Metalcore Music. Part 1 - The Beginning

Metalcore tone, tuning, anatomy of a metalcore song and plenty of examples for you to get better.

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Ultimate Guitar
26

Introduction

Hardcore and metal have gotten together to create another useless subgenre label, metalcore. With metal's brighter side and hardcore's darkest, metalcore combines pretty much singing, screaming, heavy riffs and breakdowns into a melodic song. Metal for the emos if you want. I'm not bashing metalcore, in fact I love it (it's just that I think all these subgenres are pretty stupid) since everyone says that most of the bands I like were metalcore. As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engaged, Trivium, In Flames, Himsa, Norma Jean, Shadows Fall, I all consider them pretty much metalcore (and trust me I don't care if you post saying what is metalcore and what isn't, to me these bands are and I don't what to mix my head with all these bands and subgenres).

The Sound

It's hard to sound good playing metalcore genre music when you have a small 15 watts that can get hardly any distortion. So your best bet is to buy a good distortion pedal, or even a new amp (if you have the money and think you deserve it). In my case I have bought a guitar port and can get the perfect tone. So whatever situation your in, be sure to have a lot of gain! In my case I like to have the bass and treble up to max. If you have guitarport here are some good settings for a modern metalcore sound.
Amp model : Line 6 Insane
Cab model : 4x10 2001 Line 6
Drive - 10; Bass - 10; Middle - 7; Treble - 10; Presence - 9 
Stomp     : Effect Model - Screamer; Drive - 100%; Gain - 100%; Tone - 100%
Gate      : Threshold - -8dB; Decay - 43%
Compressor: Threshold - 0dB; Gain - 11dB
EQ        : GAIN (top to bottom)  5.4  3.4  8.6  3.2
EQ        : FREQ (top to bottom)  200  440  8.9k  1.6k

Tuning

Hardly any band use standard tuning in this kind of music. You want a heavy feel, thats why you have to tune down. My personal favorite is (from low to high) C G C F A D. But you may prefer D G C F A D or D A D G B E or even B F# B E G# C#. There are a lot of tunings you can use (to write your own metalcore songs, but if your doing a cover I suggest you just tune down exactly like the song suggest, so you get the closest as possible to the wanted sound). Just remember to tune down, it sounds better that way.

The Basics

Ok so, I'm supposing you know how to hammer-on, pull-off, palm mute, and all the other basics. So I'm not going to explain them all like the other lessons do. But I will put some example riffs that include them. Riff 1: (a small and simple riff I made that uses palm mute and pull-offs).
                         p                          p
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-----3-2------3-2------3^2------5-3------5-3------5^3--|
|-----0-0------0-0---------------0-0------0-0-----------|
|-0-0------0-0------0-0------0-0------0-0------0-0------|
pm. .      . .      . .      . .      . .      . .
                         p                      
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-----3-2------3-2------3^2-----------------------------|
|-----0-0------0-0---------------8--------7777-10101010-|
|-0-0------0-0------0-0------0-0-(^let ring)------------|
pm. .      . .      . .      . .
Riff 2: (I got the idea of this riff in a lesson I read. It's not really metalcore, but it's fun, different riff that can be used to warm up your hammer-on technique).
   h    h    h   h   h    h   h   h   h   h   h   h   h   h   h   h
|-0^12-0^11-0^9-0^7--------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------0^10-0^9-0^7-0^5---------------------------------|
|------------------------------------0^9-0^7-0^5-0^4-----------------|
|----------------------------------------------------0^7-0^5-0^4-0^5-|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
Intro. I think the intro riff is very important, it gives the listener an idea of the song so you can decide whether you will listen to it or not. Some cool intros I like are and that you should learn: "94 Hours" (As I Lay Dying), "Washing Me Away In The Tides" (Trivium), "Downfall" (Children Of Bodom), "The Crimson" (Atreyu), "Suffucating Under Words Of Sorrow" (Bullet For My Valentine), "Wolfchild" (Himsa), "Scream" (In Flames), "Rose Of Sharyn" (Killswitch Engaged), "This Is My Own" (Shadows Fall), and a lot more. Here are a few intro riffs you can practise. Riff 1 - the intro riff to "Bed Of Razors" by Children Of Bodom. You may think it looks hard at first, because you need to learn all these notes by heart and play them as fast as Alexi Laiho. But the trick is to learn it in parts. So seperate the riff in 4 parts, then take your time and go part by part. Memorize the notes and play them slowly. Then when your comftorable start playing it faster.
|------------------------------------------------10-8------------|
|-12-8---------8-11-8---------8-12-8----8-10-12------12-10-8-----|
|------11-9-11--------11-9-11---------11----------------------11-|
|----------------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------------------------|
Riff 2 - the intro riff to "Elegy" by As I Lay Dying. I love this riff, I think it sound very good when you know it right and with a lot of distortion. It maybe challenging at first, but again cut it into parts to make your life easier.
       p  p  p          p   p  p            h p
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------0---------------8/10-878-7^8^7----------|
|----8^7-10^8^0---0----8^7-10^8^0----------------8/10-878-|
|-00------------0-0--0------------------------------------|
pm..            .    .

      p    p p          p    p p
|------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------0---------------------7-8----7---10-8-7----------|
|----8^7-10^8^0---0----8^7-10^8^0---5-8-----10---8--------8-10-7-8-|
|-00------------0-0--0---------------------------------------------|
pm..            .    .              . . . . .  . . .  . . . .  . .
Verse. In most of metalcore songs the verse is very heavy and involves screaming. Again I tabbed examples of verse riffs. Riff 1 - this is the verse riff to the song "Collision" by As I Lay Dying.
                    h p   p
|------------------------------------------------------------||
|------------------------------------------------------------||
|------------------------------------------------------------||
|------------------7^8^7-------------------------------------||
|-------8-7-5------------8^7-------8-7-5---8-8-8----10-10-10-||
|-0-0-0-------0-00-----------0-0-0---------8-8-8----10-10-10-||
pm. . .       . ..           . . .
Riff 2 - this is the verse riff to the song "This Years Most Open Heartbreak" by Funeral For A Friend. I like this verse riff alot, and it sounds very good.
   p
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------|
|-1^0-0-0-1-0-1-0-0-0-0-2-2-0-0-2-2-0-0-----3---3h5-----|
|-1^0-0-0-1-0-1-0-0-0-0-2-2-0-0-2-2-0-0-1h3---3-----3h5-|
|-1^0-0-0-1-0-1-0-0-0-0-2-2-0-0-2-2-0-0-----------------|
pm    . .   .   . . . .     . .     . .
Chorus. Personally I like it when they sing during the chorus becauses it differs from the chorus alot more. Most guitarists during a chorus play some power chords, sometimes with another small riff. Riff - this is the chorus riff to Atreyu's "Ain't Love Grand. Riff 1 is played during the chorus along with some power chords (riff 2). Riff 2 is the power chord progression.
 h                      h
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----9-9^10-9-9-12-10-9-----9-9^10-9-9-10-9----|
|-0-0-0----0-0-----------0-0-0----0-0-------12-|
|----------------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------------|

|-------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------|
|-------------------5-5-5-5--3-3-3-3--|
|-0-0-0-0--3-3-3-3--5-5-5-5--3-3-3-3--|
|-0-0-0-0--3-3-3-3--3-3-3-3--1-1-1-1--|
|-0-0-0-0--3-3-3-3--------------------|
Breakdown. Breakdowns are pretty much like an interlude but useally is muted power chords. They can be a lot of fun, and add more depth to a song. They give you a chance to stop screaming and take your breath. Well actually theyre alot more than that. Riff 1 - breakdown riff of the song called "Forever" by As I Lay Dying.
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
|---------------333222000222-|
|-888777555888?-111111111111-|
|-000000000000---------------|
Riff 2 - breakdown riff in "Enlightened By The Cold" by Shadows Fall.
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|------------3---------5-------------2-----3--2-|
|-0--0--0--5---5-----3---3--0-0-0------3---1--0-|
|-0--0--0---------0---------0-0-0--3------------|
Solo. Great old solo. What would we do without him. Solo - to the song "Dying In Your Arms" from Trivium.
|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
|-17-17-17\14-16-16-16\12/14-14-14-9-7-let ring-------------7-9-9-|
|------------------------------------------------9---9h10p9-------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
                                                            
|---------12-10----------------15-13-12-----------------------------------|
|----13---------------15---------------15h17p15----------10-8-10-12-13-15-|
|------14-----------------16----------------------------------------------|
|-14----------------------------------------------17~---------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|

|-12----------12----12-----------------12-------12-----10---------10--------|
|----13----13----13-----------------13----13----13--------------12----12--12|
|-------14-----------------------------14----------14--------------12-------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

|--------------------10-------10----8----------8----8-------|
|-----------------12----12----12------------10----10---10---|
|--------------------12----------12------------10-----------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------------------|

|----------8-------8-------13-12-10---12-10------10-----------------------|
|-10----10---10---------------------13------13-12---13-12-10-13-12-10-----|
|----10---------10----------------------------------------------------12--|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Conclusion

Keep practising and continue listening to metalcore! Hope my example helped and that I made you a somewhat better player.

111 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Conkyworm
    Pretty good lesson, if metalcore is your thing. Try putting the time signatures with your tabs, though.
    isbutterbeanok
    i think the best band w/ a good example of a breakdown would def. be as blood runs black...that stuff is sick
    xplosivrequiem
    The lesson was great, I liked the "Elegy" riff, it's pretty awesome!!! Thanks a lot, I'll practise that once I'll be done with resting my wrist.
    trippesp
    TheCrimson26 wrote: Omg ok im sick of hearing this..A7X is NOT metal or any kind of metal. You can't compare then to As I Lay Dying, Norma Jean, Job For A Cowboy, Horse the Band, In Flames, Darkest Hour, August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada, or even It Dies Today (who is a sucky metalcore band)A7X isn't even heavy metal, it's just Hard Rock....end of story A7X doesn't even sound close to any of the bands i listed which means they aren't in the same catagory...so get over A7X fans are the ones who listen to stuff like Korn and Slipknot....just give it up u listen to ****y music
    you obviously dont know good music
    --ATREYUROCK--
    Awesome lesson And all these subgenres ARE really, really stupid Just listen to the music, because it rocks!!
    mr synyster g
    Okay, TOO MANY F**king subgenres! METAL IS METAL DAMMIT and it was a pretty good lesson, 8/10
    jacky zee
    great lesson! and why the hell do people have to disagree with the bands you think are metalcore, u sed yourself tht it's just ur opinion
    Morik
    I sometimes get tired when I come on UG and all I hear is what band is what genre. Just go stroll around the forums, you will see many instances of people correcting others due to "wrong genre". Lets see, just on this thread, how many times this happens.
    AngelsFallFirst : Excuse me...In Flames? Metalcore? Uh uh, no way.
    SpardaZero : cob is powermetal and In Flames is death metal.
    Horvat : Shadows Fall is not thrash.
    Neon Knight : Since when is COB metalcore?
    In the forums we see this same thing, as if the forums were made for genre-freaks. IMO there should be pop, rock, hard rock, and metal, and thats it. Sub-genres are ruining UG.
    Zap on venus
    "I'm going to start a new subgenre SuicideDeathThrashPowerMe tal who's with me?!"[/quote] dude thats funny, because you just said metal is metal that was mad face...it means im mad
    Haunted_Devil
    For the Atreyu - Ain't Love Grand tab, I found that not playing the open notes in the first riff is a good way to get the rhythm and feel of the song before adding the open notes in afterwards when you a feel a bit more comfortable.
    pyrojt07
    "I'm going to start a new subgenre SuicideDeathThrashPowerMe tal who's with me?!" Yeah nothing like a mixture of teenage drama
    christcore16
    Well if it wasn't for metalcore, metal wouldnt be that intresting. Now dont get me wrong i think its kinda lame to label such genres together, but you gotta admit the names r pretty cool. I mean melodic death metal, deathcore, Christcore, mathcore, thrashcore, they even got some stupid cores like ''AVERAGECORE'' what the krud is averagecore????!!!!! But all in all, anything (except black metal or anything playing black metal) that has a core on the end of it is cool with me.
    demon-of-apathy
    Killswitch "ENGAGE" lol even though I don't give a shit because to me its just metal some metal is better than other thats all there is to it something that really pisses me off is hardcore dancing its not hardcore its just retarded!!! liked the lesson though nonetheless
    nickopotamus
    this is a good lesson, thanks to xASxIxLAYx for the guidance. i could go on all day about how i dont agree with some of the comments on this lesson, but to be honest, what is the point. as AAMinistry said "metal is metal" there are subgenres yes, but ffs, its metal at the end of the day. everyone has their own preferences. for example i love tuning to CGCFAD, but i know people who could never in a millions years play that cos they think its shit. thats up to them come on people let the metal do the talking yea??? cheers for this lesson again x
    autumn-offering
    hmm metalcore.. i like it but the breakdowns are crucial nd yours didnt include what tuning they were supposed to be!! id recomend machine head imperium as a nice simple breakdown to put up here, i could bitch about the genres thing but im not gunna well done.
    ugmung
    saetia16 wrote: **** yo trivium, as i lay dying, and shadows fall. all of whom are the shittest examples of metalcore that can possibly be given. yeah, you'll get by most people on this site seeing as most people on this site are complete dumbasses. you should check out botch, converge, and zao to get a feel of the original founders. im not bashing your review dude, im just trying to teach what metalcore evolved from. so many of these bands you named are just rip offs of the original founders.
    your an idiot ive heard converge many times not so much the other band you mentioned converge is like death metal not metalcore as i lay dying is a perfect example of modern metalcore
    tackersonMSU12
    rickysaid wrote: yeah its enavitable people will argue the subgenre thing but whenever people ask me what kind off music do I play just say agressive
    ur a f***** genious! i gotta use that.
    premstagg
    Nice lesson. Too many examples though not much in the way of how to form metalcore riffs. And everyone pretty much ignored you and started discussing what they call Metalcore That's what the forum is there for 8.
    fourstriings
    yes, As I Lay Dying was the source of metal-core, and A7X is NOT METAL-CORE!! goodbye.
    glen-07
    lets just keep metal metal and not have so many friggin different subgenres that most bands could fall into 3 or 4 different categories!!
    i couldnt agree more at the end of the day its all metal so whats the point in arguing over it.
    powerplayer25
    i agree with the dude that talked about A7X..whats up with them not being on here..syn gates rocks ASS!!!
    epiphreak
    im gonna have lots of fun this afternoon looking through all the metal, metalcore, thrash metal, melodic death metal, A7X whateverthingy (you guys cant seem to decide what genre they are) and skipping the lesson, just reading the comments. this is hilarious. ive been playing guitar for like 2 years, been listening to (im not gonna say a genre in fear of getting raped) bands like atreyu A7X as i lay dying, children of bodom, bands like that for like 1/2 a year, and i call it really hardcore shit. cause it sums it up nice. really good lesson, ill come back and try to learn the stuff after im done reading all the comments.
    christcore16
    did u know that as i lay dying is christcore, so is; the devil wears prada,underoath,norma jean. And alot others CRHISTCORE LIVES!!!!!
    Metal-McTwist
    Though to say, these are REAL metalcore bands. For Today Erra Keep Your Guard Oceana In the Midst of Lions A Plea for Purging As Hell Retreats Born of Osiris.... sort of. The Devil Wears Prada Gideon ... Now that you know some bands...
    zakk61839
    lololololol ****ing labels...genres...who cares!? pull the tampon out and get over it jeez. Oh and to add to that dudes list. Beard-core Noise-core GAYCORE FUCK GENRES>>>nobody cares... Sorry, im developing a hobby for skipping past obvious 'red-zone' lessons and sifting through the comments.
    MassShredder
    Thanks for this lesson... let's just think a new sub-genre for what herman li represents... maybe "WMGSWALOMS metal" (WMGSWALOMS = When My Guitar Started Whining About the Length Of My Solos) lol
    cilaes
    NERDCORE, lmao. It's retarded. It's MUSIC. You kids could throw down arguments on these subgenres all day. It all boils down to METAL. When someone comes up with some new shit, it's new shit, why do you have to throw down a new subgenre for it?
    -AnTRaX-
    this lesson will definetly help me out, thanks dude. and... for the chaos sake of all eternity, stop blaming the subgenre labels deal with, thats how things are now... deal with it im begging you. (wait... no...no...im not begging you...its an ORDER, deal with it) an if you think that metalcore is the sake of metal subgenre labels check this out i'm sure it will burn your head down: metal subgenres and sub-subgenres (random order) -heavy metal(formely know as just "metal") -speed metal -power metal -thrash metal -progressive metal -Dark Metal -Rapcore metal -n metal -doom metal -Post-Doom metal -Proto Doom Metal -Funeral Doom Metal -avantgarde metal (i dunno how it is) -hardcore metal -Metalcore -melodic metalcore -gothic metal -Stoner Metal -Stoner Doom Metal -Sludge Doom Metal -Sludge Metal -Drone Doom Metal -Epic Doom Metal -hardcore punk metal -punk metal -Black metal -melodic black metal -symphonic black metal -folk black metal -folk metal -viking black metal -celtic black metal -ambient black metal -National Socialistic black metal (??) -Black doom / doom black metal -Industrial black metal -Industrial metal -Death metal -melodic death metal (melodeath) -modern death metal -deathcore -brutal death metal -technical death metal -death & roll (seriosly what is this?) -doom death /death doom metal -progressive death metal -deathrash -blackened death metal (blackened? even more, how?) -deathgrind -industrial death metal -goregrind -grindcore -cybercore (c'mon) -nintendocore (For the sake of ****) -screamo death metal (...) -porngore (no words about it...) -crossover metal -inconnu (??) -Post Hardcore metal -alternative metal maybe i missed like a hundred subgenres...(feel free to add) hehe ok you got me, i am bored but i think that my head hurts...
    TheWatchtower
    [quote]saetia16 wrote: **** yo trivium, as i lay dying, and shadows fall. all of whom are the shittest examples of metalcore that can possibly be given. yeah, you'll get by most people on this site seeing as most people on this site are complete dumbasses. you should check out botch, converge, and zao to get a feel of the original founders. im not bashing your review dude, im just trying to teach what metalcore evolved from. so many of these bands you named are just rip offs of the original founders./quote] Word
    airbrndeathroll
    guys we cant just call everything metal the sub genres are there for a reasons so you know the basis of what you are going to hear
    XxDre09xX
    eek, never mind, scared myself shitless, turning on the channel select a few times then finally work
    XxDre09xX
    metalcore music is like my most favorite genre of rock, and thats the main reason i picked up a guitar, but damn... seems kinda hard, and i think I just blew out my amp putting everything to 10 >_
    classicromantic
    i have studied classical guitar as well as jazz, Venezuelan waltz such as Antonio Lauro and Hector Villa Lobos for 5 years and played for 7 i have studied music theory for 5 as well I have learned all aspects of bands like Protest the Hero, Tera Melos, The Fallof Troy, Black Dahlia, etc and this is has to be the worst explanation of that genre and specifics of music theory related to it go out and take the time everyone and learn music theory and reading, so when you read tabs, you actually know what you're playing, half the bands out there now a days have no idea what they are playing, it saddens most well players as well as writers www.musictheory.net for starters if your interested in classical music and other finger picking styles become best friends with www.classtab.org www.youtube.com
    --ATREYUROCK--
    christcore16 wrote: sure, All That Remains, Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, Haste the day, As I Lay Dying, Misery Signals, The autumn Offering, Oh Sleeper, Norma Jean, Zao, and, Atreyu. Check these bands out!
    This man knows gud metalcore when he hears it
    christcore16
    [quote]Mattrockz wrote: Good lesson Hey Every body I'm new to metalcore And I really Like it Can You recommend some new bands? sure, All That Remains, Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, Haste the day, As I Lay Dying, Misery Signals, The autumn Offering, Oh Sleeper, Norma Jean, Zao, and, Atreyu. Check these bands out!
    christcore16
    sure, All That Remains, Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, Haste the day, As I Lay Dying, Misery Signals, The autumn Offering, Oh Sleeper, Norma Jean, Zao, and, Atreyu. Check these bands out!