Metal subgenres. This is a topic that tends to come up a lot in the metal community, so in an effort to perpetuate the debate, I decided to write a short piece about it, including a poll at the end for our readers. Personally, I get annoyed with long, intricate classifications when it comes to talking about/recommending bands, but I also respect the slue of innovative artists that have come and gone who are responsible for said classifications.
When you talk about the more popular subgenres of metal, certain bands instantly come to mind, and it’s those bands that make the subgenre system necessary to a certain extent. When you talk about black metal, you should instantly think of Darkthrone, Burzum, Gorgoroth, Immortal, etc. In death metal, bands like Death (of course), Deicide or Cannibal Corpse come to my mind. Thrash makes me think Slayer or Death Angel, doom makes me think Black Sabbath (or metal in general) and Judas Priest is an instant ringer for heavy metal. It goes on and on, but this article isn’t about the proper way to classify bands, because I think that depending on the individual listener, there may not be a proper way. Sure, bands have pioneered subgenres and are incredibly proud of their accomplishments (rightfully so), but an avid metal listener might interpret certain sounds differently, depending on what other bands they have to compare that sound to, or in whatever order they started listening to the bands in their music libraries.
Just because a person might describe a band differently than you, doesn’t necessarily make them less of a metalhead. If you adhere to the belief that perception is reality, then it’s almost impossible to predict exactly how a brand spankin’ new metalhead without internet access for example, might verbally describe a black metal, death metal, or melodic death album they found on the street that they really like. At the same time, someone well educated in the subgenre classification system, might be so sick of trying to narrow down the “perfect” way to describe every band that pops up on Bandcamp, that they just give up and start calling all metal bands metal bands.
So, at this time, I’d like to call the question: How do you deal with subgenres as a metalhead? We’d really appreciate some feedback via the poll below. Also, feel free to add answers if none of the 4 answers I’ve provided work for you. Thanks, everyone!