Shred - A Misunderstood Genre

author: madaniel date: 08/20/2013 category: genres' battles

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Shred - A Misunderstood Genre
Think shred, speed metal, neoclassical metal. What is the first thing that comes into our mind? Hyper speed 64th notes, blazing 6 string arpeggios and fast 8 finger tapping? What else, overplaying, too fast with absence of emotions, speed for the sake of speed?


Let me state it now, many of the melodies from the songs from the Shrapnel guys contains the BEST melodies I've ever heard in my entire life, HANDS DOWN!

Let's talk about what I consider to be a shred song, a beautiful main melody, with a reasonable amount of variation so you do not get bored, an amazing solo that fits perfectly with the song with blazing speed and intensity.

An example:

This is where most of the shrapnel guys fail after their second or third album because the melody people are looking for that is present in their debut are either extremely weak or nonexistent. I found Tony Macalpine and Vinnie Moore running out of ideas after their third albums.

Analyse it from another perspective, think of this as actual classical music. What are the Bach songs you actually remember. You remember that few because they have the best melodies, and you proceed to forget or never even heard of the other 900+ compositions Bach did during his lifetime.

Too Much Speed!

Sometimes on YouTube we see this particular type of comment which looks like this. "Hey slow down man, and play with emotions!" Or, "he plays so fast he doesn't know how to play slow."

I see this type of condescending only shows the jealousy and envy that amateur guitarists has for Malmsteen and others. Because playing as slow as you brings makes you feel that they're at your level.

Firstly, do you know that if you listen to some of Paganini's pieces, the speed that he's playing on the violin is as fast as some of the neoclassical shred songs you hear?

Get it? It's MEANT to be fast!

Sounds the Same

There is some sense to this argument, but first let me ask this question. Doesn't tons of blues song sounds exactly the same, THOUSANDS of blues song uses the same 12 bar blues progression!

I agree with this. Especially goes to some of the later Malmsteen albums. This especially goes to filler songs without a good memorable melody.

But, what does it mean for songs to sound the same in general, this is Malmsteen, famous for his neoclassical songs, playing neoclassical songs! Clapton, famous for blues playing blues songs! When "From the Cradle" was released, did anyone say, "Hey after 30 years, he's still playing the same thing, he's an one trick pony!"

When Malmsteen repeats in his solos that ascending/descending harmonic minor link at least a couple of times throughout all his songs, people may use this point to say that he sounds the same, it is true and there's no doubt about that. What I don't get is the part where people don't talk about that clich, done to death and still whipping the dead horse for 50 years blues lick!

Don't get me wrong, I love the blues, just comparing the different treatment both genre which I love gets. Same for true classical music, no one would say negative stuff about classical music for sounding the same even though it is.

My take on this is, this "sounding the same" thing simply doesn't exist! All genre songs the same, rock will sound like pentatonics for the rest of the eternity, blues with top 50 clich lick songbook and free jazz will sound like random notes and that is the music that we enjoy.

How come no one says anything when AC/DC wrote the same 3 chord songs over and over again...


Emotions, if you feel that only playing slow makes you feel emotions, go listen to slow blues.

We have to define what is emotions. Does playing fast means an absence of emotions? Do emotions mean bending the E- string at 15 fret while making a scrunched face? Why do we assume that playing fast means there's no emotions?

Truth is, everyone feels differently, I felt like crying when I listened to far beyond the sun.

Yngwie Malmsteen

The hate seem to be much focused on Malmsteen alone, he's the most popular and the face of neoclassical shred metal, most popular target for hatred on youtube too. People normally get him for 2 things, accusing him of playing too fast with no emotions and his egoistic attitude. Well, don't see anybody giving the same treatment to Blackmore who is pretty much as big of an a-shole than Malmsteen. Or, Vince Neil who killed someone while drunk driving, Eric Clapton the racist white supremacist (you've probably never heard about this).

Which brings me to my next point, why all the hate?

Let's see what does lashing out at Malmsteen on YouTube do. It discredits him, it's too fast, but there's no feelings! But can you play it in the first place? I doubt so. That's what it is, it makes your brain thinks, "that's fast, I can't play that, but what an asshole, I don't even want to play it!"

It allows amateur guitarists youtubers to think that even if they do not have the technique to play any of his songs, they're still cool because it's not their loss that they're not as fast, because he's an asshole right? I think they can make some donut jokes though.


An introduction to the genre would be players from the Shrapnel label.

Such as:

  • Jason Becker - "Perpetual Burn". One of the more interesting and creative players. First track contains one of the most emotional playings I've ever heard, contains a track fully played on classical guitar.

  • Marty Friedman - One of the few players with an instantly recognizable guitar works. He would go out to audition for the role of lead player in Megadeth, but you can hear more of his East Asian influenced scales in "Dragon's Kiss."

  • Cacophony - Still remained untouched as one of the heaviest, fastest band in the history of music. Amount of notes in one song are tantamount to some music's entire album.

  • Tony MacAlpine - "Maximum Security". The best melodies ever played on guitar and keyboard. Features some of the most intense playing I've ever heard and guitar/keyboard duel solos.

  • Vinnie Moore - Mind's Eye. Similar to "Maximum Security" but with more harmonic minor sounding guitars works going on.
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