Lamb Of God's rhythm tricks and riffing style

A look at the metal titans' technique

Lamb Of God s rhythm tricks and riffing style guitar lesson
(Image: © Travis Shinn)

VII: Sturm Und Drang, Lamb Of God's seventh studio album, features extreme precision riffing, aggressive rhythm guitar and some contrasting scale choices.

One of the most awesome aspects of Lamb of God's style is the slick synchronisation of guitars with Chris Adler's drumming, so we'll start with a single-note workout that will hone your skills when playing along to syncopated double kick-drum parts.

Next, we look at the effect that your scale choice can have on the mood of the music you play. Inspired by Lamb Of God's track, Embers, we've written a Phrygian Dominant riff that will help you inject some exotic Eastern flavours into your playing. We also explore how the blues scale has found its way into Mark Morton and Willie Adler's riffing style.

Finally, we'll look at one of LOG's rhythm tricks that makes use of triplet feel and straight rhythms together. You'll need to tune to drop D (DADGBE) for all of the tab examples.

Kick drum pattern 1

Start off with this 16th-note example. There's no variation to the rhythm, so use constant 'down up'-style alternate picking and lock in with the timing of the kick drum.

Kick drum pattern 2

Here, a rest replaces one of the 16th notes to create a choppy syncopated feel. Continue with the 16th-note picking and simply avoid contact with the string on the rest.

Kick drum pattern 3

In this example, there are two notes 'missing' from the original eight notes. Timing is even more important now, so make sure that no sound is heard from your guitar in the gaps.

Kick drum pattern 4

This riff has three 16th notes missing, adding to the syncopated feel and making timing even more crucial. Again, match your picking to the kick for that super-tight LOG sound.

Phrygian dominant riff

Mark attributes his love of the Phrygian dominant scale (1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7) to the influence of Marty Friedman's exotic metal playing and it's a key part of the LOG sound. Our riff is in D Phrygian – the open fourth string being the root note. The rest of the notes along the string spell out the scale when played in order.

Phrygian dominant riff tab (right-click to download)

Got the blues

Blues is an important factor in Lamb Of God's music, so we designed this riff using the D blues scale in drop D-tuned open position for a typically melancholic sound. Use hammer-ons and pull-offs for smooth-sounding note changes and make sure you let the notes ring out together.

Got the blues tab (right-click to download)

String shift riff

Changing from string to string accurately can often be hit or miss, but using alternate picking can simplify matters. If you start the first note of the riff with a downstroke then each successive string change will also be on a downstroke. Focus on your downstrokes and the upstrokes should happen automatically.

String shift riff tab (right-click to download)

Riff with a straight drumbeat

Chris Adler's drumming is a key element of the Lamb Of God sound and his parts, particularly the placement of the snare, can dramatically change the feel of a riff. In this case, the snare falls on beats 2 and 4 which naturally gives the riff a straight 4/4 backbeat. Bar 2 is half-length, so the snare only appears once (on beat 2).

Riff with a straight drumbeat tab (right-click to download)

Riff with a triplet drumbeat

The guitar part here is exactly the same as the previous example but this time, the drums play a 6/8 time groove to give a heavy, drawn-out triplet feel to the backing. Listen carefully to the audio tracks to hear how they differ. We have also supplied a track which alternates between the two versions.

Riff with a triplet drumbeat tab (right-click to download)

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