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  • Heavier Than Hell


    This over-the-top death metal group has a penchant for exploring thoroughly repulsive and violent subject matter, including murder in full gory detail. For the most part, one cannot understand the lyrics and for that, we are probably all better off.

    Nevertheless, some of the riffs are right there. "Hammer Smashed Face", which appeared in both the movie and soundtrack Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, is uptempo and perhaps more aggressive than "heavy" in the conventional sense, but the strong tonal center welded to E and unabashed, repetitive rhythms help drive it home--and right into a spot in our top ten.

    The intro consists of a four-measure phrase repeated four times in various altered states. The first time it contains "on-off" chord punches and rests, the second and third times build with thrash "down-up-down" picking gallups, and the last phrase strips away all elegance--straight down and mean--with high-speed, single-note
    picking on the low E string. The tuning is down 1/2 step.

    Hammer Smashed Face
    Tune Down 1/2Step:
    1 = Eb 4 = Db
    2 = Bb 5 = Ab
    3 = Gb 6 = Eb
    Intro Fast q = 194 - Hammer_smashed_face.mid


    Exploring a unique mix of ultra-high energy riffing, complex syncopated grooves, and an in-your-face vocal style, Pantera exploded onto the music scene in 1990 with their debut release, Cowboys from Hell.

    "I'm Broken", from 1994's Far Beyond Driven, takes that legacy a step further, incorporating a tastefully heavy Zeppelinesque blues riff in the intro as well as mean syncopations bordering on progressive metal throughout the verse.

    If you attempt to play the verse riff with the half-time pulse that is established in the intro and suggested by the drums, each repetition will likely catch you by surprise and you'll lose the correct rhythm. Therefore, try to feel the pulse at double the written speed (double-time) right from the start, so you'll have the right pulse in place when you hit the 7/8 verse riff.

    The correct double-time count is written below that phrase, showing that you should count to seven for one full measure. Within that measure, the basic motive is actually played twice, employing a powerful rhythmic displacement-- the first time, all three chords are played on downbeats, then they are repeated but all fall on upbeats. The tuning is actually down 1 1/4 steps--making it a half-of-a-half-step flat from "D tuning" (down 1 step).

    I'm Broken
    Tune Down 1 1/4 Step:
    1 = Dd 4 = Cb
    2 = Ab 5 = Gb
    3 = Fb 6 = Db
    Intro Moderately Slow q = 74 - Im_broken.mid


    Sevendust are relative newcomers to the metal scene. Their self-titled debut CD, released just last year, has hammered the metal charts and continues to make significant waves. Several cuts offer excellent, ultra-heavy archetypes, including the endearingly titled "Bitch".

    The tuning here is that of drop D, then all strings are lowered 1 1/2 steps across the board. So the low sixth string arrives at a superlow B, but the string intervals function as in drop D tuning and therefore we use the note names of drop D.

    Note the "one-finger" power chords found in this tuning, which clearly spell out a D minor tonality with D5-E5-F5. Funky sixteenth-note syncopations help provide a rhythmic push. In the riff's second incarnation (measure 2), the chords remain the same, but the articulation has changed--namely, the palm mute is removed from the first four chords allowing them to accent together with the corresponding vocal shouts.

    Drop D Tuning Down 1 1/2 Steps:
    1 = C# 4 = B
    2 = G# 5 = F#
    3 = E 6 = B
    Moderately Slow q = 92 - Bitch.mid

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