It's been a very long time coming, but I've finally finished the Extreme Metal Guitar Course, an online programme designed to turn you into a master extreme metal guitarist!
Once you've mastered your open chords, you can read tabs and you understand basic rhythm, you'll be ready to tackle this weekly course.
Even if you've already got plenty of experience playing metal songs, all of the materials are designed to improve your chops, flesh out your theory knowledge and take you from a "someone who can play guitar" to a "metal guitarist".
So what's involved in becoming a master? In metal, there's basically 4 areas that you need to work on, which are what I've built the course around:
#1 Rhythm Guitar
If you're already into metal, you've probably got an idea of what rhythm guitar is.
Power chords, heavy riffs, clean chordal interludes, in my mind rhythm guitar is the backbone of metal.
"But I want to play lead!" I hear you shredders cry. How are you going to know the best way to shred if you don't know what you're shredding over? How can you play an awesome fast run without impeccable rhythm timing?
In other words, put that ego away and build up your rhythm chops. You'll find it's equally as challenging and rewarding as soloing!
#2 Lead Guitar
Shredding, soloing, playing melody lines - lead guitar is what gets many of us into metal in the first place!
The big secrets to lead guitar are scales, ear training and creativity, so this is a great topic to study with other musicians.
Even if you prefer doing some chugs in the background, if you understand the fundamental skills of lead guitar playing, you'll find it easier to write melodies and may even be able to incorporate melodies into your rhythm playing too.
#3 Guitar Knowledge
Have you ever learnt a full song, played it really well, and thought to yourself, man, I have no idea how they come up with this stuff!
Wouldn't it be nice to know?
To become a true master, you need to know your instrument inside out and back to front. It's no good saying "hey that sounds good" through trial and error. Instead, I want you to start saying "that sounds good, because I'm getting a great tone using the neck pickup, I'm anticipating the beat just a little to make it really drive and that modal flavour is making it sound out of this world!"
And even better - "it sounds so good, I'm going to record it - because I know how!"
This technical and theoretical area of guitar knowledge is not really that complicated, it's just that a lot of the stuff you'll read online just isn't related to metal!
Don't worry - my lessons in this area ONLY talk about how to use your knowledge to play metal guitar.
#4 Understanding Music (Guitar Philosophy)
Once you reach a certain level of proficiency with your guitar, you'll start to feel like there's something really special about music.
It's our oldest art form, and it's up to us to further this art form and critically think about why we do it, how we do and, most importantly, how we can make it better!
This topic is all about asking yourself the big questions - why do I play guitar? How should I practice? What's my musical goal? What is the purpose of the guitar in a metal band?
If you find your own answers to these questions, you'll approach the guitar in a completely new, inspired way, so don't neglect the "softer" side of metal guitar playing!
Bonus: #5 Put Your Knowledge Together!
Of course, all of these disparate elements alone don't make you a master. You have to put it all together, by writing songs, performing, soloing - using everything you've learnt in a musical context.
You can do this by learning songs by your favourite bands, but I find it much more rewarding to write and record your own stuff.
It's ok if that's not what you do, but please, remember to actually take things you learn and use them.
If all of this sounds great, go get yourself a free trial of the Extreme Metal Online Guitar Course now (the first few lessons are instantly available, and more are delivered to you each week).