Learn how to conquer forearm-punishing riffs of the sort found in everything from early Metallica to Slayer and Megadeth.


Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Strengthen your picking hand.
• Learn forward and reverse gallop rhythms.
• Create brutal riffs in the style of Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Over the last 15 years metal has reached new heights in popularity and splintered into a wealth of different subgenres that include everything from the dissonance of djent to the retro-vibe of ’80s-style sleaze rock. In this lesson we’ll look at the roots of modern metal and dive into the art of thrash rhythm guitar. In the 1980s, three of the biggest names in this then-new style were Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth; each were inspired by British metal bands Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, among others. During this time the rhythms were characterized by extreme speed, brutally heavy riffs, and unabashed shredding solos. Some bands, such as Megadeth and Metallica, also showed progressive influences with extended song arrangements that often juxtaposed acoustic and electric sounds.

We’ll tackle a variety of common thrash rhythms and then apply them to stylistic examples from the bands that I’ve previously mentioned. The first group of examples are aimed at improving picking-hand stamina and speed. They are all based on the 6th string, but feel free to move them around to various other strings or scales.

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