Beginners Guide To Playing Black Metal

author: ZynosOrcah date: 10/03/2006 category: music styles
rating: 5.2 / votes: 89 
Myself I am not the best black metal guitarist, and suppose I never will be, I don't know a lot about the style either, I mean, things like history and stuff, but I can give you a good start. We'll start out with Venom. Venom Venom, the band that is said to have brought the expression black metal into being by naming a song "Black Metal," is one of the most important bands in the history of black metal. They were one of the first bands to bring the real evil into the metal genre. They did this, using a lot of already used, common metal techniques, as with most other old school black betal bands (Merciful Fate, Bathory etc). Venom's music sounded a lot like thrash though, and they are sometimes accused of starting that scene to, together with Metallica and Slayer of course. I'll give you two riffs from their early history:
"Welcome to hell"
|---------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------|
|--------5-------5------5--------5---7^-|
|--------5-------5------5--------5---7^-|
|-0--0-----0--0---0--0----0--0----------|
|---------------------------------------|


"Black Metal"
|---------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------|
|-5-------4--------3------------------9-|
|-5-------4--------3------5--2-------9--|
|-3--0"---2--0"---1--0"--5--2-------7---|
|--------------------------3--0--0"-----|
Note that " means tremolo picking (in case you don't know what tremolo picking is, we'll discuss that later), or here, just to repeat the note for a while. Do also note that Venom always use the guitars tuned down one and a half step (C#, F#, B, E, G#, C#). Look at the first one. Is it evil? No it isn't. It's still traditional metal. The other one? Is that evil? Well, today it isn't, but back then I guess it was. And the lyrics on that song. And the drill in the beginning. That is/was evil. Wish I could write something more educational here, but I think the riffs actually should be enough. Let's go on to the next book in our darker and darker bible. Mayhem If you asked anyone who listens to black metal to mention two bands, he/she would probably mention Venom and Mayhem. That's why I'll do that to. Mayhem were the one band who started what is often called the second wave of black metal -- a wave of really evil bands in the early '90s of which most were from Norway (and they say that Norway has the highest living standard in the world). I won't go into their story, it's to easy to find, like, everywhere, but I'll introduce a very useful (and sometimes overused) technicue, called tremolo picking and give you some Mayhem riffs. So, tremolo picking. That means, to repeat the same note (fast) for a while, often just to change it and play a new one for a while. This technique is often used on the banjo in Irish folkmusic, but I have no idea how it came into black metal from there. I guess It's just a coincidence. If you want to call yourself a black metal guitarist, you should practise this technique a lot. And, remember, a slower but tight tremolo picked riff sounds faster then a fast and uneven one. Never do it too fast, unless your practising were noone can hear you! Perhaps it should be mentioned than, when tremolopicking a whole chord, not all strings have to be tremolopicked. Just do it to the one where the root of the chord is located.
"De Mysteries Dom Sathanas"
|----------------------------------|
|----------------------------------|
|----------------------------------|
|--------9"--10"--9"-10"--9"-------|
|-----7"------------------------7"-|
|-0"-------------------------------|


"Symbols of Bloodswords:
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------2"---3"--------2"--------2"----------------2"--1"----------|
|--------------------------------------------------------2"---------------|
|-0"---1"-0"----------2"--3"-------0"---------0"---3"-------------4"---0"-|
Burzum Burzum sometimes uses another way to play black metal, wich I have chosen to call strange chords. I'll discuss some good-to-use chords in the next chapter, but in this one I will give you, guess. But just one this time!
"Nakkel Til Dar"
|--------------------------------|
|------------------------0-----0-|
|---0-9-0----0-9-0---5-5---7-7---|
|--8------8-8------8-6---6-8---8-|
|-7--------7---------7-----9-----|
|--------------------------------|

Scales 'n' Stuff

Most black metal songs don't follow any particular scales. And if they do, they really don't follow the major scale. Either use a minor or harmonic minor. Or, one of these (*** is chort for "I don't have a clue what it is called"):
***: E F G G# Bb C# D 

***: E F G# A C C#

Dim: E G A# C#
If you're interested in that strange chords-style I mentioned, here are some good ones (remember that they must be perfectly fitted together if you want tem to sound evil):
 Bbmin-5 (not sure about the name)
|-0-|
|-2-|
|-3-|
|-3-|
|-1-|
|---|

 Bb5-9add-5 (not sure about the name)
|-0-|
|-0-|
|-3-|
|-3-|
|-1-|
|---|

 C7add-5 (not sure about the name)
|-0-|
|-0-|
|-0-|
|-4-|
|-3-|
|---|

 Emin-5/C# (not sure about the name)
|-0-|
|-0-|
|-3-|
|-5-|
|-4-|
|---|
Now, you should be able to find your own evil chords. Pick them with much distortion and you will hold the powers of hell in your fingertops! Avoid using jazzysounding combinations by the way. I'm sure Lucifer doesn't pay attention to big bands. To hear some good combinations of strange chords, listen to Hrafn or Burzum. Do also listen to Ozzy Osbourne's "Diary Of A Madman," though it's not black metal.

Mixed Licks

I'm gonna end this lesson with some riffs and licks of a bunch of different black metal bands. Although there is much missing in this tutorial, I hope you have learned something. If you want to learn about the history of black metal, it seems to be a good one at http://www.historyofblackmetal.com/, though it is mostly speaking about english black metal (and it's calling CoF black).
Magog "Follow Me"
|---------------2h3-------------------------------|
|----4h5-------------------4h5--------------------|
|---------4h5-------4h5--------4h5--------5--5--5-|
|-2-----------2----------2-----------(2)--5--5--5-|
|-2-----------2----------2-----------(2)--3--3--3-|
|-0-----------0----------0-----------(0)----------|


Dark Funeral "Satanic Blood" (the whole song)!
|------------|
|------------| 
|------------|
|-9"---------| 
|-7"--8"-9"--|
|-----6"-7"--|


Dark Funeral "My Dark Desires"

|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-9"--8"-------8"--9"--8"-------8"---------------------------------------|
|---------10"--------------10"------10"--9"---------9"--10"--9"-------9"-|
|-----------------------------------------------11"---------------11"----|
 

Darkthrone "Transilvanian Hunger"
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|-12"---10"-----9"----10"---10"----9"----10"----9"-|
|-0"----0"-----0"----0"-----7"-----7"----7"-----7"-|
|--------------------------------------------------|
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