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Old 06-18-2013, 08:53 PM   #1
DRMguitar
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Writing Metal (Metallica/Megadeth/Pantera)

First off, I might be in the wrong category.
So, I have a thrash metal band, which consists of a drummer, a bassist, a singer/guitarist. Should I look for a rhythm guitarist? Next, how do I write thrash music like early Metallica and all Megadeth and Pantera? Not just advice like listen to them or anything, I mean advice like common progressions in thrash and patterns. Common modes and scales? Song orientation (ie Hook Riff, Verse Riff, Chorus Riff, Verse Riff, Chorus Riff, Bridge, Solo, Hook Riff, Chorus Riff) And how do I make a good rhythm without sounding too metal rhythm cliche, you know what I talking about. I am okay on lyrics and solos, just not riffs or melodies or anything for thrash. Thanks!

Last edited by DRMguitar : 06-18-2013 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:12 PM   #2
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If you like pantera more, no need for a rhythm player if you want to play grooves, but if you want a megadeth or metallica sound, your'e gonna need a solid rhythm player. most scales are minor scales or pentatonics. Song orientation I would say is whatever you like, sine most early megadeth (the really prog-like stuff like Last Rites, Black Friday, My Last Words, etc. does not follow a standard progression same with a lot of early metallica, The Four Horseman being a good example. also try your hand at those minor chords Mustaine uses in stuff like holy wars. Anthrax is another band to look at for thrash rhythm, stuff like Gung-Ho, that's what I usually do is look at a bunch o tabs to get an ideas, then just try to make it yours, also triplets are your friend, I hope this helps.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:29 PM   #3
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About an extra guitarist: Not necessary. Rhythm Guitarist may very well help, but Pantera got away without one. I'd say only find a rhythm guitarist if they're competent in the sound you're going for and understand how to go in the same direction as you.

That aside:

Hmm, well all three are really quite different from each other. Metallica is more progressive based, Megadeth is more technical based and Pantera is more groove based. If you're looking to make a fusion of all the sounds, a band such as Watchtower would be something good to listen to. Very progressive, very technical, and has a slight groove - but a bit less heavy than Pantera.

On to the actual subject of the bands, most songs are either in E Minor or D Minor; and use a lot of minor scales or blues scales. More so blues scales with Metallica. Time signatures and tempos traditionally rarely change within their songs. Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All follow a more progressive feel, though - but generally we're looking at a 3/4 or 4/4 with a strong mid-paced tempo from 125 - 195. B2 minor scale is a widely used scale for all three bands, but mostly just Metallica.

A Harmonic Minor and A Melodic Minor are common scales.

Here's a good blues scale that actually references Pantera:
http://fretboard-fury.com/theory/bluesscale.html

Here's another helpful page I once used:
http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Thrash-Metal

Tips for making riffs that don't sound too cliche... that's pretty hard to teach. I'd look for emphasis on song structure instead of trying to get too far out of cliche. I say that simply because it don't really matter if your riffs sound original or not - you're not going to get anywhere with the traditional song format. I'd mix and match as follows.

Intro - Verse - Pre-Verse - Verse - Chorus - Bridge - Solo - Bridge - Outro

Intro - Pre-Verse - Verse - Chorus - Solo - Verse - Chorus - Solo - Verse - Solo - Outro

As you can see I varied from, for example, a traditional thrash structure such as a Master of Puppets structured song:

Intro/Verse - Verse - Pre-Chorus - Chorus - Verse - Pre-Verse - Chorus - Bridge - Solo - Verse - Chorus - Outro

Anyways, all the best Thrash songs vary in structure so you should experiment as well. Maybe even not stick to any specific structure, and only follow parts of your song with the next logical point. That would help keep down monotony and keep the listener interested.

I know they're rather basic tips, and nothing overly special. But I figure this is a good starting point for you, and whoever posted next could add on more input as well. Good luck, I'm a huge thrash fan and I hope to hear something of yours someday.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:49 PM   #4
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Even Pantera used secondary guitar parts in lots of their stuff. Other thrash bands like Destruction only have the one guitarist but use a second guitarist or backing tracks when they tour. As the sole guitarist in a thrash-like band of my own (and vocalist) I can say that it is quite difficult if you're playing harder Megadeth-type stuff. Any little mistake is very noticable.

As far as song structure, use whatever you like. Structure isn't very sub-genre exclusive. Look at a band like Vektor, very progressive and complicated structures. Bands like Evile have very generic structures in their newer stuff.

As far as scales and stuff, lots of thrash is in E Minor. Chromactic scales are important too for riffs (For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hangar 18 etc). For solos minor scales, harmonic minors sometimes in stuff like Testament. But you can get a lot of mileage off of pentatonics!
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leather Sleeves
As far as scales and stuff, lots of thrash is in E Minor. Chromactic scales are important too for riffs (For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hangar 18 etc). For solos minor scales, harmonic minors sometimes in stuff like Testament. But you can get a lot of mileage off of pentatonics!

I'm just gonna throw it out there that what scales are used don't matter at all. Seriously. Not in riffs, not in solos, not in anything. Keys doesn't even matter. If you can make it Thrash-y, none of that stuff matters.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:04 AM   #6
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Thank you all for answers. If anyone else wants to contribute, it would be appreciated. When I said cliche rhythm, I didn't mean the riff, but I meant like if we had a rhythm guy, and he is just chugging the low E then hitting a power chord sometimes. One more question, should everything we do be fast? Soloing shouldn't be a problem, but do rhythms have to be fast? And yes I do listen to Anthrax. The thing I wanted from Metallica is like Seek And Destroy and Master Of Puppets, the stuff that is more thrashy. What I want from Megadeth is like thr stuff on these albums, Peace Sells and Rust In Peace. Actually, I just thought of one last question. What will the bass player do? Are there songs that we should let hin go crazy with, and other times he just plays the rhythm? Thanks again!
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRMguitar
When I said cliche rhythm, I didn't mean the riff, but I meant like if we had a rhythm guy, and he is just chugging the low E then hitting a power chord sometimes.

That's basically what thrash metal is.
Do what you want. If you don't know what you want, do what your favorite bands do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DRMguitar
One more question, should everything we do be fast?

Do what you want. If you don't know what you want, do what your favorite bands do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DRMguitar
Actually, I just thought of one last question. What will the bass player do? Are there songs that we should let hin go crazy with, and other times he just plays the rhythm? Thanks again!

Do what you want. If you don't know what you want, do what your favorite bands do.
Let's be honest, thrash metal isn't exactly known for its variety. It is what it is, and it's rarely anything else. The formula isn't that hard to copy if you'll just listen, and maybe read some tabs if you're still confused.
Repost this in Musician Talk and you'll get better responses; this forum is for lyrics.
Oh, and if you find yourself overthinking something, you're doing it wrong; try a different approach. All the classic thrash bands didn't know jack shit about music theory; they just played what they wanted to, and kept what sounded good. If you're just going to rip them off, you don't need much theory either.
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax
I'm just gonna throw it out there that what scales are used don't matter at all. Seriously. Not in riffs, not in solos, not in anything. Keys doesn't even matter. If you can make it Thrash-y, none of that stuff matters.


I know what mean, what makes it thrashy is more about how you play it. But certain bands get certain sounds by sticking with perticular progressions and other nuances. You can do whatever you want, but at it's most basic and earliest form thrash metal was mainly based around E minor and pentatonic solos.
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:18 PM   #9
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Folks, can you all read the stickies and rules, please, regarding where topics such as this belong. I'll move this to where it belongs, Musician Talk.
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRMguitar
Not just advice like listen to them or anything, I mean advice like common progressions in thrash and patterns. Common modes and scales? Song orientation (ie Hook Riff, Verse Riff, Chorus Riff, Verse Riff, Chorus Riff, Bridge, Solo, Hook Riff, Chorus Riff) And how do I make a good rhythm without sounding too metal rhythm cliche, you know what I talking about. I am okay on lyrics and solos, just not riffs or melodies or anything for thrash. Thanks!


1) listen to them
2) the whole reason metallica and megadeth ever made any good songs was that they were open-minded, experimented, and tried new things - look at call of ktulu, anesthesia, hangar 18, etc. pantera rides this same line because they basically invented the southern groove sound
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:34 AM   #11
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The problem with your band is that it tries to fit a subgenre. Just write music you like, no matter what subgenre it belongs to. You shouldn't first pick a subgenre and start writing songs based on the "rules" of that subgenre. That way you'll only sound generic and end up repeating what Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera have already done a hundred times.

Also don't pick a common song structure when you are writing a song. My songs always just feel where they should go next and that becomes the song structure. Sometimes you need five riffs, sometimes ten. Sometimes one or two riffs is enough for a song. It depends. Same with chord progressions. Usually you don't just pick one. You listen to what would fit the song. Also most of thrash isn't really that harmonic. It's full of low E-string chugga-chugga and power chords. Most usual power chords are E5, F5, F#5 and G5. But don't limit yourself and decide only to use power chords or certain chords. Do what sounds good.

Don't follow any "rules". It's your band and you want to sound like your band. The influences will come automatically.

There are fast thrash songs and there are slower thrash songs. Good examples: Metallica - The Thing That Should Not Be (slow) and Megadeth - Take No Prisoners (fast).

As Hail said, experiment. Because so did Megadeth and Metallica. When they were young bands, thrash was also new and all this stuff wasn't used. They had to "invent" it. They had no "thrash metal rules". If they had followed some kind of rules, there would be no thrash metal. It was a new genre in the early 80s and that's why Metallica and Megadeth got famous - they made something new and didn't repeat what was done in the 50s, 60s or 70s.

OK, one more piece of advice. You want your riff to be powerful. Something people want to headbang to. But yeah, just write what comes to your mind and start practicing it.

And about the rhythm guitarist: If you are going to do guitar harmonies or you want somebody to play chords behind your guitar solo, get one. It's all about the sound you want to achieve. Many times in thrash metal if you have two guitarists, they pretty much play the same stuff to achieve a big sound.

But if you feel that you don't need a rhythm guitar, don't get one. It's easier to play when you are the only guitarist.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:29 PM   #12
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Scales:
They're broken a lot, so you might think in "key", as maybe there's two riffs in Aeolian with variations in Dorian. It simplifies the thinking(to me) because, it can anything from Aeolian to Chromatic, so you're open minded.
Usually, pentatonics, harmonic minor & some diminished.
Points to apply: b2, chromatics & b5.

Structure
You can shape it however you wish.
Tempo
Be ambitious & creative a lot of songs can shift through it(specially Slayer songs)
I recommend listening to Death Angel, they're my favorite Thrash band & they deliver the goods. They're really ambitious, especially when they were young, if you check the song Ultra-Violence, you could easily make 3/4songs with all those riffs(not telling you to lol). Even though I'm not that "In" I still am able to come up with 1or2 Thrash songs when I feel like it.

Mantic Ritual
Exodus
Testament
Powermad(if you consider them Thrash)

Thrash is a wide subject. Be creative. Be ambitious. Thrash Till Death. feel free to pm

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Old 06-23-2013, 05:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by satchfan9
Scales:
They're broken a lot, so you might think in "key", as maybe there's two riffs in Aeolian with variations in Dorian. It simplifies the thinking(to me) because, it can anything from Aeolian to Chromatic, so you're open minded.


stop saying aeolian. most metal musicians play minor with accidentals. it's that simple.
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