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Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

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Like many of you, I’m sure, I frequently find myself in a position where I have to try and explain heavy metal to someone who knows little-to-nothing about the genre. This already-difficult task becomes all the harder when I have to explain specific sub-genres. For someone so intimately familiar with this type of music, it can feel a little bit like trying to describe color to the blind.

So, finally, I decided to sit down and make myself a helpful, short list of ways to describe metal genres to non-metal friends, so I can just carry this around and reference it as needed, so I’ll never have to waste brain power on the issue again. And since I’m a giver, I’m sharing that list so that you can do the same.

Black Sabbath

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“They were the first metal band and that dude who does ‘Crazy Train’ was their singer.”

Death Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends
Cannibal Corpse. Photo Credit: Dylan Duncan for MetalSucks

“It sounds like the Cookie Monster is screaming passages from Edward Lee while trying to give you a migraine headache.”

Nu-Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“Depressed dudes with mommy issues trying to be rock stars while avoiding cultural irrelevance in the face of hip-hop.”

Deathcore

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s like nu-metal with death metal lyrics.”

Black Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s bands that look like Kiss but play music that you’d probably guess was death metal but the lyrics are all about how bad religion sucks and the screaming is croakier.”

Industrial

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal with, like, computers n’ stuff.”

Power Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal for people who like Lord of the Rings.”

Folk Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal for people who like Renaissance fairs.”

Viking Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends
Amon Amarth. Photo Credit: Dylan Duncan for MetalSucks

“It’s metal for people who like Thor.”

Stoner Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal for stoners.”

Doom Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal for pessimistic stoners.”

Crust Punk + Sludge Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal for stoners who don’t believe in deodorant.”

Shoegaze

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal for depressed stoners.”

Symphonic Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s power metal with an orchestra.”

Symphonic Death Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s death metal with an orchestra.”

Symphonic Black Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s black metal with an orchestra.”

Prog Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends
Photo Credit: Mark Maryanovich

“It’s like The Grateful Dead or Phish only for metal fans.”

Metalcore

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“Some of it is screamed and some of it is sung.”

Djent

periphery

“It’s bands that make this sound: [make the ‘djent’ sound].”

Scene

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s poppy and made by kids who aspire to look like neon skunks.”

NWOBHM

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“Y’know that song ‘Breaking the Law’? That.”

Thrash Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“Y’know that band Metallica? That.”

Hardcore

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“Y’know that shirt you have that says ‘Black Flag’ on it? That.” (Frequently also works with the Misfits.)

Grindcore

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It wouldn’t sound like music to you.”

Glam Metal

Simple Ways to Describe Metal Genres to Your Non-Metal Friends

“It’s metal for people who don’t like metal.”

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