Eight Weird Rock Genres You May Not Have Heard Of

Punk, indie, alternative, hard, soft, metal, classic, these pretty much cover the different rock genres right?

Wrong.

Search “Rock Genres” online. The result? Hundreds of genres listed one after the other. The Internet’s favorite unofficial information source (Wikipedia) lists over 200 total genres from A to Z falling under the Rock category. While it may be debatable whether all of these constitute their own genre, the list definitely has some unusual  and noteworthy rock styles that stand alone.

I decided to compile a list of some of the most interesting and unique genres and delve a little deeper into what they were all about.

Here’s the eight obscure rock genres that made the list. How many have you heard of?

1. Pirate Metal

The blending of rock & roll and piracy is not a new concept. Even one of the most famous fictional pirates, Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, was inspired by Rolling Stone Keith Richards.

Pirate metal takes this to the next level. Incorporating a piracy motif into heavy metal, the genre is a mashup of electric guitars, folk instruments, screaming and pirate lingo.  Popular pirate metal bands like Alestorm not only sound like pirates, they look and dress like them too. Samples lyrics include exalting the virtues of rum, making enemies walk the plank, wishing for a wench and sharing tales of the  high seas.

2.Punk Jazz

Punk jazz is the union of punk and jazz. It’s a genre mashup of a full jazz sound with the garage band grunge. Big brass instruments come together with electric guitars and hard drum beats to create this distinctive style. Some bands sound a bit more classic jazz and others fall more towards the punk side of the scale, but they all bring a unique fusion of jazz and punk music.  Lounge Lizards, Youngblood Brass Band and Jazz Punks are some great bands to check out to learn more about this underrated genre.

3. Nintendocore

Gamers stop here. Nintendocore, aka Nintendo Rock, is a blend of rock and video game music. The genre features elements such as electric guitar, drums, synth, electronic music and 8-bit sound. With headbanging and screaming often involved, nintendocore  is actually pretty hardcore, it just has some nerdy elements thrown in the mix. HORSE the Band and Minibosses are some of the top-notch guys in the nintendocore world.

4. Math Rock

Math Rock got its name through its unconventional use of timing and irregular beats. The mostly instrumental music genre is characterized by erratic rhythms and unusual time signatures. The limited lyrics, disjointed rhythms and constantly changing tempos make this tranquil music style stand out among the rock genres. A close cousin to progressive rock, math rock is also often known for its above average song lengths and pull away from the pop song structure. Notable math rock bands include American Football, Don Caballero and Slint.

5. Dark Cabaret

When it comes to Dark Cabaret just imagine the Phantom of the Opera was serenading Christine with an electric guitar instead of an organ. The dramatic rock genre is very theatrical in nature. It’s musical theater with an edge. It features the passionate vocals of a typical cabaret performance, but with a gothic twist. Acts often feature musicians dressed in classic goth clothing and dramatic makeup. The music brings up a romantic picture of shady night clubs, femme fatales and circus freaks. Notable acts in the Dark Cabaret genre include the Dresden Dolls, Vermillion Lillies and Johnny Hollow.

6. J-Punk

The US has a pretty strong fan base devoted to J-Pop and K-Pop. Other than Psy’s Oppa Gangam Style though, Western culture pays little attention  to Asian produced music. Perhaps surprising to some, but Asian music does in fact go beyond synth and Psy. Just because you don’t speak the language doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the music. The J-Punk scene consists of everything from grungy ’80s punk bands like The Stalin to modern more polished acts like the pop/punk Dustbox.

7. Unblack Metal

What is Unblack Metal you ask. It is exactly what the name implies. Unblack metal is the opposite of black metal, but only in message not in style. Where black metal screams out themes of satanism and the supernatural, unblack metal counters those with Christian messages of hope and faith. Unblack Metal, alternatively Christian black metal, seeks to break misconception that metal and faith can’t mix. While they do experience criticism from both the Black Metal scene for not truly being metal and  from the religious scene for not truly making Christian music, unblack metal bands like Horde and Antestor continue to create music to express their religious faith through their Black Metal Style.

8. Wizard Rock

Number eight and my personal favorite on this list is Wizard Rock. Harry Potter changed more than just the literary world. JK Rowling’s story has inspired movies, theme parks, plays, immeasurable amounts of fan fiction, music and even musicals.

Wizard Rock, aka Wrock,  is a sub-genre of the nerd rock world. Rowling’s fans have joined together to create a whole sub-genre of the music world dedicated entirely to the world of Harry Potter. Geeks all over the world have joined together to lament Snape’s love for Lily, express their house pride, and recount tales of Harry’s heroism in song. With millions of YouTube hits Harry and the Potters, Ministry of Magic, Gred and Forge and Remus and the Lupins are just a few of the Wrock bands to rise to (relative) fame.

Thanks for checking out this list of weird rock genres. I hope you enjoyed the music and maybe found a new favorite rock genre.

Here’s a few honorable mentions that also have unique and interesting styles: Cowpunk, Medieval Metal, Time Lord Rock, Afro Punk, Queercore, Stoner Doom.

Click here for a comprehensive list of the hundreds of rock genres that apparently exist.

Sarah Trenholme

Majoring in Journalism with an emphasis in PR and minoring in Television, Film, and New Media. I spend my non-school time contemplating what superhero name I'd choose if/when I ever get superpowers. Tune in Thursdays at 9am from my show.