KNOW YOUR METAL (A GUIDE TO METAL MUSIC)

So many people argue over genres and what is and what isn’t and what’s “depressive dark post-blackened death funeral doom metal” and all so here’s some of the real and basic genres with some examples for each so maybe it will help you discover something new and maybe gain some knowledge.

BLACK METAL – Black Metal is an extreme sub-genre of heavy metal. The common traits of this genre include fast tempos, shrill vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo riffing, blast beat drumming, raw (low quality) recording and unconventional song structures.

Sub-genres: Symphonic, Melodic, National Socialist (NSBM), Unblack, Folk, Viking, Atmospheric, Depressive, and Post-Black.

Examples: Bathory, Mayhem, Burzum, Marduk, Darkthrone, Graveworm, Emperor

DOOM METAL – Doom Metal is another offshoot form of heavy metal music that typically uses slow down tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much thicker and heavier sound than most other metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to bring on the feelings of despair, dread, and impending doom.

Sub-genres: Funeral, Death-Doom, Epic, Traditional, Stoner, Sludge, Drone and Blackened.

Examples: Witchfinder General, Candlemass, Pentagram, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Anathema

THRASH METAL – Thrash Metal is another sub-genre of heavy metal that is characterized most typically by its fast tempo and raw aggression. Thrash Metal songs typically use fast percussive beats and fast, low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar riffage. Lyrically, Thrash songs often speak of social issues and reproach for “The Establishment” often using direct and denunciatory language, an approach which partially overlaps with the hardcore music genre.

Examples: Metallica, Testament, Slayer, Anthrax, Overkill, Megadeth

DEATH METAL – Death Metal is one of the extreme sub-genres of metal music. It typically uses heavily distorted guitars, tremolo picking, deep guttural vocals, double kick and/or blast beat drumming, minor keys or atonality, and multiple tempo changes.

Sub-genres: Melodic, Technical, Blackened, Folk, Death-Doom, Deathgrind (including Goregrind and Pornogrind), Deathcore and Death n’ Roll.

Examples: Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Dark Tranquillity, Nile, Malevolent Creation, Katatonia, Opeth, Cattle Decapitation, Suffocation, Suicide Silence (deathcore), Entombed, Six Feet Under

POWER METAL – Power Metal is a sub-genre of metal combining characteristics of traditional Heavy Metal with Speed Metal, often within the symphonic context. Generally, Power Metal is characterized by a more uplifting sound, in contrast to the heaviness and dissonance prevalent in styles such as Doom, Death or Black Metal. Power Metal bands usually have anthem-like songs with fantasy-based lyrics and strong choruses, thus creating a theatrical, dramatic and emotionally “powerful” sound.

Sub-genres: American, European, Asian

Examples: Jag Panzer, Symphony X, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Dream Evil, Wuthering Heights, Falconer, Nightwish, Labyrinth, Rhapsody of Fire

GOTHIC METAL – Gothic Metal (also known as Goth Metal) is another sub-genre of metal music that combines the heaviness and bleakness of doom metal with the dark atmospheres of gothic rock. The music of Gothic Metal is very diverse with bands known to adopt the gothic approach to different styles of metal music ranging from Doom Metal to Black Metal. The genre originated during the early 1990s in Europe originally as an outgrowth of Death-Doom. Lyrics are generally dark and introspective with inspiration from fictional gothic literature as well as personal experiences.

Sub-genres: Gothic Black, Gothic Death, Gothic-Doom, Symphonic, Folk, Theatrical, Opera, Darkwave, Ethereal

Examples: Trail of Tears, Tristania, Lacuna Coil, Moonspell, Tiamat, Poisonblack, Therion, After Forever, Within Temptation

FOLK METAL – Folk Metal is a sub-genre of metal that developed in Europe during the 1990s. It is a fusion of metal music and traditional folk aspects. 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). 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 fantasy, mythology, paganism, history and nature.

Sub-genres: Folk Black, Folk Death, Pagan, Celtic, Oriental, Prehispanic, Medieval

Examples: Finntroll, Ensiferum, Korpiklaani, Turisas, Moonsorrow, Tyr, Skyforger, Månegarm, Lamentu

VIKING METAL – Viking Metal is a sub-genre of both Black Metal and Folk Metal characterized by its folk sound, slow pace, use of keyboards, dark and violent imagery, and, primarily, lyrical themes of Norse mythology, Norse paganism, and the Viking Age. It 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 is considered a fusion genre of both Folk Metal and Black Metal, yet distinct from both.

Examples: Falkenbach, Windir, Thyrfing, Einherjer, Burzum (some material), Mortiis (early releases), Amon Amarth, Enslaved, Bathory (certain tracks)

2 Comments

  1. Great article! Interestingly, some people make the case that Amon Amarth is not really Viking metal but instead melodic death metal with Viking themes. Just goes to show how metal fans like to split hairs, right?

    • Much agreed and thank you! Amon Amarth in my personal opinion as well as many others, is actually closest to Viking Metal due to their lyrics as well as if anyone has listened to Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds, you can hear and feel the Norse mythology in the music. Thank you for reading and following!

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