Industrial music

Industrial music, a captivating and experimental genre that emerged in the 1970s, has evolved into a sprawling musical landscape of diverse subgenres and styles. Rooted in experimentation and often incorporating unconventional sounds, industrial music has left an indelible mark on the world of music. From its early days of controversy and underground movements to its later mainstream recognition, the genre has continuously pushed boundaries and challenged norms.

Industrial Music A Tapestry of Sound and Art

Industrial music is a multifaceted genre that encompasses various styles of experimental music, characterized by its unconventional approach and incorporation of electronic elements. Coined in the mid-1970s, Industrial Records artists paved the way for this genre, pushing boundaries not only in music but also in various art forms such as mail art, performance art, and installation pieces. These early pioneers, including Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Boyd Rice, SPK, and Z’EV, experimented with noise and tackled controversial themes. Their impact extended beyond music, encompassing a wide spectrum of artistic expressions.

list of industrial music genres and subgenres:

Main Genre:

  • Industrial Music


  1. Dark Ambient
  2. Electro-Industrial
  3. EBM (Electronic Body Music)
  4. Industrial Hip Hop
  5. Industrial Rock
  6. Industrial Metal
  7. Japanoise
  8. Neofolk
  9. Power Electronics
  10. Power Noise
  11. Witch House

Additional Subgenres: 12. Aggrotech

  1. Ambient Industrial
  2. Cybergrind
  3. Dark Electro
  4. Dark Wave
  5. Death Industrial
  6. Industrial DnB (Drum and Bass)
  7. Industrial Techno
  8. Martial Industrial
  9. Noise
  10. Synth-Pop

Diverse Offshoots Exploring Industrial Subgenres

Dark Ambient:

The 1980s witnessed the emergence of dark ambient, a subgenre that evolved from industrial music. Artists like Coil, Nurse with Wound, and Lustmord explored non-musical elements and noise, creating a more ambient experience. This subgenre hinted at the future direction of industrial music, as seen in Throbbing Gristle’s later ambient projects.


The mid-1980s brought forth electro-industrial, a style that drew inspiration from Electronic Body Music (EBM). Pioneered by Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly, electro-industrial featured a complex and layered sound, contrasting with EBM’s minimalism. The style later gave birth to dark electro and aggrotech.

EBM (Electronic Body Music):

A fusion of European industrial, German electronic music, and electropunk, EBM gained prominence in Belgium. Notably, Front 242 coined the term in 1984. EBM’s danceable electronic music blended with industrial elements, spawning a range of artists including Die Krupps, Armageddon Dildos, and And One.

Industrial Hip Hop:

This fusion brought together the themes and aesthetics of industrial and hip hop music. Spearheaded by Mark Stewart and Adrian Sherwood, industrial hip hop combined cut-up styles with the house band of Sugar Hill Records. Noteworthy contributors include Meat Beat Manifesto, Godflesh, and Saul Williams.

Industrial Rock and Industrial Metal:

These subgenres integrated rock instrumentation with industrial elements, resulting in a unique and energetic sound. Acts like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry became synonymous with industrial rock, while groups like Fear Factory represented industrial metal’s heavier side.


Japan’s noise music scene, known as Japanoise, gained momentum in the 1980s and 1990s. Defined by musical freedom, this scene featured a range of styles, from punk-inspired groups like Hanatarash to tabletop electronics of Merzbow. Japanoise often takes a playful approach, incorporating psychedelia and space rock influences.


Artists like Douglas Pearce, Tony Wakeford, and David Tibet blended folk music with industrial and experimental elements. Neofolk’s themes range from traditional music to occultism, often embracing ties to martial industrial.

Power Electronics:

Coined by William Bennett for Whitehouse’s noise music, power electronics features feedback, synthesizers, and distorted, offensive lyrics. Death industrial and artists like The Grey Wolves also contribute to this subgenre.

Power Noise:

Drawing inspiration from early industrial acts, power noise melds noise music with electronic dance music. The style is characterized by distorted kick drums and structured, danceable tracks.

Witch House:

An electronic music fusion influenced by hip-hop, goth, and industrial, witch house features slowed tempos and eerie atmospherics. It’s a genre characterized by its unique blending of seemingly disparate elements.

Evolution and Interpretations of Industrial Music

Throughout its evolution, industrial music has traversed waves of creativity and innovation. It has garnered passionate followers who hold differing opinions on what constitutes “true” industrial music. The genre’s history reveals distinct waves, with the first bringing distorted music and keyboards to the forefront, led by bands like Throbbing Gristle. The second wave witnessed a surge of bands like Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, and Front 242, expanding the genre’s reach.

The third wave introduced mainstream recognition, blending image and music seamlessly. Bands like Apoptygma Berzerk, VNV Nation, and Velvet Acid Christ became prominent figures, pushing the boundaries of industrial music further. Despite the vast array of subgenres and interpretations, industrial music remains rooted in electronic components, including drum loops, samples, and keyboards.

Industrial Music Subgenres A Continuum of Creativity

The industrial genre’s diverse subgenres showcase its capacity for continuous innovation and creativity. From the rhythmic noise of power noise to the experimental fusions of witch house, each subgenre adds a unique layer to the genre’s tapestry. Aggrotech, ambient industrial, cybergrind, and more demonstrate the genre’s expansive nature.


Industrial music is a genre that defies easy categorization, thriving on its experimental nature and willingness to challenge conventions. From its origins as a rebellious movement to its current status as a global phenomenon, industrial music has carved a distinct path in the musical landscape. The myriad subgenres it has birthed, from dark ambient to witch house, further exemplify its dynamism and adaptability. As industrial music continues to evolve, it promises to remain a powerful force of artistic expression that captivates audiences and pushes the boundaries of creativity.

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