heavy metal subgenres

Deep Purple 1973

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness.

meet all heavy metal subgenres:

late 1960s > traditional heavy metal

traditional heavy metal (classic metal or traditional metal):
stylistic origins: garage rock / psychedelic rock / classic rock / heavy metal
cultural origins: late 1960s, United Kingdom, United States

Traditional heavy metal, also known as classic metal, or traditional metal, is the seminal genre of heavy metal music before the genre “evolved and splintered into many different styles and subgenres.”
Examples include Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Kiss.

Black Sabbath: War Pigs 1970; Led Zeppelin – Living Loving Maid; Iron Maiden – Wasted Years:

Authors such as Paul Du Noyer, Garry Sharpe Young, and Andrew Cope recognize many similarities between hard rock and heavy metal, but state that heavy metal tends to depart from the original blues roots of hard rock. According to this view, original heavy metal is characterized by mid-to-fast-tempo riffs, by thumping basslines, crunchy riffs, extended lead guitar solos, and clean, often high-pitched vocals and anthemic choruses. One of the most important and innovative concepts of traditional heavy metal was the use of the double lead guitar pioneered by bands like Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, and Judas Priest.


meet all heavy metal subgenres

early 1970s > doom metal

doom metal:
stylistic origins: heavy metal
cultural origins: early to mid-1970s, United Kingdom, United States

Doom metal is an extreme form of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much “thicker” or “heavier” sound than other 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, who formed a prototype for doom metal with songs such as “Black Sabbath”, “Electric Funeral” and “Into the Void”. During the first half of the 1980s, a number of bands from England (Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General), the United States (Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Trouble) and Sweden (Candlemass, Count Raven) defined doom metal as a distinct genre.

Black Sabbath songs: “Black Sabbath”; “Electric Funeral” and “Into the void”

doom metal subgenres: epic doom, funeral doom, traditional doom

fusion genres: black-doom, death-doom, drone metal, sludge metal, stoner metal

regional scenes: Finnish doom metal; Southern United States doom metal; Northeastern United States doom metal and Pacific Northwest doom metal


1970s > southern metal

Southern Metal can be described as a fusion of southern rock and heavy metal and general hard rock/heavy metal bands adding in southern rock elements. Southern metal is the harder, faster, more ‘metal’ version of Southern Rock.
Some contemporary acts also include elements of sludge and stoner metal in their riffing.

Down – Stone The Crow; Rebel Meets Rebel – Nothin’ to Lose; Alabama Thunderpussy – Dryspell:



mid 1970 > new wave of British heavy metal

New-wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM):
stylistic origins: heavy metal / hard rock / punk rock / pub rock / progressive rock
cultural origins: mid to late 1970s, United Kingdom

NWOBHM was a nationwide musical movement that started in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and achieved international attention by the early 1980s. Journalist Geoff Barton coined the term in a May 1979 issue of the British music newspaper Sounds to describe the emergence of new heavy metal bands in the late 1970s, during the period of punk rock’s decline and the dominance of new wave music.

Although encompassing diverse mainstream and underground styles, the music of the NWOBHM is best remembered for drawing on the heavy metal of the 1970s and infusing it with the intensity of punk rock to produce fast and aggressive songs. Song lyrics were usually about escapist themes such as mythology, fantasy, horror and the rock lifestyle.

The movement spawned perhaps a thousand metal bands, but only a few survived the advent of MTV and the rise of the more commercial glam metal in the second half of the 1980s. Among them, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard became international stars, and Motörhead and Saxon had considerable success.

Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast; Def Leppard – Photograph; Motörhead – Ace Of Spade:

Other groups, such as Diamond Head, Venom, and Raven, remained underground but were a major influence on the successful extreme metal subgenres of the late 1980s and 1990s. Many bands from the NWOBHM reunited in the 2000s and remained active through live performances and new studio albums.


late 1970s > latin metal

latin metal:
stylistic origins: heavy metal / latin music / rock en español / latin american music / spanish rock / world music
cultural origins: late 1970s, Latin America

Latin metal (Spanish: Heavy metal en español, Portuguese: Heavy metal em português) is a subgenre of heavy metal music with Latin origins, influences, and instrumentation, such as Spanish vocals, Latin percussion, and rhythm such as Salsa rhythm. Some South American bands also add influences and instrumentations borrowed from world music and ethnic music, relating to musical traditions of the indigenous people of America.
Latin metal started in the 1970s and 1980s, originating in many countries of Latin America, thanks to the increasing worldwide popularity of heavy metal and heavy rock from Europe and United States.
Latin Metal has managed to enter the mainstream world, with bands like Ill Nino, Puya, Nonpoint…

Ill Nino – This Is War; Puya – Oasis; Nonpoint – In The Air Tonight:

late 1970s > Christian metal

christian metal (white metal or heavenly metal):
stylistic origins: Jesus music / Christian rock / heavy metal / psychedelic rock / blues rock / hard rock
cultural origins: late 1970s, United States, Sweden
Christian metal artists exist in all the subgenres of heavy metal music, and the only common link among most Christian metal artists are the lyrics. The Christian themes are often melded with the subjects of the genre the band is rooted in, regularly providing a Christian take on the subject matter.

Christian metal emerged in the late 1970s as a means of evangelism to the wider heavy metal music scene and was pioneered by American bands Resurrection Band and Petra and Sweden’s Jerusalem.
Los Angeles’s Stryper achieved wide success in the 1980s. California’s Tourniquet and Australia’s Mortification led the movement in the 1990s. Rap metal group P.O.D. and the metalcore groups Underoath, Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying, and Norma Jean brought some mainstream attention to the movement in the first decade of the 21st century.

Living Sacrifice – Reborn Empowered; Impending Doom – Death. Ascension. Resurrection; Stryper – To Hell With The Devil:

fusion genres: unblack metal (Christian black metal)


late 1970s > glam metal

glam metal (hair metal, pop metal or sleaze metal):
stylistic origins: heavy metal / hard rock / glam rock / punk rock / pop rock
cultural origins: late 1970s and early 1980s, Los Angeles, New York City

Glam metal (hair metal or pop metal) is the visual style of certain heavy metal bands that arose in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the United States, particularly on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip music scene.

It was popular throughout the 1980s and briefly in the early 1990s, combining the flamboyant look of glam rock and playing a commercial hard rock/heavy metal musical style.

The term Hair bands were popularized by MTV in the 1990s and derive from the tendency among glam metal acts to style their long hair in a teased-up fashion. Many of the bands donned makeup to achieve an androgynous look, similar to that of some 1970s glam rock acts.

Mötley Crüe, Stryper, Bon Jovi, Poison, and Ratt are examples of bands who adopted the glam metal look in their stage attire and their music video imagery. Newer bands include Black Veil Brides and Steel Panther.

Mötley Crüe – Kickstart My Heart; Bon Jovi – You Give Love A Bad Name; Black Veil Brides – Fallen Angels:

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