Death Metal vs Thrash Metal: Know the Differences

Death metal vs thrash metal is one of the most common curiosities among people. A lot of them think they are not very much differentiated. But, there are colossal differences between the two of them!

So the question arises – What are the main differences between death metal vs thrash Metal?

Death metal has heavier distortion and deeper growls than thrash metal. It explores death, war, exorcism, cannibalism, etc. Oppositely, thrash metal gives a response against social oppression. They have complex guitar riffs and faster tempos.

Seems interesting? Well, this was just the tip of an iceberg. Tune in here to have an in-depth comparison between death and thrash metal.

The Metal Genre

Before jumping into the main topic, we believe it’s important to discuss the metal genre as a whole. 

So, Metal basically originated from the 1950s blues. This, later on, evolved gradually with a huge number of bands inventing each sub-genre of metal.

Each genre evolved when musicians started trying harsher tones with heavily distorted guitar riffs. Adding to that heavy distortion, they started playing faster drum beats. These drum beats were much louder than conventional drumming. 

The metal genre is a vast field. And It’s quite impossible to mention all of them. However, among all them, people get really confused between hardcore and metal. That’s because these two are both the sub-genres of rock.

Here, we have come up with some prominent subgenres of metal-

  • Heavy metal
  • Thrash metal
  • Doom metal
  • Black metal
  • Glam metal
  • Christian metal
  • Gothic metal
  • Funk metal
  • Nu metal

If we intend on explaining all of these subgenres in detail, 

Quick Comparison

Here’s a quick comparison of some prominent features of death and thrash metal for you-

FeaturesDeath MetalThrash Metal
SoundHeavy distortion, palm mutingHeavy distortion, no palm muting
VocalsDeath Growls, shouting and screaming Scream,  melody
OriginNew Castle, EnglandLondon, England
LyricsCannibalism, torture, satanism, exorcismCorruption, suicide, politics, warfare
PurposeSatanism, ViolenceResponse to social oppression
BandsCannibal Corpse, Death, Morbid AngelsMegadeth, Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer


Before we go deep into the different features of both genres. We thought it’s important to talk about where they all started in the first place. 

Death metal is originated from New Castle, England, by Venom. Whereas, both Queens and Judas Priest have their fair amount of contribution in inventing thrash metal. So, England was the demographic origin for both of these genres.

Let’s have a wider look at their origins-

Death Metal 

Death metal was first introduced by Venom, a band that originated from New Castle. Their harsh vocals, blistering sound, and promotion of satanic imagery were worth noticing.  These elements, later on, evolved to be the paving stone of death metal. 

Venom’s first two albums “Death Metal” and “Welcome to Hell” portrayed these ingredients in them in 1981. In the same year, a band named Slayer was formed in California. Their tracks were mostly of violence, death, war, and satanism. They are known to be the inventor of the way death metal sounds today. 

After Venom and Slayer, the prominent band that followed their footsteps was Death, formed in 1984. They introduced fast drumming with solos and very fast minor-key riffs. Their guitarist Chuck Schuldiner was later known as the father of Death Metal. Their Debut release “Scream Bloody Gore” was given the title “First True Death Metal Record”.

Thrash Metal

Now that we’ve known the origins of death metal, let’s look into thrash metal. A popular question here is – What was the first thrash metal song? 

Arguably the first thrash metal song was Exciter by Judas Priest. Back in 1978, Judas Priest released their album Stained Class. And as the opening track of that album, this song took the crown of the first thrash metal song ever. 

However, we said arguably it’s the first one. Because many audiophiles today believe that Queen invented this genre. So, did Queen invent thrash metal?

Yes to some point. Thrash metal was invented by Queens even before the term came into being. Their “Stone Cold Crazy” is also considered as a first-ever song featuring Thrash metal. However, there are contributions from many other bands in the evolution of thrash metal.

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was a movement as the emergence of heavy metal bands in the late 70s. However, bands in this movement are the pioneers of the early development of thrash metal. So, some people also consider that Britain was the sprouting place of thrash metal. 


Sound is a very crucial part that differentiates these two metal genres. Here’s a detailed comparison of how it differentiates- 

Death Metal 

When it comes to sound death metal incorporates heavy distortion with low tuning in guitars. Moreover, they use hyper double bass drumming. In case you don’t know, a double bass drum has an additional foot pedal to the same drum kit. And overall, death metal has deep growled vocals.

Now, the standard death metal setup has two guitarists, one drummer, vocalist, and bassist. They’re known for their palm muting and tremolo picking. 

Here’s the thing-

Death metal also includes melody and harmony. They incorporate their melodies with electronic keyboarding, which is absent in thrash metal.

Thrash Metal

On the other hand, thrash metal features heavy distortion, double bass drumming with fast tempos, and heavy guitar riffs. Their vocals are also growled but with some extra depth. 

You see, thrash metal mainly focuses on their heavy distortion. Their double bass drumming with complex guitar riffs and growled vocals incorporate their heavy soundings.

What is the fastest metal song ever?

The fastest metal song ever is Napalm Death- You Suffer (1989) which is 280 BPM. We have taken tempo as the main factor here. 


Vocals are those parts of the music that is sung rather than played on instruments. Death metal and thrash metal have some subtle differences in their vocals. Let’s see-

Death Metal 

In Death metal, the vocals are known as death growls. Death metal vocals are often hard to understand. That’s because there’s an excessive amount of growl and snarl. Moreover, they tend to focus more on high-pitched screaming rather than distinct and clear words.

Thrash Metal

Thrash metal vocals can be anything from melody singing to shouted singing. Compared to death metal, thrash metal focuses less on shouting and screaming. To be more specific, thrash metal has a mixture of screaming and melody.


The lyrics of death and thrash metal are very different from each other. The message death metal tries to convey is about death, war, exorcism, torture, etc. But thrash metal gives a message against social oppression. Let’s have a detailed look-

Death Metal 

The lyrics of death metal are seen to explore, cannibalism, exorcism, torture, psychopaths, and satanism. These are the extreme levels of violence. However, death metal lyrics also explore politics, philosophy, and science. 

But most of the time, extreme violence is conveyed through death metal lyrics. 

Now you might wonder how anyone can be fascinated with violence? 

Well, psychologists say that every human has a fascination with the human body. This fascination is what makes the audience interested in the violent lyrics of death metal. 

But why are death metal lyrics so angry?

It’s because they focus on expressing their emotions in angry lyrics. You see, death metal is that sorta music that talks about rebellion. This genre is mostly a combination between occult imagery and rageful lyrics. According to the musicians, it makes their stare-down more effective when there’s this unique combo.

So, how does it feel to listen to this sort of lyrics?

Well, for example, if you go to a death metal band’s concert, you’d want to headbang and punch the wall with your fist. This is how the composition is made. It makes your blood flow rapidly. 

This is actually another reason behind those angry lyrics. They design it in a way to engages their audience. 

The opening lines of Maze of Torment by Morbid Angel can give you some hints-

“Life betrayal, a warping rage

Evil ripping caverns through your mind

Immolation, in blood you’ve signed your soul away

Sickening life ends, but the horror has just begun”

Do you see how anger builds up through the lyrics?

Thrash Metal

Thrash metal lyrics convey warfare, injustice, corruption, suicide, and addiction. Basically, these are the things that afflict society. 

And just like death metal, thrash metal also interests itself in politics. Their lyrics show their disappointment towards it.

Thrash metal lyrics also portray violence. However, thrash metal has more of a rebellion vibe in its lyrics when compared to death metal. Unlike thrash metal, death metal conveys straight-up violence. 

Here’s the thing-

Thrash metal tries to talk about economic inequality, social problems, and others. This makes sense for the rebellious vibe in them. Moreover, they give out an aesthetic response to oppression. So, they keep their audience interested through their rebels. 

You can sense a hint of rebellion from the lines of One by Metallica

“Now that the war is through with me

I’m waking up, I cannot see

That there is not much left of me

Nothing is real but pain now”

Can you feel the difference?

Purpose/ Artists POV

In this segment, we will try to know how the artists expose their thoughts. Where they get their inspiration from and what is the purpose of these genres. 

Death Metal 

By now, we’ve learned that death metal songs are extremely violent. But, prominent death metal band members say that this is just an expression of their passion for music. For example, they compare death metal songs as an aural version of 80s horror movies.

As we mentioned earlier, death metal focuses on expressing their dissatisfaction against current political powers. Their lyrics show their frustration towards it.

They serve the purpose of portraying satanism, exorcism, and torture. They also portray the dark side of war and war crimes.

Some prominent death metal artists are-

  • Chuck Schuldiner (Death)
  • David Vincent (ex-Morbid Angel) 
  • Frank Mullen (Suffocation) 
  • George Kollias(Nile)
  • George Fisher (Cannibal Corpse)

Thrash Metal

Thrash metal players accumulate their energy from seeing social injustice and oppression. Thus, most of their songs are rebellious in nature. 

And that’s exactly where they implement all their energy! To protest against social injustice. They engage their audience with rebellious lyrics added with intense sound. It makes the audience go crazy! 

Thrash metal serves the purpose of raising its voice against social unfairness. They use their intense style of playing instruments with deep growls to excite their audience

Some prominent thrash metal artists are-

  • Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
  • Kerry King(Slayer)
  • Tom Araya (Slayer)
  • Jürgen Reil(Kreator)
  • Gene Hoglan( Dark Angels)

Famous Bands from Both the Genres

Now, the best way to understand music is through listening. So, we’ve gathered up a list of top bands up here. If you really want to understand the difference, then try these out-

Death Metal 

In death metal, the top bands are grouped with a nickname. Fans refer to them as the big 5. So, who are the big 5 Death metal bands?

Well, the bIg 5 Death Metal bands are –

  • Cannibal Corpse(1988-present)
  • Death(1984-1986 and 1988-2001)
  • Morbid Angels(1983-present)
  • Deicide(1987-present)
  • Suffocation(1988-1998 and 2003-present)

N.B. We haven’t ranked the bands in the list here. These names were portrayed randomly in here. 

Thrash Metal

Now, when it comes to thrash metal, we have some nicknames too. In this genre, a fav term is big 4 thrash metal. So, the question is, Who is the Big 4 thrash metal?

Well, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, and Metallica are considered as the Big 4 thrash metal bands. They originated from Canada. Moreover, their style of playing is inspired by the New wave of British heavy metal.

But this brings us to another question. Which band really brought the load. More like, who is the most popular thrash metal band?

The thing is, it can’t be defined with a single band. However, Queens, Metallica( before their 1980s style of playing), Slayer, Motorhead, Anthrax, and Black Sabbath are some prominent thrash metal bands. 

However, some bands here are so popular that people often mix up their genres. One of the common confusions here is about Metallica. Many ask around – is Metallica thrash or heavy metal?

Well, Metallica initially started its journey with thrash metal. Their first 4 albums were straight-up thrash. However, in the 90s, Metallica started inclining towards less heavy tones. Thus they have been into heavy metal since then. 

What’s the Difference between Black Metal and Death Metal?

You see, Black metal and death metal are not the same. When it comes to black metal vs death metal, they have their differences in their playing techniques, lyrics, purpose, etc. Now, let’s discuss the detailed differences here-

Let’s talk about death metal first. 

Death metal is basically an evolution from the late 80s thrash metal. Death metal has a bit more variation in terms of their playing speeds than black metal. They have lower-pitched vocals too. They anchor towards brutality in their lyrics. 

However, they have a cleaner tone compared to black metal but growled vocals in them. They deal more heavily with rage than black metals.

On the other hand, black metal has higher-pitched vocals than death metal. Their riffs are faster than death metal. 

However, they don’t have as much variation in playing speed as death metal.

More specifically, they focus more on tremolo-picked riffing styles. Also, they’re more focused on their atmosphere. Their vocals and lyrics focus on depression and doom with heavy nihilism.

Are Black Metal and Thrash Metal The Same?

Black metals and thrash metal are different from each other in terms of their lyrics, purpose, vocals, and playing styles. Now, let’s have a wider look at black metal vs thrash metal.

Black metal attacks Christianity and other religious institutions. To be more specific, they have a sense of satanic promotion in their vocals and lyrics. They portray death, war, rebirth, and destruction in their songs. But they are also seen to be focused on the extreme aspects of nature such as forest,  storm, winter, etc.

Talking about their type of music, they use fast tempos and heavily distorted guitars. They use a shrieking vocal style with an unconventional song structure.

On the other hand, Thrash metal doesn’t attack religious groups as much as black metal. They don’t promote satanism as much as black metal. They talk about social injustice and oppression mostly.

They also use fast tempos just like black metal. But their guitar riffs are much more complicated. They use much more shredding too. Black metal also does not use that many picking styles like black metal. Whereas, black metal uses sweep picking, tremolo picking, alternate picking, etc.

Are Death Metal and Thrash Metal Part of Heavy Metal?

Both death and thrash metal basically originated from heavy metal. But they’ve evolved differently in their own ways. 

To understand, we’ll look at both heavy metal vs thrash metal and heavy metal vs death metal. This will give us a better understanding of their relationship with heavy metal.

Heavy Metal vs thrash metal

In heavy metal vs thrash metal, let’s talk about heavy metal first. Heavy metal is a subgenre of rock music. It was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Experts say that it has its roots in blues-rock. 

Heavy metal uses palm muting, extended solos, melody, and harmony. They are lighter than thrash metals. But, they do use distortion in their guitars just like thrash metal.

On the other hand, thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal. The earliest albums of Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica were not too far from heavy metals. These albums were also among the first thrash albums.  

However, with time they started to go on separate ways from heavy metal. They started using harsher vocals and were much more aggressive and loud than heavy metal. They also had a mixture of hardcore punk. Started using faster drumming as well.

Heavy Metal vs Death Metal

Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. The extreme subgenre is the blend of many metal genres which are death, doom, speed, and thrash. All of these are further subgenres of heavy metal.

On the contrary, heavy metal uses palm muting, heavy distortion, and loud drumming. All of these elements are present in Death metal. However, heavy metal has touches of melody and classical music to it. So for heavy metal vs death metal, this classical inspiration is absent in death metal. 

Death metal bands kept adding heavier music to it. It’s about the expression of music through growls and snarls. You won’t find much of a melody in it.

So, it’s clear now that both death and thrash metal are subgenres of heavy metal music.

However, with all the genres floating around, it’s easy to get confused. And that’s okay. Some bands building this arena of music cross genres. And that’s when people end up asking questions like is Queen heavy metal?

The answer is a partial yes. You see, Queen is a rock band. But their initial works did have a touch of heavy metal in them. To be fair,  it was a blend of heavy metal, hard rock, and progressive rock. However, later it shifted to pop-rock.


Question: What is the difference between heavy metal and death metal?

Answer: Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. They use heavier 

distorted guitars, deeper growling voices and is an evolution from heavy metal. Without heavy metal, there wouldn’t be any death metal.

Question: Is death metal heavier than thrash metal?

Answer: Death metal can be said to be heavier than thrash metal. It has deeper growls and snares than thrash metal. Also, it uses heavier distortion compared to thrash metal.

Question: Is metal Hard Rock?

Answer: Metal is much louder but simpler than hard rock. It is influenced by a touch of classical music in it. This touch is absent in the case of hard rock.


This is the end of the line for today. We hope you have no more confusion regarding Death metal vs Thrash Metal. There were many heavy metal terms but we tried to illustrate them as simply as possible!

Thank you for staying with us till the very end. If you have any further queries, let us know in the comment section.


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