james hetfield downpicking

Down picking is a crucial technique for any aspiring metal guitarist, and few players are as skilled at it as James Hetfield of Metallica. James Hetfield downpicking style has been a hallmark of the band’s sound for decades, and mastering it can take your playing to the next level. In this article, we’ll take a look at five James Hetfield down picking exercises taken from 5 Metallica Songs that will help you build speed, accuracy, and endurance. Plus, we’ve included tabs for each exercise to make it easy for you to follow along and practice. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced guitarist, these exercises will challenge you and help you improve your down picking technique. So grab your guitar and let’s get started!

Exercise 1: Creeping Death

Creeping Death” is a classic song by Metallica from their 1984 album “Ride the Lightning”. It is one of the band’s most popular and enduring songs, and is often considered one of their greatest achievements. The song features Hetfield’s signature down picking style, with lightning-fast riffing and intense, aggressive vocals. The lyrics tell the story of the tenth plague of Egypt, in which God kills the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, but spares the Israelites who have marked their doors with lamb’s blood. The song has become a staple of Metallica’s live shows, and is often accompanied by a massive singalong from the crowd.

Here Listen the Riff:

Here is the tab:

james hetfield downpicking

Exercise 2: St Anger

This one is Dropped C Tuning.

St. Anger” is the title track from Metallica’s 2003 album of the same name and known for its unique and controversial production, which features a raw, garage-band sound and no guitar solos. Hetfield’s down picking is on full display in the song, driving the relentless riffing that propels the track forward. The lyrics explore themes of anger, frustration, and inner turmoil, reflecting the band’s difficult period of lineup changes and personal struggles. Despite its polarizing reception among fans and critics, “St. Anger” remains a powerful and intense song that showcases james hetfield downpicking.

Listen the riff:

Here is the tab:

james hetfield downpicking

Exercise 3: Blackend

“Blackened” is a track from Metallica’s iconic 1988 album “…And Justice for All”. The song features one of most memorable james hetfield downpickings, which drives the song’s intense, apocalyptic feel. The lyrics address themes of environmental destruction and the end of the world, with lines like “Fire to begin whipping dance of the dead” and “Termination laughter, it’s pulsing, pounding right through your brain”. The song’s epic structure, including a haunting acoustic intro and an extended instrumental section, make it a fan favorite and a showcase for Hetfield’s songwriting and down picking skills.

Listen the riff here:

Exercise 4: Atlas Rise

Atlas, Rise!” is a song from Metallica’s 2016 album “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”. The song features Hetfield’s trademark down picking, with a fast-paced, intricate riff that showcases his precision and technical skill. The lyrics explore themes of redemption and self-discovery, with lines like “Bitter habits you cultivate/ You pick the lowest hanging fruit” and “Follow the endlessness/ Follow the dot to oblivion”. The song’s chorus is an anthemic call to action, with Hetfield urging the listener to “Rise, fall/ Who cares at all?” “Atlas, Rise!” is a modern classic that shows Metallica still has what it takes to write powerful, memorable music that resonates with fans around the world.

Listen here:

Exercise 5 : Master Of Puppets

Master of Puppets” is the title track from Metallica’s landmark 1986 album which considered one of the greatest metal songs of all time, and is a showcase for james hetfield downpicking. The song’s fast, intricate riffing and intense, haunting vocals have made it a fan favorite and a staple of Metallica’s live shows for decades. The lyrics address themes of addiction and control, with lines like “Taste me, you will see/ More is all you need/ You’re dedicated to/ How I’m killing you”. The song’s epic structure, including multiple sections and an extended instrumental break, make it a true metal masterpiece that has stood the test of time.

Listen the riff here:

Also check:

5 Guitar Dynamics Lesson – Increase Dynamics In Your Playing

Metallica 72 Seasons – Full Album – Guitar Pro Tab


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