What is Death Metal Music?

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  • Written By: Kathy Hawkins
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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Death metal music falls within the genre of heavy metal. Typically, the music features loud, thrashing electric guitars, fast drumming, and guttural, growling vocals, which are often called "Cookie Monster" vocals, for their similarity to the voice of the character on Sesame Street. It often focuses on violent and morbid imagery in its lyrics; however, the lyrics are often difficult to decipher, and most fans enjoy it for its intricate musicianship.

There are several theories regarding the origins of the term "death metal." Some people claim that it comes from a song title on Possessed's 1985 debut album, Seven Churches, which many consider to be the first ever death metal album. Others believe that the term comes from a song by a thrash metal band called Onslaught, also released in 1985. Still others think that the title was inspired by a metal band called Death.

Death metal music was influenced by early heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and the British band Napalm Death, which mixed heavy metal with the energy of punk music. Some of the earliest and most influential bands that can be characterized as death metal are Carcass, Morbid Angel, Sepultura, and Pestilence, which were all signed to two record labels that specialized in death metal music, called Earache Records and Roadrunner Records.


Since the early 1990s, many subgenres of death metal music have been established. These include melodic, Scandinavian, Florida, technical, progressive, slam, brutal, death/doom, and several others. Though different in minor ways, all of these categories share the heavy electronic guitars and percussion and harsh vocals that the death metal genre is known for.

Though death metal is generally considered to be too offensive to ever achieve mainstream success on the radio, some bands have made a good living recording albums and playing shows for their underground cult followers. One death metal band, Cannibal Corpse, achieved a kind of mainstream success when they were featured playing a song in the hit movie Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. Cannibal Corpse was the favorite band of the movie's star, Jim Carrey, and he requested the performance. Their song, "Hammer Smashed Face," even appeared on the movie's soundtrack.


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Post 6

ah, very good intro! agree with previous comments. melo death = mainstream, vocally wise, well very technical.@103038 i to a certain degree understand that!

Post 5

Still don't understand it.

Post 4

I still don't understand it. What is death metal about? Sounds so angry, all that growling. Destroys some very talented musical compositions. I don't know -- maybe it's because I'm female? Try as I may, I just don't like it.

Post 3

The "mainstream" of death metal,if there is one, would be Melodic Death Metal in my opinion.

Post 2

Very good intro to DM.

Post 1

what is the mainstream of death metal?

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