Death metal

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Death Metal is a sub-genre of Heavy Metal. The genre is typically characterized by the use of heavily distorted guitars, harsh vocals that are low-pitched and/or growled, morbid lyrics, exceptionally fast-paced rhythms and melodies, frequent blast beats on drums, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes.

Death Metal

Death metal has been met with considerable hostility from society, mainly because of the socially unattractive themes, imagery, and stage personae surrounding many bands. It is typically seen as an underground form of music, in part because of its aggressive nature, and because the musicians often choose to remain obscure.

Musical Style

Death metal is known for its abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, as well as extremely fast and complex guitar and drumwork. Death metal may include chromatic chord progressions and a varied song structure, rarely employing the standard verse-chorus arrangement. These compositions tend to emphasize an ongoing development of themes and motifs.

The main controversy in death metal, however, is over its vocals and lyrics.


Death metal vocals are often guttural roars, grunts, snarls, and low gurgles referred to as death growls.


Death metal's lyrical themes typically invoke Z-grade movie violence, and may also extend to contain themes of Satanism, criticism of religion, Occultism, rebellion, various anti-Christian sentiments, pro-Christian sentiments, and political sentiments (both conservative and liberal).


The two death metal bands which have by far received the most mainstream success are Cannibal Corpse and Dethklok.

Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse prides itself on overtly violent and sexual songs and album artwork as nothing more than an extreme form of over-the-top entertainment.

Some of Cannibal Corpse's song titles include "Hammer-Smashed Face", "Rotted Body Landslide," "Born In A Casket," "Nothing Left to Mutilate," "Blunt Force Castration," and "Rancid Amputation."

They were banned from displaying the cover art or lyrics of and playing any of the songs from their first 3 albums in Germany until 2006 because "A woman saw someone wearing one of our shirts, I think she is a schoolteacher, and she just caused this big stink about it. So we can’t play anything from the first three records. And it really sucks because kids come up and they want us to play all the old songs — and we would — but they know the deal."- George Fisher, Cannibal Corpse vocalist.

"All our songs are short stories that, if anyone would so choose they could convert it into a horror movie. Really, that's all it is. We like gruesome, scary movies, and we want the lyrics to be like that. Yeah, it's about killing people, but it's not promoting it at all. Basically these are fictional stories, and that's it. And anyone who gets upset about it is ridiculous" -George Fisher.


Dethklok is a parody band comprised of one man Brendon Small and drummer Gene Hoglan. It was created for the animated show Metalocalypse, which is a parody of all aspects of metal, while at the same time making references to metal bands. The series is extremely gory, contains foul language, and is highly inappropriate for children.

Dethklok's lyrics, however, are considerably more toned down than those of Cannibal Corpse, often exploring simple themes with an almost childish approach. Many do not consider them to be truly a death metal band.

Besides being an animated band, they have gone on tour. The stage show consists of four people performing the songs in front of a white screen which displays the show's characters.

List of Death Metal Bands

  • Atheist
  • Cannibal Corpse
  • Death
  • Deathchain
  • Deicide
  • Demigod
  • Dethklok
  • Devourment
  • Dismember
  • Entombed
  • Grave
  • Hypocrisy
  • Morbid Angel
  • Necrophobic
  • Nihilist
  • Nile
  • Sorcery
  • Unleashed
  • Vader

See Also

Black Metal