Metal fans form an integral community, often wearing merchandise to represent their favorite bands and attend concerts and events regularly while engaging in discussions online.
Some bands explore philosophical themes in their music, such as mortality, power and rage; others take an introspective approach with issues like loss and pain as their focal points.
Death metal music is a subgenre of heavy metal that features faster-paced drumming and complex guitar work, along with harsh vocals that often sound almost inhuman. Lyrically, death metal usually explores themes related to death, horror and darkness while often criticized for glorifying violent behavior such as sexual crimes; many bands that contribute to this genre claim it is simply an artistic form of expression.
Metal music often features dark imagery of corpses, devils, and the supernatural; some may find the genre’s music disturbing; however, many fans enjoy listening to it. Many bands also use their music as an outlet to explore philosophical topics like death and human mortality through musical compositions.
There have been various subgenres of death metal since its origins. These include Brutal Death Metal, which incorporates elements of grindcore music and is associated with Pyaemia and Brodequin, while Technical Death Metal developed from early works from bands like Carcass and Suffocation that utilized fast drumming with downtuned guitars using techniques such as palm muting or tremolo picking – something not often associated with traditional death metal bands like that used palm mutting or tremolo picking techniques in their early works.
Other musicians have taken death metal to new levels by adding orchestral and symphonic elements into their songs, and more experimental styles like doom metal (a slow and melancholic variant used by bands like My Dying Bride and Anathema Lost), crossover thrash, which features rapid tempo/count changes with melodic hints, or doom/death metal hybrids like My Dying Bride have explored more experimental styles like doom.
Death metal evolved as a subculture during the late 1980s and quickly gained attention for its extreme imagery and themes. Its music is distinguished by sudden tempo changes, complex guitar and drum work, chromatic chord progressions that deviate from standard verse-chorus arrangements, melodic riffs and harmonies; its lyrics frequently refer to Z-grade horror movie violence while exploring themes like occultism, Satanism or mysticism; these may also focus on exploring bodily dismemberment or necrophiliac phenomenon.
Though death metal’s lyrics and soundscape have been widely criticized for contributing to an environment of sexism, many fans find great joy and empowerment from its music. Death metal bands boast high levels of technical skill and musicianship which many other genres don’t possess; some notable death metal bands include Death, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation as examples of death metal bands that display this level.
Death metal developed from not-so-extreme influences like Slayer and Metallica as well as faster, more severe thrash acts like Dark Angel and Possessed. Chuck Schuldiner, founder of Death, had also taken inspiration from European acts like Demon Eyes, Sortilege, H-Bomb, Torch as well as playing in Mantas before creating Death. Their 1984 demo, Death By Metal was considered the inaugural death metal release.
Entombed (ex-Nihilist), Grotesque and Carnage were influential in creating the Gothenburg scene during the early 1990s, which combined punk rock riffs with death/thrash metal to produce what has since become one of its hallmark sounds – raw mechanical buzz sounds that influenced death/thrash bands across the world while providing more varied music styles with melodic vocals or harmonies to further intensify intensity. These bands became key influences to death/thrash metal bands worldwide that now make up their sound today.
At the close of the 1980s, record labels worldwide began signing death metal bands rapidly. Earache Records and Roadrunner became major death metal labels with releases by bands such as Carcass, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel Entombed Cannibal Corpse.
Death metal music can be identified by its characteristic guitar sounds: distorted and downtuned guitars combined with aggressive techniques such as palm mutting and tremolo picking; fast drumming, such as blast beats and double bass; guttural vocals consisting of guttural roars, grunts or snarls colloquially known as death growls; fast drum sound including blast beats and double bass; as well as guttural growls known as death growls; finally the genre also developed melodic death metal, led by Swedish bands such as Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates and In Flames.
Musical styles that stretched the limits of death metal include grindcore, which emphasizes breakdowns and viciousness; technical death metal (tech death), often abbreviated as tech death (with bands from this latter category displaying high levels of musicianship through guitar and drum players showcasing speed and music theory skills); and black metal, with its focus on breakdowns and violence.
Many songs in death metal explore violent themes, from Z-grade slasher movie violence to more complex ones such as Satanism, occultism and mysticism – as well as social commentary. Lyrics can often depict graphic scenes such as murder, dismemberment and rape; this has led to criticism that death metal glorifies violence while encouraging hatred towards women.
Death ‘n’ roll, commonly referred to as grindcore, blends elements from death metal with those found in punk and hard rock music. This style can be identified by its aggressive yet melodic riffs and beats as well as downtuned guitars with fast drumming and growled vocals resembling Cookie Monster-esque squeals.
Death metal bands take inspiration from many genres. Early bands were heavily influenced by heavy metal, hard rock and hardcore punk. Today their sound draws upon classical/jazz/progressive music, thrash metal and folk/black metal influences; sometimes combined into subgenres like death-doom. Common themes in death metal include death, violence and horror. Many may find some aspects disturbing about it due to graphic images or lyrics depicting such themes; it remains controversial due to this.
By the 1980s, death metal had gained considerable momentum, and bands began forming and releasing music at an exponential rate. Labels such as Earache Records, Relativity and Roadrunner quickly signed death metal bands such as Carcass, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and Morbid Angel. Venom Hellhammer and Celtic Frost would also play significant roles in developing this genre over time.
Death metal’s initial wave was defined by its signature sound: distorted guitar tones, fast riffs and an aggressive drum style. By the late 1980s, however, death metal had evolved to include several variations and subgenres; technical death metal for instance is defined by more advanced rhythmic features like sweep picked arpeggios and double-time blast beats from its drummer.
Melodic death metal, on the other hand, is a more melodic style of death metal that originated in Sweden. Bands such as At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and Dismember were among those that adopted this style which draws influence from both traditional metal music as well as Scandinavian folk music to produce catchy yet brutal tracks.
Death metal music often sparks outrage among mainstream culture due to its violent imagery. While critics allege that death metal glorifies violence, most fans defend its style as art and self-expression.
Death metal musicians typically possess exceptional musical skill and an in-depth knowledge of their genre. They tend to play fast, often using techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking to add extra intensity and impactful performances. Sometimes blast beats and double bass can even be utilized to increase heaviness of their music while they may incorporate various vocal styles like guttural roars, snarls or low growls into their work.
Through the 1990s, bands such as Carcass, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel and Obituary established themselves as some of the top artists within metal. Additionally, many of these bands used dark imagery such as Satanism in their album covers and promotional videos to further establish themselves as standout artists within metal music culture.
These acts have inspired numerous groups, with each new band striving to outdo its predecessor in terms of speed and sonic brutality – ultimately giving birth to death metal as a genre.
There are also bands that specialize in specific areas of death metal, such as melodic death metal and tech death. London-based Unfathomable Ruination blend subtle acoustic guitars with heavy drumming on 2019’s Enraged and Unbound to create their distinctive sound, for example. Quebec-based Beyond Creation also demonstrate their versatility with their baroque blend of long-form emotion and rapid progressiveness on 2018’s Algorythm album. Triumvir Foul from Portland bring an austere medieval European sound to their music on their 2019 Urine Of Abomination EP. While not as fast as some death metal acts, Triumvir Foul makes up for it with their deep vocals that create an oppressive atmosphere.