Extreme Metal

Extreme metal is a general name used to describe heavier, and more aggressive metal like black metal, death metal, doom metal, and thrash .  It can also be used to describe bands that are heavier and less commercial than normal that do not fit into any of the other extreme categories of metal.  Bands like, Children of Bodom, have death metal, power metal, thrash, and speed metal elements in all of their songs which make it hard to categorize them.  There are also acts like Kreator and Skeletonwitch that combine really heavy and speedy thrash with elements of both black metal and death metal.  Extreme metal is usually comprised of growled, screamed, or screeched vocals, little to no concentration on melodic hooks, extremely fast or extremely slow tempos, complex riffs, and double-bass drumming.

Alexhi Laiho of Children of Bodom

Alexhi Laiho of Children of Bodom

English band Venom who came to prominence during the early 1980’s NWOBHM movement have been credited with fathering extreme metal.  Bands in the subgenres of black metal, death metal, and thrash all site this speed metal band as a major influence.  They played the fastest music of all the NWOBHM bands, were amongst the first to use harsh vocals, and their use of Satanic and pagan imagery has been a major influence on the births of both black and death metal.   The Big Four’s (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax) mixture with hardcore elements also helped to create the expansion of extreme metal influencing subgenres such as sludge metal, deathcoremetalcore, and grindcore.

Children of Bodom’s Hatebreeder

Essential Extreme Metal Albums:

  • Hate Crew Deathroll (Children of Bodom)
  • City (Strapping Young Lad)
  • Hatebreeder (Children of Bodom)
  • Halo of Blood (Children of Bodom)
  • Midian (Cradle of Filth)
  • To Mega Therion (Celtic Frost)
  • Into the Pandemonium (Celtic Frost)
  • Scum (Napalm Death)
  • Dusk and Her Embrace (Cradle of Filth)
  • Beyond the Permafrost (Skeletonwitch)
  • Pleasure to Kill (Kreator)
  • Heartwork (Carcass)
  • A Blaze in the Northern Sky (Darkthrone)
  • Slavestate (Godflesh)
Photo courtesy of MartialArtsNomad on flickr licensed under creative commons 2.0

Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad

This diversification of extreme metal would help to increase its popularity in the mid 1990’s and into the 21st century.  Labels  like Earache records, Century Media, and Metal Blade began to snatch up extreme metal bands at a record pace.  These bands offered an alternative to the cookie cutter nu metal bands that were currently popular in the mainstream.  With the huge decrease in popularity of mainstream metal in the 21st century, extreme metal has managed to continue to increase its fan base in huge numbers each year, especially in Europe and Japan.  New and different extreme sounds continue to be created and the subgenre shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.


Avant-Garde Metal

Avant-garde metal is an experimental form of extreme metal that uses unconventional sounds and atmospheres .  It is often confused with progressive metal, but avant-garde metal focuses more on challenging typical muscial ideals, while progressive concentrates more on technical and complex musicianship and fusions.  Avant-garde metal mixes extreme metal with odd sounds and rare types of instruments.  Progressive rock band, King Crimson, is sited as a huge influence on the genre and Celtic Frost’s experimentation with all kinds of sounds in the 1980’s is what really kick started the movement.  Other avant-garde metal bands include Celtic Frost, Candiria, Mr. Bungle,and Enslaved.

Celtic Frost
Celtic Frost

 Related Pages:

Extreme Metal Bands & Bios

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