Metal is a genre known for its many variants.
And for the uninitiated, things can get a bit confusing sometimes.
Today I’ll be talking about some of the most popular subgenres nowadays: Djent, Metalcore, and Progressive Metal.
So let’s start by talking about their main differences:
The main difference between progressive metal, djent, and metalcore, is that the two former are rhythmically and harmonically complex and push the envelope of the style, with djent being a heavier, more extreme version, while metalcore tends to be simpler, more catchy, and sometimes pop-like.
In this article, I will dive deep into the main characteristics of each of these subgenres, what are their most common features, and their points of contact.
After leaving this page you will have the ability to distinguish between these slightly different styles of metal.
Are you ready to get started?
Why are there that many metal subgenres?
Without trying to offend anyone, I’m gonna say it: Metalheads are a bit nerdy.
There it is, I’m sorry.
So, as any would expect from such a population of musicians, things tend to get overanalyzed at times and classified based on some arbitrary and other not-so-arbitrary features.
I’m not saying that metal is a one-dimensional genre, by any means.
On the contrary, I think that most of its categories serve a pretty useful descriptive purpose and help to pinpoint certain bands and group them together.
What probably happens with metal is that when a band pushes the envelope in a certain identifiable way that moves the audience, a lot of other musicians who probably are part of this audience get inspired by it.
And when I say “inspired” I mean it, I don’t think that trying certain musical forms or sounds from a band on your own music can be considered copying.
I would say that metal has that many subgenres, because the community is full of musicians, and as opposed to what people believe, they are not afraid of constantly trying new things out.
Also, they are great at defining and naming variations of the original style.
What defines the Djent genre?
The “djent” term was coined by Misha Mansoor, the guitarist for Periphery a while ago.
It was originally meant to serve as an onomatopoeia for describing the sound of chugging palm muted low guitar sounds, a common trope of many extreme metal genres.
With time the concept caught on and started being considered a genre on its own.
Djent is, nowadays, a subgenre of metal used to describe rhythmically complex tunes that rely a lot on heavy palm muted riffs and harsh vocals.
Think of Meshuggah, for instance, as one of the staple bands of this style.
What defines the Metalcore genre?
Metalcore, at a very basic level, refers to the combination of metal and hardcore, a genre that was made popular in the early 2000s.
The thing is, nowadays, that the metalcore genre has mutated and been redefined back and forth many times, and it has reached a point where every fan has their own idea of what it is, and what it’s not.
Many say that metalcore can be thought of as a mix between punk and metal, but I consider that a pretty aggressive simplification.
What I can say is that metalcore tends to maintain the aggressive, harsh, and in-your-face features of other metal genres, while in many cases packaging it a bit more towards what could be considered pop.
And a lot of metalcore fans are now wanting my head on a spike, but whatever.
What I’m trying to say is that many popular metalcore bands such as Killswitch Engage, Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold, etc. tend to write shorter songs, with passages of melodic clean vocals and catchy hooks.
Is it more pop than Djent? In my opinion, it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What defines the Progressive Metal genre?
Progressive metal is a genre that has some decades down the belt at this point.
The more natural way of describing it is just as a branch of progressive rock with heavier elements such as low distorted guitars and double bass drums.
But for this description to be effective it’s important we define some of the elements that make a music genre “progressive”.
I’ll note before doing so, that, in my experience, progressive means most of the time the same thing, with electronic dance music being an exception.
There it just means that songs build up over time.
“Progressive” especially for rock and metal means avant-garde, a genre that takes from others and ends up being a fusion of sound, but without going too deep into it.
It can also mean virtuosity and complexity, but in my opinion, that’s not a necessary feature.
Progressive metal usually develops beautiful melodies over complex time signatures and takes harmony into completely uncharted territory for most of metal.
You could argue that Djent could fit into this definition, but more on this later.
What are the main differences between all these genres?
The differences between djent, metalcore, and progressive metal can be, at times, slight, but noticeable if you know what to look for.
To start with, I would argue that everything that’s now defined as djent, before the popularization of the term would have been labeled as progressive metal.
It’s the complexity and aggressiveness the thing that defines it.
Nowadays, I think that progressive metal has been left for more melodic, and perhaps more rock-leaning bands, while djent is left for the heavier more extreme groups.
Metalcore probably takes from these other subgenres but has a style of its own, and is often mixed up with screamo or emo music. I don’t think that’s absolutely fair.
This last genre tends a bit simpler and easier to digest than the others discussed here and is probably the catchiest one of them.
Does genre matter after all?
If you spend half an hour on Reddit or online metal forums, you will see how the communities for each of these subgenres tend to close up and gatekeep from other people.
Online arguments about what style a band can be categorized in are not scarce, and neither are those about musicians selling out from one genre to the other.
Of course, I’m just pointing out the negative stuff here, and I’m sure there are many amazing things about these communities, but it’s fun to see them fight when they are arguing about things that are pretty close in nature.
Musical genres at the of the day are a very personal thing, and you must have your opinions about them.
For me, they are just a way of defining what certain music is and making it easier to relate with other artists, but not more than that.
I don’t base or limit my listening experience on any style.
If it sounds good, it’s alright!
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.