Heavy Metal Subgenres

1 Conversation

Heavy metal has diverged down many roads and created many genres in its wake. Let us examine them.

Power metal is a close cousin to traditional heavy metal. It's faster than the standard stuff, because
of Thrash and Speed metal influence. Power metal is structured around power chord rhythm guitar, simple but
fast drumming and lead melodies and harmonies. Many power metal bands are neo-classical, borrowing heavily
from Baroque in terms of Harmony and non-Pentonic (Diatonic and Chromatic) scales. The vocals are generally
sung in a high voice or hollared and preformed in the traditional metal pomp. Power metal ranges from very simple
to extremely complex. Power Metal attempts to "empower" the listener.

A b*****d offshoot of thrash, death metal began as an extremely intense, and low tuned version of its thrash
predecessor. Death metal is more rythmically complex than Power metal, but was initially far less sophisticated
in terms of melody. Death metal often makes use of exotic scales and changes time on on a dime. The music is
heavy, and essentially a wall of sound bent on pulverizing the listener. The vocals are growled or shrieked
depending on the mood of the band's vocalist. In more recent times, Death metal's become far more melodic
and generally artsier. Incorporation of strings, piano, harpsichord, soprano vocals and full orchestra is not unheard
of. The trick is to keep it intense, even while you intergrate other qualities.

A solemn and emotional (often dirge like) form of metal having close links to Death Metal. The point is to inspire
emotion rather than pulverize than listener. Doom metal often makes use of female vocals (often sopranos) and
classical instuments to further stimulate emotions- usually grief, sorrow and feelings of solitude and beauty. Often
times, growled vocals are used to create a contrast in atmosphere, but their inclusion is not neccessary. Doom metal
is heavy, without being brutal. Related to Gothic Metal.

What you get when you mix doom metal (or any other genre of metal) with gothic rock or music aspects. Often like a
cross between the Fields of Nephlim (or The Swans, or Dead can Dance) and death/doom metal. Expect melancholic
lyrics, nasal vocals, female vocals and a softer, gentler rythmic quality- downtuned, but mellow. Gothic Metal can be
quite beautiful- or quite annoying.

A very debatable genre, since all other sub-genres can be said to possess "progressive" elements. As a concept, any
band trying to push the boundaries of music can be considered progressive. As a genre, it is tied to the progressive
rock of the seventies (less ballsy though), originating in Great Britain. In this regard, expect time changes, longer song
structures than conventially expected, and complex key changes. Prog metal stresses melody and rhythmic technicality.
What seperates the genre form the others is expressly melodic vocals. Whether this qualifies it as a seperate genre from
all other "progressive" metal bands is debatable.

A genre that defined underground metal in the eighties, thrash formed the basis of death metal. Here, the doublebass
rumble first became popular (death metal use this effect to great advantage), as did low tuning, palm muting and general
intensity. Some thrash was rather complex, but most was extremely simple and primitive by today's standards. Thrash
took punk's aggrssion, amplified it and attempted to create art from white noise and fast tempos. Vocals were rough but not growled.
Good stuff, but again, primitive by today's standards.

Originally, it simply designated "satanic" bands- or bands that used satanic imagery. Today, it's an intense genre related
closely to death metal. The new wave came out of Norway and spread throughout the European continent and Britain.
Black metal, in its purest form, is extremely fast (sometimes mid tempo), tremolo based, trebly (rather than downtuned),
often makes use of keyboards (to create atmosphere) and makes use of controversial imagery. Vocals are shrieked almost
exclusively. Like death metal, black metal has moved towards more artsy terraine- using neo-classicsim, jazz elemenrts,
industrial and noise, and many folk influences.

Some Terms:

Technical metal- any metal that is exceedingly complex- time changes, counterpoint, polyrhythms, etc. Stresses
complexity over all else.

Doom/death- simply a combo of both genres.

Dark Metal: Usually black metal, with more melody and less overt "satanic" imagery.

Black/Death: A combo of both.

Folk metal: Guess.

Viking metal: Folk influenced metal concerning Norse mythology.

Extreme Metal: A term used to describe death/black/doom influenced bands that are not neccessarily death/black/doom
themselve. Opeth's a good example of this. The vocals are usually distorted and atonal, but the music varies greatly.
This genre title will probably take over the black/death names- as many of those bands no longer adhere to their genre

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written and Edited by


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more