Decibel spends an hour in the Interactive Metal Genres Graph

Like all of you, I spend a lot of time thinking about various subgenres of metal and how they relate to each other, where they came from, and what they influenced. It’s ridiculous, really: I go to the store and immediately forget why I’m there, standing in the harsh glow of the supermarket lights, paralyzed with doubt, realizing I’ve made another mistake by not writing down the one thing I needed, yet I can still mumble to myself “you know, punk rock really did influence grindcore,” much to the confusion of people walking past me who can actually get in and out of the grocery store without having a mental collapse.

Anyway, check it out: the Interactive Metal Genres Graph is a new, incredible time-killer made by people who I must tip my hat to for diving really, really, really deep into this stuff that consumes a large part of our brain capacity as is.

Also, check this out: I asked my editor if I could spend one hour in the interactive graph and document my explorations in real time. Oddly, he agreed. The soundtrack was the new one from Ides of Gemini and some classic Cirith Ungol, the beer was dark, and things got pretty intense. So sit back and enjoy my explorations, discoveries, highs, and lows as I get lost in the Interactive Metal Genres Graph.

8:12 PM PST, Sunday, April 2: My eyes are going to be killing me by the end of this. You can zoom in on this thing, but to get any kind of perspective you need to zoom out far enough that the font becomes microscopic. But, hey, as long as the ol’ glaucoma keeps at bay this can’t hurt, right? Right. Okay, let’s scroll to the far left of this thing and see what options we have to begin with. “Folk music” sounds reasonable, because I generally hate folk metal. When you click a genre on the map, the lines connecting all the genres light up as appropriate, with blue being the child nodes and green being the parent nodes. Looks like folk birthed “pagan metal” (makes sense, also generally don’t like it), and it also races past “Latin metal” (mental note: go back to that to see what it is) and, yup, folk metal. This taught me nothing but I’m really, really enjoying myself.

8:17 PM: Cruising back to “Latin metal,” I see only green nodes; the first is “heavy metal” and the second is… hold on, too distracted by suddenly finding the mother of all genres here, “heavy metal.” What will happen when I click on this? Will my laptop break under the pressure of every single line lighting up? Let’s take a sip of beer, and… holy crap, that was awesome. Interestingly, it only indicates that “acid rock,” “psychedelic rock,” “blues rock,” and “hard rock” created heavy metal. Of course, each of those genres goes back to other genres that influenced them (“blues,” for example), so this seems reasonable enough to me.

8:20 PM: Just saw that “Nintendocore” is on here. That brings back some bad memories. Hmm, looks like it was spawned from “Groove metal/post-/neo-thrash,” which is a handful, and, no: “Nintendocore” was only spawned from “bad ideas,” which, sadly, is not on here.

8:21 PM: So I know when I was skimming this graph the other day I found NSBM all by its lonesome, let me see if I can locate that… Holy shit, the most recent thing on this map, which runs chronologically from left to right, is “Kawaii metal.” I honestly have no idea what that is! Looks like it was spawned from… mmm, this gets hard to read. Either “heavy metal” straight-up or “melodic death metal.” Just went to Google “Kawaii metal” but my internet has crapped out again. I live in Canada; that happens lots. Luckily, the map keeps working while offline, via the power of metal, no doubt. So, mental note: check out “Kawaii metal.” Hmm, wait, I made another mental note earlier, what was it? Ah, yes, Latin metal!

8:24 PM: On my way to “Latin metal” I get sidetracked by “War metal/Bestial Black Metal,” because I love that stuff. The equation is simple: it came from grindcore, black metal, and death metal. Sounds about right. I just spilled some beer on my desk.

8:26 PM: Okay, Latin metal, here I come. Whoa, right above it is “Christian/white/heavenly metal,” which I immediately need to click on because I’ve never heard the phrase “heavenly metal” before but I like the sounds of that. Ooh, “unblack metal” came out of that (and “black metal”), and it came from “Christian rock” and “heavy metal.” Well, guess that ends there. Looking at this mess of blue and green lines, it strikes me that I sure am glad I didn’t tell my editor I was colour blind while pitching this story. He’d probably have me defending a Helloween album everyone hates or something instead. Hmm, Helloween, let’s find “power metal” on this thing.

8:28 PM: Found “European power metal.” Aha, clicked on it and lo and behold, there’s “power metal.” Holy shit, clicking on that brings up a dizzying array of lines. Let’s see what we got here. Actually, fuck that: I just found “funk metal,” let’s click on that instead. Alright, this proves it: “funk metal” birthed “nu-metal,” which us Mordred fans have been saying, like, forever.

8:31 PM: I click on “thrashcore.” Nothing happens. Intense immense ennui falls upon me.

8:32 PM: I see “crust punk” and that cheers me up because I’m simple. I click on it, and the child node leads to “post-hardcore.” Unreasonably, I immediately get upset and, literally, feel my heart start beating faster. Then I scroll up. Line was going to “grindcore,” not “post-hardcore.” Phew. And I should probably relax a bit.

8:33 PM: Find “national socialist black metal,” and click on it. Nothing happens. I chuckle.

8:34 PM: See “djent” and take the bait. This is a very convincing example of how the maniacs who put this together know their stuff. Djent, which mainly sucks, comes from “metalcore,” “technical death metal,” “avant-garde/experimental metal,” and “progressive metal,” which sounds totally right to me.

8:35 PM: Top up the beer. Stare at the ground for a minute to regain focus after staring at this incredible labyrinth of lines.

8:38 PM: Like an old friend welcoming me home, I see “powerviolence.” Nothing happens when I click on it. Can I posit “hardcore punk” and “grindcore” as parent nodes?

8:39 PM: See “industrial dance,” click on it, but then look away before I see what the child node leads to because I could not possibly care less.

8:40 PM: See “grunge,” and twitch a bit, but click on it anyway, and, dear lord, I’m glad I’m slowly getting drunk here: it lists “sludge metal/doom” as a child node. Sure, Soundgarden (who, at their peak, ruled) had some doom-y tendencies, but sludge/doom was not born out of grunge.

8:42 PM: Moving the hell along, I find “noise rock,” a generally ass-kicking genre. Notably, when you click on it, no parent node shows, a sign of a pretty cool and unique genre. The child nodes include… grindcore? I guess there are bound to be mistakes in a project this convoluted. Unless that’s someone’s opinion, in which case, they’re wrong.

8:45 PM: I find “video game music,” and click on it, puzzled. One child node. “Nintendocore.” Sigh.

8:45 PM: 30 minutes down, 30 to go. You still with me? Just clicked on “black metal” by mistake (was aiming for “rap metal,” which is actually pretty far away, but the trigger finger is a bit itchy). Anyway, black metal has a TON of child nodes, including “black-/blackened doom,” which I’m usually a sucker for, and “blackened death metal,” which I also generally dig. It leads to some of the most recent entries, “black ‘n’ roll,” and “blackgaze,” and fucking “Kawaii metal.”

8:49 PM: Google “Kawaii metal.” Oh dear god it’s a mixture of metal and J-pop. Hey, didn’t I see J-pop on here? I have no idea because I just clicked on “Kawaii metal” to see its parent nodes and there are a dozen of them. I’m so lost in this graph at this moment in time it’s not even funny; there’s “video game music” again to haunt my dreams, there’s the mysterious “noise rock” (grindcore? Really?), there’s “death-doom,” child of “death metal” and “doom metal” (that was easy), and also a totally separate entity than the (ahem) grunge-inspired “sludge metal/doom.” I want to die.

8:54 PM: I can’t do this much longer. I keep clicking on random lines and messing things up and there’s “hardcore techno,” which has as a child node “cyber-/electrogrind,” which I could never tell if I loved or hated. There’s “cyber metal,” which you know sucks, and which came from “industrial metal.”

8:57 PM: If you zoom really, really far out it’s like some kind of fever dream utopia. Especially if the beer is flowing and Cirith Ungol dude is barking in your ear.

8:58 PM: Spilled more beer. This never happens. Clearly I’m in overload here.

9:00 PM: 12 minutes to go. There’s “Latin metal.” Did I ever look into that? Parent nodes go way the fuck back to “Latin (American) Music” and “world music,” as well as “heavy metal.” Sure.

9:01 PM: “Celtic rock” leads to “Celtic metal,” but I don’t ever really want to hear either and instead just want to hear Celtic Frost, who should have their own entry here, really. They could cover an alarming amount of these subgenres, from “avant-garde/experimental metal” to “glam metal” (parent node, among others: “glam rock”)

9:04 PM: Back to “power metal.” Getting frantic now as time is running short. Oh, shit, I don’t think I’ve looked at “death metal” yet. Sorry, power: you lose to death, yet again. Yeah, death for the win, tons of lines here. Let’s see, “black metal” as a parent node is the most controversial thing to happen in metal in several years, but in a surprise move, “black metal” is ALSO a child node. Wrap your brain around that.

9:05 PM: Beer top-up.

9:07 PM: Back to death metal, look at all that blue: “goregrind,” “deathgrind,” “brutal death metal,” “death ‘n’ roll,” it’s all here.

9:09 PM: No idea what “Neue Deutsche Härte” is but it’s attached to things like “techno,” and I can only guess “cyber metal” but I have no brain cells left and can’t find “cyber metal” anymore, even while trying to follow these lines. I’m scrolling faster and faster with time running out here.

9:10 PM: Kinda freaking out wondering what to look at. Scroll past “shoegazing shoegaze,” “melodic hardcore” (well, take a quick peek: one child node, “melodic metalcore,” which is unfortunate), and, hey, there’s “cyber metal!” Hi, cyber metal! Hold on, there’s a separate entry for “U.S. power metal” versus “power metal” versus “European power metal”? I approve.

9:12 PM: Click on “National socialist black metal” one final time. Still nothing. Go to refill beer and raise my glass high to the creators of this insane project.