By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The dark themes and strikingly gory album covers are one thing, but what makes metal inaccessible to many is its bounty of subgenres, from black to death to thrash, to say nothing of death 'n' roll and pornogrind. Which is why we've compiled metal's most popular subgenres into one handy guide, and thrown in some of their subgenres as well.
Also referred to as "classic metal," this is what most folks imagine when they think of heavy metal. The guitars are loud and there's likely a blistering solo in every song, but the focus is on anthemic choruses. The vocals, meanwhile, tend to be melodic, with singers often hitting high registers.
The pace gets faster with thrash metal, with guitars and drums galloping along at high speeds. The vocals are more snarled and shouted than sung, and lyrics often are unintelligible due to the quick pace of delivery.
Notable Sub-Subgenres of Thrash Metal:
Skater Thrash: Thrash blended with a hardcore punk approach and lyrics about non-serious topics such as beer, pizza and skateboarding. Examples: D.R.I., Municipal Waste.
Retro-Thrash: Thrash performed by newer bands who aren't influenced by any group after 1987; the music sometimes is produced by their '80s heroes themselves. Examples: Warbringer, Mantic Ritual
Notable bands: Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Nile
Thrash metal provides death metal's basic blueprint, but the vocals are either guttural "Cookie Monster" grunts or high-pitched squeals. Double-bass drums are common, and the lyrics focus on the morbid — hence the moniker.
Notable Sub-Subgenres of Death Metal:
Tech-Death: Basically death metal with an emphasis on "look at how many notes and time changes I can cram into this song" musicianship. Examples: Gorguts, Obscura, Psycroptic
Death 'n' Roll: Death metal with a bed of rock swagger and groove underpinnings, most popularized by early-'90s Swedish bands. Examples: Entombed, Dismember, Black Breath
Melodic Death: Death metal with an emphasis on harmonious guitar solos, most popularized by mid- to late-'90s Swedish bands. Examples: later-era Carcass, At the Gates, early In Flames
Notable bands: Mayhem, Immortal, Burzum
Think "being alone in a Norwegian forest while demons try to suck your soul out of your body." Elements of thrash and death metal lurk beneath, but the pace is even more manic and the production lends an ethereal air. Vocals often sound like a goblin being suffocated.
Notable Sub-Subgenres of Black Metal:
Neo-Folk Black Metal: Black metal laced with elements of traditional stringed instruments and pagan folk elements. Examples: Agalloch, Midnight Odyssey
Symphonic Black Metal: Emphasizes big production with full orchestras, at times crossing over into classical territory. Examples: Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth
Notable bands: Nasum,early Napalm Death, Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Like death metal, grindcore also has unintelligible vocals, but the music is much more primal. It employs a hardcore ethos, sometimes with high-BPM drums, and many songs that clock in at 90 seconds or less. The guitar work often has a danceable groove, while the lyrics can be more grounded in politics and real-world issues than other metal subgenres.
Notable Sub-Subgenres of Grindcore:
Goregrind (also known as "deathgrind"): Shares the slam-dance grooves of most grindcore, but also incorporates the morbid themes of death metal. Examples: early Carcass, Autopsy
Pornogrind: Lyrics and samples centered around the sexual and the scatological. Examples: XXX Maniak, Anal Blast
Traditional metal serves as the backbone, but progressive metal bands are equally influenced by '70s prog rock like Rush and early Genesis. There's an emphasis on musical proficiency, and songs that are seven minutes or more take listeners through multiple narrative peaks and valleys. The songs also sometimes include spurts of jazz-fusion.
Notable Sub-subgenres of Progressive Metal:
Djent: Pronounced "junt," it describes a new wave of bands incorporating elements of progressive metal, thrash and death. The name djent comes from the sound of the genre's standard rhythm riff. Examples: Meshuggah, Periphery
Notable bands: Saint Vitus, early Trouble, Sleep
Doom metal bands go against the "fast, faster, fastest" grain by taking moments (or even entire songs) to slow everything to a crawl. The atmosphere is one of desperation and despair.
Notable Sub-Subgenres of Doom Metal:
Funeral Doom: Also known as "gothic doom" or "death doom," it's accentuated by death vocals, goth-style production and lyrics centered around death. Examples: early Paradise Lost, early Anathema, Bereft
Stoner Doom: Accentuated by riffs lifted from the Black Sabbath playbook and bits of psychedelia. Not quite as much despair as funeral doom, but still with a "trapped in the desert in a broken-down car" aura. Examples: Electric Wizard, Acid Witch
Metal 101 :( So many wrong things in this article. Skater thrash is not a thing, that's more like crust. Dismember is not death n' roll, later era Gorefest would had been a better example. Paradise Lost and Anathema ARE not funeral doom, they were death/doom, good examples would had been Esoteric, Evoken and Skepticism. Meshuggah may be the djent main inspiration but they are not really djent, this is not even metal anyway. You got some things right, but there's way better popularizer than you, the ones who know their stuff especially.
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