Metallica: 'Blackened' Guitar Solo Lesson with Chris Zoupa

author: Chris Zoupa date: 07/01/2014 category: soloing
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Metallica: 'Blackened' Guitar Solo Lesson with Chris Zoupa
Standard tuning: E A D G B E

Difficulty Level: Advanced

I always thought that "One" was the only decent song on "...And Justice for All" and I'm not a huge fan of that song either. How I've gone all these years overlooking the song "Blackened," especially due to how win the solo is... I'll never know. As usual we'll break the solo down into all problematic sections and I'll leave a link to my YouTube lesson and a tab at the bottom of the article. 

Section 1 Tips

In this section we have James and Kirk playing a harmonised solo around "E" minor/"E" Aeolian. Let's have a look at the basic scale shape Kirk uses in this section. (See diagram below)

One really important thing to keep in mind is that the time signature jumps from a 6/4 bar to a 7/4 bar. (See excerpt below)

This really messed me up while I was learning it and it really confused some of my students too. In the end I kind of think of it as 2 groups of 6 beats then a sneaky extra beat on every second bar. Keep listening to the song as you practice this section so that the odd time signature becomes something familiar and less "foreign" to the ears.

Section 3 Tips

This section starts of with a pretty cool ascending run mixing a bit of legato with basic semiquaver shredding. The scale Kirk uses over this run is essentially a "F#" Dominant Phrygian starting from a "B" note on the 5th string. (See scale below)

Once you get comfortable with this shape try dealing with the actual run itself. Pay close attention to the legato notes on the semiquaver triplets. (See excerpt below)

The other challenging phrase from this section is the tapping lick. The thing that threw me the most was the initial triplet emphasis of the taps. Let's concentrate on just our tapping hand emphasis first. (See diagram below)

You'll notice that the first bar the taps are in quavered triplets, then in the second bar the emphasis/feel changes to straight quavers. It does seem a bit strange to practice just the tapping hand, but when you get this pulse correct your fretting will most likely sync up with it. Let's take a look at the full phrase with both hands in action! (See excerpt below)

Take it slowly and be weary of the pulse and feel changes. Also keep in mind that it's played pretty fast so practice with patience.

Section 4 Tips

This section starts with some pretty cool bends and we're working around an F# dominant Phrygian scale on the first 3 strings. (See excerpt below)

You'll notice this phrase has a subtle exotic undertone. You can hear a lot more of the Dominant Phrygian characteristics in this phrase than the other Dominant Phrygian phrase in section 3.

This section ends on a repetitive pull off lick on the first 2 strings. (See excerpt below)

It's quite simple really. It's a little stretchier than a regular pentatonic but I think the phrasing is pretty standard blues pulloffs. It's a 3 note lick played exactly the same 9 times in a row. Try play it along with the song as Kirk's phrasing and emphasis might not make sense straight away.

Section 5 Tips

This section works with a repetitive descending semiquaver riff. I think it's easier to digest if you think of it in 4 note groupings (4 semiquaver chunks). (See excerpt below)

It's pretty predictable and consistent. The only thing I found odd was that the key signature changes from "E" Aeolian to "E" Dorian towards the end of the run as we have a "C" on 20th fret and "C#" on 9th of the 1st string. When you play it as fast as Kirk it doesn't actually sound like a massive or questionable modulation. If you play it slowly your ear may think you're playing tricks on it if you're "modally sensitive."

Section 7 Tips

This section has some pretty cool licks and rocky slides but there was one phrase in particular I wanted to focus on. The cool thing about is it mixes shredding with moments of legato. (See excerpt below)

Don't rush this. You don't want to over pick or over legato this passage. The 1st and 3rd beat of the bar is where the cool pulse of the legato lifts this phrase. This idea of mixing techniques and emphasis is something that I personally implement into my own solo writing and improvisation. It's well worth trying to incorporate into your lead playing arsenal!

Section 8 Tips

The final section we deal with some lightning fast pulloffs all taking place on the 3rd/"G" string. Conceptually this section seems easy, but I actually found it to be the most challenging to get up to speed. (See excerpt below)

As you can see we're working with semiquavers played completely with legato. This is so tricky as the BPM of the song is already stupidly fast and then to legato in sixteenths is madness. If you can get your hands on some software to slow this section down (like Audacity) and build up your speed, I would strongly suggest you do so. Oh and have fun with that final whammy-harmonic-dive bomb... You've earned it! 

Have fun with this one guys. It's tricky but it's a delicious banquet of win.

Download tab here.

By Chris Zoupa
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