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How to Play Revocation's “Theater of Horror,” Part 2

How to Play Revocation's “Theater of Horror,” Part 2

Last month, I introduced the intro and primary riffs to the song “Theater of Horror,” featured the latest Revocation album, Great Is Our Sin.

That riff, which incorporates unexpected rhythmic shifts and syncopations that obscure, or disguise, the meter, is reprised later in the arrangement, specifically at the end.

Let’s now take a look at the tune’s bridge section and then the recap and subsequent deviations of the primary riff.

While the examples in this column are written in 4/4 meter, the underlying rhythmic feel throughout is that of eighth-note triplets—ONE-trip-let, TWO-trip-let, THREE-trip-let, FOUR-trip-let. The triplet rhythm is strongly accentuated in the bridge section, illustrated in FIGURE 1.

Throughout this 16-bar passage, three-note triadic chord shapes are sounded in opposition to palm-muted single low root notes. In bar 1, across the first three beats, a two-note Am voicing is played on the D and G strings against an open A-string pedal tone in a shifting rhythm. On beat four, the G-string note is lowered one fret, from C to B, sounding Asus2. In bar 2, the two-note voicing expands to three notes, with the inclusion of the second string, referencing F/A on beat two, Am on beat three and Adim (A diminished) on beat four, via half-step movement on this string.

In bar 3, on beat two, the pedal tone switches from A to a fretted E note, and in bar 4 this note is lowered one fret while the other notes remain the same, resulting in a different Adim voicing. Bars 5–7 are a reprise of bars 1–3, and in bar 8 I move to B/D#, to modulate the initial motif down a perfect fourth, to the key of E minor, starting in bar 9. Bars 13–15 reflect bars 9–11, but with a new ending in bar 16, moving to F#/A#.

The biggest challenge of playing this part is that it’s performed entirely with downstrokes, with some occasional palm muting (P.M.). I’ll often employ subtle variations in the palm muting, in order to highlight certain notes or chords or make them ring out. This usually occurs when I move to a new triad.

FIGURE 2 is a passage from the song’s solo section, and here I like to play with the tritone sound—notes or chords three whole steps apart—which is commonly employed in metal for its ominous quality. In bars 1 and 3, I move from a Bb triad to E, which is a tritone away, with an added twist supplied by the E/G# voicing, which puts the two bass notes on the sixth string only a whole step apart.

The closing riff (see FIGURE 3) is built primarily from tremolo-picked single notes and is further developed with aggressively strummed two-note power chords in bars 5–8, after which the single-note phrase is reprised without the tremolo picking, in order to let it “breathe” in a new and different way.

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