If I want to distinguish between a musician's songs that are overall slower, softer and/or more sentimental, what would I call these songs? I am specifically focusing on heavier music such as rock or even metal where the musicians would generally do more intense music but decide to either do an entire song completely like this, or even start this way and then pick up into their normal style halfway or towards the end. I have heard the terms "ballad" and "power ballad" but I'm not sure if these apply to heavier genres of music as well, since as far as I've heard at least, a rock/metal ballad sounds different to a pop or classical ballad.

Two examples which are close to what I mean, while still sounding within their respective genres.

Metal song Example:

Rock song Example:

  • As mentioned above, this exists cross genre and is therefore not looking to identify a genre at all. Rather it is looking at a particular term that covers the character or style used like the example term "ballad" I suggested.
    – FrontEnd
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 3:34
  • 1
    You mentioned, “ a rock/metal ballad sounds different to a pop or classical ballad” but every other type of rock and metal song also sounds different than a pop or classical piece, I vote for “ballad”. Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 4:17
  • Happy if that's the answer, I just wasn't 100% sure
    – FrontEnd
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 4:42
  • "Son can you play me a memory?" I'm not really sure how it goes But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete When I wore a younger man's clothes Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 15:52
  • The metal genre specifically tends to have a much broader definition of what qualifies as a "ballad" or "power ballad". There are songs that are definitely ballads no matter your music taste (like Sleeping Sun) Then there are metal ballads that those unused to the genre might not consider to a ballad at all. Like Judas Priest - Beyond the Realms of Death, Nightwish - Ghost Love Score, Metallica - Unforgiven, Metallica - Fade to Black for some examples from the top of my head, of slow paced songs that aren't without some heavy riffs.
    – Amarth
    Commented Jan 9, 2023 at 20:44

3 Answers 3


The proper term seems to be "power ballad".

I'm not sure if these apply to heavier genres of music as well, since as far as I've heard at least, a rock/metal ballad sounds different to a pop or classical ballad.

This surely applies to heavier genre IMO. Here are some examples (though I'm not sure they look heavy enough for you):

Of course what qualifies as a ballad and what qualifies as heavy is a matter of taste and opinion.

  • 1
    Or "Aria" in opera, at least some of the time. Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 15:52
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    I don't know classical music but I admit my answer is very centered on OP's question, i.e. "on heavier genres of music (...) rock/metal ballad sounds". More generally, apart from classic music, we would say "ballad".
    – xhienne
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 17:17
  • @CarlWitthoft An aria need not be a ballade. For example, the famous "Queen of the Night" aria from The Magic Flute is not a ballad.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 7:26

As @xhienne noted, Ballad is the correct generic term for a slow, sentimental song with vocals, regardless of the genre. You then modify it with whatever genre it would otherwise be in, thus: Classical ballad, hard-rock ballad, heavy-metal ballad, folk ballad, soul ballad, R&B ballad, etc. Those terms are all well-understood, searchable, and in general use.

It's an interesting musical paradox that some of the heaviest genres have produced some of the sweetest ballads.


The proper term to define a song that is soft, slow, and sentimental, is ballad.

"A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music." (“Ballad - Wikipedia”) Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, which were originally "dance songs". Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of Britain and Ireland from the Late Middle Ages until the 19th century. They were widely used across Europe, and later in Australia, North Africa, North America and South America. Ballads are often 13 lines with an ABABBCBC form, consisting of couplets (two lines) of rhymed verse, each of 14 syllables. "Another common form is ABAB or ABCB repeated, in alternating eight and six syllable lines." (“How many lines should a ballad be? – Profound-Answers”)

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