Death Metal – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Genres Glossary

What is Death Metal?

Death metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music that is known for its aggressive and intense sound. It is characterized by its fast tempo, distorted guitars, growling vocals, and dark lyrics. Death metal often explores themes of violence, gore, and death, hence the name. The genre emerged in the 1980s and has since developed a dedicated fan base around the world.

History of Death Metal

Death metal originated in the mid-1980s, primarily in the United States and Europe. Bands like Death, Possessed, and Morbid Angel are considered pioneers of the genre. The term “death metal” was first used by the band Possessed in their 1984 demo tape titled “Death Metal.” Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, death metal gained popularity and evolved into various subgenres.

Characteristics of Death Metal

Death metal is characterized by its aggressive and heavy sound. Some common characteristics of death metal include:
– Fast tempo: Death metal songs are often played at a fast pace, with intricate drumming and guitar riffs.
– Distorted guitars: Death metal guitarists typically use heavy distortion and low tunings to create a dark and heavy sound.
– Growling vocals: Death metal vocalists often use a technique called growling or screaming to convey the intense and aggressive nature of the music.
– Dark lyrics: Death metal lyrics often explore themes of violence, gore, and death, reflecting the genre’s dark and macabre aesthetic.

Subgenres of Death Metal

Over the years, death metal has evolved into various subgenres, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular subgenres of death metal include:
– Technical death metal: Known for its complex and intricate musical arrangements, technical death metal features virtuosic musicianship and intricate song structures.
– Melodic death metal: Combining elements of death metal with melodic and harmonious guitar riffs, melodic death metal is known for its catchy melodies and harmonies.
– Brutal death metal: Characterized by its extreme brutality and aggression, brutal death metal features fast tempos, guttural vocals, and intense drumming.
– Deathcore: A fusion of death metal and metalcore, deathcore combines elements of both genres to create a heavy and aggressive sound.

Influential Death Metal Bands

Several bands have had a significant impact on the development and popularity of death metal. Some influential death metal bands include:
– Death: Considered one of the pioneers of death metal, Death was founded by Chuck Schuldiner in the 1980s and is known for its technical and innovative approach to the genre.
– Morbid Angel: Another pioneering death metal band, Morbid Angel was formed in the late 1980s and is known for its intense and aggressive sound.
– Cannibal Corpse: Known for their graphic lyrics and brutal sound, Cannibal Corpse is one of the most popular and influential death metal bands of all time.

Impact of Death Metal on the Music Industry

Death metal has had a significant impact on the music industry, influencing countless bands and artists across various genres. The genre’s aggressive sound and dark themes have pushed the boundaries of heavy metal music and inspired a new generation of musicians. Death metal has also cultivated a dedicated fan base around the world, with fans attending concerts, buying merchandise, and supporting the genre through various means. Overall, death metal has left a lasting mark on the music industry and continues to thrive as a powerful and influential genre.