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Different Types of Metal Music or Genres of Metal (if you sip tea with your pinky out while listening to Glam Metal)

Updated on July 24, 2016

Defining musical genres can be hard enough; throw in sub-genres and it can lose you. As a musician, it can be a nightmare trying to define exactly what genre of metal, for example my band fits into. Not only can it be challenging to describe our own music, but the lack of defining our music properly leads to increased level of difficulty in getting our music in front of the right fans and media.

Even more frustrating is the fact that many people disagree on what the common labels even mean and what each sub-genre should contain musically. If you look up “avant garde” metal, you will most likely find a definition containing “experimental metal”, or as Wikipedia states: “metal music loosely defined by use of experimentation and characterized by the use of innovative, avant-garde elements, large-scale experimentation, and the use of non-standard and unconventional sounds, instruments, song structures, playing styles, and vocal techniques.” To me, this could define almost any kind of “metal.” That’s the beauty of metal- it contains such a beautiful and strange variety. Add your thoughts on the popular genres of metal below- I'd love to hear what you think and no way I'm going to try to define them all.

I’m sure there are bands that fit perfectly into that specific genre of metal, but when you look up a popular band like “Disturbed,” you can find them classified into about 18 different categories. Wow! I am becoming of the mind that it might be better to define some of the similarities to “metal” music rather than each specific difference. I think we can safely say that “metal” is defined by highly distorted guitars. I think we can safely say that metal genres will all include powerful vocals, aggressive drum patterns and widely varied song structures. I think we can safely say that most metal genres will include up-tempo songs compared to most other music genres. It is probably the least applicable music genre to light, relaxing moods although some people listen for such purposes I’m sure.

Now, there can be some useful distinctions put forth about metal music when you start looking into different types of metal music. For instance (I hope I don’t offend anyone), the vocals associated with “death metal,” and other genres of metal in which some people teasingly describe them as “cookie monster” vocals can be distinctly separated from normal vocals in traditional metal and rock music. This distinction I would like to utilize as I can’t stand the “screamo,” “cookie monster,” style. To each his own, but as soon as those vocal lines kick in, I’m usually out no matter how awesome the instrumental parts are. Can we all agree on a term to describe this difference?? Post suggestions below but no fighting allowed!

Popular Genres of Metal: Funk Metal, Nu Metal, Rap Metal (really?), Avant Garde Metal, Black Metal (and sub genres: Viking Metal, Socialist Metal, etc....), Christian Metal, Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Folk Metal, Glam Metal, Industrial Metal.....you get the point. And most of them have sub-genres. Whew! What is it that makes metal fans so analytical?? lol I would like to do a survey and maybe any readers can comments on any of these categories and actually see if they agree on how they are defined?

Of course there are other distinctions that make sense such as song subject matter, ideology put forth by a band, orthodox song structure (or lack thereof) and a million other traits. I’m not sure we need the dozens of sub-genres for “metal” music that are out there but what do I know? I would just hope that these genres of metal decrease so it’s not so dang hard trying to figure out what I like, where my band fits and who might enjoy our music!


Metal Genres Important?

Do you think all these genres of metal actually serve an important purpose?

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