This all started when I wanted was a nice visual representation of the history of heavy metal/hard rock because I was tired of straining my eyes reading long documents with tiny fonts. Since I couldn't find one, I came up with this tree-style diagram representing 30+ years of hard rock and metal with some of its outside influences. There's no way in hell I was going to try and make this all-inclusive with the thousands of bands that have been around, so I chose the bigger names, some influential bands and even threw in some of my favorites because indulgence is acceptable when you create.

Some bands are shown when they started and others are listed when they really started getting some press. A few bands are under two sections given their influence on the genres. Some bands changed their style over time, of course. There are lines showing close descent, but in order to keep it from looking overly sloppy many were kept off--like punk to hardcore to grunge.

We could further divide genres into greater depths--sub-genres further into sub-sub-genres and those into sub-sub-sub-genres based on subject matter and whatnot, but this Timeline is meant to generally include the most major groupings of heavy metal and there is a point we reach where the door is already open wide enough and opening it more becomes a process of deliniation that is arguably boring and for scholarly study only.  I think it also leaves enough room in here for some debate.

Also, special thanks has to go to metal writer Martin Popoff for some editing changes when this was in its early stage. His books rule, so go pick them up at martinpopoff.com

Just click to view the whole thing or right-click to save it for printing. --Owner

Maximum Metal Genre Legend - Click for Full Details

Popular Music - Term for the music which is recognized in making a cultural contribution at the broadest level, often called "Pop" in the diminutive.

Rock & Roll - Music with roots in the late 50's and early 60's that is generally upbeat in tempo and catchy. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, Beatles, Stones were the greats.

Hard Rock - Features stronger guitar playing than Rock & Roll with an edgier sound that was generally blues-based and somewhat distorted. Rose to prominence in the 70's with Zeppelin, AC/DC, Aerosmith, etc.

Heavy Metal - Music noted for a more massive sound, heavier use of power chords and distortion, aggressive rhythmic playing and generally darker lyrics and thematic elements than hard rock.

Aggro-Groove - Metal hybrid of power, thrash and hardcore punk. The guitar and supporting instrumentation generally have a slower tempo often with chunky lower sounds and bouncier rhythms. See: Pantera, Exhorder, Crowbar, Pro-Pain

Alternative Metal - Metal with a different approach than conventional or traditional heavy metal technique. Vocals, lyrics and rhythms can have experimental stylings. Also this is a good place to put stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere.

Black Metal - Evolved from thrash metal, punk and horror-film aesthetics. Evil, apocalyptic and brooding metal with high-pitched, screeching death vocals occasionally having clean or even female vocals. Spawning from early psudo-satanic bands like Venom and Bathory, this scene gained a notorious following in its second wave from church burnings and Norwegian black metal acts like Emperor and Mayhem. More emotive than Death Metal and commonly has a low fidelity production. Corpse paint is used often. Think shriek vocals & buzzsaw guitars & blast beats. See: Darkthrone, Enslaved, Burzum, Mayhem, Immortal, Ancient, and Emperor
Also includes:
--Scandinavian - BM from Norway and Sweden
--Atmospheric - BM with ambient guitar and keyboard passages such as organ sounds
--Symphonic - BM with orchestral arrangements
--Pagan - elements of home country roots
--National Socialist - employs the genre's typically Nordic, Pagan, and anti-Christian themes as an expression of racial/political ideology.

Death Metal - Extremely brutal mix of speed, thrash, and gore featuring cookie monster style vocals, excessive down tuning and pummeling double bass. Riffs range from slower, heavy as molasses type riffs to lightning speed fretwork with blast beats. Slayer and Death are forefathers of this post-thrash sound. Think Growls & Heavy Guitar & Blast beats, + Brutal Lyrics
Also includes:
--Atmospheric - DM with ambient guitar and keyboard passages such as organ sounds
--Floridian--Death, Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Deicide, Obituary, Morbid Angel (direct and brutal)
--Melodic--Gothenburg, Swedish/Scandinavian - Death metal with Iron Maiden-styled melodic elements and often keyboards. See: At the Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, Arch Enemy, Meshuggah (progressive death)
--New York - Suffocation (brutal)
--Symphonic - DM with orchestral arrangements

Doom - Early style of metal descending from Black Sabbath and NWOBHM. Bluesy, chunky guitars mixed with supernatural lyrics dominate this style's sound. Slow and depressing. Early influences are Sabbath, Candlemass, Trouble and Witchfinder General.

Glam - Also known as Glitter Rock. 1970-1975 hard rock bands that generally wore a lot of makeup with flashy, outrageous stage wear. T.Rex, Sweet, Slade, New York Dolls. Later adopted by 80's Hair bands.

Gothic - Influenced by doom metal, Gothic metal is softer and more dynamic than doom, but it has the same melancholic and sometimes even depressive touch. It's also very atmospheric and melodic, with the wide use of keyboards and female vocals

Grindcore - Ultra-punk music that took the open riffs of hardcore bands and sped them up with metal influences in rhythm and vocals, creating a roaring flood of negative and fractured emotion set by very short songs, ranging anywhere from 6 seconds to 2 minutes. Also, there tends to be sense of humor behind grindcore. Tends to be social/political.
Also includes:
--Goregrind - grindcore bands that talk about death and gore.

Grunge - hard rock style characterized by dirty-sounding guitar (less note/chord perfection), strong riffs, and heavy drumming. Grunge involves slower tempos and dissonant harmonies that are generally not found in punk. Grunge-chord rock lyrics usually exhibited nihilism, dissatisfaction, or apathy. Bands looked unkempt; antithesis of hair metal.
Also includes:
--Post Grunge - commercially accessible hard rock music with elements/aesthetics of the Grunge sound.

Hair Metal - Mid-late 80's hard rock bands that dressed similar to 70's Glam bands. Known for teased-up hair, makeup and fun party songs.

Hardcore - Descending from the instrumental boundaries of punk, hardcore's instrumentation is raw with vocals that are generally screamed. Musically, it's usually played with less metal elements as Metalcore.

Industrial – Techno-metal. Rhythmic-centered metal characterized by additional digital effects and noises. Se--Ministry, Rammstein, Rob Zombie / White Zombie

Metalcore - Close offshoot of hardcore punk with a guitar musicality closer to thrash metal, but with vocals shouted or sang softly like hardcore. Usually has a breakdown within songs.
Also includes:
--Mathcore - Style of hardcore/metalcore with highly technical musicianship. Discordant, somewhat technical riffing, complex time signatures and song structures, and usually indecipherable lyrics.
--Melodic Metalcore - More recent metalcore bands that fused Gothenburg death or thrash melodic leads like NWOAHM does. See: Killswitch Engage, Trivium, As I Lay Dying, Unearth

Nu Metal / Rapcore - Mid to late-90s metal known for beatbox style vocals with heavy down-tuned, groove-based, bouncy guitar work. Fuses influences from the grunge and alternative metal of the early 1990s with hip-hop and electronic music. Hip-hop fashion was typical. See: KoRn, Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Linkin

NWOBHM – (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) British metal from when Zeppelin was dying out in the late 70s. Bands expanded the Judas Priest power sound and exploded out all over the U.K metal scene with a fresh spirit and little marketing sleeze. Referred to as Traditional these days. Iron Maiden is considered the most successful. Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Raven, Anvil, Saxon

Power - Classic metal style featuring a twin guitar attack, soaring vocals, and anthem-styled lyrics. Judas Priest is a forefather
Also includes:
--Neoclassical - In popular music, originally meant guitar flourishes by "shredders" such as Yngwie Malmsteen, who borrowed technique and riff shaping from classical music to liven up intensely technical solos.
--Speed Metal - fast power metal with intense rhythmic emphasis usually supported by a rapid downstroke on the guitar, double bass drumming, fast snares; more controlled than thrash. The term has fallen out of favor.
--Teutonic – really aggressive German power metal
--Symphonic - power metal guitar work combined with highly operatic vocals keyboards - Nightwish
--Viking - themed around vikings
--Power-Progressive - power with prog elements
--Power-Thrash - power with thrash elements
--Folk Metal - power metal with elements of native culture and instruments mixed in. See: Skyclad, Cruachan

Progressive - Musically complex and highly technical, Prog players are known for their skills and like to show it in their music with complicated structures and perfectionist playing. It's beginnings are found in 70's prog rock bands like Yes and Rush. Bands include Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Tool and Labyrinth.

Thrash - Thrash is know for being fast, aggressive, less controlled and with the punk sensibilities power metal usually doesn't have. Fast rhythms are usually supported by a rapid, unchanging downbeat on drums. Motorhead, Venom and other NWOBHM bands are seen as influences. Vocals are generally higher-pithed rather than growling. Anthrax, Exodus, Megadeth and early-Metallica helped form Thrash.

: THRASH has been moved down to '82-83 with Motorhead and Venom closer to NWOBHM yet just above Thrash to better note their influences and sound.
: Renamed "Groove" to "Aggro-Groove" which is short for Aggressive-Groove. Added bands Exhorder, Crowbar, Pro-Pain
: Renamed "Swedish Thrash/Death" to "Melodic Thrash/Death" to account for other country's involvement after the Gothenburg influence.
: Grand Funk added to HARD ROCK 1971.
: Added Melvins to DOOM 1984
: Danzig moved to DOOM 1988
: Changed NWOAHM to Metalcore/NWOAHM due to dying out of term and added bands since 2004 that would fit.
: Changed 1984 "Metalcore" to "Crossover" with added Corrosion of Conformity, Gwar
: Possessed added to early DEATH
: Helmet moved from grunge to Alternative
: Added Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage to Alternative
: Added Post-grunge around 1993.
: Added bands Candlebox, Bush, Live, Collective Soul, Foo Fighters
Creed, Fuel, Staind, Hoobastank, Nickelback, Audioslave
: Added Rob Zombie, Halestorm, Shinedown, Buckcherry, Evanescence, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, Hardcore Superstar, Ghost, The Pretty Reckless, Volbeat, Greta Van Fleet to HARD ROCK
: Added Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) to Stoner
: Added Sunn O)) to DOOM
: Added Loudness, Avenged Sevenfold, Babymetal to HEAVY METAL
: Added Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine, In This Moment, Parkway Drive to Metalcore
: Added Body Count to RAPCORE

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