Metal Music Genres

The evolution of heavy metal has been gradual but dependent in the style that the pioneers devised to pass the message across. It has waxed and waned in popularity, but it is one of the types of music to have endured for many years. Here are the types of metal music.

Traditional Metal

This is sometimes referred to as ‘True’ or ‘Classic’ Metal. It ruled the heavy metal genre of rock music for all the time prior to the 80′s. Its style was hard and fast, with powerful and clean vocals. Aggressive riffs inter-fused with two – guitar harmonies were employed, with the focus being on the higher range of sounds. The pioneers of traditional metal were Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Manowar.


This took off in the mid 80′s. It incorporated fast, choppy and machine gun – like drum-work. In addition, rough sounds ruled the song, whilst some bands would add melodies. Thrash Metal lends most of its origins to a myriad of San – Fransisco bands. The most influential of them include Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, who were hailed as the Big Four of the sub-genre with new bands like Blood of Kingsand Seax taking up the reigns.

Power Metal

It draws inspiration from Traditional Metal. Iron Maiden, in particular, influenced the evolution and the subsequent establishment of the sub – genre, spawning it into a powerful and distinct class of Metal in itself. The style features fast songs with an emphasis on melody. Power metal has often been ‘accused’ of being too happy; what with the lyrics being of fantasy and joy. It is almost entirely European, having been made very popular by Hammerfall. Other notable bands are White Skull, Angus and many more.

Progressive Metal

It mixes art rock from 1970′s with the traditional metal, producing highly challenging, intricate sounds. The bands also outdo themselves with superb songwriting, complimenting it with dry, rushing sound which is unmistakably metal. A layer of keyboard sound completes it. The most influential band has to be Dream Theatre.

Death Metal

This emerged at around 1985, with the carnage started by Possessed in their second album, “Seven Churches.” The style here is a very raw and violent sound, interspersed by guitar. Death Metal has come to span both the European and the US Markets, with the dominating bands being Possessed, Slayer and Death.

Black Metal

This is credited to Venom who sowed the seed way back in 1982, in the album with the same name. There are raw, aggressive riffs with a really fast tremolo and blasting drums. The lyrics are deeply satanic and are delivered in shrieks. The bands have entrenched ethos, mainly in two categories of either “true black” or “cult black”, to maintain artistic integrity. The famous names here are Venom, Mayhem and Burzom, which other underground bands adore. Notable bands which have helped influence the genre include Dimmu Borgir, Graveland, Immortal, Berserk, among others.

Doom Metal

Black Sabbath first came up with the styles for Doom Metal. This is one of the most recognizable in the genres of metal music, with slow, crushing riffs. The songs are also very long and mournful. There is an epic atmosphere of bleakness and despair; which is almost entirely the subject of the song. Candlemass and St. Vitus are among the bands which introduced death and ruin to the genre.


Of the genres of metal music, this is the most harrowing. It took centre-stage in the early 90′s with an attempt of bands at uniqueness. The speed is superfast, with death metal providing the theme. Guttural voices describe chiefly blood and guts. Grindcore attempts to elicit fear through the scary lyrical scenes. The pioneers aimed at being ultimately gross, and they attained it. These bands include Carcass, Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse.

Gothic Metal

This is the fusion created through placement of beautifully pitched female lead vocalists and the Power Metal genre. Typically formed in the 90′s, it features death metal riffs interspersed with moody keyboards. Male vocalists aggressively back up the female vocalists. This style was popularly christened ‘the beauty and the beast vocals.’ Lacuna Coil, Sirenia, After Forever and Trail of Tears are some of the most powerful bands in the field.

Folk Metal

There is a blurred line between Folk, Viking and Symphonic Metals. For example, essentially, folk metal is from any band that utilizes folk music in their songwriting. These bands come in a wide array, and include Elvenking and Tuatha De Danaan among others. Viking Metal is mainly Death or Black in nature, but with Viking imagery in their subjects. Amon Amarth are the leaders these days, though Bathory is known for starting it.

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