Sub-Genres (aka, "what makes e-dorks go nuts for some reason")
- Glam - I'm not gonna say "hair metal", because it has a negative inclination, and rock and metal have shown a love for both glamorous lifestyles and expression since the beginning. This could be viewed as a root OR more of a sub-genre, yet if a band comes off like fashion-lovin' loverboys with a (oftentimes) goofy exploitation of it all (the brilliantly satyrical Steel Panther), it can stem from "glam". This, to me, can be anything from Europe or Dokken (watch the way their old videos were presented, and *feel* the glorious vibe of the keys and/or soaring melodies of the vocals, even if less glamorous than others of the time), to the ones that - depending on your taste - can actually be called the "negative" term above, like Motley Crue or Cinderella. This is often what newer fans of heavy music confuse ALL classic metal for (similarities in the vocals and the overt-shred of the guitars, and sometimes similar, albeit less visually LOUD, clothes), which is as infuriating as anything else that lesser "fans" say and do today.
- Melodic Death Metal - This is one as to which the title itself gives away the intent of sub-genres. It's just explaining the TYPE of death metal you're hearing. Many melodic death metal bands have a bit of a higher vocal register as to pay tribute to the (arguably) most famous masters from Gothenburg, At The Gates' iconic frontman, Tomas "Tompa" Lindberg. Somehow, and masterfully, good melodic death metal bands also incorporate tremolo-picked leads for the riffs themselves, often with two guitars playing in 3rds, 6ths, or 5ths harmony, and all without turning into black metal. It's this classy presentation, almost like a simplified string section of an orchestra, that sets melodic death apart from black. There's less disgust, pain, and hatred (for the most part) in the songwriting. Also there's quite a bit of beautiful, Maiden-esque instrumental abandon present. Though vocals are "scrowls" (a word I made up with an obvious meaning, all due to the aforementioned Tompa, who used to BE a black metal-style vocalist, going by "Goatspell" as a stage-name at the time), and the tones and picking of the guitars are similar to black metal, melodic death metal is just what it says it is - death metal made more melodic, which naturally would raise tones often, in theory.
- Progressive Metal - This one, if you embrace sub-genres, needs sub-SUB-genres. Bear with me. I just refuse to put Tool in the same class as Fates Warning or Symphony X as so many seem to just lazily do. Actual progressive metal is a derivative of Rush and their instrumentally adventurous ways, adding in the melodic and flamboyant fury of heavy metal (i.e. Juda Priest), and often incorporating full usage of a solo-ready keyboardist. So...While Mastodon surely has metal elements, they can't be alongside Dream Theater in a cohesive categorization, either. So, the sub-sub-thing happens here. I'd put Mastodon and Tool (and any other worshipers/bands-influenced-by) into the "progressive alternative metal" bracket. Or "modern psychadelic metal". But then Tool's still out, in this writers eyes, as I hear very little metal, and a lot of alternative. Mastodon still has traces of their grind-to-70s metal past in their sound. So, to me, they are in. Also, there's bands like Opeth (early to current) who seem to be always merely labeled "prog", when there was a melodic death metal thing going on at one time, and now; more of the whole Mastodon thing, albeit more melancholic. And the "djent" bands...wanting a piece of the prog-pie, but cutting out the progressive meat altogether...nah, I'm just gonna exclude those "musicians" and their glossy productions saving them from the criticism they deserve. Let's just say progressive, as an adjective, can produce vast results. So when you get into subjects with words like "progressive" or "experimental" involved, the combinations of ideas, opinions, and paradoxes (parodoxi? Do we have a name for a new prog band here?) tend to flow, so let's move on.
- Power Metal - There's a question losts of less-studied metal dabblers ask. How is this not just classic metal? Well, there's a few things, actually. The main thing is the methodic riffs over speedy double-bass drums. Keep in mind, some consider "speed metal" to be the term for this; but I wasn't finished. I said "methodic" as to imply the adventurous, dabbly, noodling of progressive bands, but tamed to a certain brand of catchiness. Add on top the anthemic, proud, victorious songwriting vibe of metal's forefathers, but amped up to nearly being a "metal jingle" ("spokesongs"), sung in usually very high register, and that's a good basis. This can be done either to nauseatingly happy, jubilant effect ("flower metal" being the derogatory term), right in the middle (making the bulk of the genre), or, at times, dark (like Iced Earth, in which a baritone vocal coupled with traditional screams is largely responsible for this, as well as a heavy thrash leaning). Keyboards are often employed to bring emphasis to the Dio-esque "dragons and warriors"-fantasy vibe, yet remember - amped up with double-bass drums more often, soloing almost as much as progressive metal, as well as there being more palm-muting in the axe department. Thus - power metal. (Over-usage of the keyboards, or even orchestras, especially when a female is at the mic, and you venture into "symphonic metal".)
- Brutal Death Metal - This one took me a while to accept. So, some bands are crazier-sounding than others...so what? Well, some key aspects have solidified it as an actual genre for most that get into the subject, so here we are. The big kicker here is just what I said - sounding crazier. You have heavy, dark, punding, sinister death metal like Baphomet, Cannibal Corpse, Convulse, etc. However, there's some bands that take the most intense crescendos and breakdowns of these more traditional death metal bands' most "brutal" parts of their songs, oftentimes going even LOWER, vocally (to the point of an early Carcass/General Surgery-like, goregrind-gurgle, and without effects), and incorporating a blast beat style dubbed the "gravity blast", where the snare isn't just going full time, the drummer actually lets it bounce again in it's barrage, making double time of an already rapid-fire beat. Add in relentlessly tasteless and graphic lyrical subjects that could make Chris Barnes blush, and you've got the gist.
To be continued