v1.0 Documentation and Instrument Guide
Before you begin conducting a full scale amplified assault with your new weapon of sonic warfare, note the following:
- Installation: The archive with the files uses .rar compression, so extract it with WinRar (for Windows) or UnRarX (for Mac). Keep the folder structure intact, and drop it into your library.
- License: Use these sounds however you like in your personal projects, as instruments or sound effects. Don’t repackage them or resell them. That’s all there is to it.
There are two things that you are likely to notice the first time you start pounding on the keys to make some noise. First, the notes sustain by default until they ring out fully. Second, pressing a new key cuts off the previous note. Both of these features can be turned off, but when enabled, they allow for a flowing, realistic performance of metal articulations.
Fast palm-muted staccatos blasting into long distorted sustains are easy to perform with both sustain (controlled either with the knob on the Kontakt GUI or with MIDI CC64) and ‘solo mode’ on. If you need to cut a note off before it naturally ends, you have a few choices. Striking any of the empty keys above the range of the keyswitch area (C1, C#1, A#2, B2, or C#3) will cut off whatever note is currently playing. You also have the option to strike C3, which will play a note-off noise that round-robin cycles through eight variations.
Turning ‘solo mode’ off is accomplished by going into instrument edit mode, and selecting the ‘solo mode’ script in the Script Editor. Just use the GUI controls there to disable it. I recommend leaving it on, as it provides the best possible transitions between powerchords and allows for great sounding repetition of staccato palm-mutes.
The main Thrash guitar patch is set up with three zones: Powerchords, single string techniques, and the ‘Chug Zone.’ The powerchords extend from D1-A2, and the single string area runs from D3-A4. The Chug Zone occupies G0-B0. Additionally, striking C3 plays the aforementioned note-off noise.
Let’s take a look at each of the zones…
This range of keys is split by velocity into palm mutes and sustains. If you strike a key lightly, you will get a single-string palm-muted staccato. A bit harder, and you’ll hear a full 5th dyad palm-muted staccato. Harder yet, and you will hear the full sustained version of whichever keyswitched dyad you are using.
Thrash gives you an extensive set of powerchord dyads, laid out by interval in keswitches as follows:
C0 – minor 3rd
C#0 – major 3rd
D0 – perfect 4th
D#0 – tritone
E0 – perfect 5th
F0 – minor 6th
The default keyswitch is E0, the 5th dyad, since that is the most common and standard powerchord formation in metal. The second most common powerchord interval in metal is the perfect 4th, on D0. You will likely spend most of your time using those two sets of powerchords, though the maj/min 3rds show up now and then in thrash… and moreso in black metal. The tritones and minor 6ths can be useful in passing, between other chords, or to create some raging dissonance.
All powerchord sustains have 4xRR, and palm-muted staccatos get 8xRR per layer. The sustains run up to A2, but the palm-muted staccatos cut off at F2. This is mainly because (in my opinion) they sound lousy up that high anyway and aren’t used terribly often in typical metal riffing.
SINGLE NOTE TECHNIQUES (D3-A4)
These keys play single note sustains, with 4xRR. From F3-A4, hitting a note in the velocity range between 116-127 will add some crazy, exaggerated vibrato. No round-robin for the crazy vibrato samples.
CHUG ZONE (G0-B0)
Depending on how the “Chug” knob on the Thrash GUI is set, all five keys in this area play palm-muted staccatos on either the open D or E strings. The reason I added this zone is that it is otherwise really difficult to play triplets or very fast riffing on the same note. In metal, six-stringed guitars most often have their low string tuned to either D or E, and that open low string gets abused with lots of fast riffing.
If you need to smooth out the transitions between notes, use CC23 to add a bit of fade-out to the previous note. I adapted the standard Kontakt sample-offset legato script to accomplish this, though without the offset. Even at the highest setting it does not add a great deal of fade, but it is enough to help with any otherwise clunky jumps between notes. At middle settings, it can add a pleasant slur to quick riffing.
The main thrash GUI gives you some control over the tone of the instrument. These controls are present on all patches, so you can match the tone across articulations. The ‘Tone’ knob controls brightness. At 0 you have the unaltered distortion as it was recorded. Raising the level darkens the sound. The ‘Thin’ knob cuts bass from the tone. It can be beneficial to thin out the guitar to sit better in a mix, or you can use it at extreme levels as an effect.
If you’re after a fatter (or phatter) sound from your guitar, Thrash provides a simple trick that will let you expand the sonic field. Simply load up both the Thrash_Guitar_main and Thrash_Guitar_main_B patches. Assign both to the same MIDI channel, and pan one left and one right… how much depends on how wide you want the stereo field to be. The ‘B’ guitar simply has the round-robin assignments shifted one higher, so two different RR variants will be playing on any given keystroke. The only exception to this is the ‘crazy vibrato’ samples, which may be addressed in a future update. You might also try altering the tone of one of the guitars to give it a bit different sound. The ‘B’ guitar does not take up any additional memory, since it has exactly the same sample pool as the main variant.
Speedy tremolo playing is not that common in thrash metal (though it is also not unheard of) and is more an idiom of black & death metal… but I included some in the library nonetheless. Blame it on Immortal, whose albums ‘Sons of Northern Darkness’ and ‘All Shall Fall’ were highly inspirational. I really don’t know how they play tremolo so frequently without burning their wrists out in a blaze of carpal tunnel syndrome… my hands were about to fall off when I was through playing these sustains. But let my suffering be your bonanza of black metal brutality.
Included are powerchord 5th and minor 3rd intervals in looped sustains (chosen by keyswitches on C1 and C#1 respectively), and single note tremolo loops running a full 2+ octaves, from a low E to high F#.
‘Solo mode’ is on by default, you can switch it off in the instrument editor under Script Editor. It helps keep the transitions between the notes tight and crisp, though, so I recommend leaving it on in most cases. Sustain is off by default on the tremolos. Both the powerchords and single notes have a note-off release sound that cycles via round robin through eight variants.
I recorded a whole load of crazy effects – slides up and down, pick scrapes, note ending release noises, amp-plug-in noises and more. Mix them in liberally where appropriate to more fully capture the sound of someone beating up their electric guitar. The string noises can be interspersed between powerchord changes to add in a little realism.
I did not include the sounds of the band getting drunk or setting things on fire, which perhaps is necessary for the ultimate in recreating the sounds of metal. Maybe for the expansion…
Abbreviated M-tex in the file directory, these are some odds and ends I assembled out of the recorded material I had on hand. Play around with CC1 to morph the sound on them.
In case anyone was wondering and didn’t mouseover any of the images on this page, the guitar used in Thrash is a Schecter Blackjack C-1 with Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups.
I hope you have a great time shredding with Thrash. Try not to break anything. Or, at least try not to injure anyone. Too badly.
- Joel Steudler