Simplifying The Genre

Genre is a classification system used to late music into basic categories.It can be confusing because certain genres have a similar sound.This article is a brief description of the main genres of heavy metal.

Alternative metal is a merging of heavy metal and alternative rock.Formed in the 1980s, it’s popularity really grew in the 1990s.The music is characterized by heavy guitar riffs and very melodic vocals.Bands included here are Alice in Chains, Sound garden and System of A Down.

A style of music that experiments with unconventional sounds, instruments and vocals is known as Avant – garde metal.It really is a fusion of jazz, progressive rock and Extreme metal. Examples are Helmet and Voivod.

Black, is a very extreme genre. Boasting fast tempos, shrieking vocals, guitar distortion and untraditional song structures.Pioneers are Venom, Bathory and early Hellhammer.

A genre that focuses on religious messages is Christian metal.Emerging in the 1970s it is all about sending positive messages to its fans.Pioneers include Petraeus and Resurrection Band.Stryper made the genre more mainstream in the 1980s.

Crust punk started in the 1980s in England.Its basically a blending of hardcore punk and heavy metal.It is characterized by dark lyrics, and focuses on politics and societal issues.Most notable bands are Antiseptic and Doom.

Dark metal is defined by its use of dark and very violent lyrics.

Horror is a popular theme of the genre, as is the occult.Notable bands are Black Sabbath and Lillian Axe.

A truly extreme metal is Death.With it’s pronounced growling vocals, blast beat drumming and guitar distortion.It is becoming one of the fastest and most popular genre.The most noted bands are Possessed, Death, Venom, and obituary.

Doom metal is heavily influenced by Black Sabbath.Lyrics focus on impending doom, despair and dread.Saint Vitus, Pagan Altar and Pentagram are the most popular bands.

Started in Europe in the 1980s , Folk is a fusion of heavy metal and classic folk music.There is widespread use of folk themes, and instuments.Prominent bands are Cruachan, Finntroll, Ensiferum, Turin as and Korpiklaani.

A very popular genre of the 1980s is Glam.Although not based on a music style it is named for how the band’s looked.Teased hair, make up and skintight latex pants.Most popular bands are Motley Crue, Bon Jovi Poison and Ratt.

Gothic is a fusion of goth rock and doom.Started in mid 1980s Europe.It is noted for its haunting music and depressive lyrics.Some bands are My Dying Bride, Anathema, and Evanescence.

A fusion of hardcore punk and thrash metal is Grindcore.It is characterized by very short songs with rapid tempos.Lyrics focus on gore and violence.Notable bands are Pig Destroyer and Anal Cunt.

Industrial is so named because of its repetitive riffs, sampling and use of synthesizers.Nine Inch Nails, Fear Factory and Marilyn Manson are its most notable artists.

Latin metal, a newer labeled genre is so named because of its use of Latin percussion and Salsa rhythms.Prominen Spanish lyrics are another trait.Prominent bands areSepultura, Soul fly and Non Point.

Metalcore, a fusion of hardcore punk and heavy metal.Characterized by heavy guitar riffs, double bass drums and shouting of lyrics define the sound.Hatebreed, Kills witch Engage and Asking Alexandra are its most popular bands.

Neo- classical is also a newer labeled genre.Influuenced by true classical music including use of violins and harps.Yngwie Malmsteen is the biggest name in the genre.

Power metal is a blending of speed and heavy metal.Wide use of double bass drumming and very melodic guitar riffs.Song lyrics are usually of a fantasy nature.Noted bands are Helloween, Dragon force and Strativarius.

A fusion of progressive rock and heavy metal is Progressive.It is actually one of the most complicated genres due to its complex song compositions and skilled instrument playing.Vocals are very melodic and tend to focus on spiritual or political themes.Examples of bands are Queensryche, Dream Theater and Tool.

Speed metal originated in the late 1970s out of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.It consists of super fast tempos and very technical playing.It too was also influenced by hardcore punk.Notable bands are Motorhead, and Accept.

A result of fusing psychedelic rock, blues rock and Doom metal is Stoner metal.First appearing in the 1980s it was pioneered by California band Kyuss.Other popular bands are Mastodon, Acid King, and Electric Wizard.

The use of orchestral elements defines Symphonic metal.This genre is more known for its music than vocals.Prominent bands are Nightwish, Epica, and Rhapsody of Fire.

Originating from speed metal and hardcore punk, Thrash started in the early 1980s. It is characterized by shredding guitar solos and shouting lyrics.The music is predominantly fast paced.Most notable bands are early Metallics, Megadeth Slayer and Anthrax.

There can’t be any of these genres without traditional heavy metal.Also known as classic metal, it was basically the title given to early heavy sounding music that was much harder and aggressive than rock.Its a very broad title that led to the creation of all other metal genres.Most notable bands are Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Kiss, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden.

Each of the above mentioned genres can be further divided into sub genres.That is a whole other story.As a music fan you will find many bands slip back and forth between genres.This often confuses the classification process.

Carole Bonner

This author is no longer associated with Metal On Loud Magazine.

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