How do you define heavy metal and hard rock?

For all the music-lovers out there, this is your place to swap lyrics, talk about new bands and jazz about concerts. All things related to the audio world belong here.

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?
You can find out things about the past that you never knew. And from what you've learned, you may see some things differently in the present. You're the one that changes. Not the past.
- Ellone, Final Fantasy VIII


"There's a difference between maliciously offending somebody - on purpose - and somebody being offended by...truth. If you're offended by the truth, that's your problem. I have no obligation to not offend you if I'm speaking the truth. The truth is supposed to offend you; that's how you know you don't got it."
- Brad Stine
User avatar
Posts: 3273
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:26 pm
Location: Not Paradise...yet

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

an example of metal: freedom call - warriors

or course nu metal is a whole different story ;)
Just some punk kid that likes techno music
User avatar
Posts: 1020
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:52 am
Location: idek

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.
User avatar
Posts: 1368
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 4:48 pm
Location: 一羽の鳥が弧を描いてゆく

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.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that that same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use." - Galileo Galilei
User avatar
Posts: 2618
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:46 pm
Location: Missouri

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.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. I appointed you to be a prophet of all nations."
--Jeremiah 1:5
Hit me up on social media!<--Facebook

I'm also on Amino as Radical Edward, and on Reddit as Rocklobster as well.

click here for my playlist!
my last fm profile!
User avatar
Posts: 8903
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2004 1:27 pm
Location: Planet Claire

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

Melodic Death metal
Take this Life-In flames

Classical Metal
The Last Crusade-Epica.
User avatar
Posts: 1608
Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2009 7:55 pm
Location: Azumanga Daioh High school

Return to Jam Session

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 24 guests