Metal “Dictionary”

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Metal (But Were Afraid to Ask).

The fact is, so many Metalheads are also musicians, and some terms that seem to be evidence to musicians may not be as clear to others.
There are also terms created that could be defined clearly for “better understanding”, and this is why I decided to create this little “Dictionary”.


The English prefix post- means “after.” Examples using this prefix include postgame and postseason. An easy way to remember that the prefix post- means “after” is through the word postpone, for when you postpone something, you put it on your agenda to do “after” the current time.

Now, in terms of music:

When a genre take its turn towards commercial success and finally getting an inevitable makeover for the masses, there is always that crop of musicians from the scene who continue to make this music at its roots or try to redefine the possibilities by mixing other musical elements; “postization” refers to this second path.

Post usually means to draw from a genre, using its roots, its stylistic and rhythmic elements but giving a new perspective, a new vision, adding new sounds.

What exactly is a “riff”?

What is a Guitar Riff? A riff in music, a riff is a repeated sequence of notes or chords. A guitar riff is often catchy and helps give structure and character to a piece of music. Riffs most commonly appear in rock, funk, jazz, and Latin music, though they can be found in almost any genre of music.

Because many musicians started playing the guitar and learnt “Smoke on the Water”, it became possibly the world’s most famous guitar riff ever.

Difference between “lick an “riff”?

extract from the website “Guitar head”

A riff can be played on a variety of instruments. A lick, however, is something that is exclusive to guitars. While a riff is designed to set the vibe, a lick is used to showcase the skills of a guitarist by standing out. Unlike riffs, licks allow a guitarist to perform solos or improvise on an established melodic line of the song.

While riffs go down as memorable, licks might not necessarily have the same staying power.

Example: If you were baking a cake, the icing would be the riff; it makes the cake unique, draws the eye to it, and the cake would be incomplete without it. In this metaphor, a lick would be the sprinkles or other tiny decorative elements; not vital to the cake’s flavor or design, but an interesting and worthwhile addition nonetheless.

The biggest difference between the two, however, is the fact that licks are always more prone to improvisations. Riffs are a musical idea usually written into the composition of the song, and not the result of a spur-of-the-moment improvisation.

What’s Jamming and shredding?

Jamming is playing music in a chilled way with other musicians but not like in a rehearsal.

While shredding: Shredding includes difficult guitar techniques such as “sweep, alternate and tremolo picking; string skipping; multi-finger tapping; slurs, trills.” Shred guitarists use two- or three-octave scales, triads, or modes, played ascending and descending at a fast tempo This term refers to playing “shred” or “shred guitar.” It is most likely derived from the act of playing very fast, virtuosic passages on a distorted electric guitar, which would suggest that the player is “shredding the neck.”

A breakdown

In music, a breakdown refers to a section of a song that usually follows the chorus. It is a moment when the music breaks down to a simpler form, and the instruments are played one at a time or in small groups. This section is often used to build tension before the song returns to the chorus or other sections.

“Double bass” in Metal

It refers to double bass drums and not to a double bass chord instrument.

Please read this article from “Drums” magazine that my sister kindly shared with me. It is a great article that explains all about double drums in Metal.

“Early Metallica”

This refers to the time when Metallica was still a Thrash band. It starts with “Kill’em All” and the following three albums: “Ride the Lightning,” “Master of Puppets,” and “And Justice for All.”

“Old school”

The term is self-explanatory; however, it often means an old-style production and music composed using the structure the first Thrash, Death, and Black used, mostly only guitar rhythm and lead, bass, and drums.

Blast Beats

A blast beat is a type of drum beat that originated in hardcore punk and is often associated with certain styles of extreme metal.
As blast beats have evolved, different types and interpretations have emerged. There are four main variations of the blast beat: the traditional blast, the bomb blast, the hammer blast and the freehand blast.
The traditional blast beat is a single-stroke roll alternating between the snare drum and kick drum. The ride hand is usually playing in unison with the kick drum. The traditional blast beat is structurally very similar to the skank beat, which can be regarded as a predecessor and a half-time variation of the traditional blast.

You can check this vidéo to get examples of Blast Beats:

Shoegaze and Blackgaze.

I made a page about Blackgaze, which you can check out here.

Blackened Death and Blackgaze are both fusions, the first being a fusion of Black and Death and the second Black and Shoesgaze.

An example: a band that plays Death Metal, with a structural composition of Death, guitars, heavy, harsh vocals, and double bass, but has black metal themes (blasphemy, corpse paint, etc.), could be called Blackened Death…. Behemoth is a good example. They play Death Metal with an occult and Satanic approach and themes.

Hardcore/ Hardcore Punk, Metalcore, Deathcore, Grindcore

We are still talking here about music fusions.


A fusion between Death Metal and Metalcore (and occasionally Hardcore Punk). Deathcore is a subgenre that fusion elements of Metalcore, like breakdowns and screamed vocals, with elements of Death Metal, like downtuned guitars, growled vocals, and blast beats. Clean vocals are rare in Deathcore. Pig squeals are one method that deathcore vocalists have employed in addition to other methods.


Metalcore is a fusion genre between Metal and Hardcore Punk. Metalcore makes use of breakdowns, which are slow, intense passages that are conducive to moshing. It usually makes use of a mix of clean vocals and screamed vocals.

Now a touch of humor:

“Normies” is the term used to describe non-metalhead folks or “civilians” but this last one might be used only by a friend but I have the impression now that is something we all use to describe normies?