Sunday, 10 July 2011

Metal subgenres lesson

Post dedicated to RoyalRuby7395's question. She asked about different metal subgenres and goth stubstyles and I think it would be a good idea to explain them to those of you who don't know that much about them. I'm only an expert in metal, though, so I'll ask PinkPunkGirly do do a post about goth styles.

Yes, there is an end to metal subgenres. There's a few of the obvious ones and some new ones that aren't as popular (like pirate metal - a genre, played by Alestorm). I'll only be writing about the 11 most popular subgenres. I recommend all of the videos below, you should definitely check them out.
Just note that when telling you about the bands, some of them fit into more than one category because they have many characteristics. There's constant fights between metalheads about what genre a band belongs to. So all of you might not agree with my choice of bands.
Important! Other genres that you mind find on Wikipedia, such as sludge metal, rap metal, stoner metal, are bullcrap. Made up. In my opinion even nu metal and alternative metal isn't real metal. But that's a thing of personal opinion. So google search won't always give you the right results, the best address for metal-related questions is a real metalhead.

1. Heavy Metal
This one is the first of the genres, Black Sabbath being the first metal band. It sounds like hard rock, but played with a heavier sound. It can be slow and similar to doom metal (Black Sabbath), fast and resembling punk (Motorhead, Venom), hard rock-like (Motley Crue) or mixed with progressive metal (Iron Maiden) and power metal (Grave Digger). Example:

2. Folk metal
This one is my favorite, so it goes first. Its most distinctive quality is using folk instruments like flutes, violins, accordions or even keyboards in metal songs. There's both clean and harsh vocals. A good example is the band Eluveitie with all of these instruments incorporated: tin & low whistles, bagpipes, redpipe, violin, electric violin (sounds like an electric guitar), hurdy gurdy, mandola, bodhran and the obvious guitars and drums. Next to Eluveitie there's also Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Turisas, Tyr etc. Example:

3. Black metal
This genre has a very fast tempo and includes high-pitch harsh vocals/growling, screaming, shrieking pretty much throughout the whole song. Lyrics include dark topics, they're often satanic/atheistic. A technique used is double picking (which makes the songs even faster). A few of the bands use face painting (like such). Some black metal bands are Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, Immortal, Cradle of Filth. Example:

4. Death metal
Death metal is similar to black metal - fast tempo, disorted guitars, double picking. The main difference is vocals. Death metal vocals are low-pitched and deep. They're still harsh vocals though, not much singing. Some of the bands are Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Vader, Deicide. Example:

5. Doom metal
As the name implies, the lyrics are pessimistic and try to create the feeling of doom and despair. As for the instrumental part, the music sounds heavy. The tempo is very slow and the notes are low. The vocals are mostly clean. Some of the best bands are My Dying Bride, Candlemass, Paradise Lost. Example:

6. Thrash and speed metal
Some people say thrash and speed metal are the same, while others say thrash is more aggressive than speed metal. I do think they sound different, but if you feel they're the same, that's fine with me. Thrash is most famous for Metallica. It features fast, aggressive tempos and furious guitars. Drums use double bass (again, makes it faster). The vocals are again mostly clean. "The big four" of thrash metal are (old (no offence, Kelly)) Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer. Speed has the same characteristics with more harshness and aggressiveness. Some bands would be Megadeth, (old) Blind Guardian, Slayer. Example:

7. Power metal
This one is probably my second favorite genre just because of the amazing bands. Power metal consists of catchy tunes and fast drums, guitars and bass riffs. There's a lot of guitar solos. Vocals are mostly clean and lyrics can be practically anything. It's know as the most radio-friendly so some metalheads don't like it as much. Some power metal bands would be Helloween, Sonata Arctica, Blind Guardian, Edguy, Hammerfall. Example:

8. Progressive metal
Progressive metal is the most complex. It features varying and sometimes sudden changes in time signatures. Also known for complex and extended guitar solos. Both clean and harsh vocals are used. Most known bands are Mastodon, Opeth and Dream Theater. Example:

9. Groove metal
Groove metal bands tend to play mid-tempo thrash riffs, focusing on the songs being as heavy as possible. It's the heaviest genre that still has some melodicity to it. Some of the bands are Lamb of God, Pantera, Chimaira. Example:

10. Metalcore
This one is one of the least metal genres out of the 10. It's also the most mainstream due to the sound not being as heavy. My first association to a -core genre is different singing styles, like screams, growls, different sounds and some clean vocals. Some bands are Atreyu, Bring Me The Horizon, The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying, Heaven Shall Burn. Example:

11. Melodic and melodeath metal
Melodic isn't so much a genre, it's more of a tag or description. All of the genres can have an amount of melodicity to their songs. The most melodic bands though would be Sonata Arctica, Edguy, Stratovarius, (old) Sonic Syndicate. Melodeath or melodic death metal is a real genre though. It combines the fiercness of death metal with melodic elements. Melodeath bands are Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy, Soilwork, (old) In Flames, Dark Tranquility. Example:

These are the basic subgenres. Some of you might also include a bit more mainstream nu metal - which is bands like Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Disturbed - and alternative metal - which is Evanescence, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, System of a Down - but that's a thing of personal opinion because a lot of metalheads wouldn't say they're real metal.
I hope this helped anyone. I can also recommend some more bands if anyone is interested, just don't be shy and let me know.


  1. I'd like to point out that if you, who's reading this, thinks Nothing Else Matters or The Unforgiven are good Metal tracks, then I advice you to get a life. Metallica sucks donkey balls.

    MAIDEN MAIDEN MAIDEN! These Colours Don't Run motherfuckers!

  2. Great post btw

  3. Aww you didn't offend me at all. I'm not really a fan of Metallica anymore. My favourite metal bands are definitely the Finnish ones and the oldies like Iron Maiden, Pantera, Black Sabbath... Oh and metal or not, I ♥ Marilyn Manson and System of a Down *-*

  4. Excellent post ;) But I think you should include symphonic metal as well. I'm sure there are many fans out there!

  5. Amazing post...and videos too ;)

  6. I see the difference now. I really thought the main differences were simply the WAY the lyrics were sung, or how quickly the music went, or if you couldn't understand anything in the song. I had no idea what folk metal was, but thanks for clarifying that, haha, with the folk instruments and stuff. Maiden FTW.

  7. Awesome post! It's very helpful for those who are confused... But I really have to say that if Slipknot isn't metal, then I don't know what metal is... But that's very personal, so that's ok!

  8. Hey !
    Thanks soooo much for this awesome post which is very instructive though I am a huge Metalhead... I think xD
    I feel satisfied, thanks to your hard work, to see that my tastes in Metal are more confirmed with what I was already thinking of all of it ! (huuuuuh, did you reeeaally understand what I just said ? T.T)
    Anyway, I still think that Slipknot is Metal, even if you consider Nu Metal isn't Metal but... It's my opinion, huh ^.^
    There are man bands you didn't mentioned but I guess it really doesn't matter since there are so many -which is great !
    I'm still a MM and a Nirvana fan, by the way 8D (Plus Children of Bodom, BFMV, Mudvayne etc... ^.^)
    Anyway, thanks again and can't wait for the Goth style post =D

  9. Well here i agree with Tattytta...If Slipknot and Disturbed are not metal they what else can they they be? Well I don't realy mind...There are different oppinions out there so.:D

  10. @AlexandraG: I think symphonic metal is very close to/fits into the power metal category, that's why I didn't make a separate category for it.
    @Tattytta, GoldCharlotte and Rayko: how about I call them "more commercial metal"? :D cause if you compare nu and alternative metal to all the others, it really does have a lot of differences, commercial being one of them.
    I never said I don't like them though. I like all of nu/alternative metal, I just think they need a different genre label :P

  11. Great post, thanks! It was much needed. :p

  12. MissVampire: I agree about the differences, and I'm just saying that Slipknot is metal anyway... Also agree about the commercial but if we think about other bands like Iron Maiden, they're very commercial too, aren't they?

  13. @Tattyta: Slipknot is New Metal (about my know knowledge) or Nu metal (is the same :P)

  14. @Tattytta: This is just my opinion, but I wouldn't really consider Maiden AS commercial as some might think. Isn't commercial pretty much radio stuff? I know Maiden has a lot of radio stuff, but most of it isn't played on the radio, mostly because radio listeners can't stomach listening to a song more than four minutes long or it is "too heavy" for radio. They have a lot of commercial stuff, but even more that isn't. I sound confusing..

  15. @Tattytta & RoyalRuby7395: I think the difference between Iron Maiden's and Slipknot's commerciality is the way they represent themselves and their music. Iron Maiden is one of the biggest metal bands (if not the biggest), but their music is famous because i.e. Fear of the Dark is a great song and people embraced it. Slipknot is partially famous because they have high-budget videos that play on MTV and are targetting a bigger audience.

  16. What about ambiental metal? I know it has some similarities to symphonic but still...
    I'm happy that you didn't include alternative metal. :) And I shoule agree with Ensiferia! Slipknot (and later on Stone Sour) are constantly on MTV and are pretty known. But is it me or their songs are kind of the same anymore and don't really have any variety? :/

  17. Awesome post. I always thought Alestorm was Folk Metal :P

    I guess maybe "MTV Metal" would be the right 'label' for the Nu Metal bands. Hehe. Yeah, I do like Nu Metal, btw.

  18. That's just it, she said one song can fit more than one category. I think Alestorm are folk AND pirate metal. maybe even some power.

  19. @JanyRitcher6: I agree ^^
    @RoyalRuby7395 and Ensiferia: I really don't disagree, but I was only trying to say that is not because they're commmercial they aren't metal... I see the differences between Slipknot and Maiden, but this isn't a reason to say they aren't a metal band. That's my point of view...

  20. Slayer and Shitallica suck.
    Listen to real good metal like Testament, overkill, Blind Guardian and Insomnium.

  21. ^ Metallica does indeed suck cock

  22. Metallica sucks balls, mainstream overrated crap. Give me Opeth

  23. Yay, Metallica is incredibly annoying and overrated.
    Am I the only one who thinks they are gay metal for people who don't like metal at all?

  24. Cradle of Filth are far from Black Metal. soz.

  25. u forgot nu metal like slipknot,sepultura..