10 Most Divisive Metal Sub-Genres
You either love them or loathe them.
Few forms of entertainment are as subjective as music. Us music journalists like to think we’ve got the final word on what’s worthy of merit and what’s not, but ultimately, it comes down to the personal preference of the individual. If you needed any more evidence of the subjective nature of music, heavy metal’s various sub-genres are a perfect reference point.
There are numerous divisive strands of metal, typically with one half of the metal community adoring them, and the other half despising them. You’re never going to please everyone, and that’s what this list can attest to.
It features the ten most polarizing musical styles in metal, most of which have divided metal fans for decades. Which side of the fence are you on with these ten divisive metal sub-genres?
10. Death ‘n’ Roll
What’s one way to piss off your entire fan base? Change your style to one that could be perceived as more commercial friendly. That’s exactly what happened when legendary Swedish death metal outfit Entombed adopted a more streamlined sound in the mid-‘90s, leading to the formation of the sub-genre death ‘n’ roll.
Through a peculiar combination of their trademark death metal style mixed with a more rock ‘n’ roll sound, Entombed divided opinion with their new direction. Since their ground-breaking 1993 release Wolverine Blues, many others have stepped up to the death ‘n’ roll challenge, much to the dismay of the metal purists.
Other notable albums embellished in the controversial musical style include Carcass’ bruising 1996 record Swansong, Six Feet Under’s devastating 1997 release Warpath, and Phazm’s eclectic 2008 banger Cornerstone of the Macabre. Whether you like the sub-genre or not, it can never be said that groups like Entombed are lacking in originality. Their risk-taking ‘90s output certainly suggests it’s in fact the opposite.
9. Rap Metal
Rap metal almost gets a bad rap (no pun intended) for its similarities to nu-metal, however, there’s key distinctions to be made between the two. It’s a less glossy, less-downtuned and less commercial sub-genre when compared to its admittedly similar musical brother.
Chalk it up to guilt by association, or the fact that hardcore metal fans refuse to embrace it, but rap metal often elicits a sneering reaction when alluded to. However, history has shown us that it has hit the mark on more than one occasion. Whether its bands like Rage Against the Machine, Biohazard, or Body Count – the unfairly maligned musical style has had its fair share of warranted success stories.
Now that’s not to say that it’s always on the money, but it should be considered as its own separate entity. However, if it continues to be lumped in with nu-metal, the stigma will forever taint this explosive and confrontational strand of heavy metal.
8. Pirate Metal
Folk metal gave rise to its own sub-sections of music, with pirate metal easily being the most swashbuckling of the lot. Under the watch of folk metal, pirate metal incorporates elements of speed metal, thrash metal and power metal into one heady brew. Oh, and don’t forget a healthy dollop of sea shanty singalongs.
But while its fun-loving nature is endearing to many fans, the flip side is that it could also be labelled as being too silly to be taken seriously at times. There is also a case to be made for whether many great albums have been released under the pirate metal umbrella or not. It inhabits an odd but infectious crevice of metal's underbelly with bands like Alestorm, Running Wild, and Swashbuckle at the helm, but it’s certainly not for everyone.
So is this really good metal party music or just a throwaway novelty act? Once again, it depends on the personal taste of the listener.
One of the more dominant sub-genres in metal of the last 15 years has to be metalcore. Utilizing elements of hardcore punk and thrash metal, the popular sound has endured some commercial success since its initial inception.
However, it’s not looked upon so fondly by many heavy metal fans, largely due to its incessant reliance on vocal screams, oftentimes simplified musical compositions, arguably obnoxious breakdowns, and pop-coated shell. It can also vary widely from one artist to the next, with bands like The Devil Wears Prada delivering a completely different interpretation of the style compared to Killswitch Engage for example.
It’s a strand of metal that could be accused for being too overly dramatic, as well as pandering to its female fan base. Nonetheless, if you like your metal tinged with more emotional themes, metalcore could be just what the doctor ordered.
Apparently, goregrind isn’t extreme enough, so along came pornogrind to take things to the ultimate extreme. It differs from the former mainly because of its sexually explicit lyrical content, as well as its downright offensive cover art.
And unsurprisingly, that’s part of the dispute regarding pornogrind. Creating a whole musical sub-culture based around sex is somewhat troubling to some listeners, especially in the outrageous way that it’s presented here. Genre leaders like Cock and Ball Torture, Gut, and Spasm pretty much don’t care about your feelings or your disgust at their sound.
Because along with the pornography-driven lyrical and artistic nature of the sub-genre, there’s also the inhuman vocal gurgling and gut-wrenching instrumentation to contend with as well. Make no mistake about it – pornogrind is not for the faint of heart.
The Top 5 Most Devisive Genres are on the next page…