Mercyful Fate Riffing

by Ben Higgins

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  • Welcome to my new lesson!

    This time we are learning how to riff in the style of Mercyful Fate.

    "Mercyful Fate is a Danish heavy metal band from Copenhagen, formed in 1981 by vocalist King Diamond and guitarist Hank Shermann. Influenced by Progressive rock and hard rock, with lyrics dealing with Satan and the occult, Mercyful Fate were part of the first wave of black metal in the early to mid-1980s." - Wikipedia

    Mercyful Fate's songs are characterised by having at least several different riffs and often feature multiple tempo changes in the same track. In terms of the types of chords they used it was mostly power chords that could be shifted around quick and easily. There is also instances of chords being played as arpeggios. A great example of the features of Mercyful Fate's riff writing is the song 'Satan's Fall', which is over 11 minutes long.

    Their first album 'Melissa' was released in 1983. In contrast to metal music today, the guitar tone was only mildly distorted, possibly due to the technical and financial limitations to many metal bands of the time. However, this means the riffs breathe alongside the tight rhythm section and you get to hear what's going on quite well. I've tried to retain that early 80's metal tone in this lesson so you'll have to be extra vigilant with your technique as mistakes will show through !

    This lesson will work on:

    -Palm Muting
    -Chord shifting
    -Alternate picking

    So don't break the oath, pick up that guitar and practise !

    Tuning: E A D G B E - Standard Tuning

    Tempo: 150 bpm

    Gear: Ibanez RG7421, Nick Crow 8505 Amp Plugin, Guitar Suite Tube Screamer, Poulin LeCab 2.
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