Turns out you can judge a band by its album cover

Greg Anderson knows his world history, but that’s just his day job; he knows even more about heavy metal music

By Evelyn Griffin, Anna McClellan, Grace Nugent, and Theo Roe

Thrash. Pirate. Sludge. Satanic. War. Viking. Doom. Death.

Aside from sounding mildly menacing, these words have one thing in common: they are subgenres of heavy metal music. And the list goes on. In the latest episode of the S Word podcast, hosts Anna McClellan and Grace Nugent talk with world geography and world history teacher Greg Anderson about his passion for metal and how he distinguishes each subgenre. He claims that branding is everything.

When it comes to his favorite style of metal music, Anderson said it depends on his mood, but currently, he prefers cheesy, synthy, orchestral power metal.”

“You can look at the logo of so many heavy metal bands and know exactly what genre it is,” he said.

If it is a “splatter” it is death metal. If it is “a mass that looks like a plate of spaghetti,” it is black metal. If it is “a fancy font with bold letters” it is power metal. Album covers also play a part in determining how to categorize a band. When Anderson sees a “crudely drawn stack of skulls and demons eating the flesh off of them or whatever,” he knows he is listening to death metal, and if he sees “dirty, camo short-wearing heavy metal dudes that smell,” he is listening to a “grungy looking thing with an offensive name.”

“I didn’t even talk for one second about the vocal stylings or guitar tones or drumming styles or influences or anything like that,” Anderson said. “All I talked about was the look.”

When it comes to his favorite style, it depends on his mood, but currently, he prefers cheesy, synthy, orchestral power metal.

“They’re not screaming, they’re not doing the death growl, it’s almost exclusively not offensive,” he said.

Anderson’s Spotify metal playlist is 34 hours long, and his chart showing different metal genres and their relationship to each other looks like a constellation of stars. Illustration courtesy of Greg Anderson.


This story was originally published on The Shield Online on September 28, 2020.