Common among Viking metal is a reverence for pagan Germanic, or specifically Viking, culture with a rejection of contemporary Christianity and disdain for the Christianization of Northern Europe in favor of a pre-Christian and pre-Muslim Pagan society. Thus, most Viking metal bands are derived from Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and German black metal groups, and are native Scandinavians and Germans, often associating themselves with pagan and Ásatrú beliefs.
However, Viking metal bands do not exclusively sing about Vikings. For example, Thyrfing recently discarded their Viking lyrical themes, and a band such as Swedish band Unleashed who predominantly hail their Middle Aged ancestry lyrically do not fall under the Viking metal category.
The musical definition of Viking metal is wide and substantially varied. Its most common roots are black metal, folk metal and thrash metal. It should be noted that these are not mandatory; Tyr do not have black metal elements, Bathory do not have clear folk metal sounds and Kampfar do not utilise any blatant thrash metal influence. The Viking metal sound usually contrasts the abrasive with the melodic, functions with hypnotic and mesmerising or bold and punchy guitar, proud shouts, growls and or clean singing. A keyboard is optional and usually plays a style akin to symphonic metal with more of an adventuring texture, or placed on top of an aggressive guitar riff. More commonly, Viking metal bands are featuring relations of progressive metal into their music, such as Moonsorrow.