15 Types Of Metal Music That Every Metal Head Will Know
When most people think of metal music, they often picture loud music, aggressive vocals, maybe even violent sounds — but metal music is so much more than that! Metal music made its presence known in the early ’60s and late ’70s and has roots in both jazz and blues music genres.
Perhaps, one of the best things about metal is that this genre continuously evolves and has thus birthed plenty of subgenres. Interested to know more? Here’s a brief overview of the most well-known types of metal music.
15 Most Popular Types of Metal Music
#1. Heavy Metal
Heavy metal forms the very core of the metal subgenre and is the foundation for all the other metal subgenres that have evolved today.
Heavy metal music typically has dense guitar sounds, heavy bass and distortion, and a fast tempo. The usual themes of the heavy metal songs tend to be darker and more morbid such as violence, death, occult practices, and unrestrained hedonism.
Examples of heavy metal bands are Megadeth, Mötley Crüe, Iron Maiden, and Nine Inch Nails.
#2. Progressive Metal
A subgenre of heavy metal, progressive metal combines the powerful, guitar-driven sound of metal with the non-standard time signatures, compositional signatures, and elaborate instrumentals of progressive rock.
Some progressive metal musicians also embrace influences from classical music and jazz fusion. And similar to its progressive rock music counterpart, progressive metal is also distinctly more extended than the usual metal songs and often involves high concept and thematic albums.
Some popular progressive metal bands are Sun Caged, Circus Maximus, and Dominici.
#3. Alternative Metal
Also known as hard alternative or alt-metal, this subgenre brings together rock music and heavy metal and is significantly influenced by alternative rock.
It’s a diverse subgenre that has vocals ranging from melodic to harsh with heavy guitar accompaniment as well as some unusual sounds. Alternative metal incorporates atypical song structures and is more experimental and versatile when it comes to themes.
Korn, Alice in Chains, and Deftones are some of the more popular alternative metal bands.
#4. Black Metal
Considered one of the extreme subgenres of heavy metals, Black Metal also incorporates death and thrash metal. Black Metal songs tend to revolve around darker and controversial ideas including death, Satanic imagery, and apocalyptic themes.
The common characteristics of this subgenre of music are shrieking vocals, unfamiliar song structures, fast tempos, raw recording, blast beat drumming, and distorted guitars accompanied by tremolo picking.
Hellhammer, Emperor, Celtic Frost, and Darkthrone are examples of black metal bands.
#5. Avant-Garde Metal
Avant-Garde metal is also called experimental music and is a combination of progressive rock and death metal.
This subgenre is heavily influenced by heavy metal and progressive rock while also drawing inspiration from funk, jazz, and mathcore. What sets this subgenre apart is its use of unconventional sounds and technical complex instrumentation.
Some famous brands that play Avant-Garde metal are Celtic Frost, Boris, Sigh, and Age of Silence.
#6. Power Metal
Power metal combines the elements of speed metal, traditional metal, and heavy metal music.
The songs in this subgenre are often fantasy-based, with sounds that are more uplifting compared to the dissonance and heaviness of other kinds of metal music like doom and death.
Bands like Kamelot, HammerFall, Helloween, and DragonForce fall under the power metal subgenre.
#7. Death Metal
Thrash metal combined with the first wave of black metal results in the extremely loud and distorted death metal subgenre. If you think that heavy metal is loud, death metal is double the distorted guitar riffs, growling vocals, and intense drums.
This type of metal has a rapid tempo and unexpected signature changes, and musicians in death metal are highly skilled in tremolo picking and palm muting.
Some well-known death metal bands are Venom, Kreator, Foreforest, and Sacramentum.
#8. Viking Metal
Viking is another subgenre of heavy metal music with similarities to Black metal and folk metal.
As the name suggests, this subgenre has major influences of Viking stories along with Norse mythology. Viking metal has evolved over the years, and today, you can hear touches of symphonic metal, death metal, doom metal, and even heavy metal in the music.
Some of the most popular Viking metal artists are Moonsorrow, Helheim, Black Messiah, and Leaves’ Eyes.
#9. Glam/Hair Metal
Also known as pop-metal, this subgenre is the product of the evolution of the glam rock culture of the 1970s. When it comes to the sound, glam or hair metal has a beautiful combination of heavy metal and pop music.
You can expect creative guitar hooks and impressive, catchy riffs in its musicality. Glam metal also incorporates a lot of melody and harmonies in its sound.
Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses, and Aerosmith are bands that fall under glam metal.
#10. Gothic Metal
Gothic metal falls under the umbrella of heavy metal, with its roots tracing back to mid-1990s Europe.
The instruments used in gothic metal rely heavily on modern keyboards and distorted guitars playing complicated compositions with dynamic tempos. Gothic metal also uses acoustic guitars, and a band would typically have two guitarists, one playing an acoustic and the other an electric guitar.
Epica, Evanescence, and Nemesea are some known gothic metal bands.
#11. Doom Metal
An offshoot of heavy metal at the extreme end, doom metal is characterized by a heavy sound, slow tempos, extremely turned-down bass, and guitars with lots of distortion.
Doom metal is also defined by its words and is generally based on subjects surrounding depression, fear, anxiety, and human suffering. The vocals are typically clean, with some bands taking on a more operatic sound while others moving into the screamed and growling vocals.
Some popular doom metal musicians include Pagan Altar, Black Sabbath, and Pentagram.
#12. Rap Metal
Rap metal has strong rap rock and alternative metal music influences with elements of hip hop and heavy metal.
This subgenre of metal music often includes double bass drums, fast guitars, and aggressive but clear vocals. It’s a more aggressive form of alternative rock that also tries to incorporate aggressive aspects of heavy metal and hardcore rap.
Korn, Slapshock, and Rage Against the Machine are some bands that fall under this metal subgenre.
#13. Thrash Metal
An extreme subgenre of heavy metal music, thrash metal is known for its overall aggression, breakneck tempo, quick percussive beats, and low-guitar riffs.
The lyricism in thrash metal is often anti-Establishment and criticism of the Christian teachings, much like black metal. The influences of hardcore punk are very evident in this subgenre with the double bass drumming and speed.
Metallica, Megadeath, and Slayer are some of the most popular bands known for thrash metal.
#14. Post Metal
The striking characteristic of post-metal is its use of experimental instrumentals and vocals.
The genre is similar to post-rock but has a more intense metal sound and draws from ambient, psychedelic, and classic music. Most post-metal songs are longer, reaching over eight minutes, thus allowing concept albums to be created.
Agalloch, *shels, Isis, and Pelican, are a few post-metal bands that became popular.
#15. Symphonic Metal
As the name suggests, the symphonic metal adds the elements of orchestral music to the metal guitar and heavy drums sounds.
This subgenre is also called opera metal as the vocals feature classically trained vocalists creating atmospheric and melodic sounds. Sometimes, bands may even incorporate an entire orchestra or choir to produce this kind of music.
Epica, Therion, and Nightwish are some well-known symphonic metal bands.