Alternative metal is seen as the most commercial of all metal styles. It is more common to hear an alternative metal track on the radio than any other styles of metal. This is due to the genre accepting the heaviness and aggression of metal music but it manages to add more of a melody and a bigger feel of experimentation in the music and instrumentation.
There was a larger emphasis on guitar solos compared to metal and the lyrics was a lot more meaningful and was sung rather than shouted or screamed. But the guitars kept usually to a drop D tuning to keep that muddy metal sound but didn’t go to low so that it was overly ‘metal’ like drop C.
Alternative metal covers a few sub genres these include:
- Alternative Metal
- Funk Metal
- Rap Metal
- Some Nu-Metal crossovers
Alternative covered such a wide range of metal types that it became a way of describing metal music that wasn’t pure metal. It kept growing and diversifying that the sub genres came into play.
Here is a short overview of each of the sub genres of alternative metal listed above.
One origin of Alternative metal started as a ‘NO!’ to hair metal, it had taken metal and made it into a softer pop genre. So in turn bands started to bring back metal to a more metal feel.
Another is just that as alternative music had become such a wide range of bands from REM to White Zombie they made alternative metal a genre and this was to separate these bands from the softer labelling of ‘Alternative’.
Bands that would have been at the forefront of the Alternative scene would ‘Tool’ with their intricate melodies and huge experimentation within the music, a prime example of Alternative Metal.
Funk metal does exactly as it says on the tin, it is a fusion of Funk with Hard rock/Metal. This fusion started in the mid-80s with bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone. They really made the funk the main vibe of their music and this continued right through the 0-s with more and more bands doing it like Primus and Living Colour.
Rap metal came about when bands started to use hip-hop vocal and instrumental elements with metal. The origin of rap metal date back to the 80s with Anthrax and Public Enemy remixing one of Public Enemy’s’ songs, ‘Bring The Noise’. This was the first time elements of rap and metal were really used in the one song.
The first time rap metal became really popular was when Rage Against The Machine came about with their hard hitting riffs and rapped vocals and also faith No More made a huge impact on the popularity of rap metal, especially with their song ‘Epic’.
From here Rap Metal has continued to grow and today you find a lot of bands in the genre like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and Papa Roach are massive acts at festivals and in the album charts.
As genres grow and get more and more diverse comes new sub genres and genres coming out in to the open. With alternative metal this happened in the form of Nu-Metal. Bands styles grew and matured and with this they brought around nu-metal.
Bands like Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Nine Inch Nails all were big in the crossover as some of their earlier and middle of the road work made that ink between Nu Metal and Alternative Metal.
Alternative influences can be heard in the music but it is Nu Metal due to some of the elements that were listed on the Nu Metal page.
So from this small bit about Alternative Metal we can see Alternative is once again a name given to cover the genres that didn’t fit in elsewhere. But it still managed to make its mark and develop as its own genre and grew into what was Nu Metal but still survived as a genre beside Nu metal.