes called Rap metal) is a cross-genre reference to metal bands that institute the vocal and lyrical form of rap. It is normally used in association with the term 'alternative metal' to differentiate between nu metal bands that contain hip-hop influence, and those that do not. It is also used occasionally to refer to bands that have worked alongside hip-hop artists on tracks before.

Speed metal

Speed metal is a cross-genre reference to metal bands from the power metal and thrash metal genres. It is used mainly to focus on bands who use speeds that are faster than the common average for either genre.

Stoner metal

Stoner metal refers to bands who use low, bassy riffs and elements of heavy metal, doom metal and psychedelica. The Black Sabbath song "Sweet Leaf" is often regarded as the template for stoner metal. While not all fans are marijuana users, the tag "stoner" has stuck.

Technical death metal

Technical death metal, or tech death, is sub-genre of death metal that refers to bands who perform a regular show of skill using a variety of, sometimes jazz-like, time signatures and drumming patterns. These bands also use odd sounding chord progressions or scales and sometimes play dissonant or atonal guitar riffs. Bands of this type are also labeled technical death metal if their music is more technical than is normal for the genre and use some death metal elements.

Viking metal

Viking metal is a cross-genre reference to metal bands with Norse-themed lyrics, usually about Viking tradition, culture, beliefs and other Viking related topics. As well, many people believe that there must be Scandinavian influences in the music itself to be classified as Viking metal.

Related genres

The genres listed hered are sometimes mistaken as metal genres, or have association with metal genres through influencing, or being influenced by them.

Blues rock

Blues rock is a genre which many early heavy metal performers were rooted solidly in.

Hard rock

Hard rock is a progression from blues rock and early psychedelia, and a precursor to heavy metal. It was pioneered in the mid to late 1960s. It is hard to distinguish hard rock from early heavy metal due to some artists such as Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, and AC/DC fitting into the description of both genres.

External links

Music genres
Genres of music : A-F · G-M · N-R · S-Z · Classical · Popular 
Blues · Country · Electronic · Folk · Hip hop · Heavy metal · Industrial · Jazz · Punk · Reggae · Pop · Rock

Home | Up | List of heavy metal genres | Timeline of heavy metal | Black metal | Christian metal | Folk metal | Gothic metal | Grindcore | Metalcore | Progressive metal | Rapcore | AltNuMet | Alternative metal | Avant garde metal | Bay Area thrash metal | Blackened death metal | Classic metal | Crossover thrash | Death metal | Doom metal | Epic metal | Extreme music | Florida death metal | Folk metal | Funk metal | Glam metal | Gothic metal | Grindcore | Groove metal | Industrial metal | Melodic death metal | Metalcore | National Socialist black metal | Neo-classical metal | Nu metal | Oriental metal | Power metal | Progressive metal | Sludge metal | Speed metal | Stoner rock | Symphonic metal | Technical death metal | Thrash metal | Thrashcore | Viking metal | Heavy metal fashion | Metalhead

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.