Death Metal Music Definition

Metal music’s most misunderstood genre, despite its devilish themes and graphic lyrics. Typically it features fast, heavily distorted guitars accompanied by drumming featuring blast beats.

Named for its creators Possessed or Death, who took the speed and intensity of thrash metal music while adding more tone, depth, and transgressive lyrics.


A typical death metal band typically consists of two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer using hyper-bass blast beats. The musicians utilize techniques like palm muting and tremolo picking when performing low-tuned guitar distorted with palm mutes; as well as producing death growls which require lung power and diaphragm strength to produce. Death metal music is known for its aggressive tempos that feature complex song structures featuring multiple time signatures – creating fast paced songs full of aggressive aggression compared to more mainstream genres like classical music or opera.

Slayer are considered one of the pioneering death metal bands; their debut album Show No Mercy is widely considered as being at the core of this musical genre. Other early death metal acts such as Venom, Kreator and Celtic Frost also pioneered death metal’s mainstream recognition; all had influences from both thrash and heavy metal genres while simultaneously pushing death metal into prominence as an actual musical genre.

In the 1980s, some bands experimented with new techniques that led to a more technical sound, including tremolo picking and palm mutting as well as complex rhythms and odd time signatures. Furthermore, some bands began incorporating classical music elements into their sound, leading to what has come to be known as symphonic death metal (including Fleshgod Apocalypse and Septicflesh as examples of such).

Slam metal has emerged as an innovative subgenre of death metal that marries speed with raw aggression, characteristically appearing with grungy stripped-down guitar tones, lyrics dealing with violence, hatred, addiction and death as themes; some bands even include political undertones within their lyrics which has resulted in them being labeled “hate metal”.

Melodic death metal is another subgenre of death metal that blends technical aspects of thrash metal with melodies and solos to form melodic death metal, popularised by The Haunted and In Flames but later adopted by power metal bands Children of Bodom and Opeth from Sweden respectively. Furthermore, Norway was home to black death metal during its late 80s scene, known for its extreme tempo changes with lyrics that explore demons, witchcraft, Satanism rituals as well as dark themes.


Death metal music emerged during the mid-1980s. It combines elements from thrash metal, early black metal and 1970s hard rock/heavy metal while adding others from 1970s hard rock/heavy metal genres. Death metal can often be fast and intense. Guitars may be distorted and detuned, with techniques including palm muting and tremolo picking being employed; drummers frequently employ double bass drums with extremely fast drum patterns while vocalists typically produce guttural growls known as death growls when performing; many bands such as Deicide, Nile and Behemoth have elevated this genre into an art form!

Brutal death metal is a subgenre that emphasizes weight, speed and complexity. Guitars in this style of death metal often feature heavily distorted and detuned guitars using techniques like palm muting and tremolo picking to add intensity. Blast beats and fast drum patterns are frequently employed as well to further heighten this form’s dissonant nature; blast beats can add blast beat intensity. Blast beats and fast drum patterns are sometimes added for added intensity as well. Vocal styles typically consist of deep growls/snarls/raised raspy sounds; critics may dismiss these vocal styles as unmusical without realizing all of their complexity or skill required in singing them well!

Tech-death is a subgenre of Death Metal which features intricate, technical guitar work with often classical or jazz influences. Bands such as Cynic, Gorguts and Atheist specialize in this style.

Grindcore is an aggressive subgenre of metal music combining fast tempos with harsh vocals and drumming to produce an aggressive yet violent style characterized by themes such as violence, gore and horror. Bands such as Exhumed, Iam the Reaper and Napalm Death perform this style.

Death metal throat singers must possess exceptional skills at producing high-pitched and shrill vocals that can be harsh on the ears, making listening hard or listening at all extremely uncomfortable. Additionally, these vocalists must maintain steady breath while producing these harsh vocals for extended periods without becoming hoarse over time – this requires extensive practice before reaching live performances with their skillset fully developed.


Death metal music is widely recognized for its sudden changes of tempo and key, intricate guitar work and drumming techniques, nontraditional song structures that don’t follow traditional verse-chorus structures, chromatic chord progressions and complex time signatures, heavily distorted low-tuned guitars played using techniques such as palm muting or tremolo picking as well as deep growl vocals that may be hard for those unfamiliar with death metal music to understand.

Some of the more prominent death metal bands take inspiration from horror fiction, films and themes like occultism, Satanism and necrophilia. This often appears in their lyrics and album cover art as well as stage performances and music videos – while some bands take these themes even further; most bands do not go as far; this musical style often shares techniques with thrash metal music genre.

Like heavy metal in general, death metal music tends to appeal to younger audiences – particularly males – but its extreme and graphic subject matter has earned death metal the unfortunate label of violent and hateful, prompting some critics of its genre to view it as psychological violence itself. Others such as academic and musician Dave Thompson believe death metal’s expression of negative emotions such as anger, frustration and despair can serve a cathartic function that offers cathartic relief for listeners.

Brutal death metal is one of the most popular genres of death metal music, featuring fast blast-heavy music with elements drawn from black metal, grindcore, melodic death metal and tech death influences. Some notable bands in this subgenre include Carcass, Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse.

Melodic death metal is a subgenre of death metal that emphasizes melodies and harmonies over aggressive beats and harsh vocals. Originating from Sweden’s early death metal scene, melodic death metal became popularized by bands like Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and At the Gates – although less extreme than brute death metal; melodic death metal remains very fast and intense.


Death metal bands tend to write songs about themes such as blood, gore and murder. Their music tends to be loud and aggressive with distorted guitars accompanied by bassist playing bass notes while drummer uses techniques such as palm mutting, tremolo picking or double bass blast beats. Many bands also utilize low-range tunings with vocal styles that growl, roar or shriek while death metal has long been revered for its violent and graphic lyrics, often displayed with gory artwork on albums.

Noteworthy is the popularity of music in Scandinavian countries, traditionally considered more reserved and disciplined, where such expression may otherwise be forbidden or suppressed. Perhaps music provides a therapeutic release for more intense or forbidden emotions that would otherwise remain suppressed in these societies.

Power metal subgenre is known for being particularly melodic, due to the genre focusing on fantasy-related subjects such as dragons and other mythical creatures while still incorporating metal components. Furthermore, this genre stands out with its high vocals which differ significantly from those seen in other death metal subgenres.

Many of the genre’s leading bands often blend elements from other non-metal genres into their music, such as jazz or classical pieces; this type of hybrid style is known as deathcore or symphonic metal.

Cannibal Corpse, one of the premier bands of death metal, is an example of this trend. Additionally, many death metal bands draw their inspiration from other genres such as industrial music, doom music or noise music.

There’s also a subgenre of death metal known as blackened death metal that features more sinister, gothic tones. This style draws heavily upon elements from black metal music in terms of musical and lyrical content – as can be heard with bands such as Belphegor, Behemoth and Samael.