How do you define heavy metal and hard rock?

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How do you define heavy metal and hard rock?

Postby the_wolfs_howl » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:28 am

Okay, so I was talking with a friend and realized we both have exactly opposite ideas of what defines heavy metal and hard rock. I know the definition of genres is very amorphous, but I was wondering what other people thought.

To me, heavy metal is that kind of music with crazy guitars, insanely long songs, and waily singing - like Dragonforce, Blind Guardian, or Theocracy.

My example of heavy metal: "Battlefield" by Blind Guardian

And hard rock is that kind of music with intense guitars, heavy drums, and a generally manly sort of sound - like Godsmack, Three Days Grace, and Breaking Benjamin.

My example of hard rock: "I Stand Alone" by Godsmack

So what about you? How do you define these genres?
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Postby armeck » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:04 pm

metal is more extreme, metal often times has more poetic lyrics (unless your talking about screamo music) metal often times has higher pitch guitars, and is faster, also, there are many different kinds of metal, dawn over a new world by dragonforce is metal, but is rather slow, but it has a certain... uh.. feel to it that hard rock doesn't have. metal has a different sound on the drums too, example of hard rock: skillet - savior http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go6dVm8V37Q

an example of metal: freedom call - warriors http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzir1B43I3E


or course nu metal is a whole different story ;)
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Postby Kaori » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:44 pm

Metal is a broad genre and not particularly easy to define—there are only a few things that are categorically true of all metal, and the rest are generalizations that apply to some subgenres of metal but not to others (e.g., many types of metal have fast tempos, but not doom metal!) These characteristics are generally true, but not always:

  • Metal uses heavy, distorted guitars (often with downtuning); metal is heavier and more aggressive than normal rock.
  • There is an emphasis on guitars: usually two guitarists, and songs often feature virtuosic guitar playing and guitar solos.
  • Metal features use of nontraditional song structures instead of verse-chorus-verse. It also often features complex or odd rhythms, like syncopation or odd time signatures (this is more often true of death metal, whereas power metal often features a "galloping" rhythm, and doom metal's rhythm could be described as . . . plodding).
  • Sometimes, but not always, there are blast beats in the drums and a double-kick pedal for the bass drum is used.
  • Sometimes, but not always, there is a screamed or growled vocal style rather than singing. When metal bands have sung vocals, they usually tend to be what most people call "operatic," really a more traditional singing voice, often with vibrato. In contrast, the various types of hard rock often use either a sort of lower-register, sometimes gritty singing (Creed, Godsmack) or a higher-register sort of singing that is usually without vibrato (Green Day, Emery). Hard rock bands tend to not go for that rich, full singing voice that power metal bands favor.


Well, that is about the best I can do at defining metal; perhaps someone more knowledgeable will come along and clarify or correct what has already been said.

"Hard rock" is an even vaguer term than "heavy metal," and in my mind it could include all sorts of things, like alternative rock (Creed), grunge rock (Nirvana), screamo (Emery), or maybe even hardcore (Living Sacrifice). For the record, I would consider the Godsmack song you linked to be some kind of hard rock, not metal.
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Postby Etoh*the*Greato » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:56 pm

Metal doesn't have to be particularly as ehm... crazy as dragon force. You cited Godsmack, and actually they're metal as well. Other good examples of metal that might not fit the definition you gave would be early stuff like Black Sabbath, or Manowar. There ARE subgenres of metal that certainly fit the bill for what you're describing, but when asking about just heavy metal, the lines between that and hard rock can be a little blurry. As has been said, Heavy metal will be more aggressive, featuring heavier bass lines. Compare what I just posted to bands like Creed, Nickleback or Foo Fighters which are hard rock. You'll actually be able to hear the difference.

*Mods, I tried to pick some songs that would not violate the rules. If I failed you, please feel free to delete the links.
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Postby rocklobster » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:47 pm

Wikipedia time!
From their article on the subject:
Heavy metal (often referred to simply as metal) is a subgenre of rock music[1] that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States.[2] With roots in blues-rock and psychedelic rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness.

Early bands, such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, attracted large audiences. These bands are widely considered main founders of the genre. However, they were often critically reviled; this was a status common throughout the history of the genre. In the mid-1970s Judas Priest helped spur the genre's evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Bands in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal such as Iron Maiden followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal had attracted a worldwide following of fans known as "metalheads" or "headbangers".

Oh, and as an addendum, there's a common misconception that all heavy metal=satan. In fact, I know of at least one heavy metal musician who is not into Satanism: Alice Cooper. Alice Cooper (real name: Vincent Fuhrier) is actually a Christian, but prefers to be low-key about it.
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Postby Yamamaya » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:29 pm

Metal is a blanket term that can refer to just about anything. The only thing that is certain about it is that it's a subgenre of rock. However metal can include elements from other genres like jazz, classical, or folk.

I like a great variety of metal.

Here's an example of folk metal.
Wooden Pints-Korpiklaani
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIc4VHxU7iM

Melodic Death metal
Take this Life-In flames
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNhyMJ6Lszw

Classical Metal
The Last Crusade-Epica.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WC066U3kSU
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