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Watch Joe Haley from Psycroptic put on a progressive death metal rhythm guitar masterclass in this playthrough of Rend Asunder

The playthrough YouTube video is a 21st-century media phenomenon unto its own, a rich seam of useful information that is to guitar players what super slo-mo is to tennis heads looking to get a bead on, say, efficiency in a new serve.

And so it is with this one from Joe Haley of progressive/technical death metal aces Psycroptic. Here he is tearing through Rend Asunder, the kinetic opening track from the Tasmanian quartet’s eighth studio album, Divine Council

Divine Council is an album that Joe Haley has taken a nose-to-tail approach on, taking ownership for recording guitars, vocals, synths, and mixing and mastering. 

We would expect nothing less than exactitude as Haley performs the track on his headless multi-scale Ormsby electric guitar – the Aussie brand much loved by the likes of Dino Cazares and Rusty Cooley – but the sort of precision which which he tackles this might well make a SoundBrenner engineer faint. 

This, we suppose, could be down to some sort of extra-terrestrial physiology, or as if they put some kind of electrified quartz in the tap water Down Under, or maybe it is simply owing to practice and lots of it.

That, here, is the lesson. Oftentimes, these playthrough videos show us exactly where our curiosity lies, the most rewatched meta-data on the YouTube video a subtle tell that the solo is holding our attention. But there’s an unwritten rule with guitar solos that says you can cut loose and should you land on a ‘wrong note’ then it’s no big deal because you can just play the note again (Hey, like tennis, replay the point and everyone’s happy). It’s not like that with rhythm guitar.

It is most certainly not like that with technical death metal rhythm guitar, an art-form that requires you to be on-point at all times, not just with the downstrokes, but with the muting, and also, as is the case here, knowing when to let the chords breathe, to inject a little air into the jam. 

Haley does all this and more, and it also goes to show that the rhythm parts can be just as technical, beholden to sleight of hand as leads. Anyway, check it out above. You can preorder Divine Council (opens in new tab) now. It is out via Prosthetic on August 8. And you will find Psycroptic on a co-headlining U.S. tour with Fallujah in the fall. See Psycroptic (opens in new tab) for dates.

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Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.