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Heavy Metal Band Styles – 18 Genres Explained

Heavy Metal Band Styles – 18 Genres Explained

Heavy Metal Bands erupted on the scene in the late 1970’s and since then have split into many sub-sets and styles. Each style carries its own variation with other styles mixed in. What we now call Traditional is usually a grouping of some of the original bands that were around before the genres split. Some examples of these groups include Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple.

Heavy Metal Styles

Black – Originates from Speed metal, Thrash metal and hardcore punk in the early 1980’s. Black metal has had much opposition from mainstream culture due to many of its bands having an anti-Christian worldview. Typical instruments include vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar and drums.

Death – Originates from Thrash metal and early Black metal in the mid-1980’s. Uses heavily distorted guitars, blast-beat drumming, and deep growling vocals. Inspired by groups such as Slayer, Celtic Frost and Kreator.

Doom – Originates from classic heavy metal, especially Black Sabbath albums of the early 1970’s. Uses slower tempos and a much heavier and “thicker” sound. Lyrics tend to evoke a sense of dread, doom or despair.

Drone – Became more popular in the early 1990’s. Drone metal melds Doom metal with the long duration tones of drone music.

Folk – Developed in Europe in the mid 1990’s. It fuses classic heavy metal with traditional folk music through the use of folk instruments.

Glam – Also known as “hair metal”, it arose in the late 1970’s and stayed popular through the 1980’s. It combined the looks of glam rock with the power chord hard rock style of music.

Gothic – Combines heavy metal with gothic rock. Originated in the early 1990’s from a mixture of death metal and doom metal. Popular bands include Paradise Lost and Anathema. Lyrics are brought out through gothic fiction and personal experiences.

Groove – Sometimes referred to post-thrash, originated in the early 1990’s from genre’s including thrash metal and hardcore punk. A popular Grove Metal album would be Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell.

Industrial – Draws from heavy metal and industrial music using sequencer lines, distorted vocals, sampling, and repeating metal guitar riffs. Established in the late 1980’s, popular bands include Fear Factory, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails.

Metalcore – Gets the name from a fusion of hardcore punk and heavy metal. Metalcore is different from other punk metal bands because of the emphasis on slower and more intense breakdowns that are conducive to moshing.

Neo-Classical – Heavily influenced by classical music, Neo-classical metal is a very technical music performance that was established in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Nu-Metal – Developed in the 1990’s, this music blends both hip-hop and grunge with classic heavy metal. Popular bands include Korn, Deftones and P.O.D.

Post-Metal – Originated in the early 2000’s, post-metal is characterized by minimal vocals with distorted guitar and heavy atmospherics. The group, Isis, is usually credited with originating and making popular post-metal music.

Power – Originating in the mid 1980’s, it is a mixture of classic metal with speed metal which adds in a symphonic element, usually through the use of keyboards.

Progressive – Established in the mid 1980’s, progressive metal is a mix of classic heavy metal with progressive rock. Early bands mixed heavy metal from groups such as Metallica and Megadeath with progressive rock bands, namely Rush and King Crimson, who were already fusing some heavy metal into their music.

Sludge Metal – Originating in the late 1980’s, sludge metal is a mix of both doom metal and hardcore punk. It is aggressive with shouted vocals, contrasting tempos and heavy distortion. It moves through slow paced songs that have brief hardcore tempos.

Speed – Established in the 1970’s and 80’s, speed metal is characterized by extremely fast and technically demanding song sets. While still popular today, more prevalent is the toned down version of speed metal called thrash metal. Motorhead and Judas Priest were two of the most influential bands of this genre.

Thrash – Originating in the early 1980’s, thrash metal descends from speed metal. It is characterized by low-register guitar riffs and shredding style lead work. The “Big Four” of thrash metal are Metallica, Slayer, Megadeath and Anthrax.

There are many other types of Metal that cross genres to create their own style, including Alternative, Avant-garde, Christian, Crust Punk, Extreme, Funk, Grindcore, Rap, Symphonic and Viking Metal and others.