Basics Of Black Metal

About black metal style and playing black metal.

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Hi readers! I wrote this article because I would like to help for beginners who already know the basic metal music techniques but want to learn the basics of black metal guitar playing. I playing black metal music for years and I have realized many things about this style of guitar playing. My lesson is about the 2nd generation of black metal (it's the 90s).I don't like the early black metal music (except Bathory by Quorthon). I think the early "black metal" music is rather heavy metal music with dark lyrics than black metal. The 2nd generation of black metal has begun with bands like Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum etc. To play in this style I recommend tune your guitar to standard tuning. The black metal guitar playing is mainly based on tremolo picking. It's very important technique. The most beginner guitar player cannot perform this correctly. In black metal you have to follow the blast drum beat with tremolo picking. The key to master this technique is: you have to do the up and down strokes ONLY with your wrist. Never use your arm, only the wrist moving. To play accurate with this technique, you have to stay your wrist somewhere. I tries many variations, but I think the best for me is when I play on the E-A-D string my wrist stay on the thinner strings ( G-H-E), when I play on the G-H-E strings my wrist stay on the thicker strings (E-A-D). Black metal songs' tempo is from 140bpm (Mayhem, Nargaroth, Gorgoroth) up to 200+bpm (Satyricon, Dark Funeral, Dimmu Borgir). First time practice with slower songs here comes two details of famous songs from Darkthrone and Mayhem. (Play these riffs with tremolo picking at 140bpm(16ths)) Darkthrone - Transylvanian Hunger's first riff:
E|-------------------------|
H|-------------------------|
G|-------------------------|
D|--12-10-9-10--10-9-10-9--|
A|--0--0--0-0---7--7-7--7--|
E|-------------------------|

Mayhem - Deathcrush's second riff:

E|-------------------------|
H|-------------------------|
G|-------------------------|
D|-------------------------|
A|--------------5-3--------|
E|--5-6-5-6-5-6------------|
(Play these riffs with tremolo picking at 140bpm(16ths)) Sometimes black metal guitarist use only simple fifths like in this song: Darkthrone - Under A Funeral Moon's opening riff:
E|-----------|
H|-----------|
G|-----------|
D|----8-9-8--|
A|--2-6-7-6--|
E|--0--------|
(Play this riff with tremolo picking at 140bpm(16ths)) In black metal music, guitarists sometimes use chords like in these songs. Bathory - It's A Fine Day To Die's intro (R.I.P Quorthon)
E|--------------------------------------| 
H|--------------------------------------|
G|------0--------0--------0--------0----|
D|----1---1----1---1----3---3----3---3--| ->
A|--3--------3--------3--------3--------|
E|--------------------------------------|

E|--------------------------------------| 
H|--------------------------------------|
G|------0--------0--------0--------0----|
D|----1---1----1---1----0---0----3---3--| etc...
A|--3--------3--------3--------3--------|
E|--------------------------------------|
Play this riff at 120bpm(8ths)) It's all based on C minor. In black metal music the most used mode is the minor, harmonic minor. The songs based on this two scales, because they sounds moody, dark and atmospheric. When you build your own song try to keep your riffs in minor mode. Sometimes you should use disharmonious notes in your song (for example as Mayhem did it). I show you tremolo picking and some basic riff, but it's not over. Fifths, power chords and moody melodies...now I'm gonna show you some chord variation that very useful to master your melodies and harmonies in your song. All example based on A note.
Extended Fifth (Base note + 8 half notes)
A|--8--|
E|--5--|

Fifth (Base note + 7 half notes)
A|--7--|
E|--5--|

Extended Fourth (Base note + 6 half notes)
A|--6--|
E|--5--|

Fourth (Base note + 5 half notes)
A|--5--|
E|--5--|

Major Third (Base note + 4 half notes)
A|--4--|
E|--5--|

Minor Third (Base note + 3 half notes)
A|--3--|
E|--5--|
Try this chord variations with other base notes. I'm from Hungary, so this song is from a Hungarian black metal band called Tymah (also Tuman). Listen to. Listen the song to figure out the rhythm... Tymah - Transylvanian Dreams' main riff:
E|------------------------------|
H|------------------------------|
G|------------------------------|
D|--9-10-7-9-10-7--7-8-5-7-8-5--|
A|--7-7--7-7-7--7--5-5-5-5-5-5--|
E|------------------------------|
(Play this riff with 140bpm tremolo picking) I hope I showed you some basic to play black metal. Finally I would like to write some lines about gear. As I said I recommend Standard tuning for your guitar, the "lower tunings" gives you brutal sound that perfect for death metal or grind but not for black metal. I think the melodies very important in black metal. My amp setup Gain:5 Bass:5 Mid:7 High:10, I rarely use palm muting in my music so the bass is on low. And in the and... Always make such music as your personality. It's authenticating your music...

42 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Blas3
    in Hungary usually B is called H, don't flame it. Nice article! made me pick up guitar
    Äric!
    GrayFoxz : yeahh.. who the hell invented H?
    Germans. And i think in some parts of europe they use H instead of B too. So its just standart tuning written differntly. For me its also sometimes confusing to switch between german and american notes
    smonsalver
    if i want to make songs in d tuning i just need to transfer the chords exposed here?? an also this can be a good option to black/death metal?
    DCTALK1
    D24HRaDAY wrote: is there? a white metal?
    Christian metal emerged in the late 1970s as a means of evangelization to the wider heavy metal music scene, and was pioneered by the American Resurrection Band and Swedish Jerusalem. Los Angeles' Stryper achieved wide success in the 1980s, otherwise the genre was mostly ignored by the mainstream. The term Christian metal itself was born in 1984. The movement was known then as "White Metal" and still is today, to a lesser extent. California's Tourniquet and Australia's Mortification led the movement in the 1990s. The metalcore groups Underoath, Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying, and Norma Jean (dubbed by Revolver Magazine as "The Holy Alliance") brought some mainstream attention to the movement in the 2000s, achieving ranks in the Billboard 200.
    venom08
    ProgFanDave wrote: 24HRaDAY wrote: is there? a white metal? Yes, there's a white metal/ It's basically the same as black metal, but the lyrics promote organised religion rather than atheism or satanisn. The reason why it's called white metal (or holy unlack metal) is because it's the only way they can be accepted within their communities. bmth13 wrote: i always wondered...is lamb of god black metal? No, Lamb of God, at best, can be described as weak death metal or very weak grindcore. They really aren't black metal.
    lamb of god = metal....sometimes greatness cant be labeled as one thing or antoher
    phlip999
    bmth13 wrote: i always wondered...is lamb of god black metal?
    ... no great lesson, BTW, A Fine Day To Die is one of my favorites from Bathory.
    waysay
    The H is beside the B on the keyboard! Jackasses. Ha..Ha..Opps...I mean Ba...Ba...
    Darkkon
    Blas3 wrote: in Hungary usually B is called H, don't flame it. Nice article! made me pick up guitar
    I'm not, I just ate.
    Wolfsblood138
    Black metal is stuff that includes Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, Gorgoroth. That is mostly the ones I listen to but there are many more, mostly from Norway because it is where the 2nd wave of black metal made the genre popular.
    Lord Haddock
    Slatera wrote: nice but i have never heard of a guitar tuned to EADGHE
    Well i think H stands fo B in the germanic notation
    The Necrotizer
    snofthndr wrote: o bye the way there is no such thing as an 'extended fifth' it would be a minor sixth
    No that's not true, sometimes it's an augmented fifth not a minor sixth isn't it?. C to G# is technically a augmented fifth (why do you think CEG# is called a C augmented triad???) where as C to Ab is a minor sixth, they're enharmonic equivalents.
    snofthndr
    o bye the way there is no such thing as an 'extended fifth' it would be a minor sixth
    pulse207
    Bb a c h. The bach motif. Its not unheard of with other composers too.
    EvanescenceTabs
    24HRaDAY wrote: is there? a white metal?
    There's Unblack Metal funny how you'd think they'd call it white metal, but it's unblack. Basically since black metal is about not taking the right-hand-path (or whatever it's called), unblack is about taking the right-hand-path..basically all about jesus and such. hope that help but AWESOME artical, seriously helps
    spacewasp
    Great article, 10 stars. It would be nice to have a follow-up lesson, explaining in detail the scales and techniques though
    hildesaw
    I know the H thing has been talk about already, but it think its pretty interesting the Bach would often compose a melody of Bb, A, C, B in his fugues. Germans used B to signify Bb, and H for B. So if you were to use the German way of writing it would be B, A, C, H. Clever bastard.
    randull lee
    ric! wrote: GrayFoxz : yeahh.. who the hell invented H? Germans. And i think in some parts of europe they use H instead of B too. So its just standart tuning written differntly. For me its also sometimes confusing to switch between german and american notes
    Never even would have put thought into that... crazy shit. But good to know =] nice lesson. Helped me a bit. Lucky me i all ready knew how to tremello pick and all that. Buttt still this lesson helped me out a bit
    may666
    bmth13 wrote: i always wondered...is lamb of god black metal?
    Lamb of God belongs to NWOAHM (New Wave Of American Heavy Metal), just like Chimaira, DevilDriver, Killswitch Engage, Machine Head.....
    luke-kelly-777
    H for halarious. but you learn something every day. . . even if it isn't what you were looking for. 10 for the H, 7 for the lesson. but i'll still give 10. halarious.
    ProgFanDave
    24HRaDAY wrote: is there? a white metal?
    Yes, there's a white metal/ It's basically the same as black metal, but the lyrics promote organised religion rather than atheism or satanisn. The reason why it's called white metal (or holy unlack metal) is because it's the only way they can be accepted within their communities.
    bmth13 wrote: i always wondered...is lamb of god black metal?
    No, Lamb of God, at best, can be described as weak death metal or very weak grindcore. They really aren't black metal.
    Northernmight
    oh. and if i should recommend a song with good beginner riffs, it'd have to be "Burzum - Stemmen fra Taarnet" i really like the riffs in it.
    Northernmight
    I've made Black Metal for years, so i did not really need the lesson, but i could not resist. I think it is well-made, and shows the beginner some good riffs to go by. A very important thing in Black Metal is also atmosfaeres. Maybe i should make a lesson about atmosfaeres one day. Anyway. good lesson. And by the way. Here in Denmark, we use H instead of B. Though i always refer to it as B, because.. We'll, it's the most common name for it worldwide.
    edgarvanburen
    regarding the h thing, if anybody's read bach's music, you might have noticed compositions are labelled as h moll which is the german (or non-english european) equivalent of b minor thus, h (european)=b(english) if you understand german, you may wanna check out http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-Moll for a clarification
    Angel Of Sin
    Great lesson for begginers,a lot better than the other one, the riffs are great for newbies to start on. Check out Carpathian Forest's Its Darker Than You Think as well thats a good song to start off with. By the way Tymah are excellent i must add and their vocalist is female as well \,,/
    -AnTRaX-
    24HRaDAY wrote: is there? a white metal?
    haha white religious metal. who knows perhaps will appear a band of white metal sometime. how creative. great lesson by the way....
    GuitarsNewbie
    24HRaDAY wrote: is there? a white metal?
    I thinks no body invented it yet. This is my first time I heard H cord,I'm surprised.