What Makes Music Heavy Metal?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Many people have trouble understanding what makes music heavy metal. This genre of music can be misunderstood because it is so different from anything else. In this blog post, I will explain what makes music heavy metal and some of its key characteristics.

The Origins of Heavy Metal

Heavy metal’s roots in blues and rock music

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Heavily influenced by blues and rock music, heavy metal bands typically use electric guitars, bass guitar, and drums. They are also known for their aggressive lyrics and stage performances.

Heavy metal’s roots can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple were creating a new sound that combined elements of blues and rock music. These bands became known for their heavy sound, which was often characterized by distorted guitars, pounding drums, and dark lyrics.

Over the next few decades, heavy metal would undergo a number of changes, as new subgenres emerged and the sound continued to evolve. Today, there are many different styles of heavy metal, from the hard-hitting sounds of thrash metal to the more melodic sounds of power metal. No matter what style you prefer, there’s sure to be a band that’s perfect for you.

The first heavy metal bands

The first heavy metal bands began to emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin becoming increasingly popular. These bands started to develop a heavier sound, with more distorted guitars and heavier drumming. This sound became known as heavy metal.

Heavy metal soon became its own genre, with bands like Metallica and Slayer becoming hugely successful in the 1980s and 1990s. Heavy metal music is often characterized by its dark, aggressive sound and its focus on topics such as death, violence, and the occult.

Heavy metal has also been associated with rebelliousness and anti-authoritarianism. This is reflected in the way that many heavy metal musicians dress, with their use of leather jackets, tight jeans, and spikes.

Despite its dark image, heavy metal has a huge following all over the world, with fans of all ages and from all walks of life.

The Characteristics of Heavy Metal

There are many different subgenres of heavy metal, but there are some characteristics that are common to all of them. Heavy metal is usually characterized by its aggressive sound, fast tempo, and lyrics that deal with dark or controversial topics. Additionally, heavy metal often features distorted guitars and complex drumming.

Heavy metal’s aggressive sound

Heavy metal’s aggressive sound can be traced back to the early days of rock and roll, when artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard were creating songs with distorted guitars and hard-driving rhythms. Over the years, heavy metal has evolved to include a wide range of styles, from the hard-hitting sounds of bands like Metallica and Slayer to the more melodic sounds of groups like Dream Theater and Killswitch Engage.

At its core, heavy metal is all about attitude. It’s music that is designed to get your blood pumping and your adrenaline flowing. Metal songs often feature fast-paced rhythms, thundering bass lines, and guitars that are played at high volume levels. This combination of sounds creates an intense listening experience that can be both exhilarating and overwhelming.

While not everyone enjoys heavy metal’s aggressive sound, there is no denying that it is a powerful and emotive genre of music. If you’re looking for something that will get you pumped up and ready to take on the world, then heavy metal is definitely worth checking out.

Heavy metal’s use of distorted guitars

Heavy metal music is known for its use of distorted guitars. This distortion gives the music its heavier sound. Most heavy metal songs use power chords, which are two notes played together. This gives the music a simple, yet powerful sound.

Heavy metal’s use of double bass drums

In many ways, heavy metal is defined by its use of double bass drums. This signature characteristic gives the music its distinctive pounding sound and creates a sense of power and aggression.

While double bass drums have been used in other genres of music, they are most associated with heavy metal. This is due in part to the way that they are used in metal, which is often very different from the way they are used in other genres.

In metal, the double bass drums are usually played with a very fast and consistent beat. This creates a sense of forward momentum and energy that is perfect for headbanging. Additionally, the double bass drums are often used to create complex polyrhythms, which adds to the music’s feeling of chaos and disorder.

The Influence of Heavy Metal

Music is a form of expression that can be found in all cultures around the world. It is a way to communicate how we are feeling and what is going on in our lives. Music can be a form of escape, or it can be a way to connect with others. Heavy metal is a genre of music that is often misunderstood.

Heavy metal’s influence on subsequent genres

It is often said that heavy metal is the most influential genre of music, and that without its influence, subsequent genres would not exist. This is certainly true to some extent, as many of today’s most popular genres would not exist without the influence of heavy metal.

However, it is important to remember that all music is a product of its time and place, and that no one genre can claim to be the sole influence on another. For example, rock music would not exist without the influence of blues and country music, just as heavy metal would not exist without the influence of rock music.

Heavy metal’s influence can be heard in many of today’s popular genres, including but not limited to: hard rock, punk rock, industrial metal, nu metal, and even pop music. Many artists who are not traditionally considered “heavy metal” have been influenced by heavy metal, and have incorporated elements of the genre into their own music.

While its exact origins are a matter of some dispute, heavy metal is generally agreed to have emerged in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Originally a form of hard rock that incorporated elements of blues and psychedelic rock, heavy metal soon developed its own distinctive sound and style. With its aggressive guitars, pounding drums, and often dark or violent lyrics, metal became the perfect music for teenage angst and rebellion.

Over the next few decades, metal would go on to exert a major influence on popular culture. In the 1980s, metal bands like Metallica and Megadeth helped to popularize the genre with a wider audience. In the 1990s, nu-metal bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn took metal in new directions, fusing it with hip-hop and other styles to create a new sound that was both heavier and more accessible than anything that had come before.

Today, metal is more popular than ever, with new bands continuing to push the envelope of what is possible within the genre. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that metal is here to stay.

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