Heavy Metal Music Genre

Heavy metal music first made its mark as an ironic comment in music culture; now it has become part of popular culture. Heavy metal bands often explore darkness, evil and power – an aesthetic often perceived as being in direct opposition to hippie counterculture’s values of peace and love.

Black Sabbath pioneered heavy metal with their distinctive, riff-driven rock music. Utilizing distortion and other musical techniques to craft their distinctive sound.


Heavy metal music genre has its origins disputed. Some scholars suggest that heavy metal began with Steppenwolf’s 1968 hit, “Born to be Wild,” while others suggest its roots lie elsewhere, specifically Jerry Samuels’ blues song called “Heavy Metal Thunder.” Whatever its source may have been, however, heavy metal became an omnipresent descriptor for rock music during the 70s.

Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were among the earliest bands to adopt this label, their music influenced by blues scales and chord progressions as well as American psychedelic rock musicians like Jimi Hendrix who popularized long, distorted guitar solos that have come to define this genre.

In the 1980s, bands began emerging that abandoned blues elements for punk rock-influenced sounds that were faster, more intense, and more aggressive – which eventually gave birth to thrash metal music. Bands such as Metallica, Motorhead, Saxon and Iron Maiden became the defining acts of this period.

Grindcore metal subgenre features short song lengths, high-speed aggression and intense blast beats; bands like Napalm Death and Brutal Truth helped pioneer this style. D-beat, or Discharge Beat as it is more commonly known, features similar characteristics with its combination of thrash metal-inspired drumming and harsh vocals.

Gothic metal is an immersive musical genre influenced by gothic aesthetics and exploring emotions such as romance, melancholy and inner turmoil through its composers’ compositions. Gothic metal has also been heavily influenced by doom metal music genre.


In the late 1960s, several rock bands established heavy metal as an artistic genre by adopting heavier drumming and guitar distortion techniques. British groups such as Cream, the Jeff Beck Group and Yardbirds are widely credited with pioneering these new sounds; American rockers like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath created heavy metal by fusing this sound with mysticism-inducing lyrics and various vocal styles ranging from Robert Plant’s yodel-based vocal delivery in Zeppelin to Ozzy Osbourne’s whines in Black Sabbath. Notable characteristics of heavy music genres include their distinct sonic characteristics as well as an overall sense of heaviness associated with certain pitch, intensity and power characteristics that may be altered further with various acoustic modifiers – for instance “fat” sounds typically have low end frequencies below 250Hz while “full” sounds typically contain many overtones.

As heavy metal became increasingly popular, bands began experimenting with various subgenres of heavy metal music. These subgenres include groove metal, thrash metal, doom metal and death metal – with groove metal becoming particularly influential during its boom in the 90s thanks to Texas heavy metal band Pantera popularizing it through fast drumming, short guitar solos and distorted bass notes.

Doom metal is an atmospheric subgenre of heavy metal music that incorporates elements from doom and gothic styles, such as those employed by Katatonia and Paradise Lost, that explores themes of sorrow and introspection. Death metal, an aggressive style that originated in the 1980s and features fast-paced drumming as well as guttural vocals, also falls into this genre.

Symphonic metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music which fuses orchestral elements. This can be accomplished either using a music workstation keyboard to generate “pseudo-orchestral” landscapes with default presets or through using live orchestra arrangements featuring violins, woodwinds, horns and pianos.

Influence on fashion

Heavy metal has long had an influence on other aspects of culture beyond fashion. Themes such as rebellion and darkness found their way into literature with authors like Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft becoming greatly influenced by metal music. Even today, heavy metal’s dark aesthetic can be found in movies and TV shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones series.

Hard to pin down exactly, metal music is typically identified by its heavy guitar sound and loud vocals. Additionally, metal draws upon elements from many musical genres like blues-based rock of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and psychedelic music from Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix for inspiration.

Since its birth, metal has expanded and evolved. While its roots lie in blues and psychedelic rock give it an imaginary quality, its lyrics provide catharsis. Additionally, metal has adopted elements from other genres, including jazz/metal hybrid bands like Cynic and Atheist, orchestral sounds by Nightwish and Dimmu Borgir and more recently even pop.

Correlational studies demonstrate a correlation between heavy metal music and aggression or delinquency, but it remains difficult to draw conclusive causal inferences. One theory has proposed that personality traits may alter this association – for instance, one study discovered that self-identified metal fans exhibited more need for uniqueness and reduced religiosity than non-fans.

Metal music may have earned itself a serious and brooding image over time, yet in recent years it has taken on a lighter aesthetic as evidenced by horror movie remakes with metal overtones like Jennifer’s Body, Green Room and Devil’s Candy; plus major blockbusters such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Suicide Squad have utilized Slipknot’s metallic aesthetic in their soundtracks.

Influence on literature

Metal music can be easily identified by its distinct traits: shouted vocals, louder, harder music and casual attire consisting of T-shirts, jeans, combat boots or sneakers and crewcut-style haircuts. Metal draws heavily from literary sources as its lyrics, thematic elements and imagery often draw from literature – giving English teachers looking for new ways of engaging their students an intriguing way to teach archaic texts such as this genre a modern edge.

Heavy metal has evolved musically from raw blues rock sounds into an ever harder and more varied and virtuosic form of music. Exploration of madness, horror and violence often generated moral panics during the 1980s; however its supporters point out that these themes may merely reflect popular culture; bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Mercyful Fate all explore horror aesthetics while Mercyful Fate offers explorations into the occult.

Studies of metal music have primarily focused on its emotional functions, specifically empowerment (Wallach et al.). Unfortunately, heaviness is a complex phenomenon; therefore current research into it often involves correlational designs, small effect sizes, unvalidated dependent measures being used, publication bias or even outright plagiarizing and plagiarising others research published elsewhere (p-hacking).

Research conducted by some scholars has concluded that listening to heavy metal music increases the risk of suicide among adolescents, possibly because its lyrics and images are associated with social chaos that contributes to mental instability. While evidence on this subject remains inconclusive, it’s essential that when making judgments relating to this relationship we take into account context, purpose, social/cultural influences as well as context of study in terms of context/purpose considerations before making our decisions.

Impact on film

Heavy metal has had an enormous influence on film and art culture, as well as popular culture worldwide. Its groundbreaking sound pushed boundaries, inspired rebellious subcultures, and inspired an aesthetic that continues to shape popular culture today. Furthermore, heavy metal has given way to numerous crossovers with other musical genres that continue its impact in contemporary culture – for instance Japanese band X Japan combined metal with theatrical visuals in order to create “visual kei,” an international movement with strong global support.

Metal music may lead to antisocial behaviors in adolescents. According to researchers, listening to aggressive metal can increase aggression and delinquency among male adolescents – especially adolescent males. Psychosocial models suggest that listening to aggressive themes activate antisocial schemas that foster externalizing behaviors; yet effects vary according to each person – therefore more research must be conducted into how metal impacts on individual lives.

Metal bands’ music is distinguished by its emphasis on distorted guitar sounds and complex rhythms, producing a distinct dark-and-menacing sound. Furthermore, many metal musicians establish deep relationships with their audiences that is evident through lyrics which often cover issues related to mental health, alienation or other societal concerns that affect them – providing comfort and validation in music through which their fans find comfort and validation.

Metal music may often be associated with masculinity, yet women have made important contributions to its development. Swedish band Cradle of Filth pioneered gothic metal style while Norwegian black metal bands such as Marduk, Dissection and Bestial Mockery had female musicians performing black metal and gothic metal styles respectively. Additionally, there have been more female artists emerging within power metal and symphonic metal subgenres.