Shedding and Shredding the Hungarian Minor Scale with Oli Herbert of All That Remains

OLI HERBERT IS ONE OF TODAY’S PREMEIR new metal guitarists. As the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for the melodic metalcore band All That Remains, Herbert has shown a diverse array of rhythm and lead techniques that really make him stand out. I had the pleasure of spending time with him creating two instructional programs that outline his style, and I got a real good look at his musical mechanics.

As a rhythm player, Herbert uses many harmonic inversions, harmonized power chords, and extended chords such as 9s and 13s, often playing them with muted chugging, triplets, and the reverse gallop. For this lesson, however, I want to focus on his lead guitar talents. Of all the guitarists I’ve worked with, I think Herbert uses the widest variety of scales in his leads. His choices of exotic scales such as Hungarian minor give his leads flair and distinction.

Let’s look at some lines inspired by the lead from the All That Remains song “Become the Catalyst.” In this solo, Herbert rips through some lines using the E Hungarian minor scale and chromatic passing tones. The Hungarian minor scale is identical to the harmonic minor scale, except we sharp the 4th degree. The E Hungarian minor scale consists of E, F#, G, A#, B, C, D#, E. Check out the diagrams in Fig. 1 to hear the sound of this scale. Those of you that have dabbled in blues know the #4, or b5 is the blues tritone note. Kinda cool…a little blues flavor in a metal solo.

Now play through the lead in Ex. 1. The phrasing is pretty straightforward—triplets for the most part. It’s the note choices that are really unique. Once you get these runs and stretches under your fingers, you can download and play with the bass and drum track for this solo at Happy shredding! g

John McCarthy is the creator of the Rock House Method.