A Quick ‘n’ Dirty Introduction To Metal

I’ve just realised that almost everything I’ve talked about so far has been something I’ve really disliked. With that in mind, I’ve decided this week to write about something I really love, metal. If you’ve been clicking the links at the bottom of my posts (don’t worry, nobody clicks the links at the bottom of my posts), then you’ll have seen a few of my favourite bands, or at least the most over-the-top bands I know of. Sadistic Abductive by up-to-eleven tech-death band Brain Drill, for instance, was described by my girlfriend as an enormous tumble-dryer full of cats throwing up screwdrivers.

We run into a problem here with anyone who is not well-acquainted with metal, especially extreme metal: it’s not really possible to talk about it without running into genre names that the average person simply has not heard of. Now, the average man or woman (we’re not talking ‘average internet man”, here, for obvious reasons) has probably heard of death metal before, and possibly even has a rough idea of what it constitutes. But I’m barely two paragraphs into a relatively light-hearted post about metal, and I’ve already thrown ‘tech-death’ into the mix! It’s pretty easy to deduce roughly what’s going on, but that’s still not really conducive to having a decent conversation about metal.

At first, I attempted to shoehorn the information into an Excel graph. Thrilling though this procedure was for me, once finished I realised people might find this a little dull. There’s also already an excellent, beautiful graphical, musical and textual guide to metal for the extremely interested in the interestingly extreme at Map of Metal. So instead, I’ve written a quick , informal guide to the key metal genres.

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Heavy Metal:

Sounds Like:

Harleys revving up under an occult moon. Hard rock taken up past that crucial eleventh notch.

Topics Include:

Bikes, satan, leather, satan, women, satan, booze, satan, hell, satan, mental illness and satan.

Notable Sub-Genres:

Speed Metal.

Doom Metal:

Sounds Like:

The dying heartbeat of a leviathan. A stoic warrior picking his way through the remains of a battlefield. Heavy metal slowed down, more melancholic and brooding.

Topics Include:

Apocalypse, hopeless battles, the indifference of the Universe, Lovecraftian abominations, drugs (mostly weed), witchcraft, eternal solitude.

Notable Sub-Genres:

Drone DoomEpic Doom, Funeral Doom, Sludge Metal, Stoner Metal

Thrash Metal:

Sounds Like:

Speed Metal played harder, faster and more aggressively. Metal mixed with a punk attitude.

Topics Include:

Political corruption, war, marginalisation, mental illness, religion, death.

Notable Sub-Genres:

Groove Metal

Death Metal:

Sounds Like:

Demonic, angry, guttural howls and growls over a squalling blast of guitars and drums. The punky aggression of Thrash Metal married to more goddamn aggression.

Topics Include:

Death, mostly. Sometimes only on the desire for death. Sub-genres touch on politics, religion, philosophy.

Notable Sub-Genres:

Brutal Death MetalGrindcore, Melodeath, Technical Death Metal

Black Metal:

Sounds Like:

Demonic, tortured shrieks over chromatic tremolo-picked guitars and rapid blast beats. Concentrated evil in a jar. Discordant and intense atmosphere rather than the frantic and brutal atmosphere of death metal.

Topics Include:

Satan, only even more. Politics, religion, philosophy, suicide, murder.

Notable Sub-Genres:

Depressive Black Metal, Symphonic Black Metal, Viking Metal

Progressive Metal:

Sounds Like:

Uh, pretty much anything. Generally, but not always, vocals are clean and everything sounds more melodic than ‘un-progressive’ (for want of a better word) metal. Often weird scales and time signatures are used. The one thing bands from this genre tend to have in common is that they sound very, very different.

Topics Include:

Usually, but not always, morbid or melancholic topics.

Notable Sub-Genres:

Avant-garde Metal,  DjentMathcore, Post Black Metal, Post Metal

————————————————————————————————

Hopefully that wasn’t too confusing. Or, if you happen to know more about metal than me, infuriating. I’ve avoided listing fusion genres here (such as Progressive Death Metal, for example), because that would take forever. The exception is Post Black Metal because that’s one of my favourite genres, and has significant differences from Post Metal. Here are some random genres that are pretty big in their own right, but didn’t make the list because they’re not really sub-genres of any of the major styles of metal:

Folk Metal, Power Metal, Metalcore, Deathcore, Alt Metal, Nu Metal.

I’ll add more to the lists if people suggest them to me. ‘Crunkcore’ and ‘screamo’ are just bloody stupid genres. Is it ironic that Alt Metal is more popular than most metal genres? I’m genuinely unsure. Deftones are a great nu metal band but they don’t like being called nu metal, so I didn’t.

Nothing ever bothers Juular.

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