14 Metal Genres Graded On How Important Vs. How Entertaining They Are


There are two wolves inside of popular music that are embroiled in a never-ending battle. One wolf feeds on cultural importance, societal relevance, and how much a band or song means something to the world. The other thrives on fun, good times, and how much a band or song makes you shake your ass and get laid. Which wolf wins? It doesn’t matter. The whole two-wolves parable is for asshole crossfit type who believe in the concepts like ‘Alpha and Beta males.’ Feed both wolves.

Cultural importance and having fun will always be music’s two warring factions. The former thinks itself more noble and intellectual than the latter because it’s focused on something other than itself; the latter thinks itself better than the former because it’s the fun-loving pal who makes out with Cultural Importance’s significant other after hours. This is especially true in metal, a musical culture that at any point considers itself both intellectually superior and more entertaining than any other type of music. But not all metal subgenres are equal, and while some are excelling at one class, they’re straight-up failing the other one.

Here, for your amusement and outrage, are 14 subgenres of metal graded according to historical impact versus how enjoyable they actually are…

Glam metal

  • Importance: B
  • Entertainment: B+ 

Obviously, the importance of glam metal is considerable, given just how big a deal it was in the ’80s. For a generation of outsiders, glam is heavy metal. And the way it reached those heights was by being really, really fun to listen to, full of big hooks and lyrics about porking. That said, the genre gets solid B’s here because it was also, you know, kind of cringe. Glam is a lot of fun up until a point, but it was also incredibly stupid and glitzy. We’ll always have The Rainbow.

Black metal

  • Importance: A+
  • Entertainment: F

Here’s our grim, frostbitten take: black metal was the most important underground movement within metal. The subgenre pushed metal to extremes that it needed both to drive home its extremity and to finally look at itself in the mirror. That said, most black metal is just not very enjoyable to listen to. For every awesome band making epic devil music, there are 257 dudes in their bedrooms putting out albums that are just KRANGALANGALANGALANG UUUUUUGH. Vital to our culture, not always welcome on the party mix.


  • Importance: B+
  • Entertainment: A

Thrash definitely has one of the highest combined score on this list! And that speaks to its origins – thrash evolved out of hardcore punk’s social consciousness and unfathomable rage, but the genre also remembered how bitchin’ Iron Maiden could be. As such, the scene both broke the shallow candy-coating of glam metal without sacrificing a certain danceability to their music. Show us a genre more exciting than thrash and we’ll roll our eyes at you.

Death metal 

  • Importance: B
  • Entertainment: B-

On the one hand, death metal opened up metal’s obsession with undying extremity and launched a million other little subgenres. For that, we owe it. But it’s also always existed in its own little world, obsessed with itself and shunning society at large, so it’s not terribly important. That’s also why it’s not the most fun genre – being into death metal so often feels like being involved in all the scene bullshit and arm-folding that goes with it. Anyone surprised by these grades? No? Cool.

Power metal

  • Importance: C
  • Entertainment: B

Power metal will always be somewhat important because it keeps the ‘metal thing’ alive – the traditional, wailing, main-stage-at-a-big-European-fest metal. And it’s fun because you can feel like some fantasy knight while listening to it. But overall, the genre is kind of exhausting, and exists in its own world that rarely ages or influences anything around it. In that respect, power metal is like your spleen – it helps you digest the alcohol well enough, but at the end of the day, you can take it or leave it.


  • Importance: B+
  • Entertainment: C+

You can hear why metalcore is important any time you turn on rock radio. Today, almost every mainstream rock band have traces of metalcore in their use of big choruses and double-bass drumming. But Jesus, what a ponderous scene. Due to its connection with emo and its relationship to the Internet when it first exploded, metalcore is exhausting, and the fun that comes with it is so often overshadowed by its angst and the culture around it. The people who make it can party, but the music itself is no smiles.

Goth metal

  • Importance: F
  • Entertainment: A-

Man, goth metal is so much fun to listen to! The genre’s tendency towards melody means it’s consistently catchy, and hey, who doesn’t love some spooky riffs in October? But come on, it’s simply never mattered. In truth, even when goth metal blew up with bands like Type O and HIM, it didn’t change much of the scene around it, or make anyone re-evaluate what they think about metal. No one’s heard a goth metal track and thought, This changes everything, they’ve just thought, Oh, cool!


  • Importance: B+
  • Entertainment: B+

Solid marks for NWOBHM, and rightly so. The genre paved the way for all of metal after it, and its high-flying riffs and anthemic choruses make it a blast to listen to. While it would never get double 10s – it’s just a little nerdy, not quite fast enough – it deserves these respectable grades in both categories. Who doesn’t love Iron Maiden? Fucking no one, that’s who.


  • Importance: B-
  • Entertainment: D+

Deathcore is the ultimate genre that would claim it isn’t here to be important, or enjoyed, or graded by the likes of our bloggers asses. And that’s why it’s grades are so iffy. If you love deathcore, it’s the only music you need and the most important genre in the world, but for everyone else, it’s just a thing some people do. Extra boost on importance because of how it’s influenced extreme metal by showing musicians what they didn’t want to be.

Groove metal

  • Importance: B
  • Entertainment: A-

Unlike a lot of other metal subgenres, groove metal’s importance and fun are indivisible. That’s because it was the first genre to show fans that metal, really heavy, nasty, grody metal, could be super catchy and entertaining. Because make no mistake, groove metal is just more fun than other genres of metal. Pantera, Exhorder, White Zombie and Lamb of God – these motherfuckers rule, no matter how many times you slice it. Listening to them might be the most fun you can have pumping some metal. Unfortunately, butt rock followed with it, so, the minus.

Doom metal

  • Importance: C
  • Entertainment: B

Look, if you’re into heavy metal, doom’s a blast. If you’re not, it’s kind of galumphy, but you can get it. But while it’s been vital to metal in so many ways, inspiring everything from stoner heaviness to pure drawn-out agony, doom metal can also feel like as closed circuit. Everyone loves some doom, but there isn’t a doom metal look or feel outside of van art and weed worship. To put it another way, your average doom diehard usually looks like any metal dude or a crust punk. The B grade comes in part from Sabbath, though calling them a doom band feels limiting.

Prog metal

  • Importance: B-
  • Entertainment: C

For both cultural importance and entertainment value, prog metal gave us a the epic wheedlies and obsessive technical prowess that would shape metal for ages to come. Metalheads needed Rush back in the day, no question. But let’s be real: prog metal is only important within metal, and only certain circles within that. Meanwhile, though entertaining at times, it’s often overly technical, with songwriting coming in second. The sonic equivalent of herpetology – really rewarding, if you’re down to get hella specialized about some reptilian shit.


  • Importance: A-
  • Entertainment: B

At its core, nu-metal upheld hair metal’s ethos of, Maybe we DO suck, but you gotta admit, shit is fun. As such, they get a flat B for entertainment – a whole B because those songs are just so catchy and singable, but only a B because you also occasionally hear a nu-metal classic and think, Wow, this is the dumbest fucking song I’ve ever heard. As for importance, well, it was the biggest musical genre in the world, and continues to do damn well, so credit where credit has due. Might have done worse five years ago, but then it came back to get its GED.

Pirate Metal

  • Importance: Incomplete
  • Entertainment: A+++

There isn’t even an alternate universe in which pirate metal changed the course of metal. Alestorm will always exist on a little island some 200 miles from relevancy and cultural clout. But if you want to pound a big sweet drink and sing a rousing metal song about pounding sweet drinks, you can do no better. This music is pure entertainment, even if it doesn’t mean a goddamn thing.

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