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Heavier Than Hell

Korn - Metallica - Death


Korn has taken the concept of low-tuning and plunged even further into uncharted depths on both their 1994 debut release as well as their popular follow-up effort, Life is Peachy.

Guitarists Shaffer and Welch play Ibanez seven-string instruments which include a low B string (B-E-A-D-G-B-E), then tune all seven strings down one whole step (A-D-G-C-F-A-D)!

Since most of you don't happen to have a seven-string guitar lying around, this presents a bit of a problem. The most convenient and workable option is to simply tune all six strings down one whole step (D-G-C-F-A-D) and alter the riffs when necessary by transposing the lowest notes on the B string up an octave.

At least the general essence of the riff is maintained. Check out the pre-chorus section in "A.D.I.D.A.S." which incorporates rhythmic displacement and ear-twisting chromatic movement. The power chords appear as fourth dyads since the low root notes which fall on the lower B string have been omitted for six-string playability.

A LA KORN (Seven-string gtr. arr. for six-string)
Tune Down 1 Step:
1 = D 4 = C
2 = A 5 = G
3 = F 6 = D
Moderate Rock q = 114 - Midi file


Where would heavy guitar be today if not for Metallica? Yeah, I know, I know...their newer style isn't as heavy as in the good 'ol days. So we'll just have to step back a few years to 1986 and take a retro look at "For Whom the Bell Tolls".

This masterful sonic embodiment of doom contains numerous riff highlights, but none are more compelling than the song's central riff, shown here. Notice the driving triplet-based palm mutes, power-chord jabs, and odd melodic leap from Bb5 (bV) to F#5 (II). It should be in every rock guitarist's riff vocabulary. Enough said.

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Tune Down 1/2 Step:
1 = Eb 4 = Db
2 = Bb 5 = Ab
3 = Gb 6 = Eb
Moderately q = 120 - Midi file


Death is among the handful of bands that helped create came to define the style we know as death metal. Closely allied with thrash, death metal often employs hyper-speed double-kick and double-time grooves, and is rife with such themes as death by knife, death by suicide, death by rotting, death by nuclear war, mutilation, corpses in all manner and form, and other charming themes.

Ultra-heavy grooves also show up from time to time--one killer example is "Spiritual Healing". It opens with a four-chord progression centering on A, but the unusual sequence defies easy key-categorization and gives an odd, nearly atonal sound. (It could also be described as the second mode of G# Phrygian-dominant, if that helps at all.)

Over this progression, Gtr. 1 engages us with a two-handed tapping phrase which moves in parallel with the chords, further reinforcing the atonal aspect. Then the main riff kicks into a super-heavy death-metal dirge.

Notice the diminished scale in power chords with textbook pedaltone palm-mutes and upbeat chord attacks. Also consider how the six-beat-per-measure timing keeps you slightly off balance, and makes the riff sound just a little harder to grasp. The tuning is down one whole step.

A La Death
Tune Down 1 Step:
1 = D 4 = C
2 = A 5 = G
3 = F 6 = D
Intro q = 102 - Midi file1 - Midi file2

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