heavy metal subgenres - page 9

folk metal > early 1990s > pagan metal

pagan metal:
stylistic origins: extreme metal / folk metal / folk music / viking metal
cultural origins: early 1990s, Northern Europe

Pagan metal is a genre heavy metal music which fuses extreme metal with “the pre-Christian traditions of a specific culture or region” through thematic concept, rustic melodies, unusual instruments or archaic languages”, usually referring to folk metal or black metal. The Norwegian band In the Woods… was one of the first bands commonly viewed as pagan metal.

Metal Hammer author Marc Halupczok wrote that Primordial’s song “To Enter Pagan” from the band’s demo “Dark Romanticism” contributed to defining the genre.


early 1990s > gothic metal 

gothic metal (goth metal):
stylistic origins: heavy metal / gothic rock/ death-doom / doom metal / dark wave
cultural origins: early 1990s, United Kingdom

Gothic metal is a genre of heavy metal music. It is characterized as a combination of the dark atmosphere of gothic rock with the aggression of heavy metal music. The genre originated during the early 1990s in Europe as an outgrowth of death/doom, a fusion of death metal, doom metal, and gothic rock.

The music of gothic metal is diverse with bands known to adopt the gothic approach to different styles of heavy metal music. Lyrics are generally melodramatic and dark with inspiration from gothic fiction as well as personal experiences.

The term gothic entered heavy metal music with the release of Paradise Lost’s Gothic album in 1991. Since then, fans have often been at odds with one another as to “which bands are, or most definitely are not, authentically Goth”.

gothic metal subgenres: symphonic gothic metal, gothic black metal, gothic doom metal

fusion genres: dark metal


grindcore > early 1990s > pornogrind

stylistic origins: grindcore / death metal / goregrind
cultural origins: early 1990s, Germany, United States

early 1990s >new wave of American heavy metal

new wave of American heavy metal (NWOAHM):
stylistic origins: alternative metal / groove metal / metalcore / industrial metal / nu metal
cultural origins: early to mid-1990s, United States, Canada


early 1990s > symphonic metal

symphonic metal:
stylistic origins: symphonic rock / power metal / neoclassical new age / contemporary classical music / heavy metal
cultural origins: early to mid-1990s, Scandinavia and the Netherlands

Symphonic metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music which combines the heavy drums and guitars of metal with different elements of orchestral classical music, such as symphonic instruments, choirs and sometimes a full orchestra. Keyboards reminiscent of power metal also sometimes featured.

Symphonic metal bands often feature classically trained female vocalists, giving rise to the nickname opera metal or operatic metal, and it is not uncommon for them to feature a second vocalist performing growls, a more common characteristic of gothic metal. Perhaps the most typical and prominent examples of symphonic metal bands are Dutch bands Epica, and Within Temptation, Finnish band Nightwish, and Swedish band Therion, all four of which place a large focus on elements prevalent in film scores on top of the more basic classical components utilized more widely in the genre.

Nightwish – Wish I Had An Angel; Within Temptation – Faster (Broadcast Version); Therion – Son of The Staves of Time:

fusion genres: symphonic black metal, symphonic gothic metal, symphonic power metal, symphonic doom metal



black metal > early 1990s > symphonic black metal

symphonic black metal:
stylistic origins: symphonic metal / black metal
cultural origins: early to mid-1990s, Norway, United Kingdom

Symphonic black metal is a style of black metal that incorporates symphonic and orchestral elements. This may include the usage of music workstation keyboards to conjure up “pseudo-orchestral” landscapes with default presets (e.g. strings, choirs, piano, organs, and pads), or full orchestral arrangements containing woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboards, and strings.

Bands like Carach Angren may feature solo instruments such as violins in addition to virtual or live orchestral arrangements. Vocals can be “clean” or operatic in style, and song structures are more defined or are inspired by symphonies, albeit not adhering to forms found in Western music (e.g. sonata, rondo, theme, and variations) and following a typical riff-based approach. Many of the characteristics of traditional black metal are retained, such as shrieked vocals, fast tempos, high treble gain and tremolo picked electric guitars. Examples of the symphonic black metal include Emperor and Dimmu Borgir.

Emperor – Towards The Pantheon; Dimmu Borgir – The Mourning Palace;



symphonic metal > early 1990s > symphonic power metal

symphonic power metal:
stylistic origins: symphonic metal / power metal / neoclassical metal
cultural origins: early to mid 1990s, Finland, Italy, Japan


black metal > early 1990s > national socialist black metal

national socialist black metal:
stylistic origins: black metal / rock against communism
cultural origins: early 1990s, Europe

NSBM typically melds Neo-Nazi beliefs (such as fascism, white supremacy, white separatism, antisemitism, xenophobia, and homophobia) with hostility to “foreign” religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.). Bands often promote ethnic European paganism, occultism, or Satanism. Hendrik Möbus of Absurd described Nazism as the “most perfect (and only realistic) synthesis of Satanic/Luciferian will to power, elitist Social Darwinism, connected to Aryan Germanic paganism”. Members of the band Der Stürmer (named after the antisemitic newspaper edited by Julius Streicher) subscribe to esoteric Hitlerism, leaning on the works of Savitri Devi and Julius Evola.


black metal > red and anarchist black metal

red and anarchist black metal (RABM)

Red and anarchist black metal, often shortened to the acronym RABM, is black metal in which the artists espouse various far-left and environmentalist ideologies such as anarchism, Marxism, and green anarchism. It emerged as an amalgamation of black metal with anarchist crust punk and typically eschews the traditional Satanic and nihilist lyrics of black metal. While some artists such as Iskra, Panopticon, Puna Terrori and Skagos overtly endorse political agendas and manifestos, others, such as Wolves in the Throne Room and some other Cascadian artists, would not explicitly associate with the red or anarchist label. Other RABM artists include Storm of Sedition, Not A Cost, Black Kronstadt, Crepehanger, Leper, Mutiny, Fauna, and Vidargangr.

Panopticon – Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing; Wolves in the Throne Room – Two Hunters; Black Kronstadt – Low intensity conflict:

mid 1990s > post-metal

post-metal (art metal, metalgaze)
stylistic origins: extreme metal, experimental, post-rock, post-hardcore
cultural origins: 1990s, United States and England

It emerged in the 1990s through the work of bands such as Neurosis and Godflesh who transformed metal texture through experimental composition.

Associated with and inspired by post-rock and post-hardcore, the genre employs the darkness and intensity of extreme metal but emphasizes atmosphere, emotion, and even “revelation”, drawing on a wide range of sources including ambient, noise, psychedelic, progressive, and classical music to develop an expansive but introspective sound.

Contemporary post-metal, pioneered by disparate groups such as Isis, Agalloch, Boris, Pelican, Jesu, and Wolves in the Throne Room, often employs the extreme heaviness of doom metal but has also become associated with shoegazing and black metal. In particular, the recent critical acclaim of Deafheaven, whose fusion of these two genres has been nicknamed blackgaze, demonstrates the growing success of the global post-metal underground.

derivative forms: blackgaze



mid 1990s > post-black metal

Post-black metal is a subgenre of black metal that emphasizes more experimentation and creative expression than other forms, as well as molding different music genres into black metal. Bands such as Deafheaven, Alcest, Liturgy, Deathspell Omega, and Altar of Plagues are notable bands in this genre.

One of the most influential albums of post-black metal was Deafheaven’s Sunbather. Blackgaze has been a prominent form of post-black metal in the modern age, although there are still post-black metal bands that are not blackgaze.

Deafheaven – Sunbather Full Album:

folk metal > mid 1990s > celtic metal

celtic metal:
stylistic origins: Celtic rock, folk metal
cultural origins: mid-1990s, Ireland

Celtic metal is a subgenre of folk metal that developed in the 1990s in Ireland. As the name suggests, the genre is a fusion of heavy metal music and Celtic music. The early pioneers of the genre were the three Irish bands Cruachan, Primordial, and Waylander. The genre has since expanded beyond Irish shores and is known to be performed today by bands from numerous other countries.

Cruachan – Pagan; Primordial – Journey’s End; Waylander – Born to the Fight:


folk metal > mid 1990> medieval metal

medieval metal (medieval rock or medieval folk):
stylistic origins: folk metal / medieval folk rock
cultural origins: mid 1990s, Germany

Medieval metal is a subgenre of folk metal that blends hard rock or heavy metal music with medieval folk music. Medieval metal is mostly restricted to Germany where it is known as Mittelalter-Metal or Mittelalter-Rock.

The genre emerged from the middle of the 1990s with contributions from Subway to Sally, In Extremo and Schandmaul. The style is characterized by the prominent use of a wide variety of traditional folk and medieval instruments.

In Extremo — Herr Mannelig; Subway to Sally – Abendland; Schandmaul – Orléans:

mid 1990s > neue deutsche härte (NDH)

neue Deutsche härte (NDH):
stylistic origins: Neue Deutsche Welle / alternative metal / groove metal / industrial / electronica / techno
cultural origins: mid-1990s, Germany

not to be confused with Industrial metal

Neue Deutsche Härte (“New German Hardness”) describes a crossover style that is influenced by New German Wave, alternative metal and groove metal combining it with elements from industrial, electronica and techno.

The lyrics are generally in German, and dance metal is the term most commonly used to describe Neue Deutsche Härte songs sung in other languages.

The vocals are thus dominantly presenting in deep, male, and clean voice. Some bands use screaming and death growls, which is also common, being heard in certain songs by Oomph!, Rammstein, Stahlhammer (literally “Steel Hammer”), Samsas Traum and Megaherz. NDH imagery is often strongly masculine, and at times militaristic, depending on the group and the song. Guitars are tuned low, usually to drop D or C, and are generally heavily distorted.

Oomph! – Gott ist ein Popstar; Megaherz – Himmelsstürmer; Rammstein – Rosenrot:



mid 1990s > symphonic metal > symphonic gothic metal

symphonic gothic metal:
stylistic origins: symphonic metal / gothic metal / doom metal / ethereal wave
cultural origins: mid-1990s, Norway, Netherlands

Gothic metal (or goth metal) is a fusion genre combining the heaviness of heavy metal with the dark atmospheres of gothic rock. The music of gothic metal is diverse with bands known to adopt the gothic approach to different styles of heavy metal music. The genre originated during the early 1990s in the United Kingdom originally as an outgrowth of death-doom, a fusion of death metal and doom metal. Lyrics are generally dark and introspective with inspiration from gothic fiction as well as personal experiences.

Pioneers of gothic metal include Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Anathema, all from the north of England. Other pioneers from the first half of the 1990s include Type O Negative from the United States, Tiamat from Sweden, and The Gathering from the Netherlands. Norwegian band Theatre of Tragedy developed the “beauty and the beast” aesthetic of combining aggressive male vocals with clean female vocals, a contrast that had been adopted by groups before them, but not as a regular trademark; several bands have employed the technique since. During the mid-1990s, Moonspell, Theatre’s des Vampires and Cradle of Filth brought the gothic approach to black metal. By the end of the decade, a symphonic metal variant of gothic metal had been developed by Tristania and Within Temptation. Nightwish also integrated elements of gothic metal into their well-known mix of symphonic metal and power metal.

Paradise Lost – One Second; My Dying Bride – For You; Anathema – Lost control:

progressive metal > mid 1990s > djent

djent (djent metal or math metal):
stylistic origins: progressive metal / extreme metal
cultural origins: mid-1990s, Sweden, United Kingdom

Djent is a musical subgenre that emerged as a spin-off from progressive metal. The word “djent” is an onomatopoeia for a heavily palm-muted, distorted guitar chord. Typically, the word is used to refer to music that makes use of this sound, to the sound itself, or to the scene that revolves around it. Djent as a style has been described as featuring heavily palm-muted, distorted guitar chords alongside virtuoso soloing, and is characterized by rhythmic complexity and palm-muted riffing. Pioneering bands in the style are Born of Osiris, Meshuggah, Periphery, Animals As Leaders, TesseracT, and Textures.

Meshuggah- Soul Burn; TEXTURES – Laments Of An Icarus; PERIPHERY – Zyglrox:

progressive metal > mid 1990s > progressive metalcore

progressive metalcore:
stylistic origins: progressive metal / metalcore
cultural origins: mid 1990s, United States

Progressive metalcore (also called technical metalcore or ambient metalcore) is a fusion of progressive metal and metalcore characterized by highly technical lead guitar, “atmospheric” elements, and complex instrumentation. Some notable practitioners take influence from djent.
Erra – Seven; Invent Animate – Nocturne: Lost Faith; Born of Osiris – Cycles Of Tragedy:

progressive metal > progressive doom

Progressive doom is a fusion genre that combines elements of progressive metal and doom metal.


doom metal > 1995 > funeral doom

funeral doom:

Funeral doom mixes Deathdoom with dirge (funeral) music. The sound and lyrics put an even heavier emphasis on causing the listener feelings of despair. Keyboards and chanted vocals are added to the low tempo and heavily distorted sound giving the music an almost hypnotic feel. It emerged in 1995 with the release album Tragedies by the Norwegian funeral doom/death metal band Funeral.

genre: funeral doom, death/doom metal, gothic metal
Funeral – Tragedies (1995, Full Album):


industrial metal >late 1990s > industrial black metal

Atmospheric black metal or ambient black metal is a style of black metal which relies on the heavy incorporation of atmospheric, sometimes dreamy textures, and is, therefore, less aggressive. It often features synthesizers or classical instrumentation, typically for melody or ethereal “shimmering” over the wall of sound provided by the guitars. The music is usually slow to mid-paced with rare blast beat usage, without any abrupt changes and generally features slowly developing, sometimes repetitive melodies and riffs, which separate it from other black metal styles. Subject matter usually concerns nature, folklore, mythology, and personal introspection. Artists include Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room and Velvet Cacoon.

Agalloch – Falling Snow; Summoning – The White Tower; Wolves in the Throne Room – Born From The Serpent’s Eye:

metalcore > early 2000s > melodic metalcore

melodic metalcore:
stylistic origins: metalcore / melodic death metal / melodic hardcore
cultural origins: early 2000s, United States, United Kingdom

Melodic metalcore is a fusion genre which combines sounds and traits from melodic death metal with hardcore punk, metalcore and occasionally emo.

They tend to have strong use of instrumental melody. Much melodic metalcore can have clean singing as their vocals as well as growls and screaming. It also can feature harmonic guitar riffs, tremolo picking, double bass drums, and metalcore-stylized breakdowns. Some bands also may feature guitar solos. A few of these groups, like Shadows Fall, have some appreciation for 1980s glam metal.

Melodic metalcore bands include Trivium, All That Remains, Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine, Bury Tomorrow, Darkest Hour, Asking Alexandria, As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red and The Devil Wears Prada.

Bullet For My Valentine – Tears Don’t Fall; Trivium – Like Light to The Flies; All That Remains – This Calling:


early 2000s >  blackgaze


stylistic origins: black metal / shoegazing / post-rock / post-hardcore
cultural origins: early to mid-2000s, France

Blackgaze is a rock music style that fuses elements of black metal and shoegazing.

The Guardian: “the buzz term for a new school of bands taking black metal out of the shadows and melding its blast beats, dungeon wailing and razorwire guitars with the more reflective melodies of post-rock, shoegaze, and post-hardcore.”

Exclaim!: “marries the harsh, alien instrumentation of black metal with the mellower, dreamy soundscapes of shoegaze. Heavily influenced by atmospheric black metal projects like Ulver and Summoning, the genre was pioneered by French projects such as Alcest and Amesoeurs as early as 2005, but has recently risen to greater prominence with the success of groups like Deafheaven.”

The Guardian named Deafheaven “blackgaze’s de facto poster boys, the most likely to open up black metal to an even wider audience”, and Exclaim! described their 2013 album Sunbather as seminal to the style.

Deafheaven — Dream House; Alcest — Oiseaux De Proie; Amesoeurs — Faiblesse des sens:


metalcore > early 2000s > deathcore

stylistic origins: death metal / metalcore / hardcore punk
cultural origins: early 2000s, United States

Deathcore combines elements of death metal with elements of metalcore or hardcore punk or both.
It is defined by an “excessive” use of death metal riffs, blast beats and use of hardcore punk breakdowns. Some prominent bands include the Acacia Strain, Carnifex, Despised Icon, Suicide Silence, Rings of Saturn, Thy Art is Murder and Whitechapel.

The Acacia Strain- Angry Mob Justice; Carnifex – Lie To My Face; Despised Icon – Day Of Mourning:


early 2010s > kawaii metal

kawaii metal (idol metal, cute metal, or kawaiicore):
stylistic origins: j-pop / extreme metal / EDM / hard rock / heavy metal
cultural origins: early 2010s, Japan

At its core, Kawaii metal (idol metal or cute metal]) fuses aspects of heavy metal and j-pop.

Usually uses elements of power metal mixed with industrial metal keyboards and synthesizers, Japanese idol aesthetic and vocals, shredding guitar solos and flashing drums with occasional usage of melodic death metal and post-hardcore unclean vocals and Traditional Japanese musical instruments. Kawaii metal grew out of the Japanese idol in the late 2000s and early 2010s, being pioneered by bands like Dazzle Vision, Babymetal, and Ladybaby.

kawaii bands Babymetal, Doll$Boxx and Ladybaby:

metalcore > 2000s > nu metalcore

nu metalcore:
stylistic origins: nu metal / metalcore
cultural origins: early-2010s, United States

Nu metalcore (sometimes referred to as nu metal revival or new nu metal) is the fusion genre of nu metal and metalcore that began in the 2000s and gained popularity in the 2010s. Some of the notable groups have also taken influence from R&B, pop, post-hardcore,and deathcore.

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

metal subgenres

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