Heavy metal is alive and well in the alternative age, thanks to the work of bands like Metallica, Pantera, and White Zombie. With their ultra-heavy, rhythm-based approach, intriguing mix of punk, surf, hard-core, and low-budget movie soundtrack influences, and J.Yuenger’s mega-crunch guitar style. White Zombie was high in the charts, spent a full year in the Billboard Top 100, and on the playlists of MTV and alternative radio. Thunder Kiss ’65, the leading track from their fiendishly popular 1992 La Sexorcisto album, was their breakthrough song. Reputedly a piece of music that wrote itself, it is a hard-hitting blend of modern heavy metal and retro hard rock, dished out in characteristically raunchy and uncompromising White Zombie style.
As usual, White Zombie focus on pure rhythm, the most powerful motivating force in music. In Rhy. Fig. 1, J. sets up a primal, moshing rhythmic motive on the low E – sounding more like a drum beat transferred to the guitar string than a melodic or harmonic riff. This pattern is a recurrent grouping of two eighths and a 16th-eighth-16th syncopation [Fig. 1]. The chromatic melody (B-G-Bb-F#) at the end of the figure is a fixture of metal, and is found in one form or another in the music of practically every band in the genre from Black Sabbath to Metallica. Rhy. Fig. 4 is a sly variant of the main riff. Notice that the two eighth/16th-eighth-16th rhythmic motive is present in the figure, but is shifted over by one eighth note [Fig. 2], which adds a quirky off-center rhythmic twist to the riff variation.
J.Yuenger solos freely behind the chorus with a wah-wah pedal, evoking a sort of neo-Hendrix vibe. To tighten the Hendrix connection, J. employs one of Jimi’s most familiar trademarks, unison bends, throughout the soloing. These are found in measures 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7 of the eight-measure chorus section. This impression is further strengthened by the prominent use of E7#9 in the rhythm part, the second chord of Rhy. Fig. 2. Closely associated with Jimi (“Purple Haze,” “Crosstown Traffic,” and “Spanish Castle Magic” among others), the seventh-sharp-nine voicing [Fig. 3] is a crucial component in the chorus rhythm part, along with the r&b-inspired, back-beat-oriented groove of the section. Check out measure 2 of Rhy. Fig. 2. The E7#9-A5-G5 progression is a reordering of the classic E7#9-G-A chord changes of “Purple Haze.” The morale of the story is… borrow from the best.
The interlude is a driving section comprised of moveable power chords and chromatically tinged chord progressions – two staples of modern metal. Note the use of seemingly unrelated Eb5 and Ab5 in the basic changes of the first four measures, as well as the F#5 and F5 in the next ten measures. These striking slabs of sound add much to the eerie Gothic atmosphere of the section.
The solo is a workout in unison bends. Introduced in the chorus background soloing, they are a main event in the section. In playing unison bends, intonation is critical – the bent note and unbent notes must sound the same. As you start to work through the phrases, compare the intonation of the bent note with the stationary, unbent note to be sure the pitches match. In this solo, the stationary notes are fretted with the index finger on either the 2nd or 1st string in the solo, and the bent notes are pushed up a whole step. It is wise to use reinforced fingering in playing the lengthy unison bend passages. Push the bends with both your third and middle fingers for extra strength and control. The quick legato lick at the end of the solo should present no problems if you begin by visualizing the E minor pentatonic shape at the twelfth position. Play a repeating pattern of pull-offs on the top two strings in this shape and you have the nucleus of the line.
It’s a part of White Zombie Thunder Kiss ’65 guitar lesson.
Below you can download PDF guitar tabs and sheet music of
Thunder Kiss ’65 with backing track
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