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Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression". The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound associated with the speed metal, thrash metal, death metal, black metal and doom metal genres. With the exception of doom metal, all of these genres are characterized by fast tempos, attesting to their roots in hardcore punk, which has also fused with extreme metal in the forms of crossover thrash, crust punk, grindcore, sludge metal and metalcore. Though many extreme sub-styles are not very well known to mainstream music fans, extreme metal has influenced an array of musical performers inside and outside heavy metal.
"Extreme" can be meant to describe any of the following musical elements: instrumentation (whether it is intended to be faster, more aggressive, abrasive or "heavier" than other metal styles), lyrics (dealing with darker, more sensational topics and themes), vocals (which often use guttural, harsh or abrasive singing), or appearance and stage demeanor (using corpse paint, Satanic or occult imagery). The "extreme" label is most commonly applied to bands whose music is extreme; for example, few would consider Kiss or Alice Cooper to be extreme metal, though they could be considered to employ extreme elements in their appearance and stage demeanor for their time.
"Extreme metal's sonic excess is characterized by high levels of distortion (also in the vocals - grunting or screaming), less focus on guitar solos and melody, emphasis on technical control, and fast tempos (at times, more than 200 beats per minute). Its thematic transgression can be found in more overt and/or serious references to Satanism and the darker aspects of human existence that are considered out of bounds or distasteful, such as death, suicide and war." "Visual transgression [can include] ... medieval weaponry [and] bloody/horrific artwork."
According to ethnographer Keith Kahn-Harris,[page needed] the defining characteristics of extreme metal can all be regarded as clearly transgressive: the "extreme" traits noted above are all intended to violate or transgress given cultural, artistic, social or aesthetic boundaries. Kahn-Harris states that extreme metal can be "...close to being...formless noise", at least to the uninitiated listener.:33 He states that with extreme metal lyrics, they often "...offer no possibility of hope or redemption" and lyrics often reference apocalyptic themes. Extreme metal lyrics often describe Christianity as weak or submissive,:40 and many songs express misanthropic views such as "kill every thing".:40 A small number of extreme metal bands and song lyrics make reference to far-right politics; for example, the Swedish black metal band Marduk has an obsession with the Nazi Panzer tank, which can be seen in works such as Panzer Division Marduk (1999).:41
Given the vagueness of existing definitions and considering the limitations such definitions, as there are many subgenres of extreme metal, there are many artists for whom the usage of the term "extreme metal" is a subject of debate.[page needed] However, Kahn-Harris also notes that many musicians and fans see such debates over style and genre as useless and unnecessary, or at least as given undue attention.
Genres influenced by extreme metal but usually not considered extreme themselves:
"Death 'n' roll" arose with Entombed's 1993 album Wolverine Blues ... Wolverine Blues was like '70s hard rock tuned down and run through massive distortion and death growls.External link in