Say the word “prog” and you could mean Can, Pink Floyd, Mars Volta, Plini, Periphery, Opeth, Haken, Mastodon, Yes, Dream Theater, Gojira and many more. It means a lot of things to a lot of people, even when you zone in on metal.
Prog metal, like a lot of things, arguably started with the Beatles. They may have begun as a pop group, but as they got further into the sixties and substances, the weirdness came out. Bands like Yes and Pink Floyd then took this mantra and made it their own.
The metal variant comes in many shapes and sizes, but essentially is still that concept of taking the unusual and making it work. Odd metres, long conceptual songs and non-standard song structures.
Whether it comes in the shape of the more psychedelic Mastodon, or the ultra-modern highly-polished and technically astounding Animals as Leaders, prog-metal is all about pushing the boundaries. Things don’t have to be complex, but it sure seems to help.
Why will I like it?
It’s a challenge! Technical riffs, huge solos and some of the best players that have walked the planet.
Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?
Rich Henshall One half of Haken’s incredible guitar duo, Rich is a player who can tap the night away. Whether with the band or on his own, his use of open strings is to die for and his penchant for fusion sounds gives him a unique sound.
John Petrucci Being the guitarist of the prog metal giant, Dream Theater, John Petrucci took the early workings of James Hetfield, Steve Morse, and Alex Lifeson, and completely flipped them on their head. Becoming known for ridiculously tight alternate picking, and his songwriting chops, John is one of the GOATs.
Tosin Abasi A player out on his own. His selective picking, thumping, and mind-boggling grasp of odd time has helped him cement a place in the halls of guitar legends. As the founder of Animals as Leaders, he has pushed the boundaries of prog-metal, and what is possible on a guitar.
Can I get a playlist?
Yep! We have tried to cover a swathe of prog-metal but do your best to find more!
Before you go…
Check out Nili Brosh’s take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Prog-Metal track
First we brought you some brooding post-metal then some good old thrash. But now it’s time to get extreme.
The Metal Meltdown sees us give away a new track each week, and this one's for the headbangers. Thanks to Toontrack’s metal library, Damir Puh was able to make a pummelling track befitting the term “extreme”. Richard Henshall then made it his own and the result is wonderful. You can watch it below.
But first, let’s answer that burning question…
What is extreme-metal?
The very idea of genres does sometimes get people’s knickers in a twist. You know, “stop defining music as one thing” and all that. Luckily for them, this week’s genre throws a net over many different styles.
Within all those styles expect music that is rarely fit for radio. It’s aggressive, dark, and sometimes dissonant. Melody? Not all that important. This is very much an umbrella term for all those Marmite metal genres. It’s a love or hate thing.
When looking for inspiration for the track, we mainly touched on industrial, death, tech and black metal. (There’s a playlist below for more digging)
Why will I like it?
It’s a bit mad! Everything is turned up to 11 and if you’re in a bad mood, it’s normally a great outlet.
Are there any JTC releases to help me with the style?
Morgan Reid’s JTC debut is without a doubt the heaviest we have gone to date. The drums are straight from the Cattle Decapitation playbook and really we had no other choice but to call it Relentless Shred. Pure metal madness.
Next, we have Paul Wardingham’s 20 Epic Metal Licks. The backings are intense, the playing is full throttle and there are a ton of technical lessons to dig into.
Finally, James Norbert Ivanyi adds a dash of prog to proceedings with Dark Progressive Riffs. Not extreme in style, but in note choice, this will give you plenty to play with.
Which guitarists should I check out?
Devin Townsend An icon of the alternative. As a founding member of Strapping Young Lad, he created cacophonous tracks built around a huge “wall of sound” production. His style isn’t overly shreddy, but he can shred. There are moments of brutality and vocals to match surprising melodies. The whole extreme nine yards.
Vogg Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka is the main songwriter behind death-metal icons Decapitated. His playing features a honed and perfected blend of technicality, brutality and accuracy. The riffs are enormous, catchy, and powerful, and the lead work is blindingly fast. His fans come in the shape of Olly Steele, Ola Englund and to quote Misha Mansoor “Goddamn Vogg is just a force of nature!”
Frederick Thordenal There are few bands that can be credited with inventing a genre. Meshuggah were part of the birth of djent, but they go beyond just that. One driving force of that band is Frederick Thordenal. A scientist of odd rhythms and for anyone who really likes the “wild” side of music, his solo album/side project “Sol Niger Within” really is a worthwhile exploration.
Can I get a playlist?
You can! As we said from the outset, there is a lot of ground to cover with extreme metal, so see this as a springboard!
Before you go…
Check out Richard Henshall’s take on the Toontrack Metal Meltdown Extreme-Metal track
We are seeking a guitar enthusiast for the role of Post Production Video Editor to join our team at JTC - a fast-growing online guitar-based education, production and digital download company.
Your role is primarily focussed on producing high quality motion graphics promo content using video content from some of the world's greatest guitarists to promote their new content releases. You will be tasked to create video, stills and animation for both externally facing social media channels and throughout the JTC website. You will also be producing internal video content and assisting video production sessions to support the growth of our in-house content at our North London studio and support corporate and internal video requests.
Key Skills and Experience:
A good knowledge and interest in guitar playing is essential
Minimum of four years professional production experience
A strong grasp of the whole production process with the ability to manage a project from its inception through to delivery
Strong video editing and still graphics skills, and experience in making high-quality visual promos
A deeply creative mind, ready to adapt whilst working with a varied (and mainly static) range of key artwork/video assets and make them work in high-quality motion graphics
The ability to create narrative-led social media content and motion graphics
A deep understanding and at least 4 years experience of using the full suite of Adobe Creative Cloud software including After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.
Experience in camerawork: handling and using recording/filming equipment, including best lighting practices, mics etc
Experience filming in a range of internal and external environments with the ability to adapt rapidly within these environments
Good awareness of production safety and risk mitigation
Ability to work with/for numerous internal clients and to prioritise numerous concurrent projects
Ability to manage the production process of projects from start to finish
Ability to structure and create video stories/narrative
Strong attention to detail and time management
The candidate must relish the prospect of being part of a small hard-working team with high standards. You should be friendly, flexible and responsive to the numerous project requests, some of which will run concurrently. You must be instrumental in coming up with creative ideas, have fresh solutions to digital content requests and lead idea generation on production requests.
You need to be reliable and a good listener. You will need to manage yourself and work remotely. You must have a keen eye for detail and a strong interest in guitars.
Working Hours and Location:
Normal working hours are Monday to Friday with a minimum of 40 hours a week, flexible between 8:00 – 17:00 and you will work primarily from home. Occasional evening or weekend work may also be required.
How to Apply:
Please submit your most recent showreel or portfolio, which demonstrates your ability to produce:
• Filmed content
• Motion graphic content, ideally in the form of a promotional video using live footage (see below for example)
• Still image graphics
For immediate consideration please send the above and your CV to
JTC’s bread and butter is electric guitar and shred, but if the playing is great, it simply doesn’t matter what or who it is.
A scroll on Instagram, a few messages between the team and it was decided; we had to work with Julian Eggenhofer.
So who is JTC’s 100th artist? And what makes his gypsy jazz brain tick?
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into playing?
I started playing when I was about 15 years old. I’m 32 now, so it’s been a while. I found an old, dusty guitar from my mother back then and started playing things like “Eye Of The Tiger”, just using one string. I remember being terribly afraid of a string breaking. Had no clue how to change it nor did I know how to tune it so for almost a year I played totally out of tune and on such old strings.
After that time a very good friend of mine taught me a lot. He had already played for a few years and we both loved heavy metal music. So not long after we sat together and played Iron Maiden stuff on nylon guitars. Until today we still play together in different bands, it’s more about jazz instead of metal but we’ve got such a strong musical connection and it’s always something special to play with him. His Name is Julian Wohlmuth by the way!
What was the inspiration behind Rogue Mode?
Actually there is no great story behind that one. I wrote it during the first quarantine in 2020 when I was bored as fuck. A lot of the patterns I used for the theme, I often use during improvisations so It didn’t take much time to set everything together. Just needed some chords and the rest was pretty simple. In terms of harmony and the rhythmical structure of the melody, it is a pretty simple song. In fact it’s just about speed and muscle memory.
Do you have a favourite part of the song?
Phu, good question! Maybe the bridge, cause it actually got some melody? Haha.
You’ve been putting on singles, but will we ever see a full album?
Yes definitely! At first my plan was to wait with all the releases until I have a full album but nowadays it’s more about portioning your content over time so I decided to release a few singles and the full album will come afterwards.
What first attracted you to the style of gypsy jazz?
Actually my good friend Julian Wohlmuth asked me, I think it was summer 2012 or so, to play a gig with him. Once again he was already into gypsy jazz for a few years back then. I agreed and I learned a repertoire of about twenty tunes. My knowledge of music theory was pretty poor at the time, so I just played the pentatonic scale up and down. After that gig I really fell in love with the music. It’s like, once you are infected, you won’t ever stop again. For me this music is so honest and pure, mostly because it’s acoustic but there are no effects and stuff, it’s just you and your instrument. Love that.
What tips do you have for people approaching it for the first time?
Check my Class at JTC! Haha! No, jokes aside. I think the most important part at the beginning is to listen to the music as much as possible. Find a player or a band you really like and listen to it. Try to sing along so you get a feel for the rhythm, the phrasing and the general vibe of the music. Then try to copy the things you really like. I’ve never been a huge fan of transcribing whole solos or something. Pick out small phrases or licks and really try to understand what is going on theoretically. Then try to adapt these licks or ideas to other chord types for example, so you can use them whenever you’re feeling like so.
Learning this music has a great tradition in watching other players and using your ears so another tip would be, try to avoid using tabs or something and try to find other players to learn from.
Do you explore other styles of guitar?
I’ve always been a fan of metal and rock music but unfortunately I’m not really good at playing it. From time to time I give it a try but it’s more like a hobby.
Besides that I love to play blues, funk and some fusion stuff on my Strat cause as I’m sure you all know, there are times we all need these fancy sound pedals and all that stuff.
How does it feel to be the 100th artist on the JTC roster?
It’s just amazing to be part of this great community. I can not tell how happy I was when Dan reached out to me. JTC is such an amazing platform with such exceptional players, to be the 100th artist is a real honour. Working with you guys is so easy and enjoyable, I’m looking forward to many more releases.
The JTC roster is built on the talents of incredible players from all around the world. So when one of those talents, George Marios, suggests another player to us, we’re happy to listen.
And so started our relationship with George Karayiannis! His JTC debut, Unravel the Pentatonic has been a big hit, but of course not everyone can know who everyone is, so we wanted to give George an opportunity to share a bit more about himself.
So what’s he all about?
So who is George Karayiannis?
I’m already questioning my existence enough so please don’t do this to me! Well, I’m a human from Greece, in progress since 1991.
I’m also a musician, guitar tutor, session guitar player and composer, with an intrinsic obsession to constantly try to explore the never-ending depths of music.
Finally I absolutely love working out, reading psychology and philosophy books, being close to nature, singing and my dog, Perla.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician?
It was December 2005 when I got my first guitar. She had 5 out of 6 tuners but this didn’t really bother me at the time. I spent the whole night dancing around with the guitar and acting as if I knew how to play over some Bon Jovi, Santana and Scorpions songs. I literally slept with the guitar on me. Haven’t thought about doing anything else since.
Who have been your biggest influences as a musician?
Of course there are many and they are really different but if I had to choose let’s say 3 of my biggest influences then with no particular order would be:
Joe Satriani I remember watching him perform at G3 at Denver over and over again and thinking “That’s what I want to do!”. He was my idol during my first years of trying to figure out how to play.
Julian Lage He is the reason I love jazz. His playing is so direct and mesmerizing that I just can’t get enough! I’ve seen Lage at a seminar here in Greece and when he was asked about the freedom he has on the guitar and how to achieve it, he said “Freedom is not a milestone, but a choice.”.These words really got stuck in my head since then and I tend to recall them most of the times when I write or play music.
Mike Shinoda I know this might seem a little weird to some but this artist has always been an inspiration to me due to his creativity and involvement in so many different styles and aspects of music and art in general.
And any favourites on the JTC roster?
If I had to choose one I think I wouldn’t surprise anyone picking the Guitar God himself (a.k.a. Guthrie Govan).
That being said, the truth is I’ve learnt so much from studying the incredible releases of Luca Mantovanelli and Jake Willson, so let’s make it a top 3. Infinite respect to the whole team for creating such unique and helpful content for the ones who need it though.
How did the idea for the Masterclass come about?
I’ve always loved the sound of the pentatonic scale and I’ve always tried to figure out ways to use it in a more creative way. So I’ve gathered a lot of concepts, exercises and ideas on this journey that started to pop out in my playing. Then I realised that not many players use these concepts so it kinda was an obvious topic for my debut to me.
And what do you want people to get out of it?
As I say in the study guide, I really hope that it will truly unravel this beautiful polyfunctional scale and spark the creativity inside the ones who’ll study it.
Finally, since we’re talking about the most used scale, I hope it will plant the idea that there is no “box” in anything if you truly give your attention to it and look a little deeper, so that they can apply this idea to anything creatively.
Any plans for future releases?
Yes! I’m absolutely excited for the next one! I don’t want to share anything specific for now. I’ll just say it’s gonna be a Masterclass about a fundamental building block of music and it’s going to be structured in a way that everyone will understand how to study and how to actually use it in any musical environment.
Finally, if you could only listen to one artist/band etc for the rest of your life, who's it going to be?
This is an easy one! Myself!
That way I could still play my favourite songs of my favourite artists AND still be able to write new music!
Before you go...
Watch George in action as he delivers a solo from the Masterclass
The best ballads have a big hook, tell a story and in JTC terms at least, allow a guitarist to show off a bit. .
Enter Aryz Bulo. The Indonesian guitarists’s 5/4 ballad epic really does tick the ballad boxes and then some. .
So we caught up with him to find out more about “Beloved Child”, his latest Learn to Play release..
What was the main inspiration for this track?
This song is inspired by my son, his name is Gabrielle, this song tells about the birth of a child and describes the feelings of a father who really loves his child and struggles through all the difficulties and challenges his parents face before the child's birth and the feelings when the child is born.
The bulk of this track is in 5/4. How did that happen?
At first I was just chilling while making the guitar riff for the intro of the song. I didn't think to set the time signature first but after I’d written the intro riff, I realised it was in 5/4. It was a sweet accident!
So after that, I tried to make a melody theme with slide and legato playing on 5/4 and changed it again with chord modulation from E (root, start from A) to G.
But the chorus and interlude is in 6/4. I wanted to keep the 5/4 feel but make it catchier and easier for the listener to follow along.
What is your tip for playing in other time signatures than 4/4?
I think this is just a matter of habit! At first it might be quite difficult to get used to time signatures other than 4/4. I really understand the difficulty because when we play guitar, we have to think about phrases, scales, grooves, techniques together in a time signature that we are not used to playing.
Of course I have some tips for us to make this easier…
Learn and understand the count of each time signature, how many beats in a measure, where the accent is located.
Simplify a time signature for example 7/8 you can change it to a count of 1/4 so you don't have to count as many as 7 beats in one measure.
Get used to listening to songs with time signatures other than 4/4 as we know, such as the Guthrie songs “Fives”, “Sevens”, and prog bands like Rush, Dream Theater, Animal as Leaders etc. We listen to all of these to add to our sensitivity to all time signatures.
Are there any licks in the track that you had to work on to get right?
Yes... throughout the track, I had to convey emotive playing and techniques, especially in the chorus section. In the interlude, I tried to include more outside sounding licks that are less familiar to the ears, creating a darker vibe. There’s a complete breakdown about that section in the full pack!
For someone who is learning this track, what is the biggest lesson?
The biggest lesson from this song is how you can express your emotions and your feelings in a melody, how to apply techniques such as bending, vibrato, tapping, legato, hybrid picking, alternate picking, etc. To create a harmony that describes the atmosphere and feelings. Besides that, the release will also provide an overview and additional references for you in making your original composition, and also you can learn the application of scales such as lydian, melodic minor modes in chord progressions.
What is the current scene like for guitarists in Indonesia?
Indonesia is a very large country and consists of more than 13 thousand islands and a very large population, so of course there are many talented guitarists who are also extraordinary.
JTC has very many fans in Indonesia. Being the only Indonesian in the JTC roster gives me pride and I hope to be an inspiration to thousands of guitarists in Indonesia.
JTC has become a benchmark and standard for national and even international recognition among guitarists and musicians.
Are there any plans for more tracks like this in the future?
Of course! I plan to publish more varied and fresh songs as well as my album and lesson packages at JTC. This year there will be many releases which I will discuss with the JTC team.
Before you go...
Check out Aryz’s intense and uplifting ballad below!