Kvlt Madness: Genre Headaches!

Written by: Branzig
Published: 07.04.2012
When you were a kid, did you ever collect anything? Did you ever collect one thing, but then organize it down into sub-classes of that same particular thing? Take for instance, marbles. Marbles are all one thing, but there are many different types, you could break them down by color, type, size, etc. Then maybe you could even break it down FURTHER! Like by "colored types of sizes of marbles." Did you ever use this extreme level of organization with any of your toys? Me neither. So why do we do it with our metal?

Obviously, when it comes to the "big hitters" of the metal world, there are a lot of different flavors, so genres do come into play and are a helpful form of organization in that regard, but what is it with metal heads taking it to the next level? Ever seen, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey? In that film there is a killer chart that lays out the ground work of all the "basic" genres that make up metal. You know, genres like classic, heavy, death, thrash, industrial, black, NWOBHM, etc, etc, etc! But even on this "basic" chart, there are still around 24 individual genres of metal. Isn't that enough? Do we need to further break it down? Well, many think yes, and now enters the "microgenre."

I recently got into a little microgenre that people are calling "war metal." Many of my friends and a lot of the Metal Storm community have contacted me and said, "Well, I like the music, but isn't it just 'bestial black metal, but harder and more lo-fi?'" Or, "Yeah it's 'blackened thrash' except they only sing about war. It's not really a new genre, just an old one that's a little different." And this got me thinking... Well, yeah a lot of these statements are true with the exception of little tweaks here and there. Not to mention that one man's "blackened thrash" is in essence another man's "bestial black metal"... but that's for another time... this is about categorization!

A lot of the time it seems like we're going at apples to apples here, I will admit. For instance, wasn't Carcass just Napalm Death singing about butchering limbs? They're still grindcore but they started the micorgenre "goregrind" which has grown to such a large genre now that I am sure no one would argue that it has now upgraded into a subgenre... ouch my head. And Possessed, sure they were a thrash band with more violent vocals but they're still thrash, right? Not something called death metal. And grindcore is just hardcore with blast beats and down tuned guitars. powerviolence is just thrashcore, but more violent? D-beat is just grindcore with less blasts and more hardcore? Blackened thrash is just thrash but with more black? Ugh...

I guess my point is: are we taking it to far? Are we over categorizing the over categorized? And how many plays does it take to get a microgenre to a subgenre, or a subgenre to a genre?! I don't know; I think I will go listen to some "lo-fi atmospheric war-doom powerviolence-metal" to ponder it over.


 
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Fredd - 07.04.2012 at 23:30  
I'm waiting for BitterCOld or Marcel to call us kids because back in the day it was just "Metal."
Branzig - 07.04.2012 at 23:35  
Written by Fredd on 07.04.2012 at 23:30

I'm waiting for BitterCOld or Marcel to call us kids because back in the day it was just "Metal."


hahahaha, And that they had to walk 10 miles up-hill both ways just to listen to it.
Unhealer - 08.04.2012 at 19:02  
I'm keen on the subgenre thing. I agree it gets ridiculous sometimes (Djent, I'm looking at you...), but it can really give you a glimpse on what you are about to listen to.
Nowadays it is relatively "easy" to record some music and put it out there; add to that how much the population has grown over the last years and you can realize tons bands are being formed and lots of music is being produced at this very moment.
A fair amount of those bands will eventually push the current boundaries and come up with something original that will probably need a new description to fit in.
Of course, if every metal band formed since the 70's sounded like Black Sabbath, this subgenre sickness would have never spread.

This is not a metal thing only, check out the Wikipedia article (I know it is not really a reliable source, but it seems legit) on music styles and you will be probably surprised as I was
Troy Killjoy - 08.04.2012 at 19:23  
I think there's a definite need for microgenres but there are also "scenes" that get mixed up with genres. For instance, "Teutonic thrash" is just thrash from Germany. It's not a genre, but a scene, or movement. Bay Area thrash, new wave of British heavy metal, etc. all fall into that same genre vs. scene battle.

Technically metal is a sub-genre of rock, with its own 20 or so "parent" genres. The child genres (the ones with adjectives such as "atmospheric", "technical", "depressive", "melodic") further categorize a group of bands that play a similar style. And that's what it's based on: style. Genres like pornogrind and goregrind aren't technically real styles, because stylistically they're all still grindcore. The lyrical content is the only differentiating marker. Yet we don't label Amon Amarth as viking metal (although there are some special people who do).

And sometimes parent genres act as child genres. Progressive rock leads to progressive metal which leads to influencing various types of bands. That in turn takes you to extreme metal bands (black/death/thrash) incorporating progressive elements into their music; thus, two parents have been sandwiched together to form a new genre. Now you have progressive black metal (assuming black metal is the dominant parent) or blackened progressive metal (usually just referred to as extreme prog - again, if progressive metal is the dominant parent).

What's really interesting is when you come across death doom. Marcel is the only person I know who uses the term "doom death" as a genre but he uses it for good reason. Death doom has two entirely separate styles that fit under the same name, because some bands like Asphyx play death metal with doom-styled riffs, whereas bands like Process of Guilt play doom metal with death metal leanings (guitar tuning, growled vocals). Technically the former should be doom death metal, as the primary style overrides the other parent. Yet for some reason this genre isn't established on sites like RateYourMusic, Wikipedia, or AllMusic.

As much as it's in our nature to break down, analyze, and classify things, we're still a ways off from being able to properly group everything together on a global scale. So long as "avant-garde" is considered a genre, we haven't done everything we can to define the boundaries in which this style of music is limited to. Perhaps out of fear, metalheads don't want to admit that one day the entire realm of metal will stretch until it bursts. Just look at the history chart, with genres like old school death metal. There is nothing that can be done with this as a restrictive genre, but it can be used as an influence and even added to. But on its own it's a much-beaten dead horse. The fact that a genre can technically die (disco, anyone?) and others can be created should give music lovers hope that as much evolution and experimentation that takes place, the better music as a whole has a chance to survive. I think we need to take as many steps as possible to categorize everything as much as possible, which then in turn allows bands to either fit into a specific style or try to carve out their own niche in the metal community, in which case a new genre will have spawned - likely evolving from a parent that has long been active in the scene - and the boundaries will once again be pushed outwards.

So in my opinion classification is a good thing. It's helpful for those who listen and it's helpful for those who speak.
Mr. Doctor - 08.04.2012 at 20:00  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 08.04.2012 at 19:23
HIT. NAIL. HEAD.


I hope your hands are doing fine because you are getting such a massive bro-fist from me.
Troy Killjoy - 08.04.2012 at 20:02  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 08.04.2012 at 20:00
I hope your hands are doing fine because you are getting such a massive bro-fist from me.

It's fine, my massive balls absorbed most of the damage.
Mr. Doctor - 08.04.2012 at 20:04  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 08.04.2012 at 20:02

Written by Mr. Doctor on 08.04.2012 at 20:00
I hope your hands are doing fine because you are getting such a massive bro-fist from me.

It's fine, my massive balls absorbed most of the damage.


Now I'm getting the hilarious image of you driving a car and having an accident, guess what the air bags are
Branzig - 09.04.2012 at 05:07  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 08.04.2012 at 19:23

So in my opinion classification is a good thing. It's helpful for those who listen and it's helpful for those who speak.


I concur. I have a lot of traits of OCD...so classification and patterns sorta make up my life.

But at some point, you have to wonder how much more you can break-down things, specifically in he micro-genre level.
Troy Killjoy - 09.04.2012 at 05:10  
Written by Branzig on 09.04.2012 at 05:07
But at some point, you have to wonder how much more you can break-down things, specifically in he micro-genre level.

I think we're doing a fairly decent job at breaking things down for the most part, but things can be improved upon.

Once more and more bands begin to sound more and more similar to other bands, you can create new genres. So when a band playing a specific style of a micro-genre becomes more similar to other micro-genre bands, you'll have a new micro-micro-genre. Eventually everyone will fit in everywhere and there won't be so many debates about the differences between heavy and thrash and hard rock and prog rock and progressive metal etc. etc. etc.
Branzig - 09.04.2012 at 05:28  
Has anyone ever wondered if having TOO many genres turns people off to the music? Like it almost becomes work to just enjoy it hah.

Punk comes to mind.

Off the top of my head, there is Punk, Hardcore, D-beat, Crust, Anarcho, Street Punk, Gutter Punk, and Sludge Punk.

They are all "punk" but unless you are true fan and an avid listener, they can all just mesh together and confuse you. I know that when I first started listening to hardcore, I'm sure I would of been confused listening to Anarcho and then Crust and telling a difference.
Troy Killjoy - 09.04.2012 at 05:32  
Written by Branzig on 09.04.2012 at 05:28
Has anyone ever wondered if having TOO many genres turns people off to the music? Like it almost becomes work to just enjoy it hah.

As a black metal fan: No.

Maybe it turns other people off, but if they're so offended by the fact that some music requires effort to properly dig into and understand it, then I don't mind those people leaving well enough alone.
Branzig - 09.04.2012 at 05:37  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 09.04.2012 at 05:32

Maybe it turns other people off, but if they're so offended by the fact that some music requires effort to properly dig into and understand it, then I don't mind those people leaving well enough alone.


Well said.

Maybe genre-ization weeds out the not worthy
Troy Killjoy - 09.04.2012 at 05:39  
Written by Branzig on 09.04.2012 at 05:37
Maybe genre-ization weeds out the not worthy

Trying not to sound like an elitist here, but I think that's more or less exactly what it does. If they can't even get past the aesthetic appeal of some bands, then how are they ever going to handle the music? Let them come back when they're ready if they ever get to that point, but until then just save space in the crowd and go somewhere else.
Cynic Metalhead - 09.04.2012 at 05:45  
Whorecore, crabcore and crab gonna be the future genres which will create an ultimate headache which eventually is not presentable in your article.
Branzig - 09.04.2012 at 05:49  
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 09.04.2012 at 05:45

Whorecore, crabcore and crab gonna be the future genres which will create an ultimate headache which eventually is not presentable in your article.


Such atrocities have no place in my article
Cynic Metalhead - 09.04.2012 at 05:55  
Written by Branzig on 09.04.2012 at 05:49

Written by Cynic Metalhead on 09.04.2012 at 05:45

Whorecore, crabcore and crab gonna be the future genres which will create an ultimate headache which eventually is not presentable in your article.


Such atrocities have no place in my article

Branzig - 09.04.2012 at 06:38  
Who doesn't trust a kitty!?
Cynic Metalhead - 09.04.2012 at 06:47  
Written by Branzig on 09.04.2012 at 06:38

Who doesn't trust a kitty!?


you know that kitty is metaphorical to me. I checked out the facts and then claimed it.
Mr. Doctor - 09.04.2012 at 12:18  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 09.04.2012 at 05:39

Written by Branzig on 09.04.2012 at 05:37
Maybe genre-ization weeds out the not worthy

Trying not to sound like an elitist here, but I think that's more or less exactly what it does. If they can't even get past the aesthetic appeal of some bands, then how are they ever going to handle the music? Let them come back when they're ready if they ever get to that point, but until then just save space in the crowd and go somewhere else.


Yeah, I think that's what happens with both Black and Doom, both are the genres of metal that have the most subgenres from what I've seen in my short metal years.... and I think its not coincindence that both tend to be some of the least accessible genres among metal.
Marcel Hubregtse - 09.04.2012 at 12:20  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 09.04.2012 at 12:18


Yeah, I think that's what happens with both Black and Doom, both are the genres of metal that have the most subgenres from what I've seen in my short metal years.... and I think its not coincindence that both tend to be some of the least accessible genres among metal.


And also not a coincidence that both also tend to have the biggest elitists
Mr. Doctor - 09.04.2012 at 12:22  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 09.04.2012 at 12:20

And also not a coincidence that both also tend to have the biggest elitists


Hhahahahha yeah, that too. "My kind of doom is the only doom". Those who think doom is just what we call traditional doom or those that think only growls are doom... and we who think all that is doom. As a big fan of both... I'm bound to become an elitist soon.
Marcel Hubregtse - 09.04.2012 at 12:23  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 09.04.2012 at 12:22

... and we who think all that is doom. ...


But are a huge doom elitist nonetheless *looks in mirror and grins like Jack Nicholson in The Shining*
M C Vice - 09.04.2012 at 12:26  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 09.04.2012 at 05:39

Written by Branzig on 09.04.2012 at 05:37
Maybe genre-ization weeds out the not worthy

Trying not to sound like an elitist here, but I think that's more or less exactly what it does. If they can't even get past the aesthetic appeal of some bands, then how are they ever going to handle the music? Let them come back when they're ready if they ever get to that point, but until then just save space in the crowd and go somewhere else.

Sorry, but you did, but I doubt you could phrase that in anyway that wouldn't.
The only issue I can see with genre classification is when people get too pedantic about what goes where, and can't handle it when someone else disagrees. Lots of bands can be put under multiple genres, with some people giving them a tag others wouldn't. For example, does anyone honestly agree with ALL the genre/band allocations on the chart from Headbanger's Journy? Plus I bet Marcel will be on here in 10 minutes if I say Gallhammer and Doom metal in the same sentence.
And about lyrical themes being mixed up with genres: do you consider Viking metal a genre (or sub-genre) of it's own, or just a lyrical style in Black and/or Folk metal? I think of it as a hybrid genre of (or the link between) Black and Folk, although the lyrics are nearly always based on Norse themes.
Mr. Doctor - 09.04.2012 at 12:29  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 09.04.2012 at 12:23

But are a huge doom elitist nonetheless *looks in mirror and grins like Jack Nicholson in The Shining*


HEERRREEEEE'SSSS DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!
Troy Killjoy - 09.04.2012 at 16:12  
Written by M C Vice on 09.04.2012 at 12:26
For example, does anyone honestly agree with ALL the genre/band allocations on the chart from Headbanger's Journy?

No. He put Opeth in "goth metal" - and doesn't even call it gothic metal.

Quote:
Plus I bet Marcel will be on here in 10 minutes if I say Gallhammer and Doom metal in the same sentence.

That's what I alluded to earlier. Right now there aren't enough specifiers so people hear what they think is a slight hint of doom and feel the need to tag it as doom. If enough bands started releasing material similar to Gallhammer (for whatever reason), they will have founded a new genre. We could label it something completely different and the need to mention doom at that point would be irrelevant.

Quote:
And about lyrical themes being mixed up with genres: do you consider Viking metal a genre (or sub-genre) of it's own, or just a lyrical style in Black and/or Folk metal? I think of it as a hybrid genre of (or the link between) Black and Folk, although the lyrics are nearly always based on Norse themes.

I consider viking metal a genre in one sense: Bathory and similar bands. "Epic" black metal with folkloric instrumentation and long, drawn-out melodies. But it's such a minimal genre (since most bands either create pagan black metal or just extreme folk metal) that it doesn't receive much attention.

I was just using Amon Amarth as an example because they have no ties to viking metal whatsoever beyond the lyrical content.
Branzig - 09.04.2012 at 16:29  
Written by M C Vice on 09.04.2012 at 12:26

I bet Marcel will be on here in 10 minutes if I say Gallhammer and Doom metal in the same sentence.


Gallhammer is more blackened Crust Punk

And there aren't that many genres of black metal, there is actually only 2:

"Good" and "Shit"
BoxCar Willy - 15.04.2012 at 20:00  
I use genres a lot, it gives me a hint of what I'm getting into before I listen, same with the suggested bands thing (though that only applies here)

I agree that adding this Tuetonic or whatever the hell that is, is taking it too far, but in a light that also tells me they play that style-esque music.


I have no clue what I'm even writing anymore
Branzig - 16.04.2012 at 17:59  
Written by BoxCar Willy on 15.04.2012 at 20:00

I have no clue what I'm even writing anymore



Yeah, it can get like that pretty quickly haha.

I have minor forms of OCD, so classification doesn't bug me too much...but there are so many times where it seems like you are going apples to apples that if you don't stand back and really look at it, you'll never realize how silly it is
BoxCar Willy - 16.04.2012 at 18:55  
Written by Branzig on 16.04.2012 at 17:59

Written by BoxCar Willy on 15.04.2012 at 20:00

I have no clue what I'm even writing anymore



Yeah, it can get like that pretty quickly haha.

I have minor forms of OCD, so classification doesn't bug me too much...but there are so many times where it seems like you are going apples to apples that if you don't stand back and really look at it, you'll never realize how silly it is

Yeah, I think it's too far if it's like lo-fi ultra veagan atmospheric potatoe black metal.

BitterCOld - 16.04.2012 at 21:53  
Written by Branzig on 07.04.2012 at 23:35

Written by Fredd on 07.04.2012 at 23:30

I'm waiting for BitterCOld or Marcel to call us kids because back in the day it was just "Metal."


hahahaha, And that they had to walk 10 miles up-hill both ways just to listen to it.


haha. not quite, but it sure wasn't as easy to find new shit as now. it was 10 miles (up hill one way) to the nearest Wherehouse to buy a cassette.

and there were just basic break downs... thrash, glam, etc.

and i a m not a big fan of the ever-increasing levels of metal-nerdom where everything is broken down like zoologists use the animal classification table. i guess i like sub-genres to help narrow down the largest genres (doom comes to mind) but the minutiae just goes overboard.
Branzig - 17.04.2012 at 06:22  
Written by BitterCOld on 16.04.2012 at 21:53

haha. not quite, but it sure wasn't as easy to find new shit as now. it was 10 miles (up hill one way) to the nearest Wherehouse to buy a cassette.

and there were just basic break downs... thrash, glam, etc.

and i a m not a big fan of the ever-increasing levels of metal-nerdom where everything is broken down like zoologists use the animal classification table. i guess i like sub-genres to help narrow down the largest genres (doom comes to mind) but the minutiae just goes overboard.



I am a fan of subgenres for the most part, but sometimes I feel like microgenres can get a little silly.

Like I've said, it seems apples to apples sometimes hahah.
Necrox - 25.05.2012 at 04:32  
Genres = fine
Microgenres =
AngelofDeth - 20.10.2012 at 01:59  
I think we should claim bands style depending on who we are talking to,
such as if you were talking to a person with no knowledge of metal you should say:
Wintersun is a Metal band

Then if you were talking to someone with limited knowledge of metal you would say:
Wintersun is a Melodic Death Metal Band.

Then if your talking to someone with a decent amount of knowledge of metal, ie a Metalhead, you would say:
Wintersun is an Extreme Power Metal band

then if you really wanna get technical about a band you could say:
Wintersun is a Extreme Symphonic Power Metal band with European and Asiatic Folk influences.

So I think it really depends on who you are talking to, personally I like to use the broadest umbrella term possible when talking casually in RL, so I would simply call Wintersun Melodeath. Though I do admit I do get carried away sometimes with the microgenre nitpicking.
Branzig - 20.10.2012 at 02:49  
Written by AngelofDeth on 20.10.2012 at 01:59

So I think it really depends on who you are talking to


You bring up a good point.

I have a lot of friends who aren't metalheads and you really do have to dumb it down to them, way down haha.

But, when I wrote this article, it was meant to be enjoyed/discussed by seasoned metalholics who have a good understanding of all the genres and subgenres in our little world.
AngelofDeth - 20.10.2012 at 03:06  
Written by Branzig on 20.10.2012 at 02:49

But, when I wrote this article, it was meant to be enjoyed/discussed by seasoned metalholics who have a good understanding of all the genres and subgenres in our little world.

Well in that area I think this site does a great job of defining bands in their genres, not too much not too little.

Another thing about this way we define our subgenres... My friend brought this up one day and said that this microgenring we do makes metal one of the most fractured music scenes in his opinion. In some ways I do have to agree with him, as even when I do rarely meet a fellow metalhead we only have maybe a few bands we like in common.
Branzig - 20.10.2012 at 05:38  
Written by AngelofDeth on 20.10.2012 at 03:06

Another thing about this way we define our subgenres... My friend brought this up one day and said that this microgenring we do makes metal one of the most fractured music scenes in his opinion. In some ways I do have to agree with him, as even when I do rarely meet a fellow metalhead we only have maybe a few bands we like in common.


Yeah, metal and punk maybe, are the most genre-ized genres in music haha.
AngelofDeth - 20.10.2012 at 08:57  
Written by Branzig on 20.10.2012 at 05:38

Yeah, metal and punk maybe, are the most genre-ized genres in music haha.

Yes though I would probly say Metal, Folk and Jazz.

Metal and Jazz have 1million different subgenres and Folk as well because every country/nation has their own traditional folk music.
Branzig - 23.10.2012 at 06:56  
Written by AngelofDeth on 20.10.2012 at 08:57

Written by Branzig on 20.10.2012 at 05:38

Yeah, metal and punk maybe, are the most genre-ized genres in music haha.

Folk as well because every country/nation has their own traditional folk music.


But isn't it all just classified as "folk?" lol
AngelofDeth - 23.10.2012 at 07:05  
Written by Branzig on 23.10.2012 at 06:56

But isn't it all just classified as "folk?" lol

Yes just like all metal is just "metal" lol
Aristarchos - 25.12.2012 at 14:24  
Written by Branzig on 20.10.2012 at 05:38

Yeah, metal and punk maybe, are the most genre-ized genres in music haha.

Doesn't techno have equally many sub-genres?

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