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11 of the weirdest metal subgenres

(Image credit: Harmony Gerber/Getty Images)

Metal fans love a gimmick. From Kiss and Gwar to Gloryhammer and Evil Scarecrow – if there’s a costumed band pedalling an outrageous proposition, we jump all over it. The more ridiculous, the better. 

There’s a good chance this penchant for gimmickry is the cause of metal’s ever-increasing selection of bizarre subgenres, which carve out dedicated musical niches for pirate enthusiasts, gamers, and even Harry Potter fans. 

In fact, some of these subgenres are so niche, they’re only occupied by one band.

These are eleven of metal’s weirdest subgenres…

1. Heavy negative wizard metal

Heavy negative wizard metal is what Australian artist Bob Nekrasov has dubbed his black metal meets NWOBHM meets power metal solo project, Rebel Wizard

Despite song names like High Mastery of the Woeful Arts and Drunk on the Wizdom of Unicorn Semen, the Aussie metaller insists that his music should be taken seriously. Well, about as seriously as Venom or Manowar.


2. Nintendocore

Also known as ‘nerdcore’, Nintendocore is the bastard child of chiptune and metal. 

The genre varies quite considerably, with noteable act Horse The Band fusing 8-bit sounds with metalcore while Sky Eats Airplane's sound is primarily post-hardcore and Minibosses cover videogame soundtracks in a proggy heavy metal style. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s great motivational music for punching bricks and jumping over barrels.


3. Nedal

There’s only one band in the ‘Nedal’ subgenre, and it’s Okilly Dokilly, the Ned Flanders-inspired metal band. With such hits as Godspeed Little Doodle, White Wine Spritzer, and Nothing at All, they merit a special mention for the ridiculously specific niche they occupy.

They all dress as Ned Flanders, which is dedication in its highest form.


4. Dream Thrash

Dream thrash combines the ethereal sounds of shoegaze with the distortion, blast beats and tremolo picking of thrash. Astronoid is a good example of dream thrash in action. 

Black metal has its own version of this in ‘blackgaze’, pioneered by bands like Alcest, but in contrast to black metal itself, they don't go in for the gimmicks.


5. Dinosaur Metal

No one has dominated or exemplified the dinosaur metal genre like Finnish heavy metal band, Hevisaurus. They perform in dinosaur costumes and are wildly popular in Scandinavia.

Think of them as an entry-level, kid-friendly version of Gwar.


6. Pirate Metal

As with these other genres, pirate metal does what it says on the tin — folk instruments, pirate hats, and face-melting riffs. It’s considered a close cousin of Viking metal. To dip your toe in, try Alestorm, Blazon Stone and Swashbuckle.


7. Pornogrind

This subgenre is a cocktail of goregrind and copious amounts of sexual violence. It’s considered a highly controversial genre for the themes it perpetuates, but with gutterals that sound like blocked drains and pigs squealing it’s so bizarre, it just had to make the list. 

If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can check out bands like Menstrual Munchies, Gut, and Cock and Ball Torture. Needless to say, if you are offended by The Misfits' Last Caress, you should probably stay clear.


8. Shakespeare Metal

To be or not to be? That’s an interesting question. Shakespeare metal is a cultural clash of Elizabethan literature and heavy metal instrumentals. 

To perform Shakespeare metal, just choose your favourite sonnet, play or soliloquy, then belt it out over squealing guitar and blast beats. 

This subgenre started with the band The Metal Shakespeare Company, who are known to perform in period costume (and trainers).


9. Progressive Alien Deathcore

Take a dash of progressive metal, throw in some deathcore, finish with extraterrestrial subject matter and you have progressive alien deathcore. 

Bands like Rings of Saturn, Xenomorphic Contamination, Ateranosis, and Aversions Crown are all (inter)stellar examples.


10. Werewolf Metal

Werewolf metal originated with Japanese band, Man with a Mission. They define themselves as "wolf-headed humans, bioengineered by Jimi Hendrix". 

The oddly specific subgenre has roots in nu-metal, so you can expect scratching and rap vocals aplenty.


11. Drive Thru Metal

There’s only one band ballsy enough to play ‘drive thru’ metal, and that’s Black Sabbath tribute band, Mac Sabbath. The fast food titans of metal hail from Birminghamburger and have Ozzy Osbourne’s seal of approval.