Metal For Life with Metal Mike: Variations on Metal-Style Power Chord Formations
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A time-honored element found in some of the heaviest of metal guitar riffs is the use of two-note power-chord forms played against open-string pedal tones.
You’ve heard this technique in such metal masterpieces as Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “I Don’t Know” and AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” among many other classic metal and hard rock tracks.
Common to all of the abovementioned songs is the way the primary rhythm guitar parts convey an implied melodic hook, which is the very thing that makes these parts so memorable and effective. The implied melody notes are often the higher of the two notes of each power chord played throughout the progression.
The trick is to come up with a way to create moving power chords that imply a melody while also delivering a solid, locked-in rhythm part that will drive the song along.