History, Styles and Subgenres of Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal

Metal music is full of different sub-genres for you to discover. Whether you’re a beginner, a metal music fan, or are looking for something new and exciting, there’s something here for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is for listening to metal, we have put together this list for you; these are the major sub-genres of metal and we will give some information.

History of Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal is a genre of rock music that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Heavy Metal is traditionally characterized by loud distorted guitars, emphatic rhythms, dense bass-and-drum sound, and vigorous vocals. Metal subgenres variously emphasize, alter, or omit one or more of these attributes.

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What is the difference between metal and heavy metal?

Heavy metal is played almost exclusively with drums, electric guitars, and electric bass guitar, though synthesizers and acoustic guitars are historically prevalent accompaniments as well. Heavy metal is often associated with soaring, clean vocals, most famously from Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson, though numerous examples of singers with coarse deliveries – such as Udo Dirkschneider – exist as well.

Heavy metal exhibits prominent elements of β€˜70s hard rock in its foundation, though it is generally faster and more aggressive in its delivery. The style also features greater guitar distortion and leans on steely production for its gritty character. Many hard rock bands of the ’70s – such as Riot, Saxon, and Judas Priest – made the shift into the more aggressive heavy metal sound in the early ’80s, and their discographies represent the rapid and steady evolution of the new style.

Somewhat ironically, heavy metal is melodic, and on a structural level, is a form of pop music. Songs typically follow an ABABCBB form in which A is the verse, B is the chorus, and C is the bridge – almost always a guitar solo. Like pop music, the songs feature memorable chorus hooks and prominent, recurring instrumental melodies.


13 Heavy Metal Genres

There are many different types of metal music. Some of the most popular include:

Avant-Garde Metal

Avant-garde metal is a genre of extreme metal that often employs avant-garde, progressive and experimental elements. Avant-garde metal is characterized by the use of unconventional sounds, sometimes including folk music or industrial noise, and an overall rejection of rock’s typical guitar/bass/drums setup.

Black Metal

Black metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music that originated in the early 1980s in Norway and Sweden, and quickly spread to other parts of Europe. The terms black metal and death metal are often used interchangeably, even though black metal tends to be more atmospheric and associated with Satanism.

Black metal is characterized by its down-tuned guitars, high-pitched vocals, and fast tempos. Artists usually wear corpse paint and may perform on stage in black clothes. The lyrics are often about Satanism, anti-Christianity (and sometimes anti-Judaism), nature and the occult or Norse mythology.

Celtic Metal

Celtic metal is a subgenre of folk metal that emerged in the 1990s in Ireland. It is characterized by its use of Celtic folk music, cultural themes and folk instruments.

Celtic metal bands typically perform their own compositions or traditional tunes in the style of Celtic music. The lyrics are often about historical events and legends, as well as topics such as mythology, nature and the environment, folklore and paganism.

Death Metal

Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted, low-tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, aggressive riffs and complex song structure. Characteristic traits of death metal include rapid tempos, highly unmelodic guitar riffs, blast beats, and hyperfast drumming. Death metal lyrics often address themes of violence and death.

Doom Metal

Doom metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much “thicker” or “heavier” sound than other heavy metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom. The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath and has since branched out into more diverse styles.

Gothic Metal

Gothic metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music that combines the heaviness of doom metal and thrash metal with the dark atmospheres of gothic rock. It features common characteristics such as a baritone singer, dark atmospherics and a lyrical focus on topics such as death, morbidity and melancholy. The genre emerged during the early 1990s in Europe and the United Kingdom. Notable artists include Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Draconian and Moonspell.


Grindcore is an extreme fusion genre of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s, drawing inspiration from abrasive-sounding musical styles, such as thrashcore, crust punk,hardcore punk, extreme metal, and industrial. Grindcore is considered a more noise-filled style of hardcore punk while using hardcore’s trademark characteristics such as heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, grinding overdriven bass, high-speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of growls, shouts and high.

Hair Metal

Glam Metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music with catchy choruses and melodies, quoting the glam rock fashion and image of the 1970s. Sometimes it is called pop metal, new wave metal, and sometimes satirically called hair metal.

The genre is known for its flamboyant visual style and use of make-up, which often includes bright colors and outlandish hairstyles, including mohawks and mullets. Over time, many bands in the genre adopted a more conventional look.


Metalcore is a fusion music genre that combines elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk.Vocalists of this genre are usually thrash or screaming vocals. Some later metalcore bands often combine this with clean singing during the chorus. Death growls and gang vocals are common.


Nu-metal is a subgenre of alternative metal that combines elements of heavy metal music with influences from grunge, hip hop and industrial rock. Nu metal bands have drawn elements and influences from a variety of musical styles, including multiple genres of heavy metal. Nu metal rarely features guitar solos; the genre is heavily syncopated and based on guitar riffs.

Power Metal

Power metal is a subgenre of heavy metal and symphonic metal which focuses on melodic and majestic themes. Its lyrics tend to be based on fantasy and mythology, inspired by medieval epics and tales of chivalry, honor and loyalty. Power metal often features complex guitar riffs, high-pitched melodic vocals, and a dense musical sound that draws heavily from the hard rock and heavy metal of the 1970s.

Progressive Metal

Progressive metal is one of the most diverse genres in music. It encompasses a wide range of sounds, from symphonic and ambient to technical and thrashy. Progressive metal is often defined by its use of complex, atypical time signatures and sometimes by its incorporation of jazz influences.

Progressive metal builds on the aesthetic of 1970s progressive rock, which used classical instrumentation and conceptual album-length tracks to explore themes such as nature, space and science fiction. Like progressive rock, progressive metal seeks to push boundaries in terms of sound, rhythm and structure.

Thrash Metal

Thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work. The lyrics often deal with social issues and reproach for The Establishment, using direct and denunciatory language, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.



What is Metallica’s most heavy metal song?

Metallica’s most heavy metal song is Enter Sandman.

Is Ozzy Osbourne the king of heavy metal?

John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne (born 3 December 1948) is an English singer, songwriter, and television personality. He rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which period he adopted the nickname Prince of Darkness.

What was the first black metal band?

Black metal dates back to the early 1980s, in what’s called the genre’s first wave, when the English band Venom released its second album titled Black Metal.

What is the world’s longest metal song?

Fauna The Hunt (2007) The Hunt – 79:57

Is Imagine Dragons a metal band?

Imagine Dragons’ musical style has mainly been described as pop rock, electropop, pop, indie pop, indie rock, arena rock, and alternative rock.

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