heavy metal subgenres - page 2

late 1970s > extreme metal

extreme metal:
stylistic origins: heavy metal, hardcore punk (except doom metal)
cultural origins: late 1970s to late 1980s, United States, Europe

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a “cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression”.

The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound associated with the speed metal, thrash metal, death metal, black metal and doom metal genres.

With the exception of doom metal, all of these genres are characterized by fast tempos, attesting to their roots in hardcore punk, which has also fused with extreme metal in the forms of crossover thrash, crust punk, grindcore, sludge metal, and metalcore.

Though many extreme sub-styles are not very well known to mainstream music fans, extreme metal has influenced an array of musical performers inside and outside of heavy metal.

subgenres: black metal (ambient black metal, folk black metal, industrial black metal, post-black metal (blackgaze), psychedelic black metal, symphonic black metal) / death metal (brutal death metal, industrial death metal, melodic death metal, slam death metal, symphonic death metal, technical death metal) / doom metal (epic doom, traditional doom) / speed metal / thrash metal


Genres influenced by extreme metal but usually not considered extreme themselves:

avant-garde metal
funk metal, influenced by thrash metal
gothic metal, influenced by death-doom and doom metal
groove metal, influenced by thrash metal and death metal
neoclassical metal and power metal, influenced by speed metal and thrash metal
post-metal, influenced by doom metal and later black metal


late 1970s > neoclassical metal

neoclassical metal (shred metal):
stylistic origins: heavy metal / classical / speed metal
cultural origins: late 1970s and early 1980s, Sweden, United States, United Kingdom

Neoclassical metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that is heavily influenced by classical music and usually features very technical playing, consisting of elements borrowed from both classical and speed metal music. Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore pioneered the subgenre by merging classical melodies and blues rock. Later, Yngwie Malmsteen became one of the most notable musicians in the subgenre and contributed greatly to the development of the style in the 1980s. Other notable players in the genre are Randy Rhoads, Jason Becker, Tony MacAlpine, Vinnie Moore, Uli Jon Roth, Stéphan Forté, Wolf Hoffmann and Timo Tolkki.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Far Beyond The Sun; Jason Becker – End of the Beginning; Vinnie Moore – Morning Star:

subgenres: symphonic metal

late 1970s > speed metal

speed metal:
stylistic origins: NWOBHM / heavy metal / hardcore punk
cultural origins: late 1970s and early 1980s, Europe, North America

Speed metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music that originated in the late 1970s from new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) roots. It is described by AllMusic as “extremely fast, abrasive, and technically demanding” music.

“It is usually considered less abrasive and more melodic than thrash metal, showing less influence from hardcore punk. However, speed metal is usually faster and more aggressive than traditional heavy metal, also showing more inclination to virtuoso soloing and featuring short instrumental passages between couplets. Speed metal songs frequently make use of highly expressive vocals, but are usually less likely to employ ‘harsh’ vocals than thrash metal songs.”

Blind Guardian – Majesty; Helloween – Twilight Of The Gods; Pantera – Burnnn!:

derivative: neoclassical metal, power metal, thrash metal


doom metal > early 1980s > traditional doom metal

traditional doom metal (trad doom):

Influenced by 70s and 80s heavy metal, traditional doom metal bands more commonly use higher guitar tunings and do not play as slow as many other doom bands.

Traditional doom bands typically play slow to mid-tempo songs with a thick and heavy sound with the Electric Bass following the melody line and sometimes employ the usage of Keyboards although assuming a secondary role on traditional doom metal songs.

Vocals are usually clean with the occasional growl or scream. The lyrics in traditional doom usually are eerie and dark like other doom metal divisions. Some bands who play traditional doom metal are Orodruin, Reverend Bizarre, Witchcraft, Saint Vitus and Count Raven.

Orodruin – Epicurean Mass; Saint Vitus – I Bleed Black; Count Raven – A Devastating Age:


early 1980s > thrash metal

thrash metal:
stylistic origins: NWOBHM / speed metal / hardcore punk
cultural origins: early 1980s, United States, United Kingdom, and Germany
regional scenes: Australia, San Francisco Bay Area, Brazil, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom

The genre evolved in the early 1980s from combining the fast drum beats and attitude of hardcore with the double bass drumming, heavy and complex guitar style of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM). It emerged partially as a reaction to the more conventional and widely acceptable glam metal, a less aggressive, pop music–infused heavy metal subgenre which appeared simultaneously. Thrash metal was an inspiration for subsequent extreme genres such as death metal and black metal.

Four American bands—Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer—are credited with pioneering and popularizing the genre, and they have come to be called the “Big Four of Thrash”. The Clash of the Titans tour (1990–1991), which featured Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, is considered the genre’s pinnacle, after which thrash metal saw a decline in popularity throughout the decade. Thrash metal has seen a resurgence in recent times, with many of the older bands returning to their roots with their new releases. A new generation of thrash metal bands emerged in the early 2000s, drawing lyrical and visual inspiration from the older groups.

Megadeth – Holy Wars… The Punishment Due; Metallica – Master of Puppets (Live); Slayer – Raining Blood:

derivative: death metal, black metal, groove metal

fusion genres: crossover thrash, grindcore, heavy hardcore


thrash metal > early 1980s > crossover thrash

crossover thrash (crossover):
stylistic origins: hardcore punk / thrash metal
cultural origins: early 1980s, United States

Crossover thrash, often abbreviated to “crossover,” and sometimes called also “punk metal,” is a form of thrash metal that contains more hardcore punk elements than standard thrash. The genre lies on a continuum between heavy metal and punk rock. The genre is often confused with thrashcore, which is essentially a faster hardcore punk rather than a more punk-oriented form of metal. Corrosion of Conformity, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, Stormtroopers of Death, Suicidal Tendencies and Discharge are major bands in the genre.

crossover thrash albums
The Accüsed – The return of Martha splatterhead; Attitude Adjustment – American Paranoia [Full Vinyl 1986]; Carnivore- Retaliation:

derivative: metalcore


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