Hard rock apostle Charlie Griffiths Breaks the Law, Screams for Vengeance and has a dose of Painkiller to look at the legendary Judas Priest.
Charlie Griffiths introduces the twin-guitar assault of NWOBHM legends, Judas Priest.
Judas Priest has boasted one of the most successful dual guitar partnerships in the world of rock and metal. Glen Tipton and KK Downing released 16 Judas Priest albums, starting with the 1974 debut Rocka Rolla and culminating with Nostradamus in 2008. KK retired from the band in 2010 and was soon replaced by Richie Faulkner, who so far has one Priest studio under his belt: Redeemer Of Souls.
KK and Glen’s early influences were classic rock bands such as Cream, Hendrix, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and the early Priest reflects this. Fast forward through the years and the evolution of the band and particularly the guitar playing is quite striking. While the ‘70s albums such as Sad Wings Of Destiny and Stained Class have a heavy classic rock flavour, by the time we get to Turbo, Ram It Down and Painkiller in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s we see more technical approaches, such as two-handed tapping and sweep picking as well as metal guitar tones.
We have five riffs in this lesson, which will give you a flavour of the various approaches used by Glen and KK. We start with a singlenote riff in early ’80s Priest style. This riff is based in B natural minor (B-C#-D-E-F#-G-A), a staple tonality for rock and metal. The scale has all of the minor Pentatonic intervals (1-b3-4-5-b7)
that act as the basis of countless b6 riffs, but also a 2nd and a that fill in the minor 3rd ‘gaps’ and automatically introduces more note choices and possibilities.
Our second riff has a more Minor Pentatonic classic sound, and also hints at a heavy metal-inspired classical element with some ascending triad-based arpeggios.
Our third riff example is the heavier ‘90s side of Priest. This time a darker tonality is b2 revealed with the introduction of the
(1-b2-b3-4-5interval from the Phrygian mode b6-b7). b2
Notice that the is the only difference between Phrygian and natural minor, so small adjustments can actually have a huge impact on the emotion you are creating. Riff number 4 is another earlier style offering, and uses double-stops in G Minor Pentatonic.
The fifth and final riff has much more ‘British Steel’ feel about it, featuring some double-stops in the key of A Minor played on the middle two strings. The bass note pedals on A for four bars, then switches to G. When the bass note changes, our perception of the double-stops changes from Minor to Major.
As always we finish our study with a full solo, and here we are using various KK Downing and Glen Tipton techniques, from classic bluesy licks, to pinched harmonics, fast repeating licks and even some sweep picking.
There’s some quite tricky stuff here, so practise each lick slowly, to ensure accuracy when finally playing it up to speed.
BY TURBO, RAM IT DOWN AND PAINKILLER WE ARE SEEING A MORE TECHNICAL APPROACH WITH TAPPING, SWEEP PICKING, ETC
NEXT MONTH Charlie examines the incredible soloing style of Toto’s Steve Lukather
Judas Priest’s KK Downing (left) and Glen Tipton