Metal music is like quicksand. If you don’t like it, you avoid it completely. If you enjoy some of it, then before you know it, you’re listening to bands whose names you can’t pronounce. Just like quicksand, by the time you’re done binging, you have sunk to the depths and are surrounded by the weirdest songs.
To emphasise how strange these actually get, throughout the article I’ll include some fake genres. Try and guess which ones are fake. If you get them all right, Dave Mustaine will show up in your dreams and hug you tenderly.
KAWAII METAL: The second best thing the Japanese have given the world, after anime. Kawaii metal works as a fusion of J-Pop with heavy metal backing. The original Kawaii metal band was BABYMETAL. It consisted of a group of vocalists singing in Japanese along with a backing band who play some solid heavy metal. You wouldn’t think this is a combination that works, but it does. Maybe it’s the contrast between the girls’ voices with the brash heavy metal. Maybe it isn’t. It will forever be an enigma.
SLUDGE METAL: This is probably the odd one out in this list. Sludge metal is slower than most of the other genres, but it places greater emphasis on a much prominent bass. As such, it has a groove that makes the songs flow effortlessly. Even the solos manage to maintain some of the funky vibe. If you want a really mellow metal experience, check out KYUSS.
BLACK METAL: High amounts of distortion, blast beat drumming are some of the common components of this genre. What truly distinguishes black metal from the rest, however, is how dark the themes are. From burning witches at the stake (Venom - Don’t Burn The Witch) to murdering innocents in the night (Venom - Countess Bathory), the music is quite descriptive at times. It’s no wonder why some people dislike it for being “anti-Christian”.
PIRATE METAL: Pirates and metal - a match made in heaven. Both metal and piracy have this inherent arrogance, so it is only normal that they work so well together. Alestorm is a perfect example of this. Their electric guitars work in perfect harmony with accordions and fiddles. The lyrics talk of pillaging, being shipwrecked and of course, rum. If they’re not in the soundtrack of the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, I am going to be very a n g e r y.
ROBOTIC METAL: This genre, fortunately, is exactly what it sounds like. The heavily-distorted robotic vocals talk of a dark future ruled by machines, sort of like the Terminator coming to life. The heavy guitar riffs are often accompanied by techno tunes. The drumming also sets an insane rhythm. So fast that only robots could match the blistering pace. Wireless Circuitry, one of the best robot metal bands, also have interesting lyrics that fit the theme. One of my favourite lines would be “With glowing eyes I call to thee, this will be the end of humanity.” Fun stuff.
UNBLACK METAL: This was presumably started by responsible Christians who took offence to the themes of black metal and took the phrase “fight fire with fire” to heart. Their style is almost identical to black metal. You’ll find the same distorted riffs, the same growling vocals. Only this time, the vocals are praising God and denouncing Satan. Not the other way around. But for the most part they stay away from one another and only passive aggressively lash out at one another.
DEATH ‘N’ ROLL: Every time someone says “Rock ‘n’ roll is dead”, these guys get mad. In their eyes, not only have they saved rock ‘n’ roll, but they’ve made it better by adding death to it. The drumming is often slow and reminiscent of rock ‘n’ roll, but the shrieking guitar solos remind you that this is death. Your ears will be confused as the music changes identity on the fly. At least the end result is very entertaining. One band that fits this bill is Entombed. Watch out for the first solo on their song “Left Hand Path”, it really is something.
DRONE METAL: For those of you who were expecting this to be about remote-controlled drones raining down hellfire, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Drone metal is actually a subgenre of doom metal, and here the prominent feature of the sound is how some notes drone on for long periods of time, setting the theme for the songs. With the ethereal vocals bursting out through distorted drones of the guitar, the sound is definitely unlike any you’ve heard before. An especially spooky song by Sunn O))) would be “Big Church [megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért]”. Yes, that is the real title of the song. The bit in the brackets is also one of the longest Hungarian words.
HEADLESS METAL: If you liked KISS for their on-stage aesthetic, then you’ll love headless metal. Music-wise they are like any other heavy metal band but the real showstopper is their get up. They take pride in their performances, where all the members come onstage wearing mannequin heads. Why they do this, no one knows, but it is incredible to watch them banging their heads to the music. The climax of every show is when, at the end of the set, the headbanging gets so intense that they all lose their heads. Literally.
I hope this list has opened your eyes to just how diverse metal actually is. Unfortunately, a couple of these genres don’t actually exist. Robotic metal and headless metal are fictional, but they would make fantastic additions to the world of metal. But hey, at least no one can take pirate metal away from us.