According to Wikipedia, there are over 200 different sub-categories within the realm of rock music. A huge spectrum of guitar-driven groupings ranging from common classifications like psychedelic or lo-fi to the more obscure breeds like grebo and krautrock. Heavy Metal alone has over 30 different classifications. (Whether it’s Avant-Garde Metal, Melodic Death Metal or Deathcore, there’s a type of death metal for everyone.) One of rock’s greatest qualities is how it can be classified to the most ridiculous level by any music critic with a thesaurus. So in an effort to help expand your rock horizons (for better or worse) we present to you ten of the most obscure rock genres out there.
Also known as Electrofolk, this genre is comprised of various elements of folk music and electronica, often featuring samplings of acoustic instruments—especially stringed instruments—and incorporating hip hop rhythms. Laptop computers are often used during the recording process. A similar genre is “laptop folk”, which refers to a slightly more minimalist version of electronic folk. A true oxymoron.
Not to be confused with Geek rock or Mathcore – Math rock is a rhythmically complex, guitar-based style of experimental rock that emerged in the late 1980s. It is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), angular melodies, and dissonant chords. Basically it’s music for people who like music other people don’t like because it’s not really music.
Gothabilly is one of several music and cultural subgenres of rockabilly. The name is hybrid of the genres gothic and rockabilly. The earliest known use of the word gothabilly was by The Cramps in the late 1970s, to describe their blend of rockabilly-influenced punk rock. Since then the term has come to describe a fashion and music trend that bridges both the gothic and rockabilly subcultures. Ideal fan: an artsy kid from Alabama whose truck-driver dad doesn’t appreciate his son’s paintings.
Zeuhl sounds like, well, about what you’d expect an alien rock opera to sound like: massed, chanted choral motifs, martial, repetitive percussion, sudden bursts of explosive improv and just as unexpected lapses into eerie, minimalist trance-rock. It’s pretty weird dude.
Also known as “visual style”, this genre refers to a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes. Many sources state that Visual Kei refers to a music genre, or to a sub-genre of J-rock (a term referring to Japanese rock in general), with its own particular sound, related to glam-rock, punk and metal. It’s Twisted Sister meets Samurai.
Shoegazing is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It lasted until the mid 1990s with its ultimate peak in 1990 and 1991. The British music press—particularly NME —named this style shoegazing because the musicians in these bands stood relatively still during live performances in a detached, introspective, non-confrontational state, hence the idea that they were gazing at their shoes.
This epic sub-genre of heavy metal music is characterized by its galloping pace, keyboard-rich anthems, bleakness and dramatic emphasis on Norse mythology. “Our keyboard solo will shake the halls of Valhalla ’til the end of time!!”
Sadcore is a sub-genre occasionally identified by music journalists to describe examples of alternative rock characterized by bleak lyrics, downbeat melodies and slower tempos. Sadcore – Where emo goes to die.
Wizard rock (sometimes shorthanded as “WRock”) is a musical movement dating from 2000 that consists of at least 750 bands such as Harry and the Potters, Ministry of Magic and Draco and the Malfoys. The lyrics are usually humorous and simple from the point of view of a particular character in a book. In preserving the literature-based theme, these bands usually like to perform in libraries, bookstores and schools. Unfortunately this genre needs to spend less time in the young adult fiction section and more time practicing their instruments.
My personal favorite, Nintendocore is a derivative form of metalcore that fuses typical metalcore elements with chiptunes and 8-bit music. In layman terms, it’s the Super Mario Brothers theme song mixed with death growls about the apocalypse. Beep-Boop-BRAAAWWHHHHH!!!