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Exploring Types of Metal Music Genres & Subgenres

Did you know that metal music has over 20 subgenres?

From powerful vocals and catchy guitar riffs to growled vocals and haunting atmospheres, metal music offers a diverse range of styles that cater to different musical preferences. Whether you’re a fan of the melodic anthems of power metal or the brutal intensity of death metal, there is something for everyone in the world of metal subgenres.

So, if you’re ready to dive into the fascinating world of metal music classification, join us as we explore the diverse and vibrant landscape of metal subgenres.

Key Takeaways:

  • Metal music has over 20 subgenres, each offering a unique sonic experience and fan community.
  • From traditional metal to extreme subgenres like death metal and black metal, there is a metal subgenre for every musical preference.
  • Explore the diverse range of metal genres and subgenres to discover your favorite sound and connect with fellow metal fans.
  • Metal music is a global phenomenon with passionate communities worldwide.
  • Embrace the variety of metal subgenres and rock on!

Traditional Metal

In the vast world of metal music, traditional metal stands as the foundation of the genre. With its powerful vocals, catchy guitar riffs, and melodic solos, this subgenre has captivated fans since its inception. Traditional metal is known for its storytelling lyrics and anthemic choruses, creating a captivating and engaging musical experience. Bands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest have played a pivotal role in shaping and popularizing this genre.

Traditional metal serves as the bedrock of the metal music landscape, with its classic sound and timeless appeal/blockquote>

Characteristic features of traditional metal:

  • Powerful vocals that range from soaring highs to gritty lows, delivering a dynamic performance.
  • Catchy guitar riffs that hook listeners with their infectious melodies and memorable hooks.
  • Melodic solos that showcase the technical prowess of guitarists, adding depth and emotion to the music.
  • Storytelling lyrics that explore a wide range of themes, from personal experiences to social issues.
  • Anthemic choruses that invite audience participation, creating an electrifying live atmosphere.

Traditional metal has paved the way for subsequent subgenres by establishing the fundamental elements that continue to resonate with metal fans around the world. Its influence can be heard in the music of countless bands, old and new, keeping the spirit of classic metal alive and well.

Notable Bands in Traditional Metal:

Band Album Year
Black Sabbath Paranoid 1970
Iron Maiden The Number of the Beast 1982
Judas Priest British Steel 1980

Thrash Metal

Thrash Metal

Thrash metal, a subgenre born out of both the intensity and ideology of punk rock and the technical prowess of heavy metal, is characterized by its aggressive sound and lightning-fast guitar riffs. With relentless drumming and politically conscious lyrics, thrash metal bands create a high-energy musical experience that resonates with fans around the world.

Influenced by the DIY ethos of the punk movement, thrash metal combines raw aggression with intricate musicianship. The genre’s lightning-fast guitar riffs and furious drumming create an exhilarating sonic landscape that captivates listeners. These frantic musical elements, often accompanied by rapid tempo changes, showcase the technicality and virtuosity of the musicians.

“Thrash metal is the perfect blend of aggression, musicianship, and attitude. It’s a powerful force that demands your attention.”

The lyrical themes in thrash metal often focus on social and political issues, making the genre a platform for expressing dissent and challenging the status quo. Bands like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth have been at the forefront of thrash metal, using their fiercely political and socially conscious lyrics to provoke thought and inspire change.

Thrash metal has left an indelible mark on the music world, influencing countless bands and shaping the future of heavy metal. Its combination of aggression, punk influence, and politically conscious lyrics continues to resonate with listeners, forging a connection and sense of unity among fans who find solace in the music’s uncompromising intensity.

Thrash Metal Legends

Band Formed Genre Albums
Metallica 1981 Thrash Metal 10+
Slayer 1981 Thrash Metal 12
Anthrax 1981 Thrash Metal 11
Megadeth 1983 Thrash Metal 15+

These influential bands have not only defined the sound of thrash metal but have made enduring contributions to the heavy metal genre as a whole. Their impact continues to be felt, inspiring new generations of musicians and keeping the spirit of thrash metal alive.

Death Metal

Emerging as a subgenre of thrash metal, death metal is characterized by its extreme music, brutal and aggressive sound, and growled vocals. With lyrics that often draw inspiration from horror movies, death metal is known for its dark and macabre themes. Musically, it is distinguished by its down-tuned guitars and intense blast beats.

“Death metal allows us to express our innermost fears and anxieties in a cathartic and liberating way.” – John Doe, Death metal enthusiast

Leading bands in the death metal scene include notable pioneers such as Death, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Suffocation, and Obituary. These bands have cemented their place in metal history with their relentless energy, technical proficiency, and horror-infused lyrics.

Key Features of Death Metal

  • Brutal and aggressive sound: Death metal is characterized by its raw and primal sound, pushing the boundaries of heaviness and intensity. It is the epitome of extreme music.
  • Growled vocals: The vocal style in death metal is often characterized by deep and guttural growls. This vocal approach adds to the savage and ferocious nature of the genre.
  • Horror movie-esque lyrics: Death metal often explores dark and gruesome themes, drawing inspiration from horror movies and delving into macabre subject matter.
  • Down-tuned guitars: Death metal guitarists typically utilize lower tunings, resulting in a heavy and impactful sonic profile. The down-tuned guitars contribute to the genre’s distinctive sound.
  • Intense blast beats: Drummers in death metal employ rapid and blistering blast beats, adding to the overall intensity and aggression of the music.

Death metal has captivated a dedicated and passionate fanbase, drawn to its uncompromising approach and unrelenting energy. It continues to evolve and push boundaries within the metal genre.

Take a glance at the image below, which perfectly captures the essence of death metal.

Key Bands Country of Origin Formed
Death United States 1984
Cannibal Corpse United States 1988
Morbid Angel United States 1983
Suffocation United States 1988
Obituary United States 1984

Black Metal

Black metal is a genre of metal music that is known for its raw and atmospheric sound. It embraces a dark and mystic aesthetic, exploring themes of darkness, nature, and spirituality. Black metal is characterized by its high-pitched shrieking vocals, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, and haunting atmospheres.

Pioneered by bands such as Behemoth, Mayhem, Burzum, and Emperor, black metal has carved its own niche in the metal music landscape. These bands have pushed the boundaries of the genre, delivering intense and evocative performances that captivate listeners.

“Black metal is an expression of raw emotion and a conduit for exploring our deepest fears and desires. It harnesses the power of darkness and delivers it through haunting melodies and ferocious intensity.” – Black Metal Enthusiast

Black metal’s unique sound and lyrical themes have made it a cult favorite among metal fans who appreciate its atmospheric and at times, sinister charm. The genre continues to evolve, with subgenres like atmospheric black metal, symphonic black metal, and blackgaze pushing the boundaries even further.

Experience a taste of black metal with the track “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” by Behemoth:

Power Metal

power metal

Power metal is a subgenre of metal music that combines traditional metal with a heightened sense of melody. Known for its energetic and uplifting sound, power metal features melodic vocals, fast-paced guitar solos, and epic compositions that often tell fantastical stories. Influenced by bands like Helloween, Blind Guardian, and Stratovarius, power metal has attracted a dedicated fanbase worldwide.

If you’re a fan of power metal, you’ll appreciate the genre’s traditional metal influence, showcased through its catchy riffs and soaring vocal performances. The melodic vocals in power metal lend a captivating and emotive quality to the music, drawing listeners in with their powerful delivery.

One of the defining characteristics of power metal is its fast-paced guitar solos, which showcase the technical prowess of the musicians. These virtuosic displays add an element of excitement and intensity to the music, creating an exhilarating listening experience.

In addition to powerful vocals and fast-paced guitar solos, power metal is known for its epic compositions. Many power metal songs are characterized by grandiose arrangements and dramatic storytelling, often drawing inspiration from fantasy literature and mythology.

Notable Power Metal Bands:

  • Helloween
  • Blind Guardian
  • Stratovarius

In power metal, the fusion of traditional metal influences, melodic vocals, fast-paced guitar solos, and epic compositions creates a genre that transports listeners into a world of fantasy and adventure. It’s a genre where soaring melodies and intricate musicianship reign supreme, captivating the hearts of metal fans worldwide.

A Comparison of Power Metal Bands

Band Country Formed Popular Albums
Helloween Germany 1984 Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II
Blind Guardian Germany 1984 Tales from the Twilight World, Imaginations from the Other Side
Stratovarius Finland 1984 Visions, Destiny

Progressive Metal

progressive metal image

Progressive metal is a genre that pushes the boundaries of traditional metal, incorporating experimental elements and odd time signatures to create a unique and dynamic sound. This subgenre embraces complexity, featuring concept albums and intricate song structures that defy conventional musical norms.

One of the most influential bands in progressive metal is Dream Theater. Known for their technical proficiency and epic compositions, Dream Theater has been at the forefront of the genre for decades. Their ability to seamlessly blend heavy riffs with intricate melodies has made them a favorite among metal fans worldwide.

Periphery is another notable band within the progressive metal scene. With their blend of djent-inspired heaviness and melodic sensibilities, Periphery has carved out a distinct sound in the genre. Their use of intricate guitar work and complex arrangements showcases the experimental nature of progressive metal.

Tesseract is known for their atmospheric and ambient approach to progressive metal. With soaring vocals and mesmerizing guitar lines, Tesseract creates a captivating sonic experience that combines elements of metal, rock, and electronic music.

Opeth is a Swedish progressive metal band that incorporates elements of folk, jazz, and classical music into their sound. Known for their ability to seamlessly transition between heavy and melodic passages, Opeth’s compositions are intricate and emotive.

“Progressive metal allows us to explore new territories and defy the boundaries of traditional metal. It’s a platform for experimentation and musical innovation.” – John Petrucci, Dream Theater

Progressive Metal Bands:

Band Description
Dream Theater An influential band that combines technical proficiency with epic compositions.
Periphery A band known for their heavy sound and experimental approach to progressive metal.
Tesseract An atmospheric and ambient band that blends metal, rock, and electronic music.
Opeth A Swedish band that incorporates elements of folk, jazz, and classical music into their sound.

Progressive metal offers a unique musical experience for fans of heavy music. With its focus on experimentation and innovation, this subgenre continues to evolve and inspire new generations of musicians. So, whether you’re drawn to the complex song structures or the virtuosic musicianship, progressive metal has something to offer all music enthusiasts.

Doom Metal

Doom Metal

When it comes to slow and heavy soundscapes, doom metal reigns supreme. This subgenre of metal music captivates listeners with its down-tuned guitars, creating a powerful and melodic resonance. It’s characterized by its dark lyrical themes, delving into topics such as sorrow, despair, and the occult.

Originating in the 1970s, doom metal draws inspiration from the pioneering sound of Black Sabbath. Bands like Electric Wizard, Katatonia, and Candlemass have further shaped the genre, cementing their place in doom metal history.

Listeners are instantly transported into a world of mournful melodies and crushing riffs, enveloped in an atmosphere of melancholy. Whether it’s the haunting vocals or the slow, rumbling rhythms, doom metal is a genre that resonates with those seeking a deeper emotional experience through music.

In the world of doom metal, lyrical themes often explore the human condition, delving into darkness, introspection, and existentialism. These introspective and thought-provoking lyrics contribute to the genre’s unique identity and its ability to connect with fans on a profound level.

“Doom metal takes you on a journey that oscillates between despair and catharsis, exploring the depths of human emotion through its slow and heavy sound.” – Metal aficionado

The Pioneers of Doom Metal

Black Sabbath, the pioneers of heavy metal, played a pivotal role in shaping doom metal. Their album, Black Sabbath, released in 1970, established the slow and heavy sound that would define the genre. Tracks like “Black Sabbath” and “NIB” showcased their ability to create dark and atmospheric compositions.

Electric Wizard, a British doom metal band formed in 1993, is renowned for pushing the boundaries of the genre. Their album Dopethrone is considered a modern classic, with its distorted guitars, slow tempos, and occult-themed lyrics.

Katatonia, a Swedish band known for their melancholic sound, infuses doom metal with elements of progressive rock and melancholic melodies. Their album Brave Murder Day is a masterpiece that blends heaviness with ethereal beauty.

Candlemass, a Swedish doom metal band formed in 1984, has been influential in shaping the genre. Their album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus set a benchmark for the genre, combining epic song structures, soaring vocals, and crushing riffs.

Band Formed Genre (s) Notable Albums
Black Sabbath 1968 Doom Metal, Heavy Metal Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality
Electric Wizard 1993 Doom Metal, Stoner Metal Dopethrone, Witchcult Today, Black Masses
Katatonia 1991 Doom Metal, Progressive Metal Brave Murder Day, The Great Cold Distance, Cities Buried in Time
Candlemass 1984 Doom Metal, Epic Doom Metal Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Nightfall, Tales of Creation

Groove Metal

Groove metal is a dynamic subgenre that emerged as a fusion of thrash metal and hardcore punk, combining the aggressive energy of both styles. It is characterized by its mid-tempo grooves and aggressive riffing, creating a heavy and infectious sound that gets listeners moving.

One of the key aspects of groove metal is its emphasis on rhythm and groove, which sets it apart from other subgenres of metal. Bands in this genre often prioritize creating catchy and headbanging-inducing rhythms that are hard to resist. This focus on groove adds a unique flavor to the music, making it instantly recognizable and enjoyable for fans.

Notable bands in the groove metal scene include Gojira, Sepultura, Pantera, and Lamb of God. These bands have made significant contributions to the genre, pushing boundaries and incorporating their own musical influences to create a sound that is distinctly theirs.


Gojira is a French groove metal band known for their powerful and atmospheric sound. Their music combines elements of thrash metal, progressive metal, and groove metal, creating a unique sonic experience. With their intense energy and thought-provoking lyrics, Gojira has gained a dedicated following and is considered one of the standout acts in the genre.


Sepultura, hailing from Brazil, played a crucial role in shaping the groove metal sound. Their aggressive riffs, heavy guitar tones, and politically charged lyrics made them a force to be reckoned with in the metal world. Sepultura’s influence can still be felt today, as their impact on the genre is undeniable.


Pantera, an American band, brought groove metal into the mainstream with their explosive sound and energetic performances. Their aggressive and hard-hitting approach, coupled with memorable guitar solos and powerful vocals, captivated audiences around the world. Pantera’s influence on the genre is undeniable and their music continues to inspire new generations of metal musicians.

Lamb of God

Lamb of God, hailing from the United States, is known for their uncompromising aggression and technical prowess. With their tight rhythm section, aggressive riffing, and memorable songs, Lamb of God has become one of the most successful groove metal bands of all time. Their impact on the genre is evident in the waves they continue to make in the metal community.

Overall, groove metal offers a thrilling blend of thrash metal and hardcore punk, creating a sound that is both heavy and groove-driven. With bands like Gojira, Sepultura, Pantera, and Lamb of God leading the way, the genre continues to evolve and captivate metal fans around the world.


Metalcore is a dynamic genre that combines the raw energy of hardcore punk with the heavy sound of metal. It emerged in the late 1990s and quickly gained popularity among fans craving the fusion of aggressive breakdowns and melodic elements. The result is a thrilling and powerful sonic experience that appeals to a wide range of listeners.

One of the defining characteristics of metalcore is the use of breakdowns, which are intense, rhythmic sections that create massive mosh pits during live performances. These breakdowns add a level of heaviness and aggression to the music, creating an undeniable impact on the listener.

With a heavy emphasis on energetic sound, metalcore bands deliver a sonic onslaught of intense guitar riffs, thunderous drumming, and powerful vocals. The music is known for its ability to evoke a range of emotions, from anger and aggression to empowerment and catharsis.

Notable bands in the metalcore scene include Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red, All That Remains, and Parkway Drive. These bands have not only influenced the metalcore genre but have also achieved commercial success and gained dedicated followings around the world.

Metalcore’s impact extends beyond the music itself. It has inspired a vibrant and passionate community of fans who come together to embrace the genre’s distinctive blend of aggression and melody. The live shows are often characterized by high-energy performances, enthusiastic crowds, and an undeniable sense of camaraderie.

“Metalcore is a genre that allows us to express ourselves with raw emotion and power. It’s a release, a catharsis, and a way to connect with others who share the same intensity and love for heavy music.” – Metalcore fan

Evolution of Metalcore

Over the years, metalcore has evolved and incorporated diverse elements into its sound. One of the notable trends within the genre is the integration of electronic elements, adding layers of texture and atmosphere to the music. This fusion of electronic and metalcore elements has created a unique subgenre known as electronicore, attracting fans who appreciate the integration of different musical styles.

The enduring popularity of metalcore can be attributed to its ability to evolve while staying true to its core principles. Metalcore continues to push boundaries and experiment with different musical influences, ensuring that the genre remains dynamic and relevant.

For more information about metalcore and its history, you can visit this blog post on the Death Metal website.


Metal music is a vast and diverse genre, with numerous subgenres that cater to different musical preferences. Whether you’re into the powerful vocals and catchy guitar riffs of traditional metal or the raw and atmospheric sound of black metal, there is something for every metal fan to enjoy.

Each subgenre has its own unique characteristics, creating a rich and vibrant metal music community. Fans connect over their shared love for the genre and bond over the music that speaks to their souls.

So, whether you prefer the melodic anthems of power metal or the brutal intensity of death metal, take the opportunity to embrace the diversity and explore the various subgenres of metal music. Rock on!


What are the different types of metal music genres?

The metal music genre is incredibly diverse, with various subgenres that cater to different musical preferences. Some popular metal subgenres include traditional metal, thrash metal, death metal, black metal, power metal, progressive metal, doom metal, groove metal, and metalcore.

What is traditional metal?

Traditional metal, also known as classic metal, serves as the foundation of the metal genre. It features powerful vocals, catchy guitar riffs, melodic solos, storytelling lyrics, and anthemic choruses. Bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest are notable examples of traditional metal.

What is thrash metal?

Thrash metal is a subgenre that combines the aggression of punk with the speed and technicality of heavy metal. It is characterized by lightning-fast guitar riffs, relentless drumming, and politically conscious lyrics. Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth are prominent bands within the thrash metal realm.

What is death metal?

Death metal emerged from thrash metal and features a brutal and aggressive sound with growled vocals and horror movie-esque lyrics. It often utilizes down-tuned guitars and intense blast beats. Bands like Death, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Suffocation, and Obituary have pioneered the death metal genre.

What is black metal?

Black metal is known for its raw and atmospheric sound, high-pitched shrieking vocals, and tremolo-picked guitar riffs. It explores themes of darkness and mysticism. Notable black metal bands include Behemoth, Mayhem, Burzum, and Emperor.

What is power metal?

Power metal combines traditional metal with a heightened sense of melody. It features melodic vocals, fast-paced guitar solos, and epic compositions. Helloween, Blind Guardian, and Stratovarius are notable bands within the power metal genre.

What is progressive metal?

Progressive metal pushes the boundaries of traditional metal and incorporates elements from various musical styles. It features complex song structures, virtuosic musicianship, and experimentation. Notable progressive metal bands include Dream Theater, Periphery, Tesseract, and Opeth.

What is doom metal?

Doom metal embraces a slow, heavy, and melancholic sound with down-tuned guitars and dark lyrical themes. Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Katatonia, and Candlemass are prominent bands in the doom metal genre.

What is groove metal?

Groove metal emerged as a fusion of thrash metal and hardcore punk, featuring mid-tempo grooves and aggressive riffing. Notable groove metal bands include Gojira, Sepultura, Pantera, and Lamb of God.

What is metalcore?

Metalcore combines elements of metal and hardcore punk, resulting in a heavy and energetic sound. It often features breakdowns and incorporates electronic elements. Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red, All That Remains, and Parkway Drive are notable metalcore bands.

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