Death metal is an extreme heavy metal subgenre. The genre is typically characterized by the use of heavily distorted guitars, harsh vocals that are low-pitched and/or growled, dark and morbid lyrics, exceptionally fast-paced rhythms and melodies, frequent blast beats on drums, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes.
Building off of the speed and complexity of thrash metal, death metal came to true prominence by the mid 1980s. Bands like Possessed and pioneer death metal bands such as Death, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and Deicide are considered prime influences in the genre. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, death metal gained more media attention as popular record labels like Earache Records and Roadrunner Records began to sign death metal bands at a rapid rate. Since then, death metal has diversified, spawning a rich variety of subgenres.