Utilising double-kick drumming, more distortion than anything heard in the early '80s, shredding guitar solos and a redefinition of how fast a band could play, thrash was the precursor to the more extreme black and death metal.

Tempo: Once the leader in the all-out up-tempo department, thrash would be considered mid-tempo relative to its musical offspring.

Defining Moments: Metallica Kill Em All ( Megaforce, 1983), Slayer Reign in Blood (Def Jam, 1986), Megadeth Killing is my Business ...(Combat, 1985)


Death metal followed the thrash, but was more obsessed with destruction, death and the occult. Tuning down and adding more speed helped distance death metal from thrash, but it was the chaotic and nihilistic atmosphere that helped establish death metal and planted the seeds for black metal.

Tempo: death metal is surprisingly fast, surpassing both thrash and hardcore in tempo, while rivalling somnambulant doom metal in its slow-paced moments.

Defining Moments: DeathLeprosy , (Combat, 1988), Possessed Seven Churches (Combat, 1985), Morbid Angel Altars of Madness (Earache, 1989)


Played mostly by white people in corpse paint, black metal expanded on death metal's accomplishments. The first pioneers of black metal sacrificed proficiency for speed, added blood-curdling vocals, nearly indecipherable guitar playing and horrendous sound quality, combined with pro-Satanic, sometimes fascist lyrics. Black metal has only recently expanded its sound, adding more gothic and orchestral elements.

Tempo: At its fastest, the musical equivalent of a jackhammer hopped-up on amphetamines.

Defining Moments: Emperor Anthems To The Welkin at Dusk (Candlelight, 1997) Immortal Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticum (Osmose, 1992), Darkthrone Under A Northern Sky (Peaceville, 1993)


Redefining slow, doom metal combines an absence of speed with slightly gothic overtones, ominous guitar work and negative romanticism, both lyrically and atmospherically. While almost all metal can be traced back to Black Sabbath, doom is where the influence is most obvious today.

Tempo: Molasses in winter, running down a gently sloping hill.

Defining Moments: My Dying Bride Turn Loose the Swans (Peaceville, 1994), Anathema Seranades (Peaceville, 1993), Cathedral The Forest Equilibrium (Earache, 1991)


Hardcore metal was spawned out of late '70s, early '80s hardcore punk rock and was most renowned in the New York scene. Bands combined the simplicity of punk riffs, the speed of thrash, gruff shouted vocals with sing-along choruses and added numerous political and social ideologies.

Tempo: Double-time punk rhythms, but still slower than thrash.

Defining Moments: Agnostic Front Cause for Alarm (Combat, 1986), Youth of Today Break Down the Walls (Revelation, 1986), Sick Of It All Blood, Sweat and No Tears (In-Effect, 1989)