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Key Differences Between Rock and Metal

For decades now, rock music has been one of the most revered musical genres, particularly in the west. In the 1950s, it developed from a fusion of several older styles, including rockabilly, and rock & roll.


The 1960s saw the emergence of folk rock as a consequence of the fusion of rock and traditional folk music. Even popular jazz and blues artists during this era began incorporating rock elements into their music, pushing the genre to a whole new level of popularity and widespread appeal.


As rock entered the 1970s, it began to include elements of latin, funk and soul music. As the genre continued to evolve, it spawned subgenres such as heavy metal, hard rock, punk rock and progressive rock. Today, most of these sub-genres have entire subcultures based around them, influencing how groups of people dress, communicate, and socialize.


But some say metal music is so different from the standard rock genre, that it stands out as its own genre. Are these two genres of music really all that different from one another? Let’s explore the key differences between rock and metal, and dissect this question further.

The Lyrical Differences

Metal has lyrics that are frequently violent and tends to be more forceful. Metal bands frequently include themes like death, horror, war, satanism, politics, etc. Fast tempos, powerful rhythms, high-pitched vocals or screams/growls, and frequent repetition and syncopation are pillars of metal music. Though not always, rock band vocalists typically sing about love, relationships, and socioeconomic issues.

The Influences

Rock music originated from a mix of soul, blues, jazz, country and other older genres that were popular in the west. On the other hand, metal takes its early influences from classical and operatic music. Although both genres have evolved in unique ways, these early influences are still easy to see today.


The Sound

In Particularly in the more violent subgenres of black and death metal, metal music tends to be heavier. Furthermore, rock music uses an electric guitar with softer cleaner tones whereas metal uses a double bass and throbbing, distorted guitars, playing power chords. Most metal music includes guttural vocals and intense screaming, whereas even the heaviest rock songs tend to be a little more calm in their approach.

The Stage Presence

Rock bands usually focus on using their music to connect with their audience, and hold their attention. Metal music tends to have a more extreme stage presence, with pyrotechnics and lighting effects that are designed to get the crowd riled up to the point of starting a mosh pit. Some metal artists have even been known to go as far as destroying their own guitars at the end of a big concert, either by smashing them in front of the audience, or setting them on fire right there on stage.

What Do You Think?

What do you think? Are rock music and metal different enough from one another to be regarded as separate genres? Or is metal just another sub-genre of rock music?

Eric Dalius
Author: Eric Dalius

Eric Dalius is The Executive Chairman of MuzicSwipe. In this position, he acts as key advisor and lead strategist, helping to guide the company’s plan to redefine the music discovery process. Yahoo Finance has noted the company’s positioning to ultimately work with music labels and distributors, helping to grow their artist rosters on a global basis.Mr. Dalius comes to his role having spent three decades as a serial entrepreneur with multiple successes.

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