Heavy Metal Power Chords

heavy metal guitaristsHeavy metal is one of the most powerful types of music. Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny the fact that it evokes some type of reaction from everyone.

Heavy metal is versatile, and different subgenres dip into many other types of music, such as jazz, blues, punk, and even classical.

One of the mainstays in every form of heavy metal is a chord called the power chord. Now, heavy metal being a powerful form of music, it seems only fitting that a chord called the power chord pops up so much.

That A Power Chord Isn’t Actually A Chord

A power chord consists of a root and a fifth, as well as an octave of the root. The fact that it is devoid of a third makes it somewhat of an abomination in the world of chords. That being said, this note quite chord’s bad reputation hasn’t stopped it from making a huge impact within the world of rock and heavy metal.

First off, let’s start with some basic power chords. These power chords consist of only the root and the fifth. They are easier to play at quicker tempos because they only require two fingers, and when in alternative tunings in heavy metal, they can be played on lower frets be simply barring the first two strings.

E |—————-|—————-|
B |—————-|—————-|
G |—————-|—————-|
D |6——-7—–|8——-9——-|
A |4——-5—|6——-7———|
E |—————-|—————-|

These power chords are simply in a chromatic pattern, an ascending melody that is very similar to that of King Diamond’s At the Graves.

To create a different type of power chord, we can simply add the octave of the root. This will give the chords a fuller sound, which in turn makes them sound more powerful.

E |—————-|—————-|
B |—————-|—————-|
G |6——-7——-|8——-9—–|
D |6——-7——-|8——-9—–|
A |4——-5——-|6——-7—–|
E |—————-|—————-|

As you can see, just be adding that extra note, we add a world of depth to the power chord. The fact that power chords aren’t actually chords allows for more creativity. Notes can be altered and added to the power chord to change its sound, and all because this non-chord chord, just like heavy metal, doesn’t follow any rules.

Using the same melody, we can create new power chords by moving our octave up to half steps. These forms of power chords are seen quite often in progressive metal, as they have a more ‘intelligent’ sound.

E |—————-|—————-|
B |—————-|—————-|
G |8——-9——-|10——11—|
D |6——-7——-|8——-9—–|
A |4——-5——-|6——-7—–|
E |—————-|—————-|

Our final variation we will show you is an augmented heavy metal power chord. These power chord’s fifth has been move up a half step, giving them an unresolved quality.

E |—————-|—————-|
B |—————-|—————-|
G |—————-|—————-|
D |7——-8——-|8——-10—|
A |4——-5——-|6——-7—–|
E |—————-|—————-|

As you can see, power chords can be altered in different ways, whether that is changing an interval or adding a note. Try experimenting with basic power chords, adding and subtracting different notes, and see what you can come up with. Have fun!