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The new wave of British Heavy Metal came about in the late ‘70s, following the (temporary) decline in popularity of such seminal metal bands as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Welsh hard Rock band Budgie are seen as one of the main influences of the movement, with the genre being aimed at the Heavy Metal fans, not the mainstream market. Key bands include Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, Girlschool, Saxon, Samson, Angel Witch, Tygers of Pang Tang, Venom, and Motorhead. The style was raw and aggressive, often including harmony guitar figures. NWOBHM was popular during the early ‘80s, and was a key influence on such later heavyweight acts as Metallica, who cite bands like Diamond Head, Saxon, Venom and Iron Maiden as major influences.
Like many sub-genres, NWOBHM’s reign was short-lived, mostly due to the emergence of LAbased “Hair Metal” bands, like Motley Crue and Poison, who bought hard Rock to the masses during the 80’s with polished mainstream inspired radio and MTV hits. Gone were the torn denims and scruffy long hair, now replaced with big hair-sprayed manes, makeup, and spandex! While bands such as Motorhead and Iron Maiden remained true to their roots, Maiden going on to be one of the biggest Heavy Metal bands of all time, some others made the shift over to the mainstream. One such band that had a huge success was Def Leppard, who embraced a more commercial “American” sound, and had huge success on both sides of the Atlantic, as a consequence.
NWOBHM’s influence continues today, with bands like Bullet for My Valentine, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold clearly influenced by the likes of Iron Maiden with their fast galloping heavy riffs and twin harmony guitar lines given a slightly heavier and more modern twist.
For our lesson I have looked at a few ideas with a very early 80’s sound in mind. I have tried to include some of the driving riff ideas of Judas Priest, harmony lead ideas of Def Leppard and Iron Maiden, plus a Def Leppard inspired chorus, featuring some slightly unorthodox chord voicings to the normal chords associated with Heavy Metal. Finally we have a short solo, using licks and ideas from all three of the bands mentioned, so there’s plenty to get your teeth into here!
Our first section is based around something that bands like Judas Priest and Def Leppard would play. The basic chord sequence is based around Am, F and G major, but with a recurring chord figure that is consistent throughout the entire progression. As the verse kicks in, the changing root notes should be performed with a palm muted feel and sound.
The second half of the verse includes a melodic harmony melody that follows the chord progression. This melody includes a series of bending figures, that conclude with a descending pull off figure.
The chorus is inspired by the twin guitar orchestration of Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and Steve Clark. The chorus is based around the chord progression of F#m, E major, Bm and D major. Instead of using regular power chords, associated with Rock and Metal, this section makes use of the harmonically more interesting add9 chords, performed with chord arpeggios. The chorus concludes with another Def Leppard style sliding figure on the B string, performed against the open top E.
Now for the solos! First-up it’s a Judas Priest approach, which fuses bluesy bending licks and whammy bar squealing harmonic pull ups on the bar. The solo concludes with some climbing arpeggios licks.
“..remember this is vintage heavy metal, not modern, so don’t use too much gain...”too much gain...”
Our next solo is courtesy of Def Leppard and includes a more melodic thematic approach. The next section of the solo includes a double stop chord idea that concludes with a C major 7th arpeggio being performed on the B and E strings.
Our final solo is based on Iron Maiden’s style and kicks off with bluesy pentatonic ideas and a descending trill figure. This solo also includes a pedal tone sequence that pedals off the open E string and concludes with another pentatonic figure.
In terms of tone for this piece remember this is vintage heavy metal, not modern, so don’t use too much gain, think more Marshall than Mesa Boogie!