#1
I listen to a lot of thrash, from the Big 4 to Exodus to Kreator, etc, but I still do not know what makes thrash metal thrash metal. For one, I know that it's usually low tunings. One and a half steps down i'm assuming? And what about the riffs? How should they be composed? Reason I ask is because as a beginner the only way to motivate myself to continue playing is to come up with some riffs of my own at times, but other than butterfly picking the open E string really fast I don't really know what thrash music is composed of in order to make my own type of thrash sound. I'm into really heavy stuff like Slayer.

Any advice?
#2
most 80s thrash was in E or drop D not as much downtuning like metal these days.

riffs rule in thrash and it doesn't have to be trem picking the E or A strings either. if you look at the first 2 metallica albums lots of power chords same with Exodus and Anthrax. i'd start there. being able to play rapid fire power chords with a little E/A string trem picking thrown in is a good start. make sure your downstrokes when playing power chords are even and a little palm muting is a good thing. basically what i'm saying is that your rhythm playing has to be tight.
#3
Quote by monwobobbo
most 80s thrash was in E or drop D not as much downtuning like metal these days.

riffs rule in thrash and it doesn't have to be trem picking the E or A strings either. if you look at the first 2 metallica albums lots of power chords same with Exodus and Anthrax. i'd start there. being able to play rapid fire power chords with a little E/A string trem picking thrown in is a good start. make sure your downstrokes when playing power chords are even and a little palm muting is a good thing. basically what i'm saying is that your rhythm playing has to be tight.


Very nice post. What about the amp's setting? Should the amp's gain always be very high? Seems like really heavy thrash depends on very high gain.
#4
Quote by Granata
Very nice post. What about the amp's setting? Should the amp's gain always be very high? Seems like really heavy thrash depends on very high gain.


no. you need enough gain to make the power chords sound heavy but you don't want them to mush out. they used less gain than it might seem. what amp are you using and what guitar? Marshall JCM 800 was the amp used by many back in eh day and that was a medium gain amp (by todays standards.) many put an overdrive in front for a little extra gain. you want the chords to still have note definition. to much distortion casues everything to mush together and it won't really sound heavy.
#6
Yeah, learn some songs from Kill 'em All or Anthrax's Fistful of metal or Spreading the Disease and you should get a pretty good idea of how thrash is composed. You're going for pretty fast and accurate palm muted E and A string patterns, power chords, "sinister" sounding melodies, fast solos and overall a very energetic and aggressive vibe. Doesn't have to be downtuned, most oldschool bands didn't do it, but nowadays it's pretty popular (I still stick with the almighty standard tuning tho)

But don't get constrained by those "thrash standards". If you listen to some newer thrash bands (like Sylosis for example), you'll realize that actually somewhat breaking these standards is what makes you stand out. You have to break them, but still keep the thrashy vibe if you catch my meaning. Take the thrash conventions and upgrade with your own feeling and input. That's the beauty of making this kind of music.
#7
Quote by monwobobbo
most 80s thrash was in E or drop D not as much downtuning like metal these days.

riffs rule in thrash and it doesn't have to be trem picking the E or A strings either. if you look at the first 2 metallica albums lots of power chords same with Exodus and Anthrax. i'd start there. being able to play rapid fire power chords with a little E/A string trem picking thrown in is a good start. make sure your downstrokes when playing power chords are even and a little palm muting is a good thing. basically what i'm saying is that your rhythm playing has to be tight.


This pretty much sums it up. I would also say galloping is another big part of thrash rhythm. But yeah, just basically FAST, and tight rhythm playing. The almighty power of the RIFF...This is why I'm primarily a rhythm player. I grew up with these guys (Big 4, etc.).

Also, thrash really isn't downtuned that much by today's standards. 1 step down is about as far as most of those bands went. I also might add that most thrash bands didn't traditionally use "drop" tunings, as in drop-D or drop-C. They stayed in standard tuning but maybe 1/2 step down or 1 full-step down.

I read a quote from James Hetfield one time where he talked about downtuning and its merits and drawbacks. He said something to the effect that downtuning lower and lower does increase the heavyness, but at the expense of aggressiveness -- there's something "youthful" about the higher tunings. Having played around with a lot of tunings myself, I kind of agree with him, and I think I know what he meant. When I tune to Eb Standard, for example, it sounds a little more raw, and my riffs sound tighter and 'faster' for lack of a better term, than how it sounds at D Standard. While D Standard may sound a little heavier, there's something about the way it reacts with the amp that is more than just 'the same sound, only lower.'
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#8
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#9
If you want to write Thrash listen some punk too. Thats pretty much how Thrash (and original "metalcore", the crossover Punk/Thrash) came to be in the eighties. Its heavy metal played with punk attidute. Instead of melodic epics like Iron Maiden a typical Thrash riff is more like angry pummeling and 8th notes played with really heavy hand.

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#10
Very nice posts guys. I will take note of everything said. So if I understand correctly, thrash is made up of fast alternate picking (a lot of open E and A), power chords, palm muting, and a high gain/distortion sound?
#11
Quote by Granata
Very nice posts guys. I will take note of everything said. So if I understand correctly, thrash is made up of fast alternate picking (a lot of open E and A), power chords, palm muting, and a high gain/distortion sound?


Or in the case of Hetfield, crazy fast down picking.

Again, the distortion isn't as much as you think. Try to record yourself sometime and you will notice that the note clarity isn't near as good as you thought it was. I only have the gain on 3 or so for most of that style of music. Sometimes a little less.