by Sabrina Wade-Haines

How many different types of metal are there? What separates them? Heck if I know, but I'll give it a shot. I'm sure I'll get lots of help in answering it from the readers out there. I figure the styles and genres are infinite considering that no band wants to be branded as a genre unless they brand themselves. Let's just set the record straight from the start, I'm not the metaller from way back. I'm an old punk rocker that was very hardcore and dead set in my ways until a few years ago when friends decided it was time to expand my horizons. Oh sure I was always aware of metal and I'll admit to liking select underground metal acts like Deeds of Flesh, Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror. But I questioned up until the past few years if metal was something I could admit to enjoying in public for fear of the "hair metal, spandex, Trans Am" accusations. As one gets older, you just like what you like and who really cares anyway? I've expanded my horizons and now maybe I can convince a few of you to open your ears and minds to the wide world of metal. What I have discovered in this metal journey is that metal may have more sub-genres and genres than any other music in the universe. There may truly be a metal style for everyone. I'm going to consider this article to be very the sense that if you feel that I'm wrong (and several will) email me and tell me why and in the next installment your opinion will be added. So read and email away.

Not all metal is the crap you hear on radios. In fact, I am going to ignore commercial metal. I'll admit that commercial music will always influences the underground because it is a directly opposing force. They will always be changing and evolving to escape and destroy each other. It is a cycle of musical life. Metal genres not covered here are NWOBHM (the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal--spawner of Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc.), Heavy Metal (too generic--probably Deep Purple and Rainbow), Grunge or Alterna-metal (not really metal and done to death), Speed Metal (archaic history item), rap metal (Biohazard, Limp Bizkit, Stuck Mojo, Pro-Pain, Power Metal (ran out of time and space), Progressive Metal (will be covered next time), Jazz Metal (Konkhra, Pan-Thy-Monium and Candiria) and glam metal (Poison, Winger, crap). The obvious drawback is if you enjoy commercial metal, you probably have little or no interest in any of the following bands.

[ black sabbath - ground zero for metal ]

It's easier to divide metal by the major underground genres: Doom, Black, Death, Industrial/Avant-Garde, Grindcore, Gothic Metal, Folk Metal, Atmospheric Metal, Thrash Metal and War Metal. There are several mutations of each genre and I've done my best to showcase them. I've also tried to give a little history, but I realize that not only am I just scratching the surface, but I may also be missing important facts or history. Next time I'll expand into other areas that woefully I've been unable to cover this time. If I have missed or messed-up your area, please contact me. I may not be aware of your metal and would hate to have the readers miss it in their quest for knowledge and new and different music.

Doom Metal

First came Black Sabbath, then the second wave of Trouble, Saint Vitus, Candlemass; then the third wave of The Obsessed and Cathedral and now Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Spirit Caravan (with Wino) and Las Cruces. Doom is slow, bottom-heavy, sludgy and gives one a feeling of impending, yeah, doom. Subject matter may range from the downright evil to the druggie to the spiritual worlds. Black Sabbath developed this overly heavy music filled with paranormal lyrics, enormously heavy bass riffs and crushingly heavy guitars into a whole subculture of metal. In the '80s, Trouble (never criticized for the music, but scathed thoroughly for "Christian" lyrics), Saint Vitus (on Greg Ginn's [Black Flag] SST label) and Candlemass brought the second wave of doom throughout the world. Albums that epitomize this era of doom are Trouble's Psalm 9 and The Skull, as well as Candlemass' Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (on Black Dragon records circa 1986) considered by many to be the defining moment of modern doom. In the late '80s a third wave dominated the doom scene with The Obsessed and Cathedral. Wino had led Saint Vitus with his burning vocals and now had begun The Obsessed whose self-titled album is their shining moment. Cathedral was formed after Lee Dorrian left Napalm Death in 1989. Cathedral received massive critical praise for In Memoriam and Forest of Equilibrium. I'm partial to Cathedral's Ethereal Mirror as well, it is a fine example of doom's progression. Today doom has splintered into many forms yet has also retained its traditional style with bands like Electric Wizard (Come My Fanatics... double disc is a combination of the first two discs), Orange Goblin (their split with Electric Wizard is psychedelically wicked doom), Sheavy and Sleep (Holy Mountain or one-track monolithic monster Jerusalem) and Wino's Spirit Caravan (Jug Fulla Sun is terrific) at its forefront.

[ sheavy ]

From South (or close to it) of the border come Crucifixion (Texas), Las Cruces (more like Texas) and Eternal Sorrow and word has it that Mexican and South American Doom are rapidly proliferating. As always, this is a genre that has burrowed its way into our souls and holds our interest for as long as pain and suffering continue upon this planet.

Melodic Doom

The lighter (if applicable) side of doom is still very heavy, but with more melody and increasingly melodramatic vocals. Probably its biggest bands are Solitude Aeturnus, Anathema, Celestial Season and My Dying Bride. Solitude Aeturnus is the most consistent of the bands--their music is heavy without overwhelming you, yet with just enough melody to draw you in and enough pain to make you well up and cry (Adagio may be their best album). Anathema, Celestial Season and My Dying Bride all have great early works, but their later discs are the subject of many doomy arguments; perhaps they lean a bit more towards the gothic end as their albums progress (trespassing a bit on Paradise Lost's territory).


Similar to doom, but slower, less musical and more pain-oriented and has a hardcore influence on singing. Best example of the genre is Grief and their magnificent opus, Miserably Ever After--a hateful diatribe to misery and pain. Many critics throw the Melvins in this category, but I think the Melvins are more rock than Slo-Core although they are slow, less musical and definitely painful at times and brilliant at others. Perhaps the difference is that the Melvins just like to torture listeners and Slo-Core artists like Grief are tortured and using music as a release.


Take doom and slow it down a lot, in fact try to play it so slow that everything distorts, mostly drug-influenced, definitely uses more morbid lyrics--especially in the case of Acid Bath who has a big thing for serial killers. Sludge is seeping out of everywhere today, the most prominent bands are Acid Bath, Eyehategod, Misery and Crowbar. Eyehategod's Take as Needed for Pain is a fine example of the genre. Phil Anselmo of Pantera must be quite enamored with sludge as he has helped a lot of these bands. He has a studio in Louisiana where he produces and it is rumored that he even participates in several sludge bands.

[ melvins - to rock to be slo-core? ]


Heavily influenced by marijuana, very slow and also strongly influenced by '70s hard rock and doom, but just a touch more tuneful and a little more rock than true doom. The earliest stoner band was Kyuss whose former members form portions of the bands Queens of the Stone Age and Unida. Bongzilla, Fu Manchu and Nebula are carrying the bong-load of stoner onto the front today. There are many regular doom bands like Electric Wizard and Orange Goblin that also indulge in the sweet weed, so the lines are a bit blurred between traditional doom and Stoner. Just add melody and bubble slowly with heavily-resinated bongwater. Pictures of bongs and buds generally adorn the discs and at least one song will drift off into a smoke-filled fugue before the disc ends. Many stoner bands have a psychedelic influence as well.

Gothic Doom Metal

Gothic Doom is the hallowed territory of Paradise Lost, Katatonia and Type O Negative (band of "big" Peter Steele). Gothic Doom is a mixture of gothic, industrial and doom. It is usually slow, brooding, depressed, morbid and eternally damned for no good reason. The music tends to utilize keyboards at least as often as guitars and has melodramatic, deep, male vocals. Best examples are: Katatonia's Discouraged Ones, Paradise Lost's Paradise Lost and Type O Negative's Bloody Kisses.

Death Doom

Make the doom extra heavy and toss in plenty of brutal death, stir with bongwater and name it Crucifixion. These Texan death doomsters deal a heavy load. Lyrics tend toward the evil side with just a hint of stoner. Check out their self-titled disc.

Websites, Zines and Mail Order

The Doom Metal Netguide has news, bands and resources for doom fans.
Another great e-zine dealing with Stoner and Acid Rock is Roadsaw.
Euphoric Melancholia is the site of a Doom Top-Ten that is of interest to doom fans.
Go to Brainticket Records to order truckloads of the coolest doom from a doom master, it's run by John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus. His label is the home for the Mexican doommasters, Las Cruces.
Another prime doom label is Lee Dorrian's Rise Above label.
Man's Ruin puts out a lot of doom/stoner these days as well.
Peaceville puts out a ton of doom as well.

[ paradise lost - gothic doom metal's overlords ]

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