Heavy metal subgenres
A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal (often shortened to metal) during the late 1960s and early 1970s. At times heavy metal genres may overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits. They may differ in terms of: instrumentation, tempo, song structure, vocal style, lyrics, guitar playing style, drumming style, and so on.
- 1 Alternative metal
- 2 Black metal
- 3 Cello metal
- 4 Christian metal
- 5 Crust punk
- 6 Dark metal
- 7 Death metal
- 8 Doom metal
- 9 Experimental metal
- 10 Extreme metal
- 11 Folk metal
- 12 Glam metal
- 13 Gothic metal
- 14 Grindcore
- 15 Industrial metal
- 16 Latin metal
- 17 Metalcore
- 18 Neo-classical metal
- 19 Post-metal
- 20 Power metal
- 21 Progressive metal
- 22 Speed metal
- 23 Stoner metal
- 24 Symphonic metal
- 25 Thrash metal
- 26 Traditional heavy metal
- 27 See also
- 28 References
Alternative metal usually combines heavy metal with influences from genres like alternative rock, and in some cases hardcore punk, and other genres not normally associated with metal as well. Alternative metal bands are often characterized by heavy guitar riffs, melodic vocals, unconventional sounds within other heavy metal genres, unconventional song structures and sometimes experimental approaches to heavy music. Prominent bands in this genre include Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Chevelle, Faith No More, Helmet, Life of Agony, Soundgarden, System of a Down, and Tool.
Derivatives of alternative metal
Funk metal is essentially a fusion of heavy metal and funk. It started off in the late eighties as a subgenre of alternative metal, and was heavily influenced by alternative rock bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. Funk metal was also one of the key influences of the nu metal genre. Notable funk metal bands include Living Colour, Infectious Grooves, Mordred, Primus, and Rage Against the Machine.
Nu metal is fusion genre that blends alternative metal and groove metal elements with other styles, including grunge, industrial, funk and hip hop. The style is mostly syncopated and based on riffs, and is influenced by groove metal rhythm. Some nu metal bands use seven-string guitars, which are sometimes down-tuned to increase heaviness, resulting in bass guitarists using five and six-string instruments. Turntables, sequencers and samplers are sometimes included. Nu metal vocal styles range between melodic singing, rapping, screaming and death growling. In 1994, Korn became the first band to be labeled as "nu metal". Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Kittie, Disturbed, Otep, Coal Chamber, and Korn are prominent bands in this genre.
Rap metal bands institute the vocal and lyrical form of hip hop. Examples of rap metal include Crazy Town, Clawfinger, Stuck Mojo and Rage Against The Machine. The thrash metal band Anthrax also helped pioneer the genre. Rap metal is often mislabeled as rapcore (a genre which fuses hardcore punk with hip hop) or nu metal, a genre which has similar elements in the music, rap metal usually does not include turntables or sampling into its sound, although keyboards are often used. Rap metal bands, unlike nu metal bands, are almost always fronted by rappers. Rap metal also lacks the melodic singing and growling commonly associated with nu metal.
Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. Common traits include fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, blast beat drumming, raw recording, and unconventional song structures.
During the 1980s, several thrash metal bands formed a prototype for black metal. This so-called "first wave" included bands such as Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. A "second wave" arose in the early 1990s, spearheaded by Norwegian bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal, and Emperor. The music of the early Norwegian black metal scene became a distinct genre.
Initially considered a synonym for "Satanic metal", black metal has often been met with hostility from mainstream culture, mainly due to the misanthropic and anti-Christian standpoint of many artists. Moreover, several of the genre's pioneers have been linked with church burnings and murder. Some have also been linked to neo-Nazism, however most black metal fans and most prominent black metal musicians reject Nazi ideology and oppose its influence on the black metal subculture.
Derivatives of black metal
Viking metal is a subgenre of black metal characterized by its chaotic and noisy sound, slow pace, use of keyboards, dark and violent imagery, and lyrical themes of Norse mythology and the Viking Age. It was developed in the 1980s through the mid-1990s as a rejection of Satanism and the occult, instead embracing the Vikings and paganism as the leaders of opposition to Christianity. Influenced by Nordic folk music, it can be considered a category of folk metal, but it is a separate branch of that style, as there are notable differences between Viking metal and regular folk metal. Another characteristic of the style is that nearly all bands claim to have Viking ancestry.
Both clean vocals and death growls can be found in Viking metal and the "speed varies from mid-pace to a fast pace." Like folk metal bands, Viking metal acts "generally utilize some acoustic and other unusual instruments in addition to the traditional metal instruments." Examples of Viking metal bands include: Bathory, Graveland, Enslaved, Einherjer, and Mortiis.
War metal, also known as war black metal or bestial black metal, is an aggressive, cacophonous and chaotic black metal style, described by Rock Hard journalist Wolf-Rüdiger Mühlmann as "rabid" and "hammering". Important influences include first wave band Sodom, first wave/death metal band Possessed as well as old grindcore, black and death metal bands like Repulsion, Autopsy, Sarcófago and the first two Sepultura releases. War metal bands include Blasphemy, Archgoat, Impiety, In Battle, and Zyklon-B.
Cello metal is subgenre of heavy metal characterized by the use of cellos, as well as other bowed string instruments such as the violin and viola, as primary instruments, alongside or in place of more traditional rock instruments such as electric guitars, electric bass guitar, and drum set. An example of a Cello metal band is Apocalyptica.
Christian metal, also known as white metal, is a form of heavy metal music usually defined by its message using song lyrics as well as the dedication of the band members to Christianity. Christian metal is typically performed by professed Christians sometimes principally for Christians who listen to heavy metal music and often produced and distributed through various Christian networks.
Christian metal bands exist in all the subgenres of heavy metal music, and the only common link among most Christian metal bands are the lyrics. The Christian themes are often melded with the subjects of the genre the band is rooted in, regularly providing a Christian take on the subject matter. It has been argued that the marginal yet transnational Christian metal subculture provides its core members an alternative religious expression and Christian identity, and that the music serves the purpose of offering a positive alternative or counterbalance to 'secular' metal music which is known for its generally dark and negative message.
Christian metal emerged in the late 1970s as a means of evangelism to the wider heavy metal music scene, and was pioneered by American bands Resurrection Band and Petra and Sweden's Jerusalem. Los Angeles's Stryper achieved wide success in the 1980s. California's Tourniquet and Australia's Mortification led the movement in the 1990s. Rap metal group P.O.D. and the metalcore groups Underoath, Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying, and Norma Jean (dubbed by Revolver Magazine as "The Holy Alliance") brought some mainstream attention to the movement in the first decade of the 21st century, achieving ranks in the Billboard 200.
Derivatives of Christian metal
Unblack metal, sometimes called Christian black metal, is a genre of music that is stylistically black metal, but whose artists promote Christianity in their lyrics and imagery. Such artists are controversial, mainly because black metal's pioneers, especially those of the Second Wave, intended to encourage hostility towards Christianity. It is also suggested that Christianity contradicts black metal's dark nature and the individualistic and misanthropic ideals of many bands.
The exact beginning of the Christian black metal movement is disputed. The Australian band Horde's 1994 album Hellig Usvart brought the concept and the term holy unblack metal (a word play on Darkthrone's slogan "unholy black metal" used on the albums A Blaze in the Northern Sky and Under a Funeral Moon) to media attention, while the Norwegian band Antestor was already formed in 1990 as a death/doom act and released its demo The Defeat of Satan in 1991, before they began shifting towards black metal on their 1994 album Martyrium. Other examples of unblack metal bands include Crimson Moonlight, Admonish, and Frosthardr.
Crust punk, often simply called crust, is a form of music influenced by anarcho-punk, hardcore punk and extreme metal. The style, which evolved in the mid-1980s in England, often has songs with dark and pessimistic lyrics that linger on political and social ills. The term "crust" was coined by Hellbastard on their 1986 Ripper Crust demo.
Crust is partly defined by its "bassy" and "dirty" sound. It is often played at a fast tempo with occasional slow sections. Vocals are usually guttural and may be growled or screamed. Crust punk takes cues from the anarcho-punk of Crass and Discharge and the extreme metal of bands like Venom and Celtic Frost. Notable crust punk bands include Amebix, Antisect and Doom.
Robert Palmer, rock critic for the New York Times, calls metal with themes of horror and violence dark, using the bands Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer and Danzig as examples. In their books, Robert Walser and Richard D. Barnet agree that dark metal is music oriented towards the occult. Micah L. Issitt, Jeffrey Kaplan, Bryan Reesman, Joel MacIver, and Chuck Eddy all write that dark metal has gothic themes.
Bands from a wide spectrum of metal genres have been given the dark metal label, some of them include Black Sabbath, Slayer, Judas Priest, Alice in Chains, Lacuna Coil, Korn, Lake of Tears, Lillian Axe, Evergrey, and Tool.
Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted guitars, tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, minor keys or atonality, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes. Although violence may be explored in various other genres, death metal often elaborates on the details of extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia.
Building from the musical structure of thrash metal and early black metal, death metal emerged during the mid-1980s. Metal acts such as Slayer, Kreator, Celtic Frost, and Venom were very important influences to the crafting of the genre. Possessed and Death, along with bands such as Obituary, Carcass, Deicide and Morbid Angel are often considered pioneers of the genre. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, death metal gained more media attention as popular genre niche record labels like Combat, Earache and Roadrunner began to sign death metal bands at a rapid rate. Since then, death metal has diversified, spawning a variety of subgenres.
Derivatives of death metal
Death 'n' roll
"Death 'n' roll" is the group of death metal bands that incorporate rock and roll inspiration elements to its overall sound. The term is a portmanteau of death metal and rock 'n' roll. The achieved effect is that of death metal's trademark combination of growled vocals and highly distorted detuned guitar riffing with elements reminiscent of 1970s hard rock and heavy metal. Notable examples include Entombed, Six Feet Under, Gorefest, and Deuteronomium.
Melodic death metal
Melodic death metal, also referred to as melodeath or MDM, is a heavy metal music style that combines elements from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) with elements of death metal. The style was developed during the early and mid-1990s, primarily in England and Scandinavia. The Swedish death metal scene in particular did much to popularize the style, which soon centered in the "Gothenburg metal" scene in Gothenburg, Sweden. Some prominent melodic death metal bands include Amon Amarth, At the Gates, Carcass, Dark Tranquillity, Arch Enemy and In Flames.
Technical death metal
Technical death metal, often abbreviated to tech death, is characterized by fast, technically complex guitar and drum work, often including sweeping guitar solos. Vocals often adopt the guttural sound of death metal. Some of the first tech death bands include Death, Pestilence, Atheist, Nocturnus, Cynic, Origin and Cephalic Carnage. The music is often dark in nature, although many bands have claim to classical influence.
Doom metal is an extreme form of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "thicker" or "heavier" sound than other metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom. The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, who formed a prototype for doom metal with songs such as "Black Sabbath", "Electric Funeral" and "Into the Void". During the first half of the 1980s, a number of bands from England (Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General), the United States (Pentagram, Saint Vitus, The Sword, Trouble) and Sweden (Candlemass, Count Raven) defined doom metal as a distinct genre.
Derivatives of doom metal
Death/doom, sometimes written as death-doom or deathdoom, is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It combines the slow tempos and pessimistic or depressive mood of doom metal with the deep growling vocals and double kick drumming of death metal. The genre emerged in the mid-1980s and gained a certain amount of popularity during the 1990s, but had become less common by the turn of the 21st century. In turn, death/doom gave rise to the closely related genre of funeral doom as well as to the more melodic and romantic gothic metal. The death/doom genre originated in the mid-1980s when the early progenitors like Dream Death began to mix traditional doom metal with the sounds of thrash and the nascent death metal scene. Early records by such bands as Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema combined the sounds of mid-1980s Celtic Frost and Candlemass with the use of female vocals, keyboards and, in the case of My Dying Bride, violins.
Drone metal, also known as drone doom, began as a derivative of doom metal and it is largely defined by drones; notes or chords that are sustained and repeated throughout a piece of music. Typically, the electric guitar is performed with large amounts of reverb and feedback, while vocals, if present, are usually growled or screamed. Songs are often very long and lack beat or rhythm in the traditional sense. Drone doom is generally influenced by drone music, noise music and minimalist music. The style emerged in the early 1990s and was pioneered by Earth, Boris and Sunn O))).
Sludge metal began as a derivative of doom metal, incorporating hardcore punk and elements of southern rock. Many sludge bands compose slow and heavy songs that contain brief hardcore passages. However, some bands emphasize fast tempos throughout their music. The string instruments are heavily distorted and are often played with large amounts of feedback to produce an abrasive, sludgy sound. Drumming is often performed in typical doom metal fashion, but drummers may employ hardcore d-beat or double-kick drumming during faster passages. Vocals are usually shouted or screamed, and lyrics are generally pessimistic in nature. Suffering, drug abuse, politics and anger towards society are common lyrical themes. New Orleans with its metal scene is often considered as its birthplace. The style was pioneered in the early 1990s by bands such as Eyehategod, Crowbar, Buzzov*en and Acid Bath.
Experimental metal, also known as avant-garde metal or avant-metal, is a subgenre of heavy metal music loosely defined by use of experimentation and characterized by the use of innovative, avant-garde elements, large-scale experimentation, and the use of non-standard and unconventional sounds, instruments, song structures, playing styles, and vocal techniques. It evolved out of progressive rock, jazz fusion, and extreme metal, particularly death metal and black metal. Some local scenes include Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States, Oslo in Norway, and Tokyo in Japan. Pioneers of experimental metal include Boris, Celtic Frost, Earth, Helmet, Maudlin of the Well, Neurosis, Sunn O))), and Voivod.
Extreme metal consists of a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s, usually characterized by a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound nearly always associated with genres like black metal, death metal, doom metal, thrash metal, and sometimes speed metal.
Though many extreme sub-styles are not very well known to mainstream music fans, as extreme metal is by definition a counterculture, extreme metal has influenced an array of musical performers inside and outside of heavy metal.
Folk metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal that developed in Europe during the 1990s. As the name suggests, the genre is a fusion of heavy metal with traditional folk music. This includes the widespread use of folk instruments and, to a lesser extent, traditional singing styles (for example, Dutch Heidevolk, Danish Sylvatica and Spanish Stone of Erech).
The earliest example of folk metal was the English band Golgotha, whose 1984 EP Dangerous Games contained a mixture of New Wave of British Heavy Metal and folk styles. The genre was not further developed, however, until the emergence of another English band, Skyclad. Their debut album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth was released in 1990. It was not until 1994 and 1995 that other early contributors in the genre began to emerge from different regions of Europe as well as in Israel. Among these early groups, the Irish band Cruachan and the German band Subway to Sally each spearheaded a different regional variation that over time became known as Celtic metal and medieval metal respectively. Despite their contributions, folk metal remained little known with few representatives during the 1990s. It was not until the early 2000s when the genre exploded into prominence, particularly in Finland with the efforts of such groups as Finntroll, Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Turisas, and Moonsorrow.
The music of folk metal is characterized by its diversity, with bands known to perform different styles of both heavy metal music and folk music. A large variety of folk instruments are used in the genre with many bands consequently featuring six or more members in their regular line-ups. A few bands are also known to rely on keyboards to simulate the sound of folk instruments. Lyrics in the genre commonly deal with mythology, history, and nature.
Derivatives of folk metal
Celtic metal is a subgenre of folk metal that developed in the 1990s in Ireland. As the name suggests, the genre is a fusion of heavy metal music and Celtic music. The early pioneers of the genre were the three Irish bands Cruachan, Primordial and Waylander. The genre has since expanded beyond Irish shores and is known to be performed today by bands from numerous other countries.
Medieval metal or medieval rock is a subgenre of folk metal that blends hard rock or heavy metal music with medieval folk music. Medieval metal is mostly restricted to Germany where it is known as "Mittelalter-Metal" or "Mittelalter-Rock." The genre emerged from the middle of the 1990s with contributions from Subway to Sally, In Extremo and Schandmaul. The style is characterized by the prominent use of a wide variety of traditional folk and medieval instruments.
Pagan metal is heavy metal music that fuses extreme metal with "the pre-Christian traditions of a specific culture or region through thematic concept, rustic melodies, unusual instruments or archaic languages", usually referring to folk metal or black metal. The Norwegian band In the Woods... was one of the first bands commonly viewed as pagan metal. Metal Hammer author Marc Halupczok wrote that Primordial's song "To Enter Pagan" from the band's demo "Dark Romanticism" contributed to defining the genre. Pagan metal bands are often associated with Viking metal and folk metal. Bands such as Moonsorrow and Kampfar have been identified as fitting within all three of those genres.
Glam metal (also known as hair metal or pop metal) is the visual style of certain heavy metal bands that arose in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the United States, particularly on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip music scene. It was popular throughout the 1980s and briefly in the early 1990s, combining the flamboyant look of glam rock and playing a commercial hard rock/heavy metal musical style. The term Hair bands was popularized by MTV in the 1990s and derives from the tendency among glam metal acts to style their long hair in a teased-up fashion. Many of the bands donned make-up to achieve an androgynous look, similar to that of some 1970s glam rock acts. Mötley Crüe, Poison and Ratt are examples of bands who adopted the glam metal look in their stage attire and their music video imagery.
Gothic metal is characterized as a combination of the dark atmospheres of gothic rock with the heaviness of doom metal. The genre originated during the mid-1990s in Europe as an outgrowth of doom-death, a fusion genre of doom metal and death metal. Examples of gothic metal bands include Paradise Lost, Lacuna Coil, Type O Negative, Moonspell, My Dying Bride, Elis, Sirenia, Stravaganzza, Theatre of Tragedy and Tristania.
Grindcore is a fusion of crust punk, hardcore punk and thrash metal or death metal. It is characterized by growling vocals, blast beats, and incredibly short songs with lyrics that are often focused on gore and violence, though sometimes the lyrics can be political. Grindcore, in contrast to death metal, is often very chaotic, and lacks the standard use of time signatures. The style was pioneered by the British band Napalm Death in the eighties. Other notable grindcore bands include Brutal Truth, Anal Cunt and Pig Destroyer.
Derivatives of grindcore
Deathgrind, sometimes written as death-grind or death/grind, is a musical genre that fuses death metal and grindcore. Deathgrind has been described as "grindcore and brutal death metal colliding head on." Danny Lilker described deathgrind as "combining the technicality of death metal with the intensity of grindcore." Death/grind emphasizes overall musical brutality with a specific focus on speed-soaked fury and retains grindcore's traditional abruptness.
Goregrind, is a musical sub-genre of grindcore and death metal. Despite the early impact of albums such as Repulsion's Horrified and Impetigo's Ultimo Mondo Cannibale, the origins of the genre really lie with the British band Carcass, who began their career in the late 1980s. In their Reek of Putrefaction-era, Carcass used pitch shifters, medical imagery and several visceral associations when it originally conceived the band, a deviation from the frequently political or left-wing lyrics commonly used in the hardcore punk and grindcore scenes.
Natalie Purcell's book Death Metal Music: The Passion and Politics of a Subculture, suggests that pornogrind is defined solely on the basis of its lyrical content and unique imagery, its focus on pornographic content. Purcell notes that bands like Gut include "simpler, slower, and more rock-like songs". The artwork for pornogrind bands' albums is noted for its extreme and potentially offensive nature, which "would keep them out of most stores."
Industrial metal combines elements of industrial music and heavy metal. It is usually centered around repetitive metal guitar riffs, sampling, synthesizer or sequencer lines, and distorted vocals. Prominent industrial metal groups include Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Rammstein, Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson, and Godflesh.
Latin metal is a genre of metal music with Latin origins, influences, and instrumentation, such as Spanish vocals, Latin percussion and rhythm such as Salsa rhythm. Prominent bands in this genre include A.N.I.M.A.L., Ill Niño, Nonpoint, Sepultura and Soulfly.
Metalcore combines extreme metal and hardcore punk. The genre was sparked and started in 1984 with bands such as Hogan's Heroes. Generally, metalcore guitarists use heavy(ish) guitar riffs and solos, drummers use hardcore d-beats and double bass drums, and vocalists use a vocal style which includes death growls and shouting. A distinguishing characteristic is the "breakdown", whereby the song is slowed to half-time and the guitarists play open strings to achieve the lowest-pitched sound. Prominent Metalcore bands include Hatebreed, Bury Your Dead, Killswitch Engage, While She Sleeps, Asking Alexandria, Bleeding Through, Integrity, Unearth and Hogan's Heroes. Original bands from the 1980s were Hogan's Heroes. Original bands from the 1990s were, Earth Crisis, Hatebreed, Deadguy, Integrity and Converge. Today's bands include Killswitch Engage, Unearth, Bring Me the Horizon, Poison the Well, and Bury Your Dead.
Derivatives of metalcore
Melodic metalcore is a fusion genre which combines sounds and traits from melodic death metal with hardcore punk, metalcore and occasionally emo. Melodic metalcore bands include Trivium, All That Remains, Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine, Bury Tomorrow, Darkest Hour, Asking Alexandria, As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red and The Devil Wears Prada.
Melodic metalcore bands have big influences, guitar riffs, and writing styles from Swedish melodic death metal bands, especially bands like At the Gates, Arch Enemy, In Flames and Soilwork. They tend to have strong use of instrumental melody. Many melodic metalcore can have clean singing as their vocals as well as growls and screaming. It also can feature harmonic guitar riffs, tremolo picking, double bass drums and metalcore-stylized breakdowns. Some bands also may feature guitar solos. A few of these groups, like Shadows Fall, have some appreciation for 1980s glam metal. Melodic metalcore groups have been described as "embrac[ing] '80s metal clichés", such as "inordinate amounts of smoke machines, rippin' solos, [and] three bass drums."
Deathcore combines elements of death metal with elements of metalcore or hardcore punk, or both. It is defined by an "excessive" use of death metal riffs, blast beats and use of hardcore punk breakdowns. Some leading bands are Suicide Silence, Carnifex, All Shall Perish, Whitechapel, Born Of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, Oceano, and Emmure.
Mathcore, not to be confused with math metal, is a rhythmically complex and dissonant style of metalcore. It has its roots in bands such as Converge, Botch, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. The term mathcore is suggested by analogy with math rock. Both math rock and mathcore make use of unusual time signatures. Prominent mathcore groups have been associated with grindcore.
Nintendocore, also called Nintendo rock, video rock, and nerdcore, is fusion of metalcore, metal, hardcore punk, and post-hardcore with video game music, chiptunes, and 8-bit music. Some representatives of the style include Horse the Band, The Advantage, Bubblegum Octopus, and Minibosses.
Neo-classical metal, also known as shred metal, is a subgenre that is heavily influenced by classical music in its style of composition. It uses a very technical style of guitar soloing called shred guitar, in which guitarists use cross-picking, sweep picking, and economy picking to play rapid scales and arpeggios. As well, it uses elements borrowed from classical music; including instruments, scales and melodies. Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore are prominent performers in this genre.
This heavy metal movement takes influences from post-rock. While it is in many ways similar to post-rock, post-metal tends to include lower-tuned guitars, distorted guitar(s), heavy atmospherics, gradual evolution of song structure, and a minimal emphasis on vocals. Post-metal stresses emotion, contrasting the ambiance of post-rock with the weight and bombast of metal. Vocals are deemphasized or non-existent, and lyrics tend to be equally abstract: often thematic or philosophical in nature. It is a largely American phenomenon, but also includes some Japanese bands. Bands like Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna and Pelican write lengthy songs (typically five or six per album) that can range from light and guitar-driven to heavy, drum and bass-driven.
Power metal takes influence from heavy metal and speed metal, and often emphasizes clean, melodic, high-pitched vocals, and fast pacing that is mostly driven by double bass drumming and melodic lead guitar. The rhythm guitar is defined by straight power chord progressions. Sometimes, harsh vocals are used, but usually only as backing vocals. Power metal lyrics usually involve fantasy themes. The songs often have a theatrical, epic, and emotionally "powerful" sound. Power metal is generally more upbeat than other metal genres, seeking to empower the listener and inspire joy and courage.
The term was first used in the middle of the 80s and refers to two different but related styles: the first pioneered and largely practiced in North America with a harder sound similar to speed metal, and a later more widespread and popular style based in Europe (especially Germany, Finland, Italy and Scandinavia), Latin America (Argentina, Brazil) and Japan, with a lighter, more melodic sound and frequent use of keyboards. Examples of power metal bands include Blind Guardian, Helloween, Dragonforce, Sonata Arctica, Sabaton, Stratovarius, Kamelot, HammerFall and Steel God.
Progressive metal is a fusion between progressive rock and heavy metal. It is one of heavy metal's more complex genres, due to its use of unusual and dynamic time signatures, long compositions, complex compositional structures, and skilled instrumental playing, where instrumental solos are detailed and extended. However, the latest age of progressive metal has favored rougher lyrics and lower-pitched riff sequences with high amounts of strumming. Vocals, if present, are melodic (though there are a few that utilise unclean vocals), and lyrics are often philosophical, spiritual, or political. Many bands of the genre were influenced by the progressive rock band Rush, who would often incorporate elements of heavy metal into their music. Examples of the genre include Queensrÿche, Dream Theater, Opeth and Tool.
Derivatives of progressive metal
Djent, also known as djent metal, is a music genre that emerged as a spin-off from progressive metal. The word "djent" is an onomatopoeia for a heavily palm-muted, distorted guitar chord. Typically, the word is used to refer to music that makes use of this sound, to the sound itself, or to the scene that revolves around it. Djent as a style has been described as featuring heavily palm-muted, distorted guitar chords alongside virtuoso soloing, and is characterized by rhythmic complexity and palm-muted riffing. Pioneering bands in the style are Meshuggah, Periphery, TesseracT, and Textures.
Speed metal originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was the direct musical progenitor of thrash metal. When speed metal first emerged as a genre, it increased the tempos that had been used by early heavy metal bands, while retaining their melodic approaches. Examples of speed metal include Venom, Motörhead, Annihilator and Accept.
Stoner rock or stoner metal is typically slow-to-mid tempo, low-tuned, and bass-heavy. It combines elements of psychedelic rock, blues-rock and doom metal, often with melodic vocals and 'retro' production. The genre emerged during the early 1990s and was pioneered foremost by the Californian bands Kyuss and Sleep. Other prominent stoner metal bands include Acid King, Electric Wizard and Sons of Otis.
Symphonic metal most commonly refers to metal bands that use orchestral elements in their music, either through having an actual orchestra, a few classical instruments, or keyboards that simulate the sounds of classical instruments. Classical compositional techniques, opera singing, and opera-themed lyrics are also quite common. Symphonic metal is sometimes not considered a separate subgenre of metal but rather an element that may be present in any subgenre of metal, as virtually no bands would be described as simply symphonic metal without some other label being attached as well. Prominent examples of symphonic metal include the symphonic black metal bands Emperor and Dimmu Borgir, symphonic power metal bands Nightwish and Rhapsody of Fire, symphonic gothic metal bands Theatre of Tragedy and Within Temptation, and symphonic death metal bands Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse.
Thrash metal is often regarded as the first form of extreme metal. It is generally characterized by its fast tempos, complexity and aggression. Thrash metal guitar playing is most notable for the "chugging" sound it creates through low-pitched palm muted riffs, and high-pitched shred guitar solos. Drummers often use double-kick and double-bass drumming. Vocals are most often shouted or sung in an aggressive manner.
Thrash metal evolved from speed metal, NWOBHM and early hardcore punk at the beginning of the 1980s. Bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax spearheaded thrash metal and are referred to as the genre's "Big Four", while on the European side Sodom, Kreator and Destruction form the so-called "Teutonic Thrash Triangle".
Derivatives of thrash metal
Crossover thrash, often abbreviated to "crossover," and sometimes called also "punk metal," is a form of thrash metal that contains more hardcore punk elements than standard thrash. The genre lies on a continuum between heavy metal and punk rock. The genre is often confused with thrashcore, which is essentially a faster hardcore punk rather than a more punk-oriented form of metal. Corrosion of Conformity, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, Stormtroopers of Death, Suicidal Tendencies and Discharge are major bands in the genre.
Groove metal, also known as neo-thrash, post-thrash, or power groove, consists of slow or mid-tempo and down tuned thrash riffs, bluesy guitar solos, greatly emphasized drum work and harsh vocals. Examples of groove metal include Pantera, Lamb of God, Machine Head, DevilDriver, Sepultura and A.N.I.M.A.L..
Teutonic thrash metal
Teutonic thrash metal, or just Teutonic metal, is a regional form of thrash metal that originated in Germany during the 1980s and was heavily influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Teutonic thrash is often considered to be "less thrashy" than regular thrash metal, and the style is known to incorporate raspy vocals, palm muted guitar riffs, and frantic double bass drumming. Notable Teutonic bands include Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Holy Moses, Iron Angel, and Living Death.
Traditional heavy metal
Traditional heavy metal, also known as classic metal or often simply heavy metal, is the group of bands and artists who play a metal music style similar to the style heard before the genre evolved and splintered into many different styles and subgenres. It is characterized by mid-to-fast-tempo riffs, by thumping basslines, crunchy riffs, extended lead guitar solos, and clean, often high-pitched vocals and anthemic choruses. It is not generally categorized as a subgenre of metal, but the main genre of it. Examples include Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Blue Öyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden.
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