Death Metal

A introduction to A few styles of deathmetal and some of the basic techniques used.

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There are many styles and genres under death metal but the three biggest are grindcore, deathcore and melodic death metal. Grindcore is the least melodic style and involves very fast tremolo picked riffs coupled with slow palm muted parts and double stops. Grindcore is pioneered by bands such as Cannibal Corpse and Ingested. Deathcore was born out of the growing popularity of metalcore and is a fusion between death and metalcore. Deathcore involves the growling death metal vocals and fast riffs with slow breakdowns and spoken sections. Deathcore is pioneered by bands such as Suicide Silence and All Shall Perish. Melodic death metal has the basic death metal style and is similar to black metal just with more growling vocals and more violent themes without the religous/devil worship style. It uses many double stops and power chords with gallop picking and also has very melodic parts and solos. Melodic death metal is pioneered by bands such as Children of Bodum and Dethklok. SETUP. Most death metallers use a downtuned guitar to drop C or drop B this is so you can do a power chord with a double stop (barring 2 strings), sometimes people go down to drop A or use B standard (I use B standard beacuse although double stops dont sound as good its esier to work in speed riffs and you dont have to move your arm around the neck as much.) The amp should be setup with a distortion pedal (i recommend the Boss ML-2 Metalcore which i have reviewed btw) to get the drive in your sound but if you dont have one turn your gain up as high as it can go and you will get a fair sound. My amp is set to the clean channel with the pedal set at: Level-8 High-7 Low-6 Distortion-6 The amp is set at: Bass-6 Mid-1 Treble-8 I use the bridge humbucker with all the dials on the guitar turned to full. PALM MUTING. Palm mutes are used extensivly in death metal, for many differant effects. The main uses for palm muting are breakdowns and slow chuggs (in grindcore), gallop picking and blasting. To do a palm mute you push your picking hand lightly down on the strings with your palm, the effect of this is to dampen the note and cut it short. Breakdowns: A breakdown is a percussive section where the guitars will make rhythmic chuggs, the breakdown is found mostly in deathcore as it uses breakdowns as a verse riff a lot. The Well by Rose Funeral has a breakdown, it goes like this:
Drop B
PM.  . . ... ... .                  .  . . ... ... .
E|0--0-0-000-000-0|                |0--0-0-000-000-0|
A|0--0-0-000-000-0| Raise the Dead |0--0-0-000-000-0| Feast on the Living
D|----------------|  (Drum Fill)   |----------------|     (Drum Fill)
G|----------------|                |----------------|
B|----------------|                |----------------|
e|----------------|                |----------------|
The dots mark which notes to mute as you can see this breakdown is split with lyrics and drum fills. It is also worth noting that the groups of 3 in the riff eg. |-000-| are alternate picked. Blasting: Blasting refers to fast tremolo picked palm mutes just played straight (there are no string or fret changes), these are normaly done by the rhythem guitar under the lead guitar's riff although ocasonaly in songs like Raining Blood by Slayer the guitar does this solo. In this song it happens just before the solo as a bridge between the rest of the song and it. It goes like this:
Standard tuning
  ============================
PM............................
E|0000000000000000000000000000|
A|----------------------------|
D|----------------------------|
G|----------------------------|
B|----------------------------|
e|----------------------------|
The '===' tell you that those notes are tremolo (fast alternate)picked It helps to hold the pick at about a 45 degree angle to the string so it hits it sideways and doesnt pick it as much but more brushes it. Gallop picking: Gallop picking is short bursts of fast tremolo picks, normaly in groups of 2, 3 or 4. To do good gallop picks hold the pick sideways as before and try to move your hand into the burst as you pick. In death metal gallops are usaly palm muted open on the E string. An example of gallop picking in Raining Blood is the second intro section:
Standard tuning
  === === === === === === === === === === === === === ===
PM... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... . . .
E|000-000-000-000-000-000-000-000-000-000-000-000-000-000-0-2-4---------|
A|--------------------------------------------------------------4----3-2|
D|----------------------------------------------------------------3-2---|
G|----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------------------------------------|
e|----------------------------------------------------------------------|
POWER CHORDS Death metal (if in a standard style tuning) somtimes uses power chords, normally on two strings. Power chords are used to make the sound a bit more thick and sonicly correct, so it is important to learn to use power chords quickly. Power chords are found in the first intro part to Hammer Smashed Face by Cannibal Corpse. It goes like this:
E flat
                                =========
E|0-0-0-8 \-0-0-0-8 \-0-0-0-8 \-012------|
A|2-2-2-10\-2-2-2-10\-2-2-2-10\----------|
D|---------------------------------555444|
G|---------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------|
e|---------------------------------------|
It is important to remember to mute the strings after you play each open E chord, it is best to do this with your second finger while holding the chord with your first. These '\' are downward slides DOOM RIFFS A doom riff (most present in melodic death metal but found in all types) is a slow melodic riff usaly tremolo picked, they sound very dark and unhappy. A great example doom riff is the one in Walk With Me In Hell by Lamb of God, it goes like this:
Drop D
  ====================================
E|000000007777777733666666667733335555|
A|------------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------|
e|------------------------------------|
The picking in this is a lot slower than in Raining Blood so dont pick it too fast It is best to keep your thumb down low on the neck and bend your fretting hand wrist to space your fingers better for the wide fret changes. 'SQUEALIES' A 'squealie' on a guitar is a sudden high picthed squeling noise made from doing pinch harmonics when using high overdrive or distortion. Pinch harmonics can take a long time to master but once you have a method that works for you you'll be laughing. When i do pinch harmonics I use a slightly diffrerant metod than most people as rather than brushing my thumb on the string as I hit it ibrusdh the string behind where I pick with my ring finger. The main part of learning pinch harmonics is to learn where to brush the string as it is differant on most guitars, you just have to feel it. A good example of a squealie is at the intro to Wage Slaves by All Shall Perish, it goes like this:
Drop B
PM  . .   . . .     . . . . . . . . v
E|1-0-0---0-0-0---1-0-0-3-1-0-4-3-0-3*|
A|1-0-0---0-0-0---1-0-0-3-1-0-4-3-0---|
D|1-0-0---0-0-0---1-0-0-3-1-0-4-3-0---|
G|------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------|
e|------------------------------------|
The '*' means pinch harmonic The 'v' means vibrato A vibrato isnt necercary when doing pinch harmonics but it helps give an extra flair on the sound and most guitarists put a small one in by defult. Hope you enjoyed my lesson -Cam

36 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    andyscoot
    NitroCam wrote: krvolok wrote: And Deathklok a pioneer of melodeth,really? they are one of the most well known bands and even though its based on a tv show there are still dethklock gigs and it is still a band
    Do you know what a pioneer is?
    Leon-N-ko
    Cannibal Corpse is grindcore? Lamb of god is doom metal?? What is wrong with you?
    Pingis_Or_Death
    Oh boy...oh boy. There is so much wrong in this article, I don't even know where to start. Do you have any idea what death metal even is? Grindcore is definitely not a sub-genre in death metal, for starters. Grindcore was started by (amon others) Napalm Death, and is punk-based. Cannibal Corpse has NOTHING to do with grindcore. Embarrassing.
    Fuladol
    Saying Dethklok is a pioneer of anything is a joke. They are a joke band, kind of like Spinal Tap, made for a damn cartoon! The real pioneers of melodic death metal were bands like At The Gates, Dissection, Dark Tranquility, In Flames etc
    gravatrax
    Good lesson though, however Death Metal is seperate from Deathcore, i Mean you have Deicide, Immolation, Death (most of Death anyways, Morbid Angel, that's all death metal. then you have bad ass shit like Nile, Suffocation, Necrophagist, etc. etc. which is tech death.
    The Hunger
    I'm curious... If you play death metal like you say you do, why is the gain not turned up to 10? Very nice lesson though, you've covered a lot of the major techniques. I'd have to agree with everyone that Dethklok is not a pioneer of melodic death metal, though. The first Dethalbum came out in 2007, there's been melodic death metal for way longer than that. Dethklok was created to make fun of death metal, anyway, so I don't really think that they are a valid example.
    NitroCam
    The Hunger wrote: I'm curious... If you play death metal like you say you do, why is the gain not turned up to 10? Very nice lesson though, you've covered a lot of the major techniques. I'd have to agree with everyone that Dethklok is not a pioneer of melodic death metal, though. The first Dethalbum came out in 2007, there's been melodic death metal for way longer than that. Dethklok was created to make fun of death metal, anyway, so I don't really think that they are a valid example.
    With the ML-2 the distortion is very powerfull, u dont need to turn it up and if u do u end up sounding more like pantera, it doesn't work very well in low dropped tunings. if using the amps distortion, i would go to 10
    gravatrax
    Im fairly certain Grind core is a a variant of metal, it takes influences from death metal and hardcore punk, so it's a hybrid genre.
    FrFalc
    I like that you showed examples from actual songs for (almost) every riff type you mention. Decent lesson
    Death_Blooms
    Fuladol wrote: Saying Dethklok is a pioneer of anything is a joke. They are a joke band, kind of like Spinal Tap, made for a damn cartoon! The real pioneers of melodic death metal were bands like At The Gates, Dissection, Dark Tranquility, In Flames etc
    AGREEED!
    Tempus
    This isn't a guide for death metal, this is a guide for deathcore. Also, drop-tuning is for wimps, use D standard or lower.
    Tan010
    I think this is pretty good as far as the lesson is concerned. And genres within metal tend to be a little too overlapped to really make the biggest of differences. Yes, Dethklok is not a pioneer band in melodic death. But they are one of the most prominent melodic death bands, albeit because of the fact that they are from a tv show. If not a pioneer to create, then how about a pioneer in awakening the general tv audience to the melodic death metal scene. His tabs are upside down because he tabs it that way. And I think as far as the musical aspects are concerned, they show newcomers people new to metal some of the basic things that are within some of the subgenres. Also, Leon-N-Kno, take a chill pill dude. There's a difference between, "Hey, I think Grindcore is a little different than what you think it is," and "What is wrong with you?" Great job Cam, love the lesson.
    094568029434geo
    This is way to basic and virtually non-relevant to the genre. This lessons lacks rhythmic and melodic explanation and also only shows instrument technique that is leant in the first wks of playing.
    DeadxEndxEmpty
    this makes a decent beginners lesson. This is just barre bones basic rhythm introduction. Oddly enough these parts are pretty much all that "deathcore" is.
    NitroCam
    krvolok wrote: And Deathklok a pioneer of melodeth,really?
    they are one of the most well known bands and even though its based on a tv show there are still dethklock gigs and it is still a band
    NitroCam
    Nirvanafan60 wrote: And if you dont do a number two im gonna complain about it for awhile so there DO IT!!!!
    id like to do a second one just to correct many of the things i got wrong in this one, but is there any particular bands/songs/techniques i should include?
    Nirvanafan60
    shadowmaster036 wrote: why are your tabs upside down?
    Maybe that's how he tabs them duhhhhh
    krvolok
    And Deathklok a pioneer of melodeth,really? Again there is so much that's wrong and still so much that's half right.
    krvolok
    I'm sorry but this lesson is very bad.Firstly you can get more a lot more information by simply playing 3-4 death metal songs,secondly the tab is upside down and thirdly there is just too much misinformation for this lesson to be beneficial.
    sikkness
    why does everyone feel they need to b so literal and judgemental?thanks for the info cam!
    Wankysweater
    Good lesson man! Tab is upside down, but its still readable. Nice to see a different type of lesson posted on this site. And its good to see that the message board is not immune to meaningless rants about genres.
    NitroCam
    MorbidDecay + slayerfrk> well thanks for the feedback but this is a first for me never done lessons before. I just thought it would be a nice to have some kind of death metal section on here. i probaly should have said deathgrind but there you go. If i do a 2nd one ill improve it and just stay correct with my facts lol
    MorbidDecay
    Not to sound like an elitist ***** hats just looking for something to pick on, i liked the lesson, good guitar info, but your musical info is very inacurrate. Grindcore isnt even a genre of metal. Let alone Death Metal, Grindcore would be bands like Napalm Death and See You Next Tuesday. I could go on forever but my ranting urge has subsided already, haha. Good lesson anyways.
    NitroCam
    shadowmaster036> lol, yea i have always done tabs upside down... suppose its just a habit iv got into from when i started playing, it happened beacuse i prefered to read the tab downwards as if looking down on the strings when playing... OrganiCage> i wasnt going to do a part 2, it was more of a thing i did beacuse of a lack of death metal in general lessons on here... but i will quite happily do one soon if you want me to