The Definitive List of Heavy Metal Subgenres

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Rho Stone settles your pathetic subgenre argument forever.

If you listen to metal you’ve probably met with the infamous genre debate. Nerds and industry execs love to label stuff, so it impossible to go around the internet without some doofus making Venn diagrams for whether a band sings about vikings or Cthulhu. There are way too many useless genres, some pinpointing needless information like place of origin and others even implying that because a band member plays an instrument that isn’t guitar they’re a different genre altogether. There’s always some genius telling everyone his band is “blackened ambient death groove” and then asks himself why he doesn’t have friends. However, metal is such an expansive beast that it would be dumb to just lump things like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Sonata Artica together. Therefore I’ve devised a total of EIGHT genres (one is a sub-sub-genre because this is hard) to settle this once and for all.

bullet belt

First we have arguably the most popular of metal subgenres. When the fat mulleted 50-something man at the back of the store sniffing vinyl records says the word “metal” he’s referring to this. Unless you’re chasing Charlie through the jungle, bullet belts are extremely impractical. They’re thick, tacky, and they require a particular level of either insecurity or carelessness to wear. Even though, the 14 year old inside all of us thinks they’re cool. Bullet Belt Metal is the genre that brings us the metal songs about metal, devotion to the scene and general brutality. Good ol’ tongue in cheek macho attitude and thinking of yourself as a philosopher are both permitted, even though the former is much more common than the latter. It’s hard hitting, and hyperbolic as hell. Fans tend to be constantly inebriated or straightedge, depending exclusively on the bands they listen to having solos on their songs or not.

Examples: Metallica until the Black Album, VenomMotörheadJudas PriestPanteraSepulturaObituaryDeath, every band that says they play thrash and hardcore ever.

 

coal roll

Can also be referred as “B-Dubs Bro Metal”, in honor of The Ballad of the B-Dubs Bros. To put it bluntly, it’s an amalgamation of the music douchebags who coal roll have been prone to blast on their trucks on their way to buy cheap beer through the ages. I was inclined to not include this one at all, but I know some people would get upset over it, so I did the next best thing and made this entry as pejorative as I could. Bands of this genre get to rake in big bucks and be the trendy “alternative” guys of their respective summers, then to fade away every time another set of acts come wearing whatever the rock n’ roll mall store decided to stock this season. Although it aspires to have the over-the-top, badass mythological monster attitude of Bullet Belt Metal, they trade in the Clint Eastwood/Terminator vibe for whatever corporate America sees as raunchy enough to impress prepubescent boys but at the same time tame enough not to spark significant outrages (unless is the 80s and you’re condemned to have sex with Al Gore). The members of these bands go on to star in their own reality shows and have particularly harsh mid-life crises. Every so often some clueless group of nerds will try to bring back a particular epoch of this genre, for which the world will promptly look for the date on the calendar to make sure they didn’t go back in time to a place where they’d need a cyanide pill. Just like coal rolling, it’s horrible for the environment.

Examples: Metallica from Load onwards, KISSMötley CrüeSlipknotKornAvenged SevenfoldWarrantDisturbedLinkin ParkFive Finger Death Punch.

 

cactus flower

This is the first, the “original” heavy metal and what falls into its vast shadow. If I was in a movie with Bruce Campbell I’d call it “groovy”. As the title suggests, music here is a journey, be it hunting flying whales across an alien desert planet on a dune buggy, a ritualistic travelling to the inside of the mind, or sitting at home drinking beer. Generally at a slow or mid-tempo, heavy or mellow, under the certain conditions its fans feel in communion with time and space. Yes, lots of weed.

Examples: Black SabbathKyussMastodonSleepBaronessSoundgarden*shelsYobPallbearer, Agalloch.

 

NIGHT WOODS

You know how Gaahl lives in a shack in the middle of nowhere sipping wine and thinking about blast beats all day? That’s the spirit behind this genre. Even though this kind of music is the last thing you’ll hear on a forest, it’s the first thing a-coming on that dude that walk in the woods at night’s playlist. It’s sad, brutal and Norway’s biggest cultural export.

Examples: GorgorothAbsuDarkthroneBehemothBelphegorThantifaxathRotting ChristSigh.

 

dragons and wizards

I guess some bands enjoy playing dungeons and dragons in between practicing and watching cheap B-movies. Since most of them are Europeans and therefore weren’t called huge nerds for doing so, they’re happy enough to produce more upbeat music than their counterparts, which makes this the happiest of subgenres. They show their nerdom by being able to play their instruments like they’re surgically removing the hair roots off their scrotums, and by being able to name every Lord of the Rings character Frodo farted at. Also some bands in this genre will teach you more about history than the fat truckers on the History Channel will ever do.

Examples: Iron MaidenDioBlind GuardianDimmu BorgirTwilight ForceWintersunThe Lord Weird Slough FegNightwishDragonforcePowerglove and all of “nintendocore”.

 

dragons and wizards2

So I kind of put Abbath on top and Gaahl down here, when their corresponding genres are the other way around. Sorry for that. IWDAWWRAIWSTAM (hey, if NWOBHM is an acceptable way to call a genre why not IWDAWWRAIWSTAM?) is too aggressive to be considered part of wanting to ride on a pink pegasus while hobbits dance on the forest. Now we’re talking Elder Scrolls meets Doom. Some bands just fit better here than in any of the other genres, as they’re not really Bullet Belt or I Walk in the Woods at Night metal.

Examples: ImmortalAmon AmarthCruachanEmperorBolt ThrowerEnslavedIn FlamesKorpiklaaniNile.

 

metal gear

This is titled with the word metal twice in the title so you can remember that you’re listening to metal and not the musical interpretation of some college student’s physics homework. Just like Metal Gear’s plot, these guys make it all complex. In difference to what the Wizards and Dragons guys do (making it “complex” by cramming as much notes as possible inside a 4/4 time signature), they have weird scales and time signatures.

Examples: Dream TheaterMeshuggahAnimals as LeadersStrapping Young LadThe Dillinger Escape PlanOpethBetween the Buried and MeFallujahCloudkickerProtest the Hero.

 

hannibal

Yeah, well, if Tyree likes it it’s on here.

Examples: Anal CuntDying Fetus, you get the idea.

So there you have it: The be-all, end-all solution to all genre debates from now on, or at least until somebody comes out with another genre that isn’t really more of the same. Can somebody name another genre? I doubt it. Lives changed? Jimmies rustled? You want to call me a poser because Gorgoroth is a LOTR reference so it is on the wrong genre? Where do Manowar fit in? Go get wild on the comments below!

  • Tyree
  • EsusMoose

    Hoveround metal: Stuff W and the MasterLoaf like

    • The W.

      There’s very little overlap in what we like, so that’s quite a diverse genre.

      • EsusMoose

        It’s a lazy term like alternative

    • The W.

      Also, it’s hoveround with one “R” you ignorant little slipper-in-training.

      • EsusMoose

        Edited before your comment. I’m dying from the slipper comment

  • More like

    I Wish Dragons and Wizards Were Real So I Could Fuck Them Metal

    • Dagon

      I Wish Dragons and Wizards Were Real So I Could Ride One While Blasting Spells To Kill Power Metal Bands With Scorching Fire Metal

    • Dude, get out of my head.

  • Tyree

    Sorry, but have any of you seen this shitty Budweiser commercial. This dick changes a perfectly good stout/porter for a Bud. Watch this shit. 0:22

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e60aAnThrvU

    • DOYOURLYBEARD, THO?

      Even the glass is shittier. Tyree, I’d be glad to help you dismember this poser.

    • Scrimm

      How stupid could you be.

    • #grabsomebuds

    • #upforanything

      • CyberneticOrganism

        #upforanythingotherthanabud

    • EsusMoose

      burger>>>>>>>
      bud<<<<<<<<<

    • Void Dweller

      Damn. Horrible.

    • Heresy. Burn everything.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      BUT BRO IT’S THE PERFECT DRAFT, CHECK THIS OUT, CAN’T ARGUE WITH NATURE BRO

      MY DICK HAS A THICK BASE HA HA HA HA WOOOO

      • Tyree

        “PERFECT HEAD”|

        BHAHAHAHA!!!

        • CyberneticOrganism

          THEY PATENTED BUBBLE TECHNOLOGY TOO BRO

    • old_man_doom

      I noticed that last night on TV. WHAT THE FUCK

    • more beer

      He should die! The ultimite party foul ever!

  • HessianHunter

    “Short hair metal” is totally a thing, similar to but not identical to Metal Gear Solid metal. Shitty that’s usually proggy and harsh and takes itself somewhat seriously. It’s “post everything”. People who like this stuff dress in stark black, have short hair, and wear black horned rim glasses. DEP, Kowloon Walled City, Nails, Deafheaven, Death Grips.

    • DOYOURLYBEARD, THO?

      Did you just name off a bunch of good bands? I think you did.

      • Dagon

        *Pushes thick glasses unto face

      • a bunch of good bands and Deafheaven.

        • *Pauses Deafheaven to read this comment, wags finger disapprovingly at computer screen, presses Play again*

          • EsusMoose

            Why do you have to pause music to read words?

          • I can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. I have drain bramage.

          • Sad Tapir the Based™

            Don’t bring it up, it’s a sore subject.

        • Void Dweller

          Hahaha. Deafheaven, hahaha.

      • HessianHunter

        SOMEONE likes short hair metal. Hhhmmmmmn HOO COOD IT BEE????

        • EsusMoose

          probably cause he has short hair, no other reason

    • EsusMoose

      my favorite genre, someone gonna get buried in the backyard.

    • Dagon

      I just call it Pumpkin Baby metal, complete with Oozing Wound, Humanfly, Cantharone and a couple of other bands.

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Oozing Wound>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

        • The W.

          That band is tight.

    • HessianHunter

      Basically whoever Decibel covers that isn’t Lamb Of God or Megadeath.

  • Shrimp in a Pizza Box™

    Even with this list there still isn’t a genre for Gojira. IWDAWWRAIWSTAM and MGS Metal seem kind of a stretch. I propose “GLcore”.

    • EsusMoose

      pickscrapecore, whalecore, french stuff

    • Hubert

      I think they fit in the “Mystical Journey” metal, with all the deliberate repetitive riffs and stuff.

      • Rho Stone

        They’re cactus flower, I actually stopped writing this for a long while considering them

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    A little disappointed MGSM wasn’t the greatest thing ever.

  • JW(E)G

    Challenge: most US atmospheric black metal (whether or not Cascadian) is actually “I walk in the Woods in Daylight” metal.

    With some varieties perhaps better specified as “I Walk in the Woods in Daylight, and all I have to show for it is a mild sunburn, sore feet, and a vague sense of self-satisfaction that will go away as soon as I return to my tiny one-bedroom apartment in the City” Metal.

    Ah, but then I’m just treading back into the unnecessary creation of sub-subgenres.

  • DCLXVI

    bro

    • CyberneticOrganism

      SWEET CAMO BANDY, BRO

  • You listen to bands that are unknown to anyone outside of that band. Molenaarcore

  • EsusMoose

    Poseur metal: Everything I don’t like

  • Trees ‘n Shit is Kvlt O)))

    I walk the woods at night, and I don’t listen to any of those bands.

    • The W.

      You listen to Tryhard Metal.

      • Trees ‘n Shit is Kvlt O)))

        I’m kinda over that now. I’m moving into more of a post-tryhard phase.

  • YOLO-Core:

    Middle and high class blend of deathcore with chorus with clean vocals made for the kids to blame his parents for giving they all the money and education they need.

  • Kevin Nash & Friends

    JJD metal also comprises bands like Warrant and Ratt.

  • This was a fun read and it was very well written.

    …it’s also very wrong fuck you 😉

    • Kevin Nash & Friends

      I agree. They completely left out the metal that dads everywhere like such as Steppenwolf.

      • Steppenwolf = proto-proto-metal that great-grandfathers everywhere like.

        FTFY

        • The W.

          Great-grandfathers and floor technicians.

          • And wrestling fans?

          • And wrestlers & friends.

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            Jay plz! Steppenwolf is so good!

          • C’mon Keving Nash & Wrestler Friends. You were born to be wild!

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            I sure was!

          • They were aaaight. Good doesn’t equal teh metal tho.

        • Hubert

          Proto-Ancient-forefather metal.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    But what about the most important and revolutionary band of our times, Japanese game changers that are Babymetal?

    • The W.

      Pervertmetal?

      • Widdly-weeaboos

        • The W.

          All weebs are perverts, so my point stands.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I AM NOT! I mean… nevermind… Forget what I said.

          • Sad Tapir the Based™

            But all perverts aren’t weebs.
            #LeaveThePervsAlone

          • Dagon

            “Always a perv, never a weeaboo” is tatted on my lower back. Which is an euphemism for the greatest tramp stamp ever.

    • Rho Stone

      pop music is not metal
      *crosses arms*
      *raises brow and looks away*

  • Malted Hate

    I just categorize them by Poser metal and non-Poser metal. 100% of bands belong to the later category.

  • IronLawnmower

    Bullet belt metal 4 lyfe!

  • Merol: awesome music that makes you go full grimm, kick trash cans, insult shitty co-workers telling them posers and music that makes you work without having a cardiac attack with all the angryness you can overcome in this shitty country:

  • Hubert

    My biggest problem is that I like all of these sub-genres. I want a preference goddammit.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    BDUBS BRO METAL FOR LIFE BRO, HIGH FIVE! WOOOOOO!

    BRO I’M SO PUMPED FOR THE NEW FFDP ALBUM BRO, GONNA PLAY MADDEN & CALL OF DUTY FOR DAYS BRO

    http://media.tumblr.com/87b4487c5f9163b6892aed43f8314bb1/tumblr_inline_msz3mlmuSm1qz4rgp.jpg

  • CyberneticOrganism

    This is hilarious btw Rho. #iwalkinthewoodsatnightmetal4lyfe

    • Condom Full Of Croutons

      And he probably wears sunglasses at night.

  • I like Walk in the Woods at Night ambient merol stuff:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luLK3PGbAAc

    #Trees’NShitBlackMerol

    • #AgallochWantsTheirShittyRiffsBack

      • Condom Full Of Croutons
        • DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

          Most Agalloch riffs are decent on their own. String them all together to make a song and you get . . . basically nothing. I call it the Opeth/Orchid syndrome.

          • Zeke

            Finally someone seems to agree with me! I keep trying agalloch over and over again because everyone says how great they are, but I feel like they’re songs go nowhere and then I get annoyed because I think I’m missing something

          • In the interest of avoiding an anti-Agalloch rant, I’ll just say I bought Pale Folklore on the strength of all the glowing media praise it received, didn’t hear what everyone else was hearing, and promptly sold it. Since then the musicianship has improved, but the songwriting has not.

          • Zeke

            It’s just funny because the hype seems to come from people who know their shit. It’s not like deafheaven where it’s just a bunch of clueless hipsters jocking them

          • Condom Full Of Croutons

            To each their own. Their first CD was kinda like Slowdive meets Opeth, to be honest.

    • old_man_doom

      Great album. A Witness to the Passing of Aeons is my “walking through the aether on cosmic winds” black merol… and shit

  • OldMetalHead

    These guys are mostly IWDAWWR, but this song is more Bullet Belt.
    https://youtu.be/EbQlXjfmORY

  • Count_Breznak

    Id put Venom under “Spandex and receding hairline” Metal.

    • Condom Full Of Croutons

      Or Forehead Metal. Long before Devin Townsend, there was Cronos, the Godfather Of Skullet Metal.

  • No bullet belts in hardcore unless FSU is bringing them to a show to load their guns.

  • RustyShackleford

    Canonical toilet post no doubt. Yep.

  • *creates definitive subgenre list*
    *comments immediately create 50 more subgenres*
    *the circle of IMN life continues*

    • Condom Full Of Croutons

      In before someone creates ‘Toiletcore’!

      • CyberneticOrganism

        FUCK!

  • sweetooth0

    I’m a 33 year old man who frequently wears bullet belts and mostly listens to “Hannibal Lecter Metal”. I don’t think I like these new “definitive” genres, I am too existentially confused now

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Bullet belts make a great rear view mirror hangy thing.

      • sweetooth0

        I think mine would probably rip my rear view mirror off of my windsheild. It’s actually pretty heavy.

    • Condom Full Of Croutons

      Hannibal Lecter Metal = Pornogrind.

      RIP, Hannibal (the TV show).

      • sweetooth0

        I do enjoy my pornogrind, or as some of the crust punk people I know call it “rape metal”. Also, seems that bullet belts are a recognized accessory of pornogrinders. Exhibit A:
        http://scareystore-xx.hxcspace.com/images/libidoairbag_testosterone.gif

        • Condom Full Of Croutons

          Pornogrind = coming soon to a local sex offender registry near you!

          • sweetooth0

            shrugs

          • Tyree

            I’m with you on this one duder.

          • Condom Full Of Croutons

            I would say toilet, after hearing Cock And Ball Torture, but that’s too obvious. Not the Toilet, but literally the vocals sound like like toilet.

          • sweetooth0

            Yup, love them pitch shifted vocals. If it sounds like backed up plumbing, I am there.

          • Condom Full Of Croutons

            Or sounds like the vocalist is gargling raw sewage while doing Mongolian throat singing.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            That’s one ugly motherfucker.

          • Tyree

            Mr. Sexual perverted GIF’s.

          • Condom Full Of Croutons

            Oh you, Mr. Man Hanging Himself In A Shit Covered Tub Album Cover!

          • more beer

            Go to a Doro show. The one I saw not too long ago was like a field trip for sex offenders!

        • Tyree

          BOOM!

  • Spear

    I don’t see any goddamned lolbuttz on that list. 0/10

  • Óðinn
    • Rho Stone

      but JAG doesn’t let me call it that 🙁

      • Óðinn

        We’re all entitled to our opinion. I actually like the term Butt Rock. It’s an inclusive term (Hair Metal, Post-Grunge, Hard Rock, and some Nu-Metal as well) when you really think about it. It’s nice to have a sense of humour about cheesy music in my opinion. I probably listen to a band or two that could be considered Butt Rock. I like 80s Ozzy Osbourne and older WASP for example.

        • Condom Full Of Croutons

          Poison got lumped into that category, but I love ‘Native Tongue’. That was seriously a straight up blues-rock CD. #toiletconfessions

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3hmgkPYUuk

          • Óðinn

            Great #ToiletConfession / #ButtRockConfession, Condom Full Of Croutons.

        • Rho Stone

          I like Van Halen, total buttrock

          • Óðinn

            #ButtRockConfessions 😉

          • Óðinn

            Great article. Butt rock on, Rho Stone! m/

            http://youtu.be/LipG9DPTyfk

          • CyberneticOrganism

            That right there is some awful miming.

    • Condom Full Of Croutons

      Wouldn’t that be Southern Rock?

      • Maik Beninton™

        Because is downstairs, hehehe.

      • Óðinn

        Yes. All Southerm Rock is Butt Rock, but not all Butt Rock is Southern Rock.

        • Condom Full Of Croutons

          And then there’s Blackberry Smoke. #TOHarticleNeverForget

  • john

    Hmm. I guess I wish dragons and wizards were real. UP THE IRONS.