The True And Original Definitions Of Metal Sub-Genres

The definitions of the sub-genres of heavy metal and how they came to be named so have been lost in recent years. Fans know that metal music has multiple sub-genres, but due to the passage of time, complicity of websites and magazines writers, ignorance and arrogance of youth the definitions have been diluted to a point where it has all become worthless today.

As such, here is a reminder of what each style grouped under metal encompasses and the elements that are must-haves for it to be part of a certain sub-genres. This will go against much of what people think or believe nowadays, but as mentioned the below definitions are clarifications and go back to the root and true principles of the different styles.

Sorry folks, we know this will come as a shock to the newcomer or the ignorant, but there is no such thing as ‘black metal vocals’ or ‘instrumental death metal.’ For those things to exist you would have to either be a six-year-old in the brain or write for a poseur website or be a member of something called Epica.

So what were the origins and meanings of the categories of heavy metal?

Sub-Genre What Is It? What Is It Not? Originators?
Black Metal

The sub-genre of metal whose lyrics worship Satan. A style of vocals, instrumental music, a pitch in the music or any band that wears face paint.

Venom – The band’s second album from 1982 was called Black Metal and featured songs like To Hell And Back, Leave Me In Hell and Heaven’s On Fire.

Death Metal

The sub-genre of metal whose lyrics worship and favour death.

Dependent on it being brutal or melodic or growly or whatever.

Possessed – The band’s 1984 demo was called Death Metal and the track by the same name appeared on the group’s debut album, 1985’s Seven Churches. Chuck Schuldiner of the band Death was a member of Possessed’s fan club. Schuldiner’s pre-Death band Mantas had a demo called Death By Metal in 1984 however. Slayer’s Hell Awaits album with songs like Praise Of Death also appeared in 1985.

Doom Metal

The sub-genre of metal whose lyrics and music evoke a bleak and dismal atmosphere.

Keyboards or female vocals or taking drugs or groove.

Black Sabbath – The band’s first few albums evoked a doomy feeling beginning 1970. Other names to reference are Iron Butterfly and Image.

Power Metal

Metal that was heavier and more modern than traditional heavy metal.

A style of lyrics, the inclusion of keyboards, happy melodies or high-pitched vocals.

Early albums by Manowar and Virgin Steele.

Speed Metal

The sub-genre of metal whose speed and pacing is above average and outright fast. The picking and the instruments are up-tempo.

Being melodic or not and having a certain style of vocals.

Exciter – The Canada-based band was founded as Hell Razor in 1978 and issued an album called Heavy Metal Maniac in 1983.

Thrash Metal

The sub-genre of metal that uses staccato and chugging riffing.

Technical music or hoarse or shouted vocals.

Metallica’s Kill ’Em All And Slayer’s Show No Mercy were issued in 1983.