10 Metallica guitar techniques you need to know

(Image credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns)

James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett have been kicking heavy metal ass for 40 years. In 1983, it was the band’s mission statement, with their debut album originally planned to be titled Metal Up Your Ass until Kill ’Em All eventually stuck. And if their debut set the scene for the burgeoning thrash metal genre, their next three albums defined it until 1991, when their self-titled ‘Black Album’ sent the band to the stratosphere, hitting number 1 worldwide. 

Like most guitar bands who reach their fifth decade, Metallica’s back catalogue offers a wealth of riches for any six-string slinger on a mission to play better. The Phrygian and Aeolian modes are core harmonic essentials, with powerchords and downpicking techniques appearing in almost every song the band have ever recorded. 

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Charlie Griffiths

Charlie Griffiths plays guitar in acclaimed prog-metal outfit Haken, and has a wealth of experience handling corporate and session gigs for genres as diverse as rock, heavy metal and pop. He has been a regular contributor to Total Guitar, Guitar Techniques, and Guitar World for over a decade, and released his debut solo album Tiktaalika in 2022.