Top 10 Differences Between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

Metal_Treasure
Before metal, the only music genre I really liked was hard rock because I didn't know metal existed. This is the reason I know pretty well both genres.

My comparison is based on the most typical cases and tendencies in these genres. I’m aware that there are exceptions but I’m not taking them into account.

Hard rock bands: AC/DC, Queen, Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Whitesnake, and many more.

I also made a list “Top 10 Similarities Between Hard Rock And Heavy Metal”.
Hard Rock and Heavy Metal are similar but different.

The Top TenXW

1Hard rock is based on blues, metal is based on classical music

Metal is strictly based on classical music but it doesn't mean that you have to hear classical music directly, not at all. Based on classical means that metal songs use scales typically found in classical music. Metal uses the template of classical music and this template is the structure behind the metal songs, its backbone. Metal music progresses in the way classical music does. This is the reason metal goes well with classical and they are absolutely compatible. No wonder, metal music is structured in the same way.

“Blues based vs classical based” is used to determine if a band is hard rock or metal. Hard rock uses blues scales, metal uses classical scales. It's already known that several heavy sounding bands are not metal because their songs are blues based: Guns N Roses, AC/DC, Motorhead, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Whitesnake, and so on. I know that many people still think these bands are metal but it’s wrong.

Also, very often heavy metal is confused with heavy ...more - Metal_Treasure

RE bands in the Stoner, Sludge, and Doom metal subgenres

Yes, these bands are bluesy but there are problems with that because metal is strictly non bluesy. Jeff Hanneman of Slayer said about Pantera that he liked some stuff but Pantera were too bluesy at times . And Jeff Hanneman wasn t the only one American and Canadian metal bands left a major label when Pantera was signed to the same label mostly thrash bands but not only . Now, if this was such a big problem with Pantera, imagine what metal musicians would say about bands with even more blues elements.

These blues inspired metal subgenres are very small and they are getting smaller for a reason they don t belong. They were put in the metal genre long ago due to a misconception and now their metal status is just a tradition and inertia. This tradition doesn't bother me much but I know that they were mistakenly attached to metal. That s why there are some desperate adaptation processes

Doom Candlemass even ...more - Metal_Treasure

Not strictly. Most bands in the Stoner, Sludge, and Doom Metal genres are very bluesy. - ryanrimmel

2Musically, metal is more complex than hard rock

This is because classical music is more complex than blues. Think about this:
Classical music is art music and it was the music of the European aristocrats.
Blues is folk music created by the Afro-Americans in the rural areas.
Besides, most of the metal music is progressive in general (not only prog metal) while hard rock is not progressive. Some hard rock bands have progressive songs but these songs are prog rock songs and not hard rock songs. - Metal_Treasure

3Metal demonstrates better musicianship than hard rock

In metal, there is a big competition based on technical skills and metal attracts virtuoso guitarists and drummers, hence better, longer, faster and way more complex solos and drum beats.The average metal musician is way more technically skilled than the average hard rock musician. It’s also true for the average metal singers - some of them are even trained opera singers. Hard rock material definitely doesn't require such degree of vocal skills. AC/DC songs don’t need singers with the stellar vocal skills of Rob Halford, Roy Khan or Hansi Kürsch, to name a few. - Metal_Treasure

4Metal is more demanding and takes more talent than hard rock

This is a result of the things I explained above. - Metal_Treasure

5Metal deals with more serious lyrical themes than hard rock

Hard rock can be lots of fun but there’s no fun in metal. - Metal_Treasure

6Hard rock lyrics deal with the private sphere, metal lyrics deal with the public sphere

Private sphere - love, sex, relationships, family, having fun, getting high, getting drunk

Public sphere - society, the broader context of our life. Lyrical themes: social order, politics, war, injustice, poverty, world leaders, deaths of innocent people, violence, corruption, religion, youth problems, children, elderly people, people with disabilities, discrimination, and many similar subject matters.

Everybody can relate to lyrics about the private sphere (“she left me, he didn't call me, let’s have sex”). But you need to be more mature, more socially aware and more socially sensitive in order to listen to metal songs about politics, social injustice or people with mental disorders (Welcome Home, Metallica). - Metal_Treasure

7Hard rock can incorporate the entire “rock N roll” idiom, whereas metal takes only the “rock” part and discards the “roll” part

The entire “rock N roll” idiom is most notably available in AC/DC and Motorhead, for example. Most of their songs are RNR, played faster and heavier but the RNR template is there. Lemmy himself (R.I.P.) stated many times that Motorhead had never been a metal band and they had always been a RNR band. He certainly knows what is the difference between RNR and metal.

There’s no “roll” in metal - the “roll” part makes music sound playful and happier but metal doesn’t want that. Also, thanks to this “roll” part in hard rock, you can still dance to some hard rock songs but you can’t dance to typical metal songs. - Metal_Treasure

8Hard rock uses major scales more often than metal and vise versa - metal uses minor scales more often

As a result - hard rock usually sounds happy whereas metal sounds sad and dark.
There were some surveys about that and researchers measured people’s brain responses to certain songs - some minor scales just made people start crying even when they didn't understand the lyrics or there were no lyrics at all. - Metal_Treasure

9Hard rock can be part of the popular music culture whereas metal can’t

You can hear hard rock songs on the radio but you don't hear metal songs, except probably Nothing Else Matters by Metallica, which is an acoustic love ballad though. You don’t hear Brain Drill in your local mall. You don’t even hear Helloween who are not very heavy. - Metal_Treasure

10Hard rock vocals are raspy, clean metal vocals are operatic

The Contenders

11Hard rock may sound sexy, metal doesn’t

It’s because hard rock is based on blues and blues is sensual and sexy - probably blues hits the areas in your brain related to your reproductive organs and hard rock may produce hormones of sexual pleasure.

On the other hand, there aren't many love songs by metal bands. In fact, sensuality and sexuality are banned in metal. Metal musicians know that “sex sells” but they actually avoid this.

From my experience, metal is far from influencing the brain areas related to your reproductive organs. I think metal music is rather rational and I often find that listening to metal music helps me think faster and better. - Metal_Treasure

V1 Comment
12Hard rock usually includes some swing in the back beat, metal doesn't
13Metal is more diverse than hard rock

While in hard rock you basically hear the same template over and over again, in metal things are completely different because metal experiments more than hard rock. - Metal_Treasure

14Metal is faster than hard rock

I put it at #13 because this is obvious and doesn't need much explanations - everybody in the world knows it except one member of the Top Ten. - Metal_Treasure

15Metal is awesome hard rock is slow and boring
16Hard Rock is about sticking it to the Man, Metal isn't.

In fact metal has no purpose whatsoever, hard rock is based around people's beliefs whereas metal has no such thing, it just appeared one day without anyone asking for it.

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List StatsUpdated 8 Dec 2016

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308 days old

Top Remixes

1. Hard rock is based on blues, metal is based on classical music
2. Musically, metal is more complex than hard rock
3. Metal demonstrates better musicianship than hard rock
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