As a guitarist, you’ll have noticed that professional death metal guitarists can really give you a lesson in chords by the way they fly around the guitar neck. The progressions sound filthy and awesome and all of the skills they pull off almost appear effortless.
Learning to bust through fast progressions and chord changes for death metal is great to learn since it can be adapted to other genres of metal and rock. Check out these 6 fast and effective tips for playing chords faster, smoother, and more brutal.
1. Keep your fingers near the lower fret marks on the guitar neck. If there appears to be a lot of twanging and resonation in the strings that doesn’t create strong tones, focus on adjusting your fret fingers to sit closer to the frets when you play. For example, if you play the ‘F’ chord in drop ‘D’ tuning, you would lay your finger across the third fret while keeping it relatively close to the 2nd fret.
2. Accommodate your fingerings for the next approaching riff. Many times when guitarists mess up during a death metal riff, it’s only because they’re not planning for the future of the song. There is more than one way to play any lick on the guitar, so plan wisely as how to play certain parts to be ready for the next one.
3. Slide between chords. A very choppy song can seem like the instruments are not working together when they perform. Try to slide between each chord in a very subtle way in order to create the illusion of continuity between chord progressions.
4. Prepare for more calluses. If you’re playing death metal guitar, you’re most likely playing in one of the drop tunings of ‘D’ or ‘C’. With these tunings you’ll be laying your index finger across three strings at a time to create power chords. You’ll find out soon enough that more calluses will begin to form along the length of your finger.
5. The uglier the chord progressions, the better. A quick lesson to learn in this metal genre is that the chord progressions don’t necessarily have to be pretty or make much sense. Experiment with progressions that only involve four chords exactly adjacent to one another. You might be surprised by the evil things you can come up with.
6. Get a mean growl from partially-open palm-muted chords. Death metal guitarists sometimes like for their palm-muted chords to resonate slightly to give a very eerie and dark feeling in their songs. Release a bit of pressure off the strings when playing palm-muted and you should be able to hear a firm strike with a dark humming that follows.
When playing death metal, really focus on what can make your tone dark, powerful, and aggressive all at the same time. Try out these effective tips and start really thrashing through your metal riffs better.