This article investigates whether and how metal subgenres differ in their harmonic practices in the 21st century. One hundred metal tracks from five subgenres (power metal, black metal, metalcore, melodic death metal, progressive metal) released since 2000 were analysed, capturing the chords used and modulation techniques employed. Data analysis showed that although each subgenre adopts the techniques used by the early heavy metal bands of the 1970s and 1980s, individual signature styles contribute to the desired sonic aesthetic. Utilising neo-Riemannian theory for analysis, this study found distinct harmonic practices in each subgenre, yet the most distinctive in power metal and black metal. While black metal focused on non-diatonic minor chords afforded by Weitzmann region-based progressions, power metal emphasised the brighter Dorian mode and employed baroque and classically influenced secondary dominants and diminished seventh chords to add colour to progressions and brighten the sound.
|Journal||Metal Music Studies|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 4 Feb 2023|