18 Heavy Metal Genres, a Brief Explanation of Them

18 Heavy Metal Genres

In the late 70’s, Heavy Metal Bands emerged and have since been split into many different styles and sub-sets. Each style has its own unique variation, with other styles mixed in. Traditional, which we now refer to as a collection of original bands from before the genres split, is often a grouping. These groups include Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.

Heavy Metal Styles


This is It’s a combination of Speed Metal, Thrash and Hardcore Punk from the 80’s. Many of the Bands involved in Black Metal have been opposed by mainstream culture because they are anti-Christian. The most common instruments are vocals, electric guitars, bass guitars and drums.


Originates in Thrash Metal and early Black Metal from the mid-80’s. Uses blast-beat percussion, severely distorted guitars and deep growling vocals. Inspiration from bands like Slayer, Celtic Frost, and Kreator


This is a reinterpretation of Classic Heavy Metal, particularly Black Sabbath’s early 70’s albums. Slower tempos are used and the song has a heavier, more “thicker” sound. Lyrics can evoke a feeling of doom, dread or despair.


This style was more popular in the 90’s. Drone Metal is a combination of Doom Metal and the long-lasting drone tones of Drone music.


Developed in Europe during the 90’s. Through the use of folk instruments, it fuses Classic Metal with Traditional Folk Music.


Also known as “Hair Metal,” it was popularized in the 80’s. It combined the look of glam with Power Chord Hard Rock Music.


It combines Heavy Metal and Gothic Music. This genre was born in the 90’s out of a mix of Doom and Death Metal. Paradise Lost, Anathema are two of the most popular bands. The lyrics are derived from gothic fiction or personal experiences.


Sometimes called Post-Thrash, It was created in the early 90´s from genres such as Thrash Metal, Hardcore Punk and other extreme music. Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell is a popular Grove Metal album.


Sequencer lines and distorted vocals from Heavy Metal and Industrial music. Popular bands like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Fear Factory were founded in the 80’s.


The name comes from a combination of Heavy Metal and Hardcore Punk. Metalcore is a Punk Rock band that is more focused on slow and intense breakdowns, which are conducive to moshing.


Heavily influenced by Classical Music and very technical execution. It was created in the 70’s, 80’s.

Nu Metal

This music was created in the 1990’s and combines hip-hop with grunge and Classic Metal. P.O.D., Deftones, and Korn are some of the most popular bands.

Post Metal

Created in the early 2000s and is characterised by heavy atmospherics, minimal vocals, distorted guitars and heavy vocals. Isis is often credited with popularizing Post-Metal music.


This hybrid of speed and classic metal was created in the mid-80´s. It is often accompanied by keyboards.


Was established in the middle 80’s. It is a mixture of classic Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock. The early bands combined Heavy Metal from Megadeath and Metallica with Progressive Rock bands like Rush and King Crimson, who had already included Heavy Metal in their music.

Sludge Metal

Originally created in the 80’s, sludge is a mixture of Doom and Hardcore Punk. It’s loud with shouted vocals, contrasting tempos, and heavy distortion. It can move through songs with slow beats and a fast hardcore pace.


Was established in the 70’s and 80’s. It is known for its fast and technical song sets. Thrash Metal, a more moderate form of Speed Metal, is still very popular. Motorhead and Judas Priest are two of the most prominent bands in this genre.


It is a descendant of Speed Metal and was first developed in the 1980’s. Thrash Metal is characterized by low-register guitar riffs, shredding-style leadwork and a variety of lead vocals. Anthrax, Megadeath, Slayer and Metallica are the “Big Four” of thrash music.

Many other Metal styles can cross over genres to create their own style. Alternative, Avant-garde, Christian, crust punk and extreme, Funk, Rap, Symphonic, Viking Metal, and others are among them.

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