Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Angry? Need new music? Here’s how to get into death metal

Updated Published
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

If you check in with me while I’m listening to music, I’m usually listening to one of four genres: pop-punk, emo, goth, or metal. I love all of these genres for multiple reasons, and my journey into the first three has been a pretty steady progression of being the child of people who grew up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. But my love of metal music — especially death metal — is a journey that I think is worth sharing with anyone who is interested in getting into the genre as well. Please note that I use the term “death metal” pretty broadly to encompass all genres more extreme than classic metal.

I grew up with a father who played a lot of classic metal. Metallica, Megadeth, and Ozzy Osbourne were staples in his car. Despite my mom’s dislike of it, I enjoyed the music quite a lot, with a special preference for Metallica and Iron Maiden. Through middle school, as my music taste veered away from pop and towards “darker” sounding bands like Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin, my love for classic metal re-emerged, but I didn’t explore it as much. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I entered my only high school relationship and started to listen to the music my then-boyfriend liked, which was death metal. I jumped straight in with the band Acrania, and I liked them a lot, but I ended up backtracking so I could get used to the harsher sounds of death metal. 

The entry point that made the process easier was actually power metal! Bands like Sabaton made the rhythm feel easier to digest (I actually used their album about WWI to study for my essay on the topic when I was a senior — true story). From there, I got into more symphonic bands like Nightwish, and from there, deathcore bands like Winds of Plague and Whitechapel. After that, it was a headfirst slide into the heaviest music that I could find — I went through a serious slam metal phase through most of my junior year of high school, auditorily devoured every brutal death metal band I could find, dabbled in aliencore (Rings of Saturn, my beloved). My steady rotation now features Cattle Decapitation, Job For A Cowboy, and Born of Osiris

Ever since I was a high schooler, my death metal listening has been pretty consistent. Unlike my pop-punk or emo obsessions, I listen to individual metal songs more so than albums, and enjoy many bands in one sitting. I’ve continued to branch out and found new genres and bands I love (please go check out Bloodywood or Tengger Cavalry if you haven’t heard of them), but getting here was a journey! 

If you’re interested in getting more into death metal, I highly recommend doing what I did and finding a genre that you enjoy to get you used to certain conventions that can be seen across other genres (such as blast beats, breakdowns, and different guitar tunings). Power metal is a fantastic place to start, in my opinion, especially if you’re a fantasy fan because many power metal bands draw inspiration from legends and D&D. Dragonforce, Sabaton, and Powerwolf are some of my consistent favorites that I would recommend if you’d like to start out here! If you’d rather stick to more classic metal sounds with a few twists, Rammstein might be a good entry point as well. 

If you’re the kind of person who wants to test the water where it’s just a little deeper, I recommend getting into metalcore or deathcore first. Motionless In White, Knocked Loose, and Job For A Cowboy are a fantastic way to ease into more heavy subject matter, more screamy vocals, and more aggressive music. 

If you’d rather just jump in and figure things out as you go, Shadow Of Intent, Cannibal Corpse, and Ingested are some of my personal favorites that I would love to listen to the first time again.  Honorable mention: Methwitch, just because I think they’re really good and weird and want more people to listen to them. 

If you want some bands that are fronted by women, Burning Witches, Arch Enemy, and Within Temptation are awesome. Blackbriar is a fantastic band as well, focusing on folktales in their lyrics and veering towards ethereal vocals rather than heavy ones — a great break for your ears.

Death metal has a community full of weird, sometimes terrifying but overall incredible musicians that deserve more recognition. I highly recommend taking some time to dig through the scene and find the genres and artists that most click with you. Extreme music often gets a really bad rap for being “satanic,” “too loud,” and “a wall of noise,” but I promise you that journeying through it is absolutely worth it if you want to add some fascinating variety to your listening rotation. Despite the nature of the community at times, I’m constantly happy that I got into the scene, and I want to encourage others to do the same. Raise your horns!

Evelyn Homan

UC Riverside '24

Hiya! I'm Evelyn, and I'm a fourth-year English & Creative Writing double major, as well as an Honors student researching independent studying in the 21st century. I love literature, midwest emo and goth rock, alternative fashion, and talking. A lot.