The World of Metal Genres (and Subgenres)


Remember when Rock used to be “rock”?

And when Hard Rock used to be music that was ‘harder’ than rock?

Heavy Metal (or just ‘Metal’) made its debut and was much more aggressive.

Then everything sped up and their was [very briefly] a tag called “Speed Metal.”

Then it splintered-off into all things “Thrash Metal”, “Death Metal.”

Some bands joined “Hardcore” music with Metal and it was labelled “Hardcore” or “Crossover.”

Then everything went “BLACK.”

*This is about the time I ran to the hills and checked out for a few years…

Waitwe discussed what happened when all things Metal ‘sped’ up, what about when it slowed ‘down’? Simple = just call it DOOM.

Then in the 90’s all the “Nu-Metal”, “Rap Metal” and “Bat-Shit Stupid” Metal surfaced.

What are the accepted slang words or adjectives used in the past decade?

Well, I recently visited a very prominent Metal record labeland on their website, I noticed you could search through their merchandise selection and filter the results by genre. Here is what they listed (along with their quantities):

  • Ambient/Experimental (3)
  • Black Metal (14)
  • Death Metal (22)
  • Doom Metal (1)
  • Folk Metal (1)
  • Gothic (7)
  • Grindcore (6)
  • Grind (3)
  • Heavy / Power / True Metal (16)
  • Metalcore/Deathcore (9)
  • Progressive Rock/Metal (6)
  • Punk/Hardcore (9)
  • Rock/Alternative (15)
  • Symphonic Metal (7)
  • Pagan / Viking / Epic (3)
  • Stoner Rock (4)
  • Thrash / Speed Metal (60)

*From the above list, it looks like good ol’ “Thrash Metal” and “Speed Metal” are still hanging in there [laughs]. “True Metal” has to be the silliest genre tag EVER (thanks hipster wannabees’). All the others, while certainly descriptivejust pigeon-hole the music and adds to the ridiculousness of the sub-genre race and the splintering of the music scene into tiny micro sub genres[sic].

Specials thanks to Europe for all the “epic-sounding” or ancient genres.

This post sparked a raging debate among some of my Metal head buddies and I decided to Google “Heavy Metal Genres” and check Wiki to see in fact just HOW much more ridiculousness has taken place. Read on…

Heavy metal subgenres

  • 1 Alternative metal
    • 1.1 Derivatives of alternative metal
      • 1.1.1 Funk metal
      • 1.1.2 Nu metal
      • 1.1.3 Rap metal
  • 2 Black metal
    • 2.1 Derivatives of black metal
      • 2.1.1 Viking metal
      • 2.1.2 War metal
  • 3 Cello metal
  • 4 Christian metal
    • 4.1 Derivatives of Christian metal
      • 4.1.1 Unblack metal
  • 5 Crust punk
  • 6 Dark metal
  • 7 Death metal
    • 7.1 Derivatives of death metal
      • 7.1.1 Death ‘n’ roll
      • 7.1.2 Melodic death metal
      • 7.1.3 Technical death metal
  • 8 Doom metal
    • 8.1 Derivatives of doom metal
      • 8.1.1 Death/doom
      • 8.1.2 Drone metal
      • 8.1.3 Sludge metal
  • 9 Experimental metal
  • 10 Extreme metal
  • 11 Folk metal
    • 11.1 Derivatives of folk metal
      • 11.1.1 Celtic metal
      • 11.1.2 Medieval metal
      • 11.1.3 Pagan metal
  • 12 Glam metal
  • 13 Gothic metal
  • 14 Grindcore
    • 14.1 Derivatives of grindcore
      • 14.1.1 Deathgrind
      • 14.1.2 Goregrind
      • 14.1.3 Pornogrind
  • 15 Industrial metal
  • 16 Latin metal
  • 17 Metalcore
    • 17.1 Derivatives of metalcore
      • 17.1.1 Melodic metalcore
      • 17.1.2 Deathcore
      • 17.1.3 Mathcore
      • 17.1.4 Nintendocore
  • 18 Neo-classical metal
  • 19 Post-metal
  • 20 Power metal
  • 21 Progressive metal
    • 21.1 Derivatives of progressive metal
      • 21.1.1 Djent
  • 22 Speed metal
  • 23 Stoner rock
  • 24 Symphonic metal
  • 25 Thrash metal
    • 25.1 Derivatives of thrash metal
      • 25.1.1 Crossover thrash
      • 25.1.2 Groove metal
      • 25.1.3 Teutonic thrash metal
  • 26 Traditional heavy metal

Yikes, that’s twenty-six GENRES and twenty-six subgenres or “derivatives” as Wiki calls them.

When will it ever end?

What genres irk you… which ones are valid?

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2 thoughts on “The World of Metal Genres (and Subgenres)

  1. I think all the classification is unnecessary. Unfortunately that’s not just prevalent in sorting out musical genres (and subgenres, and sub-subgenres…)
    Just curious: What exactly is “Folk Metal”? I haven’t heard it that I know of and can’t even get my head around the idea–except to perhaps conjure up some wacky image of Peter, Paul, and Mary in Goth makeup singing “Puff the Magic Dragon”, complete with a smoke machine chugging out fine Columbian…

  2. Hey T,

    re: “Folk” Metal.

    I think they mean folk as in folklore or older/historical context.

    Folk metal

    “Folk metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal that developed in Europe during the 1990s. As the name suggests, the genre is a fusion of heavy metal with traditional folk music. 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).”

    “The music of folk metal is characterized by its diversity, with bands known to perform different styles of both heavy metal music and folk music. 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 mythology, history, and nature.”

    *from Wiki

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