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Difference Between Rock and Metal

musicRock vs Metal

Rock music or simply rock is one of the most revered music genres especially in the west. It evolved from a combination of earlier genres among which is rock and roll and rockabilly in the 1950s. Folk rock emerged in the 1960s as a result of blending folk music with rock, and blues rock was created by mixing rock themes with blues as was jazz rock from the fusion of jazz with rock. Moving into the 1970s rock incorporated traces of soul, funk and Latino music and during this time too, rock evolved into various subgenres including hard rock, heavy metal or metal, soft rock progressive and punk rock. The 1980s rock evolution produced subgenres like alternative rock, hard-core punk and synth-rock with grunge rock, Britpop and nu metal coming in the 1990s.

Metal rock or sometimes referred to as hard metal rock has its roots in the blues and psychedelic rock subgenres. The typical metal rock’s theme is revolves around a thick, heavy electric guitar and drums sound characterized by highly amplified distortion and rapid guitar solos. It’s referred to as the most extreme in terms of machismo, volume and theatricality of all rock subgenres and its fans are known as headbangers.

Difference in sound
Rock or may be plain hard rock utilizes the classic overdrive sound created when the tubes on an amplifier or specific part on it like the drive knob have been pushed to the limit. This creates a long sustained sound with a twang and the distortion is light. As for metal rock the distortion is strong as the overdrive is sustained longer creating a deeper, heavier sound. With plain hard rock a classic drum set with no double bass pedal is used. Double bass pedal is when you have got two pedals or just one with two separate mallets attached to a double chained rod. Heavy metal utilizes plenty of these. Some early metal rock artists include Led Zeppelin, deep purple and Black Sabbath and all these got huge fan followings.

1. Rock is the main music genre while metal is a sub genre of rock.
2. Rock sound’s overdrive has a lighter distortion than metal rock which has strong distortion.
3. Metal rock has a deeper, heavier sound than plain rock or simply rock sound.
4. Rock uses classic drum set without double bass pedal while metal uses double bass pedal for the drum set.

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  1. Sorry, but Metal these days isn’t really a rock subgenre.

    Whilst early or “classic” metal does have a lot in common with rock music, the subgenres have little.

    So, here are the differnces.

    Song structure – Rock is universally verse-chorus-verse structure. Metal on the other hand has a variety. Whilst early metal is verse-chorus-verse much of modern metal is not. For example death metal, black metal, symphonic metal, neoclassical metal and (to a lesser extent) power metal all reguarly make use of narrative song structure.

    Vocal styles – Rock uses bluesy singing intonations and… thats about it really… I mean, there’s a few bands who go further, but those are rarities. Early metal uses the aformentioned style, but nowadays metal ranges from opera singing styles (most notably in symphonic metal) to the infamous death growl.

    Rythm – Rythmically rock uses only basic 4-4 time signitures (with a few notable exceptions, namely prog, fusion and math rock). These are used in a “back beat” rythm. Whilst again, early metal has these charicteristics modern metal has a variety of time signitures in it’s arsenal and many styles (most notably death and black metal) have very rapid drumming, using many differnt beats (even 64ths!).This, needless to say, is too fast for a “back beat” to emerge

    Instrumental focus – Rock focuses on the rythm guitar, vocal melody and lyrics. Metal since its earliest days has focused on lead guitar. Nowadays several styles focus on keboards and vocal melodies (but not lyrics)(symphonic metal), lead guitar (speed metal, neo-classical metal) and guitar and drums (death and black metal).

    Playing style – Rock uses a lot of open chords, metal frets everything. In addition many common techniques in metal (palm muting, tapping, shredding, double bass drumming) are rarley, if ever, found in rock.

    Blues influnce – Rock has a blatant blues influnce, metal today has almost none at all.

    Lyrical themes –
    Rock – Universal human expieriences, typically positive.
    Metal – Typically negative, more often generalised (i.e. not written from a personal persepective). There is also less focus on lyrics.

    Emotional ranges
    Rock – Heavy positive skew, rarley, if ever, dealing with extreme negatives.
    Metal – Any emotion, though admitedly negatives are far more common – ranges from hatred and anger (death metal), to bliss (basically anything by helloween).

    In summary
    1. Metal is a style which evolved out of rock, but is now sufficiently different to be counted as its own genre, much as with blues and rock.
    2. Rock uses only basic cyclical sing structures. Metal is often narrative in form.
    3. Rock is mainly positive emotions, metal has any emotion, but a heavy negative skew.
    4. Rock focusses on rythm guitar, vocal melody and lyrics. Metal focusees on vocal melody and keyboards/ lead guitar and vocal melody/ lead guitar / lead guitar and drums.
    5. Metal is often more complex rythmically, and many subgenres do not feature the string back beat found in all rock music.

    • This makes everything so comtpelely painless.

    • Someone has clearly never listened to Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Nirvana, Phish, the Grateful Dead, or Hot Tuna. If you are classifying rock music as simple and uninteresting, then I reccomend that you check out a few of the bands listed. Listen to the bass thrumming in “Thing” a late 67′ jam by the Airplane. This is Psychedelic rock, except OHMYGOD there’s a focus on the lead guitar and no lyrics… period. Live at the Fillmore East, it’s on YouTube. If you aren’t too narrow-minded, that is… 😉 seriously though, if you listen to the whole thing its very cool. Just not necessarily as over the top as metal is. Very mind-expanding. Nirvana is probably my least favorite in the group I mentioned but still, Kurt Cobain uses incredible amounts of distortion. So does Jimi Hendrix, more so. Except he died before metal existed.

    • what about the Bass gutiarsis from both Rock and Metal do still have the metal sound

    • Thank you! Very thorough and precise.

    • I know I’m 7 years late on this comment lol, but this was the best comparison of rock and metal I’ve read in a very long time. The only thing that would have made your comment/description better, would be to add music theory jargon to explain those difference from a musical standpoint. That’s actually what I googled for in the first place, but I suppose most people do not understand theoretical concepts in music, and all of the seemingly sophisticated jargon that goes along with it lol.

      Music is of course a language in and of itself however, and I would have loved to read your perspective from a theoretical standpoint, (i.e metal utilizes a lot of the Phrygian mode, harmonic minor, double harmonic major, Hungarian minor scales, and an emphasis on the dissonant minor 2nd interval, epitomizing metals “doom and gloom” sound. Rock on the other hand makes one of obvious major and minor pentatonic scales, along with the added tritone, making a minor blues scale. Rock also makes use of the mixolydian mode, which produces a happy, rocking out flavor, but a little darker than the major scale, as it’s distinctive tone is the flattened 7th interval.

      This is of course just am example, but the examples I provided are true themselves, and not too descriptive.

      Anyway, thank you for the good read, best regards,

      Jeff G.

  2. rock is super gay

    • Who the flying f***k said rock is super gay. If you think rock is supergay, I hate to think what you actually call normal. Why don’t you take your head out of you ass, and get back to the real world. Rock/Metal are the only bands where a classic is still a classic, late artists such as Dimebag, Jimmy Page etc, are revered as legends, because they actually made a difference to their world and several others, and you don’t get a constant repeat of a track played over and over and over again. Dance music copies other artists, and try to claim it as their own, and for likes of Chris Daughtry who is an amazing lyricist, and musician, he wrote ‘What About Now’ from the self titled ‘Daughtry’ record, and guess who copied it, fucking westlife. Don’t ever tell me rock is supergay when there are thousands of artists out there already wearing that t-shirt, yourself included.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself, Rage Monster. Props to you for giving a voice to thousands of people who’s opinions are completely ignored by these shitheads. Also wanted to compliment your music tastes. Keep it up world needs more people like you.

        • No worries bro, the awesome bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Demon Hunter, Trivium, Megadeth, Machine Head, and loads of others, bring a certain quality to life, and the crowd are known as crazy and friendly. Let’s face it, how many people will carry people across a crowd of more people, and think it’s awesome. We metallers invented things like the moshpit, and stage diving, not many other genres of music does that. Keep Rocking bro, and take care. Look me up on facebook or twitter. [Facebook is Jay Webs Bull] Twitter @webshooter3.

  3. How come one of the responses is just the original thing, but done properly?

  4. Rock n roll is about music, voice and lyrics. Rock n roll is immortality, the beatles, the rolling stones, Tom petty, Neil young etc

  5. Metal is its own genre, which has its own branches.. sum of them inter winding with rocks sub genres. such as the sub genre Metalcore is a combination of hardcore and metal. Hardcore comes from punk, punk rock, comes from rock.. metal came from rock… Now deathmetal is an extremes example of what metal developed into.. then again there’s Melodic death metal, and dumthing pretty recent is DEATHCORE. which is metalcore and deathmetal. so a fusion subgenre of two other subgenres.. hmm thats just 1 example. that means Deathcore, has hardcore and metal influences, which means punk influences which means rock influences, but it has deathmetal influences, and metal influences and in the end back to rock,

    Metal was a sub-genre of rock n roll, but I think its developed into sumthing compeltly different and its is just that , Metal

  6. There are rock songs and metal songs that we can’t confuse their genre, especially in early time of the genre. But through the time, fusion genres and sub-genres of rock and metal are born. Nowadays, many Rock song have metal’s characteristics, and vice versa. To distinguish rock and metal, we should rely on our sense. The point is Metal be a extreme version in comparison with Rock.
    Ex: a rock’s sad song : we’re able to cry
    a metal’s sad song: we want to die

    a rock’s positive song: we’re interested, upbeat, happy
    a metal’s song: we want to kill someone, fire something,

    rock is somewhere near the center, metal is at the top or the bottom.

    • @Entropee You make it sound like metal brings out anger or sorrow in people. Like any music, what you listen to can affect your emotions. So while genres like Death Metal can sound violent, So can Post-Hardcore. Similarly Power Metal can bring out morale in a person, lifting their spirits like Anthem rock. Gothic metal and Gothic Rock can both bring out depressing feelings and Symphonic Metal and Symphonic rock can create fantastical imagery. Emotion wise, Metal tends to amplify more than Rock, but then again many people are different on many things. What makes you violently angry may bring peaceful joy out of another. What makes me sad may cause another to rage.

      Other than that, you were pretty spot on although I once heard that Metal is influenced by classical, while blues influenced rock.

  7. Great post! How about one on “The Difference between Metal and Nu-Metal”?

  8. Rock can be soft or hard

    Metal can be loud,soft, fast, heavy and have tons of rifs

    both provide tons of energy and both speed up your heartrate quicker when listening to it

  9. I listen to both rock and metal and nearly all types of them. From blues to distortion. From slow to fast. I think both metal and rock are interwined at many places. Both got beats which make me dance and both have got the feelings. Who cares what’s the difference till i can enjoy both the music. 😀

    • I approve this message;) Remember what Lemmy say on stage : “We are Motorhead and we play Rock’n’roll”. Rock is much more than using a distortion or not, it’s a way of life!

  10. Metal is not “it’s own” thing, it never was. It’s just rock taken to the extreme, that is faster, and more distortion. All this talk about different structures, more sophisticated shredding etc. is nonsense, it all comes from Rock. Though you can say that “extreme” metal is it’s own thing, i have to agree, i would not lump what horrible wall of sound with Rock, it’s hardly musical.

  11. Rock isn’t a specific music genre. Rock is an umbrella term that encompasses a great variety of musical styles. The first Rock genre is Rock & Roll, this genre was born Rhythm & Blues. From Rock & Roll were born Rockabilly, Surf Rock, Blues Rock, Beat (British Invasion). From Rockabilly and Surf Rock was born Garage Rock, from Garage Rock was born Punk Rock. From Blues Rock were born Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. From Heavy Metal were born Thrash Metal, Speed Metal, Doom Metal and others. This evolution is extensive. Metal is a term to refer in a generic way to Heavy Metal and his descendants. Heavy Metal takes influences from Blues Rock and Psychedelic Rock.
    Rock = Earth
    Metal= Europe
    Death Metal = France.

    Umbrella term = Rock
    Family/Category = Metal
    Genre = Death Metal
    Sub – genre = Technical Death Metal

    In music there are categories and families, not all terms are music genres. For example Electronic , this is an umbrella term for a variety of styles based on the use of digital instruments (synthesizers , samplers , drum machine ) .

  12. the only metal band that i really believe in is silencer band…
    if this band isn’t good;nothing is!!!!

  13. There isn’t a great deal of difference between rock and heavy metal barring the decibels and the amount of curls in their hairdos. The ONLY real difference is found in the blues musicians who improvise and also vary the vocals each time. Some of the best musicians in my opinion are the ones who came from the blues background the best in this case implies the ability to perform differently each night. Rock and metal have hours to do their hair, nail polish lipstick and stuff. Why? because they are only lip synching the song on stage that is why. Blues bands should be revived, rock and metal ran into a brick wall because of the image thing and the choreographed motions And what replaced it? More choreographic concepts i.e. Pop which is inevitable again due to the choreography involved in all of those styles. Pop could not have replaced blues!! Namely insincerity can not replace the sincere.
    And now 75 year olds look really silly playing rock or metal — revenge of the grandpa in tights. Note They would not have looked silly if they were playing blues!!
    With All these sweep arpeggio players (choreographed) often you would hear them say blues music is so simple. Okay lets see these same people do something off the cuff for the night not a chance.
    Why not just put on the record if you want to hear your favourite rock heavy metal band? Live music is NOT rock music or heavy music. One also has to consider the duration of a rock or heavy songs = 3 -4 minutes that means the band has played those 3-4 minutes for around 40 years the same way over and over = bored to death rust sets in!
    I say bring back blues bands and do away with all this permed hair dos. Rock and metal drew from many forms including classical but again how long is an opera in comparison to a 3 minute song? Hours that is how long So that is not boring. Now do you see why blues players improvised? Because they made 3 minutes into 13 minutes. The other approach is just a maze for mice. The approach to music is more important than the notes, more important than this so called perfection which in truth can only be found in genius like Bach or something like that.
    Not putting down anybody but give me Clapton, Vaughan, Jeff Healy Gary Moore and so on any day to bon jovial or iron maiden and so on.
    Of course this is only my taste I stress I am not putting anybody down for what they are into but I am just warning the dangers involved in choreography and most importantly how it fails to protect us from Brittney spears and boy zone and so on.
    Blues would
    jazz would
    county music would.But does rock or metal? Answer equals a resounding no. Because image and choreographic music then can then be used by the Madonna’s of the world.

  14. what is thrash metal and nu metal?

  15. Metal is for the broken the fixed people cannot understand it

  16. I’m no expert but I did read somewhere that Metal uses more enhanced Bass Play when compared to Rock, and from what I’ve heard, it seems to hold quite true. Metal does tend to have a heavier bass to its background as commonly found in Blues.

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