10 Bands That Wrongly Get Labeled Heavy Metal


Linkin Park band members standing amid brown lighting.

Linkin Park is one band that sometimes wrongly get labeled heavy metal – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Brandon Cox

Labels can be really annoying in music. Why can’t great music just be great music? But, it does help to be able to generally say that one band is metal or another band is punk. It helps when describing what kind of music you like and when trying to find good music to share with friends. That said, metal is the kind of musical genre that people are proud to say they love. Metal, after all, is the most brutal and aggressive form of music out there. But, the next time someone says they love metal, you’d better ask them what bands they actually like, because their idea of metal could be very different from yours. Here are some bands that can wrongly get labeled metal. Many of them are heavy, but these are bands that are not heavy metal.

What is heavy metal music?

Heavy metal is technically part of the rock genre of music. It’s loud, intense, powerful and aggressive in nature. Heavy metal is also usually technically difficult. Just listen to a Randy Rhodes or Zakk Wylde guitar solo, and you’ll know what metal really sounds like. Distorted electric guitar and double bass drums are a trademark of the genre.

What are some heavy metal bands?

Before we get into bands that aren’t heavy metal, let’s name some bands that actually are heavy metal. A handful of bands that pretty much nobody could argue against saying are heavy metal are Slayer, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Pantera, to name a few.

Bands That Wrongly Get Labeled Heavy Metal

Linkin Park

Say what? I get that Linkin Park is nu-metal. They’re one of the most successful nu-metal bands of all time, next to groups such as Korn and Limp Bizkit. They combine rap and rock to great accord. But, no, they are not heavy metal. Yes, some people do classify them as this.


As with Linkin Park, Korn are definitely nu-metal. They pretty much created the blueprint for the nu-metal genre. But, nu-metal and heavy metal are not the same thing. Korn and their rap-rock jams are great, but that sound is far from pure heavy metal.

Limp Bizkit

We wrap up our trio of bands that are nu-metal but not heavy metal with Limp Bizkit. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard people refer to Limp Bizkit as heavy metal. I think Fred Durst would laugh out loud if he heard someone call Limp Bizkit heavy metal.


AC/DC are kings of hard rock, and they’re one of the most influential hard rock bands of all time. But, sometimes, they get lumped into the heavy metal genre, and they’re just not heavy metal.

Led Zeppelin

This one is going to get comments. Yes, Led Zeppelin were a crucial part of the development and foundation of metal music in the 1970s. Without Led Zeppelin, perhaps there would be no heavy metal. But, the character of their music is very hard rock. They also had influences in folk, blues and psychedelic rock.

Pink Floyd

I’ve definitely heard Pink Floyd referred to as heavy metal, and I don’t really get it. These guys were obviously one of the most influential rock bands on the planet. But, they’re not heavy metal. They spearheaded progressive rock and psychedelic rock, with some blues and space-rock thrown in, too.

Falling in Reverse

Falling in Reverse is one of the hottest bands of the past few years. Their songs such as “Popular Monster” and “Zombified” are super infectious and entertaining. Also, sure, Falling in Reverse has great, distorted guitars. But, I’m pretty sure Ronnie Radke and company would never call themselves heavy metal.


The people who think Nickelback are heavy metal are simply people who don’t listen to rock or metal music. But, I have no hate for those people. First of all, I like Nickelback. They write solid, popular rock songs. So, a few people have excitedly told me that they like metal music, when they learn that I do, and then they mention Nickelback. They’re also people who just, as I said before, don’t listen to any heavy music. So, it makes sense, in a weird way, that to them, Nickelback is the heaviest band they’re ever heard. But, sorry, Nickelback are not heavy metal.

Nine Inch Nails

I don’t think Trent Reznor would disagree with the fact that Nine Inch Nails simply aren’t heavy metal. They’re a great industrial rock band and helped pioneer that industrial genre. But, those who think they are heavy metal in the likes of Iron Maiden or Metallica are simply mistaken.

Five Finger Death Punch

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Five Finger Death Punch. Especially the Jason Hook era. I’ve been to plenty of Five Finger shows and interviewed band members several times over the years. While I dig Five Finger Death Punch, I would never consider them heavy metal. These guys write great hard rock songs, but they’re often labeled as heavy metal.

That wraps up our list of bands that wrongly get labeled heavy metal. Now, talking real metal, check out some of the best heavy metal riffs here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music