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List of industrial music subgenres

Music Sound

List of industrial music subgenres

Electronic body music | Noise music | Industrial metal | Industrial rock | Aggrotech | Power noise | Technoid

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It should be mentioned that there is much disagreement within the industrial scene as to the current state of industrial, to the extent that some (including artists mentioned on this page) are of the belief that there is no "current state of industrial", and that industrial music ended with the demise of Throbbing Gristle and the Industrial Records label. Thus, the subgenre outlines that follow are by no means definitive, and indeed are often a point of contention between fans of the music.


First wave (70s to 80s)

Industrial began as an intellectual movement to challenge the idea of what music can be. The first wave of industrial musicians began performing in the mid-seventies. There are still a number of artists who create music in a fashion very similar to the original philosophies of Industrial Records. These genres all stem directly from industrial.

20 Jazz Funk Greats by Throbbing Gristle 20 Jazz Funk Greats by Throbbing Gristle

Avant-garde / experimental

Main article: Industrial music

Popularized by Industrial Records, this sound first defined the term "industrial", but bears very little resemblance to what most people consider to be industrial music. By modern standards, most of this would better be described as "experimental noise". Featuring tape loops, cut-ups, vocal and instrumental experimentation, this first incarnation of industrial music would be considered very difficult listening for many of those familiar with modern industrial, but was widely considered to be the defining sound of industrial in the 70s.

Artists: Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Factrix, Organisation/Kraftwerk, Laibach, Nocturnal Emissions, NON, Nurse With Wound, SPK
Labels: Industrial Records, Mute Records, Sterile Records.

Noise / shock

Main article: Noise music

This branch of Industrial focused more on brutal, ear shattering noise—much of it for shock value. It was and continues to be a huge influence on modern interpretations of Noise music, as well as Industrial music in general.

Artists: Boyd Rice, Monte Cazazza

Power electronics

Main article: Noise music

Power electronics was originally related to the early industrial records scene but later became more identified with the noise music scene. It largely consists of screeching waves of feedback, analogue synthesizers making sub-bass pulses or high frequency squealing sounds, and screamed, distorted, often hateful and offensive lyrics. Deeply atonal, there are no "notes" or conventional rhythms in power electronics.

Artists: Whitehouse, The New Blockaders, Sutcliffe Jugend
Labels: Come Organisation (UK), Broken Seal (Germany), Alien8 Recordings (Canada)

Electronic / dance

A form of Industrial that was more accessible, and easier to dance to, that came about in the early 1980s. It evolved alongside EBM. Many of the artists involved were originally practitioners of the classic industrial sound.

Artists: Cabaret Voltaire, Severed Heads

Second wave (80s to 90s)

Tyranny >For You< by Front 242 Tyranny >For You< by Front 242

Electronic body music / industrial dance

Main article: Electronic body music

EBM (short for electronic body music; also known as industrial dance): The term "EBM" was coined by Belgian act Front 242 in the eighties; it denotes a certain type of danceable electronic music. EBM beats are typically 4/4, often with some minor syncopation to suggest a "rock" rhythm. Heavy synths are usually prominent, and the vocals are often militaristic. This style was widely considered to be the defining sound of industrial in the 80s. In recent years, however, there has been somewhat of a schism within the EBM scene, and it is now not uncommon to hear electro-industrial and futurepop artists referred to as EBM. For this reason, many EBM fans have begun to refer to this earlier style as "old-school EBM".

Artists: Front 242, Bigod 20, Nitzer Ebb
Labels: Off Beat (Germany), Zoth Ommog (Belgium), Pendragon (USA), Wax Trax (USA)

Electro-industrial / elektro

Main article: Electronic body music

Electro-industrial (Now often called elektro, and not to be confused with the hip-hop subgenre electro) is largely a catch-all category that fills the space between power noise, EBM, old-style industrial, and gothic music. Whereas EBM was generally straightforward in structure and production, elektro became known for its deep, layered sound. Whereas EBM was generally straightforward in structure and production, elektro became known for its deep, layered sound. Typically this is a darker form of EBM, however this can often refer to acts that combine EBM with another subgenre (for example Feindflug, who combine EBM with power noise). Within North America, this style was widely considered to be the defining sound of industrial in the mid to late 1990s.

Artists: Numb, Wumpscut, Front Line Assembly, Haujobb, Out Out
Labels: Off Beat (Germany), Zoth Ommog Records (Germany), 21st Circuitry (USA), Pendragon (USA), Metropolis Records (USA).
The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste by Ministry The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste by Ministry


Main article: Industrial metal. See also: Industrial rock.

With its roots in American rock music, aggro-industrial (Often simply called aggro) fused punk-rock sensibilities with techno-industrial brutality. Known for their live performances, studio releases by these acts often employed rotating and shared lineups due to the frequency of improv and jam sessions. Much of this style's musical output was very aggressive, with confrontational lyrics and samples. This aesthetic was furthered by the larger-than-life stage presence of many acts, which often involved costumes, pyrotechnics, elaborate sets, and horror-inspired makeup. This style was widely considered to be the defining sound of industrial in the early 1990s.

Artists: Ministry, Rammstein, Pigface, Cubanate, KMFDM, The Genitorturers, Skinny Puppy
Labels: Wax Trax! (USA), Invisible Records (USA).
Burn Out at the Hydrogen Bar by Chemlab Burn Out at the Hydrogen Bar by Chemlab


Main article: Industrial metal

Coldwave has its roots in industrial metal acts like the Young Gods and Ministry, and exploded on the American scene in the mid-1990s. Albums like Chemlab's Burn Out at the Hydrogen Bar exemplified the typical coldwave sound: rock-like guitars with prominent synthesizer accompaniment, and live or sampled drums. Lyrical content varies, but is typically cyberpunk-oriented in some fashion, often with pop sensibilities. Coldwave record labels had a notoriously short lifespan. Coldwave is also known as synthcore and includes groups who do not use guitars such as Babyland.

Artists: Chemlab, 16 Volt, Hate Dept., Out Out,
Labels: Re-Constriction Records (USA), Fifth Colvmn Records (USA). If It Moves (USA).

Death industrial

Death industrial can be described as having much of the same source sounds as power electronics, but used to create a deep atmospheric sound with some thematic similarity to doom metal or death metal. It often featured a more flowing rhythm and deeper, less abrasive sound than power electronics. The Grey Wolves are credited for pioneering the style, but many the concepts of death industrial were first seen in NON.

Artists: The Grey Wolves, Brighter Death Now, Atrax Morgue
Labels: Cold Meat Industry (Sweden), Slaughter Productions (Italy)

Dark industrial

Dark industrial is the marriage of dark ambient and industrial. Much like dark ambient, the style is a minimalist soundscape. What separates dark ambient from dark industrial is the harshness. The droning and distorted samples of dark ambient are replaced by waves of static and eerie melodies.

Artists: Gruntsplatter, Innana (artist), Keimverbreitung
Labels: Malignant Records (USA), Cold Meat Industry (Sweden), Cold Spring (UK)

Third wave (90s to 00s)

Perhaps as a reaction to the band and rock-oriented feel of the mid-nineties, industrial music made a radical shift towards computer-generated, one-person acts. Eschewing the explosive stage shows that were commonplace, many performances now consist of a single artist on stage, surrounded by computers and electronic music equipment. The structure itself is opening itself up to even further experimentation, with modern equipment making a number of previously unattainable effects and techniques fair game for anyone with enough computer savvy and patience.


Main article: Aggrotech

Aggrotech is an evolution of electro-industrial that first surfaced in the mid-1990s but has been revitalised in recent years. More recently referred to as Terror EBM or "Hellektro", its sound is typified by somewhat harsh song structures, aggressive beats and lyrics of a militant, pessimistic or explicit nature. Typically, the vocals are distorted to sound hoarse, harsh and without tone. Artists also frequently use atonal melodic structures.

Artists: Aghast View, Suicide Commando, Wumpscut, Psyclon Nine, Hocico, Virtual Embrace, Tactical Sekt, Grendel, Tamtrum
Labels: NoiTekk (Germany), Mao Music
Viva 6581 by Tarmvred Viva 6581 by Tarmvred

Industrial techno

Industrial techno is a cross between power noise, traditional industrial, and techno. It often resembles house music in structure, while keeping the harsh sounds, noises, and fast pacing of industrial music. Although sampled and processed guitars are not uncommon, lyrics and a verse-chorus-verse structure are very rare.

Artists: Pow[d]er Pussy, Punch Inc., Mimetic, Tarmvred, Ultraviolence
Labels: Ant-Zen (Germany), M-Tronic (France), Ad Noiseam
Nord by Imminent Starvation Nord by Imminent Starvation

Power noise

Main article: Power noise

Power noise (also known as rhythmic noise) takes its inspiration from some of the more structured and distorted early industrial acts, such as Esplendor Geométrico. There are also certain techno and technoid influences. The term "power noise" was originally coined by Raoul Roucka, who records as Noisex. Typically, power noise is based upon a distorted kick drum from a drum machine such as a Roland TR-909, uses militaristic 4/4 beats, and is usually instrumental. Sometimes a melodic component is added, but this is almost always secondary to the rhythm. Power noise tracks are typically structured and danceable, but are known to be occasionally abstract. This genre is showcased at the annual Maschinenfest festival in Aachen, Germany, as well as at Infest in Bradford, UK.

Artists: Winterkälte, Imminent Starvation, Axiome, Converter, 5f 55. Haus Arafna
Labels: Ant-Zen (Germany), Hands Productions (Germany)
Sample of "Tentack One" by Imminent Starvation
Sample of "Death Time" by Converter

Formless by Gridlock Formless by Gridlock


Main article: Technoid

Technoid acts take inspiration from IDM, experimental techno and noise music. The end result is usually diverse IDM-influenced rhythms with varying levels of noise and industrial influence. Artists will often use non-conventional sounds within their music, such as field recordings of natural phenomena, dated 8-bit electronic equipment, or samples from artists of a wildly different genre. It is not uncommon for two albums by the same artist to have drastically different sounds and structures, resulting in a number of acts that have evolved a great distance from where they were only years ago. German label Hymen Records is largely responsible for the term and the style.

Artists: Gridlock, Black Lung, Somatic Responses, Xingu Hill
Labels: Hymen (Germany), Mirex (Germany), <UNIT> (USA)

Drum 'n' noise

Drum 'n' noise Combines elements of breakcore, IDM, Industrial, hardcore techno and power noise, often with a fairly free structure similar to more chaotic IDM and breakcore artists. The term was coined by the act Winterkälte when it was used as the name for one of their albums.

Artists: Enduser, Hecate, Tuareg Geeks, Aphex Twin

Home | Up | List of industrial music subgenres | Ambient industrial | Christian industrial | Dark electro | Industrial fashion | Futurepop | Horripilation | Infest

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

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

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